HT, 21 Jul 2016, SILIGURI: Darjeeling district administration has decided to dismantle 13 houses and shops at 29th Mile along National Highway-10 under Kalimpong sub-division as the raging waters of Teesta river have breached the protection wall endangering the lives of local people.
The Teesta, which is flowing above the danger level, has caused major damages to the wall constructed by the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) at 29th Mile.
The NHPC has two hydel projects – Teesta Low Dam Project (132 mw) at Rambi and Teesta Low Dam Project (160 mw) at Kalijhora.
The 29th Mile, which is a forest village along the NH-10, has been facing the direct impact of the Rambi project commissioned in 2013. The right side of the village on the way to Kalimpong from Siliguri is in precarious condition and the loss of human life and property seems just a matter of time.
Locals said the village has suffered damage because the NHPC blocks the Teesta water to run their turbines. The situation worsens during the monsoon.
Nirmalaya Gharani, subdivisional officer, Kalimpong, said, “As many as 13 houses and shops at 29th Mile will be dismantled on Thursday. We are dismantling them just to protect villagers from any danger.”
Teesta River has already breached the protection wall and it is dangerous for the villagers to remain there, he said.
The Teesta waters have also endangered National Highway-10 at 29th Mile. The highway is hit by numerous landslides even as it was open till the time of filing this report.
The NHPC has already paid compensation to the owners of 11 shops and houses at 29th Mile.
A senior NHPC official said those, who received compensation, were supposed to shift to other places, but are still staying in the same location.
But Meena Sherpa, whose family owns two concrete houses and shops in 29th Mile, said, “Dismantling the properties without settling the compensation package is nothing but atrocity.” Her husband Sangey and son Wangdup have refused the compensation given by the NHPC on the ground that the amount was not adequate.
Meena said, “We are ready to vacate and dismantle the houses provided we get satisfactory compensation package.”
Sources said there would be tight security arrangement in 29th Mile. Meanwhile, a herd of elephants comprising five adult and two calves which were stuck in the raging water of Teesta at Gajoldoba in the Teesta Barrage area on Wednesday morning were rescued by the forest department and local people.
This was the third time elephants were marooned in the Teesta this monsoon.
Three adult elephants died while trying to save a calf here. Rescuing marooned elephants from rising Teesta is a struggle, said a senior forest officer engaged in rescue work.