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Bimal Gurung stops dismantling illegal high buildings in Darjeeling

Darjeeling municipality dismantling higher illegal buildings
The chief of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) and the Gorkha Jana Mukti Morcha (GJMM) supremo, Bimal Gurung has decided to refute his earlier stance of dismantling illegal high risers in Darjeeling after his return from Delhi.
On Sunday, Gurung said that the GTA and Darjeeling municipality has taken a decision of not dismantling any illegal high risers that have already been built after a meeting with the building owners of Darjeeling at Gorkha Ranga Mancha Bhawan. He also said that the old high risers will be “legalized.”
“The high rise buildings which have already been built will not be dismantled. However, from now onwards no building can be constructed above 14.5 meter and the new buildings can be of a maximum of five storey,” said Gurung. When asked the reason for taking the decision, he vaguely said that the decision was taken from a political stand-point and in consideration of the welfare of the people. However, GTA executive member Binoy Tamang, added that the decision was taken considering the population increase in recent years.
When asked whether the decision was taken in lieu of request by the building owners, Gurung said: “No there were no requests. But I know what the view of the people regarding the dismantling of the buildings is.”
It may be mentioned that the GTA chief had ordered all high rise buildings to be dismantled and illegal constructions to be stopped. He had also asked the municipality to immediately start with demolishing two floors of a high rise building, constructed in Chowkbazar recently. “I am leaving for Delhi soon, I want the building to be demolished, if I return from Delhi and find out that the building has not been demolished, I will demolish it myself,” he had said before leaving for the capital. Following this order, Darjeeling municipality had dismantled two floors of the building located between NB Singh Road and HD Lama Road near Chowbazar in Darjeeling.
When asked the chairman of Darjeeling Municipality, Amar Singh Rai as to how the old high risers which were constructed by violating the building norms of the Municipality Act, can be now be legalised, he said,“We were instructed by the chief of GTA to sit with lawyers and discuss with them as to how we can proceed with it. So we will discuss with the lawyers and see what can be done.”When asked about the change in the height of the building from 11.5 meter to 14.5 meter, he said, “When DK Pradhan was the chairman of Darjeeling Municipality, a resolution was passed where the buildings could be built up to 14.5 meter and not 11.5 meter.”
Binoy Tamang said that a board will be formed in the municipality to look after the matter of legalization of buildings. According to Rai, the main problem in dismantling the high risers is that 90 percent of the buildings are occupied and there are no alternatives for those people to shift to other places. Sources in the municipality said that 386 building owners in 12 wards in Darjeeling had been sent notices for violating building norms.
Gurung further said that he also sought permission from building owners for dismantling “one or two floors of some buildings for the construction of stations for a circular rope way.” “Compensation will be provided to them,” he said. The GTA chief has plans of starting a circular ropeway from Ghoom to Lebong in Darjeeling for which Gurung said that a detailed project report will be soon prepared.(sns)

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