Save Tiger Hill movement gathers momentum
The ‘Save Tiger Hill’ slogan gained added momentum today with various social organisations and NGOs also taking part in the rally organised by the youth front of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha.
Ever since the tourism project of the state government started at Tiger Hill about two months ago, many organisations have been protesting against it whole the Morcha has threatened to file a case against the state government and call a 24 hour strike in the hills. Today’s rally was the first step to mark a united protest.
Gorkha Janmukti Yuwa Morcha president Prakash Gurung said, “Today our youth front along with the Tiger Hill Bachao Committee took out a rally against the construction going on at Tiger Hill by the state government and this is only our first step. In the days to come we will stage protests at Tiger Hill itself. The place is not only holy for our community as there is a temple, but the water supply for the town area also comes from that place. We should all be united against this project irrespective of our political affiliations.”
The project at Tiger Hill is being implemented by the West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation at a cost of Rs 40 crore and on completion will have four cottages, a 20 double bedded lodge and 20 bedded dormitory.
The major reasons for which protests are being held against the project are: the Devi Ma temple popularly known as Sinchel Dham, and it is a catchment area from where water is supplied to Darjeeling. Further, the area falls under the Sinchel Wildlife Sanctuary and such a huge project would adversely affect the bio-diversity of the area.
Today’s rally saw the participation of Darjeeling MLA Amar Rai, representatives of Senior Citizens of Darjeeling and NGOs such as the Federation of Societies for Environment Protection and the Earth Group.
After the rally, memorandums were submitted to the Chief Conservator of Forests (Hill Circle) and the Darjeeling ADM requesting them to stop the project.
MLA Rai, the former chairman of Darjeeling Municipality, said, “We are being told that the state government has taken permission for the project but what is surprising is that we too had tried to get permission for constructing a water tank for ward no 1 under the Amrut drinking water scheme when I was in the Municipality, but we were denied permission by the forest department. I had even taken up the matter with the state government and the Centre, but permission was not granted. So how can the state government get permission for an even bigger concrete structure in the area?"
According to the Amrut drinking water scheme, each ward in the Municipality would have one water tank to facilitate proper distribution.
Earth Group secretary Prabhat Pradhan said, “The main reason we took part in the rally even though it was organised by the youth front of a political party is because we also have the same objective of stopping the project at Tiger Hill. The project will only harm the people of the hills. Lots of garbage will start accumulating there to eventually find its way into the drinking water tank. Apart from that the area is a wildlife sanctuary and any big construction will affect the bio-diversity of the area. We request the state government to plant trees in the area instead.” (EOIC)