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Expert committee to find detail structural study of Old Supermarket building in Darjeeling

Old Supermarket building in Darjeeling
The Gorkhaland Territorial Administration has decided to form an expert committee to carry out a detailed structural study of the Old Supermarket building in Darjeeling, days after a house in the town collapsed killing seven persons.

The decision to form the panel for the 40-year-old market complex was taken at a meeting between GTA officials and the shop owners today.
"At the meeting, it was unanimously decided that the GTA would set up a committee of experts to carry out a detailed study of the supermarket by taking all stakeholders into confidence. Till the committee submits its report, the supermarket will function as usual. We would appeal to the shop owners to respect the recommendations of the committee," GTA executive sabha member Binay Tamang said.
GTA executive sabha member Jyoti Kumar Rai, Darjeeling municipality chairman Amar Singh Rai and representatives of the Old Supermarket Bepari Pariwar, an association of supermarket shop owners, also attended the meeting.
On July 22, a four-storey house at Dr Zakir Hussain Busty in Darjeeling had collapsed and seven persons had died.
After the incident, GTA chief executive Bimal Gurung had expressed his concern over the condition of the Old Supermarket building and few other structures in town. He had asked the municipality to hold talks with building owners and stakeholders in a bid to avoid such accidents.
This is not the first time that Gurung spoke about the complex. In March last year, he had said he was thinking about pulling down the structure and build a new one. But there was no development after that.
Bepari Pariwar president Madhusudan Bist said: "We are of the opinion that the market complex is very strong and it is only the walls that look dilapidated. What is needed is repairs. Maybe the roof can be replaced with a tin one. It will make the building lighter."
Sources said the cemented roof of the four-storeyed building has been leaking for sometime and the top floor becomes soggy during rains.
The market building was inaugurated in 1975.
Although municipality record says the complex has 219 shops, currently there are over 300 shops and offices in it.
Darjeeling municipality chairman said only 60 per cent of the 219 (listed) shop owners pay rents regularly and there were few defaulters who had not paid rents for as long as 28 years. "Rents are minimal ranging from Rs 500 to Rs 1,000 a month, after the last revision in 2012. The outstanding rent today is Rs 37 lakh. At the meeting today, the shop owners have agreed to help the civic body collect the dues," Rai said.(TT)

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