Sikkim flash floods: GTA calls for Centre's financial support for North Bengal hills

Gorkhaland chief executive Anit Thapa stressed that the region, especially Kalimpong, is as badly affected as Sikkim and should receive rehabilitation support

Kalimpong hills in North Bengal (Photo: IANS)
Kalimpong hills in North Bengal (Photo: IANS)
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IANS

The Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA), the nodal body for civic administration in the hills of Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong in north Bengal, demanded demanded immediate financial assistance from the Union government for the hill region on Saturday, 7 October, on the lines of the funding being received by neighbouring Sikkim after the flash flooding there.

"The hills in north Bengal, especially in Kalimpong, are no less affected than Sikkim by the flash flood," said GTA chief executive and Bharatiya Gorkha Prajatantrik Morcha (BGPM) founder Anit Thapa. "So, we demand that the Union government provide financial assistance to the hills for rehabilitation purposes just as it has given to the Sikkim government.”

Thapa said that he also requested the West Bengal government to initiate talks with the Union government to require financial assistance for the hills of north Bengal.

“I was present in a virtual meeting convened by the state government on the flood situation in north Bengal. Chief secretary HK Dwivedi was also present, and I raised the issue of central assistance for the hills with him,” Thapa said.

It is learnt that the state government, for its part, is granting Rs 24 crore to the GTA for rehabilitation in the hills.

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee has instructed a survey team to visit the hills to review the situation as well.

“After the review team submits its report and the picture becomes clear, the grant amount might be increased at a later stage,” said a senior official in the state finance department.

Meanwhile, Thapa accused the BJP Lok Sabha member from Darjeeling, Raju Singh Bista, of neglecting his constituency even in the midst of this crisis.

“Is not Darjeeling a part of India? The hills have elected BJP candidates thrice since 2009. But still the central ruling party is neglecting the hills in such a manner,” Thapa said.

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