| Gopal Krishna Gandhi (centre) at the dumping ground. Picture by Suman Tamang
Darjeeling, Feb. 27: Bengal governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi today visited the garbage dumping ground here and so did administrative officials.
While in the past 12 hours no representative of the administration, except for the fire brigade, had been to the trash chute that buried alive a girl on Sunday evening, the governor’s visit prompted officials to take note of the gravity of the situation.
“The garbage is thrown down the hill...to nowhere'” an aghast Gandhi said. “Tell me, is this scientific'” he asked both B.M. Limboo, the vice-chairman of Darjeeling Municipality and Rajesh Pandey, the district magistrate. “This is an unhygienic, anti-ecology and archaic method,” Gandhi said, stressing on the need to employ experts to come up with disposal techniques based on landfills.
Gandhi’s decision to visit the place, located between Mangalpuri and Sister Nivedita Gram, was made known around nine this morning. Since then, the same set of officials who did not have the time to visit the family of Sushmita Sarki (whose body is yet to be found), came to the dumping chute twice. The idea was probably to ensure a proper briefing for the governor scheduled to visit the site at three in the afternoon.
The icing on the cake was provided by the civic staff, who decided to sweep the bitumen road leading to the dumping chute, exactly 35 minutes before the governor’s arrival.
That they were also prepared for complaints was evident: When a resident told the governor that “the department concerned should do something about the stink as many people live here”, the civic staff quickly pointed to the bleaching powder that had been sprinkled after sweeping the road.
The hastily-swept road and the freshly sprinkled bleaching powder, however, failed to divert the governor’s focus from the issue of solid waste management in the hills. As a face-saving attempt, Limboo told him: “The state government has sanctioned funds to start a solid waste management project. But we are waiting for a no objection certificate from the pollution control board.”
The civic officials were, however, silent about a survey report that was prepared by the earlier municipal board in 2003. Though they said the current project is a follow-up of the same scheme, queries on three-year delay in implementation was conveniently avoided.