Roy Villa for govt, hostel for GTA- Mamata, Gurung swap buildings

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By OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
  • Published 17.05.13
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Darjeeling, May 16: The Bengal government and the GTA have worked out a swap on the upkeep of two buildings — Roy Villa, which is associated with Sister Nivedita, and the Tenzing Norgay Youth Hostel.

Roy Villa is under the GTA administration, while the Tenzing Norgay Youth Hostel is under the youth affairs department of the state government.

“According to the GTA agreement, Roy Villa was with the GTA and they had plans to set up a youth hostel here. On our request, they have agreed to hand it over to us. In lieu, we will give the Tenzing Norgay youth hostel to the GTA where they can carry out their project,” the chief minister said.

The Tenzing Norgay Youth Hostel is a facility with a 44-bed dormitory and three rooms. Sources said the hostel largely caters to mountaineers training with the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute.

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who went to Roy Villa on Lebong Cart Road today with GTA Sabha chief Bimal Gurung, announced Rs 1 crore each for the upkeep of the two buildings.

The decision for the swap was finalised after a meeting between Mamata and Gurung here today.

A tripartite agreement was also signed by the government, GTA and Ramakrishna Mission with regard to the development of Roy Villa, where Sister Nivedita breathed her last on October 13, 1911.

Mamata spent over an hour at Roy Villa, accompanied by Ramakrishna Mission general secretary Swami Suhitanandaji and Gurung. The Ramakrishna Mission will maintain Roy Villa from now.

“This is a historic decision that we have taken. Hardly anybody knows that Sister Nivedita, who worked for the welfare of the downtrodden, died in this house. There is historical importance attached to it. Swami Vivekananda also visited Roy Villa,” Mamata told the media after the meeting.

Once the centre would be ready the local people will benefit, Gurung said.

Roshan Giri, a GTA executive Sabha member, said the hill body was satisfied with the agreement on the Roy Villa. “The centre will not only be a tourist attraction but will also be beneficial to the hill people as there are talks of setting up women welfare centre and training centre for IAS aspirants.”

Mamata later wrote in a Facebook post: “It has been agreed that GTA would hand over the premises to the State Government for setting up of a Centre of Excellence in the name of “Ramkrishna Mission Nivedita Educational and Cultural Centre”.”

The state government wants to set up a campus of Swami Vivekananda University at Roy Villa and a school of languages in collaboration with the Ramakrishna Mission. A computer training centre, a coaching centre for joint entrance examination and civil service aspirants would also be started at Roy Villa.

A science promotion centre named after Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose will also be set up and there will be an exhibition on the life of Sister Nivedita.

“The centre(s) would work for the empowerment of women and youth… Many are unaware that Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose brought her (Sister Nivedita) to Roy Villa before her death,” Mamata said.

She said the GTA had wanted a girls’ school to be set up at Roy Villa. A decision would be taken by the Ramakrishna Mission, she added.

Swami Suhitanandaji said the Ramakrishna Mission had lost hope of getting Roy Villa. “Twenty years ago, Swami Lokeswaranandaji came to Darjeeling and met Subash Ghisingh with the request to hand over Roy Villa to us because of our sentiments associated with this house. Nothing came of it. We gave up hope,” he said.

Sister Nivedita first came to Darjeeling in 1903 with botanist Jagdish Chandra Bose and his wife Abala Basu, who had rented the property from Dwarka Nath Roy, a resident of Calcutta.

When the Morcha started its agitation in 2007, several members of the Gorkhaland Personnel (GLP) used to camp on the Roy Villa premises.

Till a few days back, the GLP were staying at Roy Villa. Sources said that the GLP personnel vacated the building when it became known that Mamata would visit the site.