TMC office in govt building raises eyebrows in Darjeeling

TMC office in govt building raises eyebrows in Darjeeling
Darjeeling, 28 July: The move of the Hill unit of the Trinamul Congress to inaugurate its party office today in an incomplete ‘government building’ has raised eyebrows here. The same building at Judge Bazaar also houses the CPI-M party office.
Though the CPI-M leaders in Darjeeling Hills did not object to the opening of the party office in a government building and said, "Every party has the right to open a party office," concerns were raised from various quarters. However, the district administration remained tightlipped on the alleged encroachment of a government building. Spokesperson of the Hill TMC, Binny Sharma, instead alleged the CPI-M of initiating such “encroachment.” “I will look into the matter if the department concerned writes to me about it,” Darjeeling district magistrate Puneet Yadav, however, said.
"For 15 years now, the CPI-M has its office in the building. Why didn’t anybody point a finger at that?" Mr Sharma said. "Moreover, many regional parties in the Hills have their offices in government buildings. Questions should be raised against them too," he added.
Stating that the party is not well aware of who actually owns the building, Mr Sharma said: "We will g through all the processes to legally establish an office there once we get to know who the actual owner of the building is. Moreover, if the government asks us to leave the building, the Hill TMC will abide by the laws and vacate it immediately."
According to sources, the land where the three-storied building is being constructed falls under the Darjeeling Ropeway Company Ltd under the state industrial reconstruction department.
Meanwhile, defending Mr Sharma’s allegations, CPI-M leader KB Wattar said, "In 1999, we decided to establish our party office there as it was vacant and it was a convenient location."
"As the land where the building is being constructed falls under the Darjeeling Ropeway Company Ltd, we had applied to use the ground floor on lease till 2004, but to no avail. The then state officials informed us that the PWD who had initiated the building has not handed over the structure to them. The building now has no proper owner," he added.
According to sources, the state industrial reconstruction department had asked the PWD to construct the building during the 80s but work remained stalled and is incomplete as the Gorkhaland agitation began
in 1986. The Darjeeling goods ropeway that used to transport goods to and from Bijanbari and Darjeeling is defunct since 1998.
The industrial reconstruction department had taken over the Darjeeling Goods Ropeway in 1977.
When Chief minister Mamata Banerjee was the railway minister, she sent a team to conduct a survey to see if the ropeway could be converted into a passenger-carrying one. (sns)

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