Amitava Banerjee | MP |30 March 2017| Kolkata: Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday slammed the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) — the hill area governing body run by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha — for failing to boost development schemes there.
In response to the ongoing construction work at Tiger Hill, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) has threatened to call a 24-hour bandh if the government does not call it off. This is bound to affect trade and business in the area which is all set to usher in the season when hundreds of tourists throng the region.
Addressing a gathering at a government programme in Mirik, without naming any individual or political party, she stated: "Neither do you do anything nor do you let others do any development.
What is the problem if we carry out development projects in the Hills? I want development, peace and employment in the Hills. What is your problem? We will promote home and eco-tourism in the Hills.
It will generate employment. What is your problem with this? I started tourism projects in Lamahatta near Darjeeling. You had intimidated the people of Lamahatta then also." Pointing out the deficiencies in tourism services, the Chief Minister exhorted the locals to support her government's efforts.
Bimal Gurung, Chief Executive, Gorkhaland Territorial Administration has not only written to the Chief Minister appealing her to stop the construction work at Tiger Hill but has also threatened to drag the government to Supreme Court. However, the state government has claimed that they have all the permissions necessary for the project. The project that the West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation Limited has undertaken includes four cottages, 20 double-bedded rooms and a 20 bedded dormitory at Tiger Hill, around 13 km from Darjeeling, costing around Rs 40 crore. The construction work started after state Tourism minister Gautam Deb laid the foundation stone of the project in the first week of March. While the state government claims that the land classified as DI Fund land is under them, green groups along with the GJM claim that the project is coming up near Senchal Wildlife Sanctuary. A Darjeeling-based NGO wrote to Anil Mahadev Dave, Minister of State, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India, seeking intervention to halt the project immediately.
GTA claims that the project will affect many endangered species of fauna and flora. Further, they have expressed concern over the fact that the sewage and garbage from the project will contaminate three lakes located just below the project site. The three Sinchal lakes are the main source of potable water in Darjeeling and its surrounding areas. "The upcoming project may lead to the denudation of precious forest cover, loss of valuable bio-diversity and also contaminate the main source of drinking water supply to Darjeeling and its surrounding areas. It is also defiling Tiger Hill which is a religious landmark in Darjeeling," stated Gurung in a press release.