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Delhi team on hill mission

Posted by Ramesh Khati on September 30, 2009

Darjeeling, Sept. 29(The Telegraph): A seven-member inter-department team from Delhi will visit the Darjeeling hills tomorrow according to an agreement between the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha and the state and the central governments at the last tripartite meeting.

“The team consists of officials from different departments and is headed by a joint secretary from the ministry of home affairs. The team will oversee the development activities undertaken by the DGHC,” said the district magistrate of Darjeeling, Surendra Gupta.

The decision to send the team to Darjeeling to review various hill projects was agreed upon during the third tripartite meeting in New Delhi on August 11. Union home secretary G.K. Pillai had chaired the meeting.

Apart from overseeing the various activities of the DGHC, the team is likely to go through the details of the rehabilitation being conducted by the council following the devastation caused by Cyclone Aila.

After the cyclone-triggered landslides, the district administration had worked out a report which said Rs 345 crore would be needed to carry out the restoration.

State finance minister Asim Dasgupta during his visit to Darjeeling in June — a month after the cyclone — had said 4,500 houses had been fully destroyed while 12,000 were partially damaged. The Morcha on its part had demanded that 1,400 houses, which included 309 fully damaged ones, be included in the initial list prepared by the district administration.

The Centre which had provided a Rs 1,000 crore package to the cyclone victims in West Bengal is likely to check out the allotment given to Darjeeling. So far the state government has sanctioned Rs 55 crore for temporary construction, maintaining that the permanent restoration would start once the dry season started.

The visit of the central team is important given the fact that the Morcha had said it was dissatisfied with the council, which had to be dissolved immediately. In fact, both the state and the Centre have agreed to dissolve the DGHC once an interim arrangement was worked out. The central team is likely to obtain firsthand information on the running of the DGHC so far.

“The team will be in the hills till October 1 and they will also be visiting Kalimpong,” said Gupta.

Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri said his party would meet the delegation in Darjeeling tomorrow.


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