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Gurung’s project wish before elections

- Foundation laid for Krishi bhavan

Darjeeling, Feb. 10: The chief executive of the GTA Sabha today said he wanted to lay the foundation stone of as many projects as possible before the model code of conduct came into force ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.

Speaking at the foundation stone laying of a Krishi Bhavan in Darjeeling today, Bimal Gurung said: “We have Rs 200 crore which is the special financial package given by the Centre to the GTA for the year 2013. We are committed to development and before the model code of conduct comes into force, we will try and use this fund. We will lay the foundation stones of as many projects as possible within this month.”

The Krishi Bhavan at Darjeeling is being built at a cost of Rs 2.9 crore.

The GTA is planning to set up Krishi Bhavans in Kurseong and Kalimpong as well. These buildings will have research centres, soil testing facilities, conference halls and dormitories.

Its not clear if the foundation of the Krishi Bhavans in Kurseong and Kalimpong will be laid ahead of the general elections.

Gurung said the foundation stone of a 10-bed hospital would be laid at Kagey in Kalimpong on February 12. “In February, we will lay the foundation stone of a ropeway at Jamuni,” he said.

Sources said the ropeway from Vah-Tukvar to Jamuni was being built at a cost of Rs 13 crore.

Jamuni is 20km from Darjeeling.

The GTA chief executive said he would lay the foundation stones of various projects like roads, model schools and community halls as and when the dates were finalised.

“The dates have not been finalised but we will work on a war footing,” said Gurung.

Sources in the GTA said projects like beautification of Mirik lake, development of tourist spots near Manju in Mirik and construction of a number of model schools were also on the anvil.

“The GTA will also lay the foundation stone of a medical college in Kurseong and start work to set up degree colleges in places like Pokhriabong and Sukhiapokhri,” said a GTA source.

Gurung today said it was the state government’s responsibility to ensure that there were no problems in developing the hills. “The state government has already talked about transforming Darjeeling into Switzerland and we expect full co-operation from the state government in developing the hills,” he said.

Although the president of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha talked about the model code of conduct, he skirted political issues in his speech.

“We have three- and-half-years left at the GTA and we have to set an example on development. Till now, we have only marvelled at the infrastructure created by the British. Time has come to create infrastructure for the coming generation,” said Gurung.

Observers said Gurung might be trying to consolidate Morcha’s base in the hills before the election through the development plank.

“He has no other option but to use the development plank to consolidate his support base,” said an observer.