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Residents’ plea to DM on market rethink

Darjeeling, June 17: A citizens’ group in the hill town today gave a memorandum to the Darjeeling district magistrate asking the administration to reconsider the plan to build a hawkers’ market in Chowrasta.

Although district magistrate Puneet Yadav said all “norms would be followed” while building the complex, the protestors did not seem to agree.

Tshering Dorjee Bhutia, president of the Morning Health Club that gave the petition, said: “During the British era, the area spanning the proposed market site to Alubari-Toongsoong was marked as sinking zone. Construction should not be allowed in the area. Darjeeling cannot be imagined without Chowrasta and Mall Road.”

Yadav said: “They (the protestors) raised two-three issues.” He said the club had contended that “the view of Kanchenjungha” would be blocked if the hawkers’ market — the foundation stone for which was laid by Mamata Banerjee — was built at Chowrasta. The club said trees must not be felled, too.

“I have assured them that the market would not block the view of the Kanchenjungha and no trees would be felled,” Yadav said.

Bhutia said Yadav did not understand them correctly. “May be, he has made up his mind and that is why he seems to have understood it differently. The issue of blocking the view of Kanchenjungha is with regard to other constructions along the Mall Road, not this market. We feel, that to protect the environment and save the charm of Chowrasta, the market should not come up. We will sit for a meeting soon and decide on our next course of action.”

Today, members of Astha Hawkers’ Welfare Association submitted a memorandum to Yadav alleging that the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha and Darjeeling municipality were trying to politicise the issue.

Darjeeling MLA Trilok Dewan today said: “On February 17, I wrote to the DM saying the decision to build the market was taken without taking the municipality and the GTA into confidence. The announcement came as a surprise. Urban development and town planning is a transferred subject but the state is interfering in these.”

The protestors, under the banner of Darjeeling Environment Conservation Awareness Programme, took out a march.