Wednesday, June 3, 2009

From the Newspapers today

Morcha to take up hill relief with CM today


arjeeling, June 2: A Gorkha Janmukti Morcha delegation led by the outfit’s president Bimal Gurung will meet the Bengal chief minister tomorrow and discuss the devastation caused by the cyclone in the hills.

Roshan Giri, the general secretary of the Morcha, said: “We will be discussing the destruction caused by landslides in the hills and the relief needed for the people. Other issues might also be taken up at the meeting with Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee.”
Giri and other Morcha leaders like Trilok Dewan, L.B. Pariyar, Krishna Limbu and Raju Pradhan left for
Calcutta today and Gurung will be joining the delegation tomorrow.
The general secretary said the Morcha had taken the initiative to meet the chief minister. “The invitation did not come from them (government), but we decided to meet the chief minister, taking into account the destruction the cyclone has unleashed in the hills,” said Giri.
The Morcha has already demanded a relief package of Rs 1,000 crore from the state government. The leaders of the outfit had met governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi in
Darjeeling with the same demand.
Following the landslides triggered by the storm, around 1,400 people have been displaced and they are staying in 41 relief camps set up in schools and community halls.
Darjeeling district administration had yesterday held a meeting with various departments and decided to co-ordinate the relief works being undertaken in the aftermath of the calamity.
“We are coming up with a Disaster Management District Plan and trying to co-ordinate with all agencies which can help us,” said Surendra Gupta, the
Darjeeling district magistrate.
The meeting took stock of the overall situation in the hills and decided to make provisions to store food items during the monsoon.
Sources said the discussions also centred around putting in place a system that could warn of inclement weather and requisitioning the services of the army in the landslide-affected areas.
“Things like the identification of helipads also cropped up at the meeting. (The helipads have already been identified.) How to tie up with the airforce for better co-ordination and arrange army vehicles for aid were the other issues discussed,” said an official.The departments have decided to speed up the works like the strengthening and the repair of culverts and bridges.


Fear stalks sink zone

- Houses in Kurseong village tilt and develop cracks VIVEK SINGH

Kurseong, June 2: They may have escaped the landslides caused by Cyclone Aila this time, but 10 families at 14th Mile fear that come another deluge, they may not be so lucky.
Huge cracks have appeared on the walls and floors of 10 houses making it difficult for the owners to continue to stay there. Some of the structures have also tilted a little making them more dangerous.
“If it starts raining in the evening, we gather in a single room and stay awake for the entire night. When the storm struck last Tuesday, we feared that we would die but we are thankful to god that nothing happened to us. We may not be so lucky the next time as almost 10 houses have got severe cracks and have tilted,” said Mankala Chhetri, whose house has cracks on the walls and has tilted a bit.
A former gram panchayat member of the area, Nawraj Pradhan, said the cracks had started appearing some three years ago.
The village, 10km from here, situated above NH55 has a population of around 300 with 30 to 35 houses. The area, Pradhan said, is located in a sinking zone. The road below the village had sunk some years ago.
“We had given in writing our plight to the authorities concerned. Some two years ago, the block development officer of Kurseong had also visited the area,” added Pradhan.
“Where can we go? We have no other place to shift this moment. Moreover, we domesticate cows which are our source of income. Moving out means taking the cattle along,” said Mankala, adding that in recent times nobody from the administration had visited the area.
Mankala owns 10-15 cows and her family earns by selling milk in the Gayabari area. But Mankala is not the only one living in fear.
“My whole verandah has huge cracks. Some weeks back we had filled them with cement and sand. The walls have also developed cracks. Whenever it rains, our heart skips a beat,” said Bhagawati Chettri, another resident.
Kurseong subdivisional officer Dipyendu Das confirmed that the village is located in a sinking zone.
“A team from the Geological Survey of India had visited the area last year and in their report they confirmed the fact. The residents have to be shifted from there and currently we are looking for a vacant government land in the area. Once we get that, we will plan the shifting.”

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