Darjeeling’s BJP MLA Neeraj Zimba has requested defence minister Rajnath Singh and Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee to announce ex-gratia payments for the families of the army personnel who have lost their lives in the Manipur landslide.
At least 14 soldiers from Darjeeling district and adjoining areas such as the Dooars in Jalpaiguri and Sikkim have died in the landslide that struck the under-construction railway station yard in Noney district early on Thursday. This is one of the heaviest peacetime casualties for the Darjeeling hills.
“Sir, most humbly, I call upon your good self to acknowledge the contributions of the workers and soldiers toward our nation-building and announce honourable ex gratia to the families and support for their wives and children towards their education and livelihood,” Zimba has written in the letter to the defence minister.
A similarly worded letter has been sent to Mamata.
On Sunday, Darjeeling BJP MP Raju Bista visited Noney to take stock of the situation. He too called for compensation for the victims’ kin.
“I thanked Hon’ble N. Biren Singhji (the chief minister of Manipur) for announcing Rs 5 lakh ex-gratia to the families of the jawans who attended veergati due to the landslide and Rs 50,000 for all those injured in the incident,” Bista said in a written statement issued after his visit.
The bodies of 42 landslide victims have been pulled out of the rubble till Sunday evening while 20 people are still missing.
It is becoming “increasingly” difficult to identify bodies and trace missing persons because of “tissue deterioration” and chances of finding survivors becoming grimmer as the depth of the search below the rubble increases, the Noney administration said.