Relief reaches hill ‘blind spots’

MARG and GNLF visit Gorkhay and Samanden

MARG and GNLF visit Gorkhay and Samanden
The “blind spots” in the hills can finally breathe a sigh of relief.
To reach Gorkhay and Samanden, two villages on the fringes of Singalila National Park, one has to drive for nearly three hours from Darjeeling to Ramman and then trek for another two hours. The villagers are neither connected by road or electricity, electricity “poles” have, however, reached these villages.
The lack of connectivity and the difficult terrain often results in these villages being called “blind spots”. Not many have heard of social organisations reaching these places to extend help.
“This time we received relief materials from MARG (a social organisation in Darjeeling). And then a few days ago, leaders of the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) came here with relief,” Chandrakala Sherpa, a resident of Gorkhay, told The Telegraph over phone.
The residents charge their mobile phone through solar batteries.
Mankind in Action for Rural Growth (MARG) was among the few to think of reaching help to these villages.
“We recently received a support of Rs 9.57 lakh to distribute relief among 500 families from the Azim Premji Philanthropic Initiative, which is based in Bangalore. We decided to reach out to forest villages in the Singalila National Park and to the families in the Chengrabanda red light areas in Cooch Behar district,” said Nirnay John Chhetri, secretary, MARG.
MARG reached these villages on May 11 carrying food grains on mules, while the GNLF led by their leader Sandip Limbu reached the place on May 14. Limbu’s relief packet also included breads from Glenary’s, whose owner is a GNLF leader.
Does Chandrakala Sherpa recollect receiving relief from social organisations? “No, I can’t recollect,” she said.
Do government official visit the village? “They come once in a while but not like these guys who came with relief,” she candidly said.
These rather isolated villages (Gorkhay and Samendan, however, have homestays for trekkers as it falls in the Sandakphu trekking route), even had to indirectly pay for the free rations provided by both the state and Centre during this lockdown.
“Our ration shops are in Ramman (two hours’ walking distance). We have to pay the horse owner Rs 3 per kg for the load,” she said.
Gorkhay has 50 houses and Samenden 30 and perhaps these numbers are not significant for those who matter, said a resident from Darjeeling who had visited the place during a health camp organised by Yuma Nursing Home in Darjeeling about a year ago.
Between May 10 to 13, MARG reached out to 366 families, including those from other villages of Singalila National Park.
Gorkhay and Samendan are suddenly enjoying the spotlight.
During the Darjeeling Assembly by-election last year, Amar Lama, Jana Andolan Party leader, had started his campaign from this place. Lama had then talked about the remoteness of the place.

https://www.telegraphindia.com
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The “blind spots” in the hills can finally breathe a sigh of relief. To reach Gorkhay and Samanden, two villages on the fringes of Singalila National Park, one has to drive for nearly three hours from Darjeeling to Ramman and then trek for another two hours.

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