The Telegraph
Friday , September 30 , 2011
Since 1st March, 1999
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Hills seek special quake aid

Kalimpong, Sept. 29: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha today demanded a special package for the hills on the lines of the Rs 1,000 crore announced by the Prime Minister for Sikkim earlier in the day.

Morcha president Bimal Gurung, in the presence of Darjeeling MP Jaswant Singh, accused both the Centre and the state government of step-motherly treatment to the hills in the aftermath of the earthquake.

The MP said he has directed the district magistrate to sanction Rs 50 lakh to the Morcha relief committee from his local area development fund. He also announced assistance of nearly Rs 70 lakh from the MPLAD scheme for schools and hospitals damaged by the quake.

“I would like to request the MP to write to the Prime Minister and the state government and demand a special package for the hills,” said Gurung.

Asked what was the amount they were seeking, Singh said it shouldn’t be a “competitive situation” vis-à-vis Sikkim. “The question is not about competitive figures. The question is about relative understanding of the dynamics of the problem,” he added.

Trying to put into perspective the “hurt” expressed by the Morcha leaders, Singh said: “There should be no sense of either discrimination or Darjeeling district’s natural interest not being taken into account…Don’t make the distinction between Darjeeling and India. This is a vital part of India.”

The MP said he was in touch with at least three corporate houses, seeking aid for the hills. “I will also meet the collector (read district magistrate) and request him to sanction Rs 50 lakh from LAD to the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha’s relief committee,” he said. Singh said Rs 20 lakh each will be given to the Seed Farm Junior High School, Gidubling High School, and the Leprosy Hospital, all of them in Kalimpong. “Rs 10 lakh will be given to the Kalimpong sub-divisional hospital,” he said. Under the MPLAD scheme, MPs can suggest projects worth Rs 2 crore a year to the district administration to be taken up in their respective constituencies.

Singh said he had discussed with a corporate house the prospects of adopting quake-hit villages similar to Latur in Maharashtra and Bhuj in Gujarat. Singh has donated Rs 3 lakh from his own account to buy food for the affected families.

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