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People’s Welfare Society threaten to start agitation to demand repair of NH55 at Tindharia

major stretch National Highway 55 at tindharia
Residents of Tindharia under the banner of People’s Welfare Society (PWS) on Monday threatened to start an agitation to demand immediate restoration of a major stretch of road on National Highway 55 that was destroyed by landslides in 2011.
Fed up with the delay in restoration of the vital road in the hills, a seven member delegation of the society also called on Bengal Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi at Raj Bhawan in Darjeeling during the day and submitted a memorandum seeking his intervention in this matter.
After the meeting, in a Press conference at the Darjeeling Press Guild, PWS president Hari Prasad Chhetri said, “We are talking about a national highway which has not been repaired even after four years. Nowhere such a thing takes place. We requested the Bengal Governor to use his influence to persuade the state government and the Centre to repair the highway at the earliest”.
The PWS memorandum states that a portion of 120 meters of road below the workshop of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR) in Tindharia under Kurseong sub-division was swept away by landslides on September 28 after the deadly September 18, 2011, earthquake.
“The NH 55 is our lifeline. The landslide has disconnected the highway between Siliguri and Darjeeling which is causing problems to the public of not only Tindharia but surrounding areas such as Giddeypahar, Mahanadi, Ghayabari, Chunbhatti and Rongtong with population over 50,000,” Chhetri said.
The PWS submission to the Bengal Governor highlights the residents of the hills incurring huge expenses in purchasing essential commodities of daily use including hardware materials because of the trucks and buses taking the alternative Rohini route, instead of the highway.
The society demanded immediate repair and restoration and also threatened to start an intense agitation. “We will be compelled to start an agitation to press for our demand. This will include hunger strikes and blocking of the alternative Rohini road,” said Benoy Kumar
Chhetri, the PWS general secretary.
Residents of Tindharia formed the society in 2014 after their plea submitted at various government platforms went in vain. “We voted for the leaders who rule us but our prayers have gone on deaf ears. We only get to hear about funds being released for repairs through
various newspapers but the actual ground work has not been done yet. Now we have decided that it will be ‘no road no vote’ till our demand is fulfilled,” said the PWS general secretary.
The Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) has already taken up the issue with the Centre. A GJM delegation in August met Nitin Gadkari, the union minister for road and transport and submitted a detailed project report along with relevant photographs.
The memorandum to the Governor also points to the great concern which may cost human lives and damage to properties. “In case of fire havoc taking place in the area, the fire engines cannot reach the affected place. Similarly, in the event of any natural calamities no relief measures can be provided to the victims,” reads the memorandum.
The society also blamed the DHR authorities for their lack of interest in repairing the damaged portion of road. “The DHR runs its trains on NH 55 from the plains right up to Darjeeling. However, they are not cooperating in repairing the road on a larger scale even though they have resumed service by restoring only their narrow gauge tracks,” the
society’s general secretary, alleged.
Asked about the Governor’s response, the PWS delegation said it was encouraging and that Tripathi asked his chief secretary to write to Nitin Gadkari, the union minister for road and transport and also to the state PWD road minister, this evening.(EOIC)

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