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GTA to construct model houses in Mirik with state govt

Gorkhaland Territorial Administration meeting in darjeeling
The Gorkhaland Territorial Administration has decided to work together with the state government to construct model houses in Mirik under Kurseong sub division, the area that was heavily affected by the July 1 landslides which claimed several lives. On Thursday, the GTA held a meeting with the district administration to discuss in detail the extent of damage caused by the killer landslides in Mirik and Kalimpong sub-division.

After the meeting, GTA chief executive Bimal Gurung said, “Today we had a comprehensive discussion with officials of the district administration to estimate the damage caused by the recent landslides. The objective is to give a correct report of the extent of damage to the state government and the Centre.” He added, “When cyclone Aila struck the hills in 2009, we did not place a correct report and this shortcoming made things for the affected. We don’t want to repeat that mistake.”

The GTA chief executive informed it could take another two to three days for the final comprehensive report to be prepared even though a preliminary one has already been prepared and the assessment process is still in progress. “It was a huge catastrophe inflicted on the hills and its people and therefore, the assessment process cannot be completed in a day or two. But the process is in full swing and the final report may get completed in say, a couple of days,” said Gurung.

The aftermath of the July 1 landslides in Mirik and Kalimpong left 32 people dead and hundreds wounded and displaced. According to an administrative report, nearly 1 lakh people have been affected with more than 3,000 still taking shelter in community centres in fear, apprehensive of further landslides because of the ongoing monsoon season that will continue till August.

Reports still being upgraded also show that the July 1 disaster destroyed 503 houses completely and 1,414 partially in Mirik and Kalimpong, respectively with the loss being estimated at more than  Rs27 crore in terms of property, and the figure doesn’t include damage to infrastructure such as roads, bridges and culverts.

The GTA and the state government have identified a plot in Phuguri tea estate near Tingling in Mirik where the maximum number of people, for the initial construction of the model houses. “We have identified a piece of land in Phuguri tea garden where the model houses will be constructed for the neediest of the lot. In the beginning, we will rehabilitate those affected of Tingling tea garden as it recorded the highest death toll,” Gurung said on Thursday.

Of the total of 32 deaths, Tingling alone lost 16, Saureni one, while 7 bodies were recovered from the Mirik municipality area. Seven deaths have been recorded in Kalimpong and one in Sukhay in Darjeeling sub-division. Construction work of the model houses in Mirik will start from July 24 and will be jointly funded by the state government and the hill administrative body.

Gurung also said he would be going to Delhi in the first week of August to meet Central ministers. “Central ministers and even the Bengal chief minister visited Miriki indicating the urgency of the siuation. I will go to Delhi in August to discuss with ministers about the

conditions of National Highway 55, compensation to be provided to the families of the victims and other landslide related issues,” he said.

The GTA chief executive also said he would sit with the municipality chairmen of the three hill sub-divisions to discuss the drainage system of the towns, adding mobile phone operators laying cable lines have been directed to stop work.(EOI)

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