The Telegraph
Monday , September 17 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Quake cash crunch for school

- 112-year-old Graham’s Homes school needs Rs 20 crore but has a tenth of the amount

Kalimpong. Sept. 16: Nearly a year after the September 18 earthquake, the 112-year-old Dr. Graham’s Homes in Kalimpong is yet to get adequate assistance to rebuild all its facilities.

The school suffered extensive damage and authorities have estimated that Rs 20 crore would be required for the repair. But the institution has managed to gather only Rs 2 crore from alumni, one of them being the Bhutanese Prime Minister Lyonchen Jigme Yoser Thinley, and well-wishers.

“The school buildings, staff quarters, the dispensary and the chapel need major repairs. Repairing the chapel requires specialised work. We have so far spent about Rs 1.2 crore,” said Anmole Prasad, a lawyer and a member of Homes’s governing body.

The state government gave Rs 50 lakh to the school but the institution, Prasad said, had written to it for more assistance after chief minister Mamata Banerjee promised help during her visit to the school earlier this year.

“We will also get our insurance money,” Prasad said, but did not specify the amount.

Altogether, 11 buildings, including the main school, the students’ cottages and the chapel, were damaged. Five of the cottages were totally destroyed and students don’t stay there anymore.

“The property is over 100 years old. Most of the houses on the ridge line suffered major damage,” he said.

The school, where nearly 1,500 children from India, Bhutan and Nepal read, has now put up a flash on its website requesting aid to rebuild its facilities.

While funds are the main constraint for the school, another Kalimpong landmark, the 111-year-old MacFarlane Church, faces problems because of the nature of the restoration work. About Rs 76 lakh is required for the reconstruction of the church. Eighty per cent of the church was damaged.

Miku Fonning, a member of the church’s reconstruction committee, said the work was taking time because all the restoration has to be done using lime and stones.

The church is expected to be restored by early next year. A three-member team of architects — Subin Pradhan, Upendra Gurung and Chetan Shreshta — is overseeing the restoration work.

Pradhan said almost 75 per cent of the work was complete, and if all is well the remaining work should be completed by January next year.

“The restoration work on the church building will be completed before Christmas. The work on the tower will be taken up shortly and we hope to accomplish the task by January next year. We are doing the work to strengthen the building from within, while retaining the original character of the heritage structure,” he said.