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School loses roof to Aila
- Damage holds up classes

Kurseong, May 29: Around 850 students of Pankhabari High School are not sure when their classes will resume. Cyclone Aila had left the schoolbuilding roof-less on Tuesday and the repair is yet to begin.

The institution comprises two buildings. While one building is two-storeyed, the other has only one floor. The strong winds that buffeted the Darjeeling hills blew off the tin roofs of the buildings, making it impossible for the authorities to hold classes.

“Safety concerns prevent us from teaching students even on the ground floor. The administration has assured us that the buildings will be repaired soon and only after the school is restored to its original condition, can we start the classes,” said H.D. Chettri, the teacher-in-charge of the institute, located 15km from here.

All the 12 computers in the school were also damaged in the storm. “On the day of the torrent, the residents of the area tried their best to save the paraphernalia of the school, but heavy rain hampered their efforts. We don’t know when we will be able to start classes and we are really worried about our students’ future,” said Chettri.

Mostly children from the gardens like Makaibari, Gadidhura, Rohini, Phuguri and Simulbari are students of the school.

“The Pankhabari area and its surroundings are dotted with tea estates and those who study here are the children of garden workers. Official documents and records were also lost in the storm,” said Kishore Thapa, a teacher of the school.

The administrator of the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council, B.L. Meena, and governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi had visited the school on Wednesday. Subdivisional officer Dipyendu Das said: “The DGHC administrator had assured us that funds would be sanctioned soon to carry out the repair.”

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