Anit Thapa, the chief executive of Gorkhaland Territorial Administration, laid foundation stones of a number of drinking water projects, worth Rs 122 crore in all, for the Tung-Saint Mary’s area of Kurseong sub-division on Sunday.
The project will be implemented under the central government’s Jal Jeevan Mission for pipeline water supply scheme to households.
“We will provide drinking water in every household through this scheme. The quality of work will have to be maintained so that it benefits people,” Thapa said, after laying the foundation stone at Beltar, a locality near Kurseong.
According to sources, the projects will be taken up in a number of tea estates of the sub-division, which include gardens like Singel, Sepoy Dhura, Edenvale, Maharani, Nahori, Dyal Thong, Ringtong and Chaitapani.
Drinking water facilities will also be made available in localities like Saint Mary’s and Goethals, Champasari Forest and Kharia Busty, and Chatakpur Forest.
“Also, an open groundwater reservoir with a capacity of 20 million litres will be built at Sepoy Dhura,” said an official of the GTA.
Altogether 4,361 households will be covered under these water projects.
In the hills, drinking water supply in rural areas has always been a major challenge for the administration and local bodies, especially during the dry months, that is, from February to June.
“Water supply improves only with the start of monsoon. The issue has been flagged time and again by various political parties in the hills. As the panchayat elections in the hills are drawing near, it is evident that the drinking water supply will be a major poll issue. That is why Anit Thapa, who also heads the Bharatiya Gorkha Prajatantrik Morcha, intends to pass a missive to the hill people that the GTA is putting in all efforts to provide drinking water to rural households,” said a veteran in hill politics.
Thapa, who visited the Tung-Saint Mary’s area in Kurseong for the first time after assuming the chief executive’s office at the GTA, urged local residents, especially youths, to come forward and develop the area as a tourist destination.
He referred to Sittong, another tiny hilly hamlet that has become popular among tourists in recent years, and spoke on significant socio-economic changes of local residents there.
“I want to appeal to residents and youths to utilise the tourism potential here, just like we have developed in Sittong,” said Thapa.