Rally denouncing state government's Tiger Hill project
The youth wing of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has decided to take out a peace rally on Tuesday in Darjeeling in protest of the ongoing digging at Tiger Hill for constructing tourist lodges.
The GJM, along with concerned citizens and various social organisations including NGOs, has raised concern over the construction work at Tiger Hill, the popular tourist point, 14km above Jorebungalow.
“Tiger Hill (also known as Senchel Pasture) has religious values attached to every citizen of the hills. We revere it as we pray at the Devi Ma temple (Senchel Dham). The construction will not only have adverse affects on the flora and fauna of the area, but also spoil the purity of the place because of the rubbish from the lodges and dormitory,” said Prakash Gurung, president of the Gorkha Janmukti Yuwa Morcha (GJYM).
The GJYM will also submit a deputation to the chief conservator of forests and the district magistrate after the rally.
In a message in a social media site, the Darjeeling district administration recently clarified that the state government had only taken up renovation work on the existing infrastructure.
The youth front however, alleged the state government was undermining and infringing upon the religious rights and values of the hill people. “Of all the places available in Darjeeling, why has the state government chosen Tiger Hill to construct the tourist lodges? The state government in reality is actually overlooking the religious attachment of the place with the people,” Gurung said.
The GJM-run Gorkhaland Territorial Administration has said it would approach the country’s apex court and also the National Green Tribunal if the construction work was not stopped immediately.
The project is being implemented by the West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation at a cost of Rs40 crore and on completion will have four cottages, a 20 double bedded lodge and 20 bedded dormitory.
The GTA has contented the land measuring 31.85 acres on which the construction is taking place belongs to the council body as the DI fund was a transferred subject and said no prior information was shared by the state government.
“The land (31.85 acres) some of which belonged to the DI fund was handed over to the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council in 2002 by the directorate of tourism of West Bengal. Along with the land, two damaged structures, Challet and Club House and seven staffers of the WBTDC were also transferred,” said Binay Tamang, the GJM assistant secretary, who is also a GTA Sabhasad.
Tilak Chhetri, the GJYM Darjeeling town committee president, said, “There are important issues plaguing Darjeeling like the dilapidated T.B hospital and primary schools that need urgent action. Why is the chief minister not looking into these issues and only focusing on building lodges at Tiger Hill which ultimately will benefit only government officials during their summer outings to the hills?" (EOIC)