Darjeeling and Mirik, July 19: The state government and the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council have broadly agreed on setting up a satellite township for Darjeeling in view of the hill station’s space constraints and the increasing threat of landslides.
Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and hill council chairman Subhas Ghising also said the state and the council had agreed to provide funds for rehabilitating those affected by the recent landslides at Mirik.
More than 40 houses have been damaged by the landslides and Bhattacharjee said the affected families would be resettled soon. “I have asked the tea estate management to provide land for their resettlement and both the state government and the DGHC will provide funds towards this,” said the chief minister at a joint press conference after nearly 45 minutes of talks with Ghising.
Bhattacharjee, however, said the quantum of funds needed for resettlement had not yet been worked out but added that this would be done soon. He said a technical committee, including experts from the Geological Survey of India, also needed to look into various parameters such as soil stability.
Urban development minister Asok Bhattacharya agreed to provide the expertise needed.
Bhattacharjee and Ghising expressed concern about the construction boom in the hills. The hill council chairman, however, said demolition could not even be discussed as it would be politicised the very next day.
But Ghising supported the idea of setting up a satellite township between Ghoom-Bhanjyan and Lapcha-tar, about 15 km from Darjeeling along the Darjeeling-Mirik road. “The place is suited for the purpose and not many trees have to be felled,” said the hill council chairman.
Ghising, however, clarified that there was no political confrontation between the state government and the council.
Earlier in the day, the chief minister visited Gayabari tea estate where about 300 people whose houses in Mandirgaon were swept away by the landslides are staying. Bhattacharjee also met some of the victims.