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Distance plight

Majuwa (Maneybhanjyang), May 9: Sankha Man Subba needed three days to visit a police station, an administrative office and his GTA Sabha member after his house in Rangeet-Majuwa gram panchayat was destroyed in a fire on April 22.

The plight of Subba highlights the hardships faced by people in other parts of the Darjeeling hills as well because of the scattered location of the administrative offices.

Binay Tamang, the assistant secretary of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha and a member of the GTA Sabha, said: “This is the reason for our demand for the division of eight hill blocks and the creation of 10 new ones. We want 10 new blocks to be created so that people in not only Rangeet-Majuwa but also in similar places do not face harassment in their day to day life.”

Majuwa, situated about 35km from Darjeeling, is in the Sukhiapokhri-Maneybhanjyang constituency of the GTA. The place is under Darjeeling-Pulbazar block, headquartered at Bijanbari, 27km from Majuwa.

A portion of this panchayat is also under Relling-Kaijalay constituency of the GTA. But the panchayat is under Lodhama police station, which is in Rimbick-Lodhama GTA constituency and 47km from Subba’s zone.

“The first day, I, had to go to Lodhama to register an FIR. The next day, I went to the block development office at Bijanbari to report the fire and to enquire about compensation. On the third day, I had to go to Sukhiapokhri bazaar (about 12km away) to inform the GTA member about the fire,” said Subba.

The panchayat has three mouzas, Majuwa, Simbunddhara and Dungia. “The population is equally distributed and it would make sense if two of the mouzas, Majuwa and Simbunddhara, are brought under the Sukhiapokhri block. We go to Sukhiapokhri for our shopping — it has a BDO’s office and a police station,” said Mohan Rai, a resident of the Rangeet-Majuwa gram panchayat and a teacher.

“As far as Dungia mouza is concerned, it would be easy for the people there if the area is brought under Relling-Kaijalay GTA constituency and continues to remain under the existing Darjeeling-Pulbazar block. It would be convenient if Dungia’s police station is changed from Lodhama to Pulbazar,” Rai said.

The Morcha’s demand for more blocks, sources said, had been accepted by the state government in principle. But work on the division of the blocks has not started at the ground level yet.

“I have not yet received anything regarding division of blocks,” said Puneet Yadav, Darjeeling district magistrate.