A community hall in Darjeeling has been constructed by allegedly using only 10 per cent of the project funds, with reported attempts to pocket the remaining 90 per cent of the money.
Darjeeling BJP MLA Neeraj Zimba sanctioned a sum of Rs 1.99 lakh for the construction of a community hall for Lali Gurash Sangh at Kamjer Busty Goke in Bijanbari block of Darjeeling.
“Yesterday (on Monday), I received some pictures of the project, which were shocking beyond imagination,” said Zimba.
According to the photographs shared by Zimba, the community hall is simply a ramshackle bamboo shed akin to a structure meant to keep cattle.
Members of the Lali Gurash Sangh submitted a written report to Zimba, stating that some unidentified people came to their village and handed over a sum of Rs 20,000, stating that they had managed that amount of money for the “repair” of their community hall.
However, it is a new construction, not repair.
Sources said that the project was being implemented by one Nirmal Gurung and its total cost was Rs 1.99 lakh.
Zimba on Tuesday filed a complaint regarding this with the Bijbanbari block development officer.
Bijanbari BDO Sanjay Ghisingh said that no payment had been released to the contractor so far.
“There is no way that the construction would have been approved. No bill has been put up to us and no payments have been made. Payments are only made after the engineers inspect the project,” said Ghisingh.
Although the contractor could not be contacted, sources said he promised to build the community hall properly after this controversy.
Zimba, however, wants appropriate action. “I have also decided to further sanction extra Rs 5 lakh so that a proper hall can be built for Rs 7 lakh,” he added.
Many in the hills are pointing out that the Bijanbari incident points to the level of corruption in the hills.
Recently, Darjeeling BJP MP Raju Bista posted videos of poor quality of work in drinking water projects taken up by the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA).
“They (the leaders) seem to be operating in an emotional vacuum, where the only things that matter are money, commission, contract and dhanda,” said Bista who shared videos of the haphazard water connections in Bijanbari.
“This exemplifies the lack of self-respect on the part of the contractors concerned, the departmental engineers, and those running GTA. How can anyone be happy with this work? Are the departmental engineers whose duty it is to ensure that all requirements are complied with, absolutely unaware of this?” Bista had asked.
The GTA has not yet responded to Bista’s charges.