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State govt, GJM on collision course over RKSP School building

Ramakrishna Siksha Parishad (RKSP) school building construction issue
The warming up of ties between the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) and the state government, which renewed only recently, appears to be heading towards a collision course once again over the issue of construction of a school building in Darjeeling town.
A month or so ago, the district administration had issued an order and stopped construction work on a new structure to house the Ramakrishna Siksha Parishad (RKSP) School on Birch Hill Road. The reason given was that the upcoming structure was making the area vulnerable from the security point of view as the Governor’s House is located on the opposite side of the road. In protest, the Gorkha Janmukti Vidhyarthi Morcha today mobilised hundreds of students from various schools including the teaching and non-teaching faculty of RKSP School and organised a silent rally from the Railway Station to the district magistrate’s office. The central, sub-divisional and town committees of the GJM also participated in the rally to extend moral support. The students’ union submitted a memorandum to the additional district magistrate in the DM’s absence demanding construction work of the new school building be allowed to continue.
“There are several tall buildings and structures near the Writers’ Buildings in Kolkata. Why is there no security concern over there? Why is a different set of rules being followed for the hills and the plains?” wondered GJVM spokesperson Sandip Chhetri. The Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) has already sanctioned Rs6 crore to convert RKSP into a model school with complete modern facilities. The project started in January and the old three-storeyed structure was dismantled in March to make way for a new building. The new building (also three-storeys high) is slated to be completed by early next year. More than 1,200 students of the school are presently attending classes 2.5km away in makeshift tin and plywood shades set up in the playground of Darjeeling Government High School at Dhobi Talau, in the lower fringes of town.
“The poorest students of Darjeeling study in RKSP, and their future is in jeopardy with construction work being suspended. Further, continuous rainfall and the subsequent noise are making it difficult for the students to concentrate in their studies,” pointed out GJVM general secretary Bhaskar Rai. GJM leaders today held a meeting and formed a 16 member coordination committee comprising party leaders, the Darjeeling municipality chairman and building owners to formulate strategies to legally challenge the district administration’s order. RKSP School was founded in 1944 by Swami Prabhudananda and has classes up to the 12th standard offering courses in Arts, Science and Commerce streams. The Darjeeling superintendent of police had originally objected to the construction work of the school maintaining that the stretch from the Gorkha Ranga Manch Bhawan to the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute was a sensitive zone owing to the presence of the Governor’s House and other government buildings. The SP has also observed that several structures on the stretch were being constructed without following the prescribed building norms. ADM U.
Swaroop confirmed receiving a memorandum from the students’ union. “Construction work has been stopped because the upcoming building is very near the Governor’s House and this could pose security threats. There is no question of any kind of interference from our side. As for the memorandum, I will forward it to the higher authorities,” he said. On Monday, the school authority as well as the Darjeeling municipality attended a hearing in the sub-divisional magistrate court and where they were issued an order. The SDO’s order states that construction work of any kind in the stretch between the Gorkha Ranga Manch Bhawan and HMI would require permission from the executive magistrate’s office after submitting relevant documents. (EOIC)

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