Prashant Acharya, EOI, LOHAGARH (MIRIK), 26 Jul 2016: The Terai region and the foothills falling under the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration continue to feel the pinch of administrative apathy even as the people hope for a better deal.
The incessant rainfall that has flooded many parts of north Bengal leaving lakhs of people stranded has also put to test at least 20,000 people in places such as Lohagarh, Putung and Khaprel.
The residents are now venting their anger at the GTA and accusing it of gross negligence towards their plight. The villages that fall under Mirik block have been cut-off from the region since the last four days, but the GTA and the state government seem to have no contingency plans to aid the residents.
The haunting fear of the people of Lohagarh and its environs came true this time after the diversions erected at the site of a bridge site got washed away. The concrete bridge constructed by the erstwhile Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council years ago was washed away by flashfloods some four or five years ago. The bridge was the only connecting link for the villages.
After the link disappeared, temporary diversions were put in place twice. But the locals have been insisting that temporary diversions would not solve the problem and would be a mere waste of public money.
This time too, the GTA was planning to come up with a diversion. But singed by past experiences, the locals have demanded an iron bridge as a temporary solution.
The lack of a proper bridge has forced many students to stop going to schools, while several people from Chenga who work in Lohagarh tea garden have stopped going to work. Life has become miserable for them indeed.
Further, it is feared that in the event of the river embankment above Putung getting breached, life and property would be in jeopardy. A landslide threat at Putung is another worry for the locals.
The GTA, which is run by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, cannot continue to antagonise the people here. If the result of the Assembly election was any indicator, the GJM has much to worry. Out of more than 1,200 votes in the locality, the GJM hardly got 300.
Anit Thapa a senior GJM leader and GTA sabhasad in-charge of the minor irrigation and PHE departments, said the GTA will soon construct an iron bridge at the site of the Lohagarh bridge across Guhey Khola.