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regular-article-logo Friday, 01 March 2024

Mamata Banerjee directs steps for drinking water supply at Darjeeling's Sebdellajote village

The village, which is in Naxalbari block of Siliguri subdivision, is known for one of its former residents — veteran Naxalite leader Kanu Sanyal. Residents have time and again complained that they do not have drinking water supply in the village and have to depend on local streams and wells

Avijit Sinha Siliguri Published 07.12.23, 11:00 AM
People gather to welcome Mamata Banerjee in Kurseong on Wednesday.

People gather to welcome Mamata Banerjee in Kurseong on Wednesday. PTI picture

Sebdellajote, an otherwise nondescript village in the plains of Darjeeling district, was under chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s scanner on Wednesday.

The village, which is in Naxalbari block of Siliguri subdivision and around 30km from Siliguri, is known for one of its former residents — veteran Naxalite leader Kanu Sanyal. Residents of the hamlet have time and again complained that they do not have drinking water supply in the village and have to depend on local streams and wells.

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After Mamata landed at the Bagdogra airport in the afternoon, she spoke to Darjeeling district magistrate Preeti Goyal and Siliguri mayor Gautam Deb about the drinking water supply.

“We are aware of the drinking water problem which people are facing in Kanu Sanyal’s village. The state PHE department is working to provide water to the village. I have asked the mayor of Siliguri to send water tanks to the village in a regular manner unless PHE finishes the work. This will help villagers,” said Mamata.

Such a prompt move by the chief minister comes at a time when a case, which was filed by some residents of Sebdellajote, is being heard at Calcutta High Court.

For the past few days, Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay has been hearing the case at the Jalpaiguri Circuit Bench of the high court.

“Even after 75 years of Independence, we have to depend on a local stream and wells as no drinking water is supplied to our village. It is disappointing that we had to knock on the doors of the judiciary to get drinking water in our area,” said Dipu Haldar, an associate of Kanu Sanyal and one of the villagers who had filed the petition.

Justice Gangopadhyay, while hearing the case, spoke with the villagers and also questioned officials of PHE and some other departments and local bodies. On Wednesday, he instructed the PHE authorities to finish the work by January.

“The court has said that work should be finished by January so that people living in the village get drinking water at their homes. The PHE is already into work and has set a similar target,” said Hirak Barman, the lawyer who represented the state government.

The target is to provide drinking water connections to 1,500 homes, said sources.

Mamata said S.S. Ahluwalia, then MP of Darjeeling, had adopted the village after winning the Lok Sabha elections in 2014.

“S.S. Ahluwalia had adopted the village (under Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana) but did nothing. Later, the state PHE department took the task of providing drinking water to the village. We hope the work will end soon,” said Mamata.

Trinamul insiders said the chief minister’s proactive move to address the drinking water supply issue in the village is aimed at exerting pressure on the saffron camp.

“This is a glaring example of yet another hollow promise made by a BJP legislator. In fact, the local MLA (of Matigara-Naxalbari Assembly seat) is also from the same party and till date, no initiative has been taken to develop the hamlet into a model village as the former MP had announced,” said a Trinamul functionary.

Anandamoy Barman, the MLA, however, held the state responsible.

“It is the duty of the state to provide drinking water in villages. The Centre is providing funds for it. In Sebdellajote, the central scheme could not be implemented because of non-cooperation from the state’s side. As some residents have moved the court, they are trying to pass the buck,” said Barman.

Additional reporting by our Jalpaiguri correspondent

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