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<-Back to WTN Archives Kalimpong feels let down as trade talks with China take off
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World Tibet Network News

Published by the Canada Tibet Committee

Saturday, July 12, 2003

1. Kalimpong feels let down as trade talks with China take off


KALIMPONG: In and around the Kalimpong town lie a number of closed and
dilapidated go-downs. These remind of the days when there was thriving trade
between India and Tibet via Kalimpong.

'Purak Chand Lakshmi Chand Wool Merchant 1927' - says an inscription on one.
Now it is a place for parking of trucks. Navin Aggrawal recalls the days
when his grandfather did a "roaring business" with Tibet in raw wool which,
arriving on mule backs, used to be stored in these go-downs. "At least eight
such go-downs and markets are lying closed," says CITU leader Tara Sundas.

Kalimpong is, however, feeling let down because Prime Minister Atal
Vajpayee's MoU does not mention Jelepla as a trading point. Before 1962,
Kalimpong's trading with Tibet used to take place through Jelepla, the
nearest border point.

"The closure of this route has led to the closing of many small-scale
industries in Kalimpong," said Kalimpong Chamber of Commerce general
secretary Surendra Parikh in a memorandum to Vajpayee when he visited
Gangtok before leaving for China. "Thousands of workers became unemployed.
Many shops and buildings are locked."

Besides, the memorandum said that "a trade route from Kalimpong to China via
Jelepla pass will be the most suitable route which remains open for the most
part of the year". According to him, Nathula would be difficult to negotiate
in winter.

Parikh agrees, however, that it would be difficult to keep Kalimpong totally
out once trading resumes with Tibet.

For, there are still traders in the town who deal in large quantities of
items used by Tibetans, like fing (noodles), Tibetan incense (agarbati),
prayer flags and khada for welcoming guests. Others deal in therma, used for
stitching dresses for the monks. Items like incense are still made in

Sikkim chief minister Pawan Chamling scored a point over his West Bengal
counterpart Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee in convincing the PM that Nathula be
opened for trade.

This will be directly benefit Gangtok, while Jelepla might have been more
convenient for Kalimpong. "I convinced the PM on the need to open the China
route," says Chamling. Politicians in Kalimpong are defensive.

"The West Bengal government's indifference to Kalimpong once more proved
that that Kolkata does not care for the hills of Darjeeling," says Gorkha
National Liberation Front councillor Dawa Pakhrim. "I will give a memorandum
to the chairman to move the Centre to reopen Jelepla," he says.

"The state government and the DGHC did not think that this would happen,"
GNLF(C) leader C.K. Pradhan said.

Articles in this Issue:
  1. Kalimpong feels let down as trade talks with China take off
  2. The Five Principles
  3. ICT Holds First-Ever European Tibetan Youth Leadership Program
  4. Tibet Tourism Rebounds Quickly

Other articles this month - WTN Index - Mail the WTN-Editors

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