Thursday, April 17, 2008

Moving the Landslide issue centre stage 2

Excerpt from the Telegraph (16Apr2008)

Meena focuses on landslides

Kalimpong, April 16: DGHC administrator B.L. Meena has agreed to take up landslide prevention work in the hills on a priority basis. He, however, cautioned that it would take time to accomplish the onerous task.

After meeting representatives of NGOs like Citizen Rights Forum, Kalimpong, and Save The Hills, Meena said the Bengal government has already identified roads, drinking water, rural electrification, education and health as priority areas, and landslide prevention would be added to the list.

“We will have to consult government experts on disaster management. We will start working on it, but it will take time,” Meena said.

The DGHC administrator, however, added that the forced closure of government offices would only cause further delay in development work. The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has begun an indefinite shutdown in all government offices in the hills from Monday.

“Clearly, the DGHC administration can do nothing much if offices continue to remain closed like this,” agreed N. P. Dixit, the president of the rights forum. Dixit and his team in their meeting with Meena suggested five priority areas for him to work on. While road, water and electricity were common areas of intent, the rights body also suggested agriculture and landslides.

“We also suggested setting up of review committees in all the three hill subdivisions to oversee the implementation of development work,” said Dixit.

Meena, on his part, said he would welcome any arrangement that would ensure transparency.

The decision of the administrator to meet teams of citizens was hailed as a welcome change from the style of functioning of the previous regime.

“Let alone common citizens, the previous administrator (GNLF chief Subash Ghisingh) did not even entertain the views of his own party members,” said an NGO representative who met Meena today.


Comment by praful rao

The Administrator's decision to include landslides in the priority areas of the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) is a long overdue step.
While I welcome this, I would like to add a word of caution here because the rot has taken years to seep in ie landslide prevention has been neglected for decades in these hills and so expecting a quick and easy solution to the problem would be naive. Nevertheless, it is "a great leap forward" and in the right direction.
I would like to thank, Mr NP Dixit, President of Citizen's Right Forum, Kalimpong who made it possible for STH to brief the Administrator in person.
In a lighter vein, the dog eared and now torn chart on the wall is a hand drawn map of Kalimpong which I have used over the past 6 months to talk to politicians, students, scientists, farmers and now the Administrator of DGHC about the landslide issue.

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