Tag Archives: kalimpong
BY ARUNIMA GHOSH
KOLKATA, 15 DEC: The hills of north Bengal will soon be a destination for adventure sports. Taking forward Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee‘s idea of turning Darjeeling to Switzerland, the North Bengal Development department had engaged the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) to assess the potential of setting up a good adventure tourism infrastructure in north Bengal. FICCI has recently submitted a proposal to the department on the potential sites and the activities that can be introduced.
Adventure sports like paragliding and para-mountaineering will be introduced in Kalimpong and Darjeeling. Although popular adventure sports have already been introduced in other states, Bengal is yet to take a direction in this regard despite possessing the potential, said an official of the department. At present, Darjeeling receives around 50,000 foreign and 5 lakh domestic tourists per year of which around 45 per cent of the domestic tourists visit Darjeeling during the festive season and 35 per cent during March to June. Once implemented, there will be an increase in both domestic and foreign tourists, said the official. In order to offer tourists a sight of the mountains and the panoramic view of the tea gardens, the department is planning to introduce ropeway rides for tourists who visit Lolegaon, Jhallong and Samsing. The department plans to start a mountain biking tour from Darjeeling to Nayabazar and another at Lolegaon.
Plans are also afoot to come up with new trekking trails. FICCI has recommended a trekking trail at Sandakphu and efforts are on to identify few more such trails in the hills. Arranging canopy walks are also in the fray, the official added. FICCI has recommended setting up an eco-adventure park where tourists will get an opportunity to experience the popular adventure sports or to opt for trekking or canopy walks in a single platform.
BY DEEP GAZMER
KALIMPONG: Heavy security cover was put in place in the Hills town on Monday after a clash broke out between the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha and the Gorkhaland Rajya Nirman Morcha (GRNM), a break-away faction of the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF).
GRNM leaders alleged that their supporters were beaten up by GJM cadres when they were assembling at Dambar Chowk for their foundation-day programme. “We were gathering peacefully at Dambar Chowk around 3.30pm to attend our party‘s second foundation day programme when GJM cadres started pelting stones and beat our supporters with iron rods,” alleged GRNM president Dawa Pakhrin. He added that the GJM mob was led by Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) members Nima Tamang and Dawa Lepcha.
The GRNM was formed a year back to take up the cause of a separate Gorkhaland state. Pakhrin used to be the GNLF Kalimpong branch president but had left the party over political differences.
Pakhrin also alleged that five to seven GRNM supporters had sustained injuries due to the clash. An FIR has been lodged against Tamang and Lepcha and other GJM supporters in the Kalimpong police station. “Is this the democracy that the GJM leaders are boasting about? Today’s incident proves that the GJM’s policy is to spread terror to silence criticism and opposition,” said Pakhrin.
BY DEEP GAZMER
Darjeeling: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) leadership has started making arrangements to hold the first all-India conference in Darjeeling on December 16. GJM leaders said that the conference was aimed at discussing and finding solutions to problems being faced by the Gorkha community residing across the country.
However, political analysts felt the bigger objective of the conference was to pacify the factions of Gorkhas who have supported the separate-statehood demand.
“There are several problems that the Gorkhas living elsewhere face. Being an umbrella organization of the entire Gorkha community, we have the responsibility to hear and find solutions,” GJM secretary Roshan Giri said on Thursday after the party’s central committee meeting in Darjeeling.
The GJM has been arguing that they accepted the GTA as a stepping stone to the formation of a separate state and to usher in development in the region. However, differences in opinion (especially from outside of the region) remain continue to plague the outfit.
Besides, the GJM also intends to utilize the all-India conference slated for December 16 as a platform to strengthen its party base, inside and outside the Hills. “We will have representatives from more than 20 states. All our frontal organizations and units across the Hills have also been asked to attend. It will be a wonderful opportunity to interact with various leaders,” Giri said.
In fact, in order to keep its flock active in the region which had begun to be swayed by the development activities being undertaken, the GJM party taking cognizance has started organizing political programs like public and indoor meetings in the Hills.
BY NIRMALYA BANERJEE
DARJEELING: Perhaps for the first time in Darjeeling, the smaller and marginalized communities are restive, demanding protection of their identity, language and culture and reservation of seats in the assembly, panchayats and the hill council. They pose a new challenge to the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration and the Bengal government.
Among them are tribes such as Lepcha and Bhutia. Even the Thami community, part of the larger Nepali identity, is vocal. Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, the ruling party in GTA, is aware of this challenge. “The memorandum of agreement on GTA mentions that,” says Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri.
Not banking on GTA entirely, the Kalimpong-based Lepcha Tribal Association demands a Lepcha Development Council from the state government and is confident it will materialize. “Funds must come directly from the Centre and the state government, not through other channels,” said association president L Tamsang. The Darjeeling committee president of All India Lepcha Association, Dugay Lepcha, however, thinks that the more likely outcome is special funds for Lepchas under the tribal welfare department and wants a district committee to manage it.
Lepchas, Darjeeling’s sons of the soil, were once spread throughout the Hills but have now been cornered to Kalimpong subdivision. Researchers say Lepchas were pushed out when the British introduced tea in the Darjeeling and Kurseong subdivisions. “Lepchas, a proud people, didn’t want to work in tea gardens,” says Tamsang. Tea never reached Kalimpong in a big way. Of the 87 gardens in the Hills only eight are in Kalimpong, says Darjeeling Tea Association principal advisor Sandeep Mukherjee.
To them, neighbouring Sikkim poses a contrast. “In Sikkim, Lepcha is taught at the university level. In Darjeeling, we want it introduced at primary levels. We want reserved seats in the council and in the assembly. When panchayat polls are held in the hills, we should have reserved seats.” says Dugay Lepcha.
BY VIVEK CHHETRI
Although GNLF leaders said the party would not celebrate the signing of the Sixth Schedule accord till Calcutta High Court delivered the verdict on its petition against the formation of the GTA, sources said the party wanted to avoid a confrontation with the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha in Mirik, where the GNLF still has some supporters.
Arjun Rai, the convenor of the GNLF at Mirik, said: “We have decided not to celebrate the accord day. The party will not engage itself in any political activity unless Calcutta High Court delivers its verdict on the GTA.”
The GNLF has marked December 6 as its “accord day” since 2006 to celebrate the signing of the memorandum of settlement signed in 2005 to bring the hills under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.
The Morcha, however, dismissed the matter as a “coincidence”.
Priyabardan Rai, the general secretary of the Gorkha Janmukti Yuva Morcha, said the outfit had not planned the December 6 meeting to snub the GNLF.
The hills of Darjeeling have always been synonymous with tea. Separating tea from Darjeeling or Darjeeling from tea would seem completely impossible. But things are on the path of change as the North Bengal Development Authority has decided to grow coffee in the hills of Darjeeling and has assigned Coffee Board of India to conduct a feasibility study in the hills.
Manoj Agarwal, secretary, North Bengal Development Authority, who will meet Coffee Board officials next week, said: “The objective behind starting coffee cultivation in the region is to promote it as a suitable commercial and eco-friendly activity among the tribals so as to benefit them economically.”
An area of about 1 hectare has been identified in Kalimpong sub-division and Kurseong sub-division where the feasibility study will be conducted by the Coffee Board. After the feasibility study report is found to be positive, work on the plantation will begin in the area. Officials of the Coffee Board said that it would take around seven months to conduct the feasibility study.
P K Dutta, joint secretary, Coffee Board of India, said the plan is in a nascent stage. “We have shown eagerness to cultivate coffee in the hills and North Bengal Development Authority has given us a nod to carry forward with our study,” he said.