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Hill TMC alleged Morcha for opposing hawkers’ market construction at Chowrastha

proposed site at Chowrashta for the hawkers' market
The hill unit of the Trinamool Congress today alleged the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha was opposing the construction of a hawkers’ market at Chowrastha and pressurising the municipality as retaliation to the ongoing land dispute in Jamuney.

Construction work of the Aastha Hawkers’ Market at Chowrastha has met with stiff resistance from locals and the municipality. The foundation stone for the market was laid by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on January 23 in the presence of Gorkhaland Territorial Administration chief executive Bimal Gurung and other dignitaries.

The opposition to the complex at Chowrastha coincides with the district administration suspending the GTA’s development work in Jamuney by imposing Section 144 of the CRPC following complaints by some land losers. The GTA plans to convert a barren agricultural land in Jamuney into a tourist hub.

Amid this backdrop, the hill TMC claimed the GJM is opposing the hawkers’ complex in its bid to exact revenge.

“The GTA work in Jamuney is illegal and the district administration has done the right thing by stopping the project. However, all rules and regulations are being followed in terms of the hawkers’ market at Chowrastha. This is nothing but the GJM’s ruse to oppose the market’s construction by mustering locals and organisations,” alleged senior hill TMC leader Binny Sharma.

He noted that had there been any objections, the issues should have been raised earlier and the timing of the opposition smells of nothing but conspiracy.

“When the chief minister laid the foundation stone, GTA chief executive Bimal Gurung and municipality chairman Amar Singh Rai were present. Moreover, we also held meetings earlier in Kolkata to identify a suitable plot for the market and they were all attended by Mr Rai, the municipality chairman,” Sharma said.

A brainchild of the chief minister, the market will come up at an expected cost of Rs1 crore and will be located in the slope between Chowrastha and CR Das Road. The complex is expected to initially house 42 traders affiliated to the Aastha Hawkers’ Association, a body that has more than 200 members.

Meanwhile, Sharma said, “An open air theatre is under construction at Chowrastha for which four trees have been felled. Why has the GJM, the municipality and those opposing the hawkers’ market not objecting to this?”

The principal reason behind the opposition to the hawkers’ complex, by members of the Morning Health Club and a local NGO, is it would spoil the ambience and charm Chowrastha is so renowned for. The Darjeeling municipality, on the other hand, has maintained the district administration is not following proper building norms in the construction.

District magistrate Puneet Yadav said a site and building plan was submitted a long while ago to the civic body for its approval.

“We had not submitted a plan earlier because we first wanted to test the soil of the land. However, we submitted the building plan after getting the soil test report. Now we are waiting for the municipality to respond,” he said.

According to the municipality chairman, the district administration submitted the plan only recently and it would be deliberated upon soon.

“Our board of councilors will sit for a meeting and take a decision within 60 days,” he said.

When asked for his opinion, GJM assistant general secretary Binay Tamang rubbished the TMC’s allegation.

“We thought the district administration would submit the plan and a ‘no objection certificate’ after the laying of the foundation stone. However, this was not done and the municipality did what was right as obtaining its permission is mandatory,” he said.

On the accusation of revenge, the GJM leader said, “Work on the land in Jamuney was signed and approved of by the GTA principal secretary and the district administration, but despite this,  a prohibitory order had been clamped. What is the motive behind this?” questioned Tamang.(EOIC)

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