To contact us CLICK HERE
View Kalimpong News at
Citizen reporters may send photographs related to news with proper information to

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Green light to post-quake tourist flow - jn marg opened, visitors relish nathu-la & chhangu lake..Assam students drown in Teesta....Alumni seek heritage tag - plea to preserve school ‘character’...Gift turns curse as son dies in crash...Sikkim seeks Bengal nod for alternative highway

Green light to post-quake tourist flow - jn marg opened, visitors relish nathu-la & chhangu lake
BIJOY GURUNG, TT, Gangtok, Oct. 28: The trinity of Sikkim tourism — Nathu-la, Chhangu Lake and Baba Mandir in the East district — was declared open for visitors coming through the Jawaharlal Nehru Marg for the first time today after the September 18 earthquake.

The high altitude spots with Nathu-la at 14,400ft were closed to tourists following multiple slides along the JN Marg triggered by the quake.
“Eighty vehicles carrying tourists went to Chhangu Lake, Nathu-la and Baba Mandir today though the road condition is as vulnerable as before. We will brief the tourists every morning at the 3rd Mile check post on the road and weather conditions and urge them to return early,” said Chiley Tshering Bhutia, the officer-in-charge of Sherathang police station.
Chhangu Lake, 35km from Gangtok, is situated at 12,400ft and close to Sherathang.
But the Sikkim tourism department decided not to allow tourist vehicles to pass through JN Marg until the road conditions were found safe enough. “We started issuing permits to tourists to visit Nathu-la and Chhangu Lake from today. As the road is narrow at some points, the police will be escorting the vehicles to avoid traffic disruption,” said tourism permit officer Sonam Rinchen.
The 52km-long JN Marg connecting Gangtok with the Nathu-la border had been blocked by boulders brought down from the hillside by 22 slides of various degree. Three stretches of JN Marg had also been damaged in the quake and the strategic road was restored by Project Swastik of Border Roads Organisation (BRO) on September 29.
Rinchen said the department had issued permits to visit Nathu-la and Chhangu Lake through the Rongli-Nathu La road in the past few days. He said there were very few takers for this route as one had to travel some 180km to reach Nathu-la from Gangtok via Rongli
According to the Sherathang police station in-charge, the visitors are asked to leave the tourist spots early because of the bad weather in the high altitude areas.
“The weather is bad in the afternoon and we are advising tourists not to delay their return to Gangtok from Nathu-la or Chhangu Lake as rainfall or snowfall could block the road. There was snowfall in Sherathang and the areas above it today. The tourist vehicles started the return trips at 2pm today,” he said.
“The rocky road was a problem. But we enjoyed the trip to Chhangu Lake. The lake is very beautiful,” said Sai Aneknamwong, who was part of the 13-member tourist group from Bangkok. They had come to Gangtok yesterday after touring Lachung and Yumesamdong in North Sikkim.
The Thai tourists were the first group to visit North Sikkim after the earthquake which had snapped the roads in the district.
“We had planned our trip to Sikkim last year. We had seen photographs of the beautiful mountains in North Sikkim taken by our friend during his visit and we wanted to come. Our tour of North Sikkim and Chhangu Lake has been worth it,” said Aneknamwong.
The Thai tourists were given permits to North Sikkim on a ‘trial run’ by the Sikkim tourism department.

“North Sikkim is still closed for tourists. The Thai group had been sent on a trial basis. We will take a decision on allowing tourists to North Sikkim in a couple of days,” said a tourism official.
The closure of destinations in North and East districts has hit the tourist inflow to Sikkim during the festive season of Puja and Diwali. Last year, some 1.5 lakh domestic tourists had visited Sikkim during the months of September-October-November according to tourism department records.
However, this season, the tourist flow is hardly 10 per cent of the last year’s figure and most of the visitors are going to West and South Sikkim, said tourism officials and tour operators.
The tour operators said Nathu-la, Chhangu Lake and Baba Mandir axis was the ‘bread and butter’ of Sikkim tourism as snow covered mountains could be seen within a two-hour journey from Gangtok. During the peak seasons of April-May and September-October, more than 300 vehicles carrying tourists are taken to these tourist spots daily.
Assam students drown in Teesta
BIJOY GURUNG, TT, Gangtok, Oct. 28: Two third-year engineering students from Assam, out for a swim in the Teesta that flows near the Sikkim Manipal Institute of Technology campus, died after being swept away by a strong current this afternoon.
Police said Kuntal Kashyap from Jorhat and Imanjal Gohain from Guwahati, had gone swimming along with their friends around 3pm near their institute campus at Majitar.
They were washed away for about 10-15 metres downstream by the river before alarmed friends and local people pulled them to the bank and rushed them to the nearest hospital at Singtam, where they were declared dead on arrival.
Kuntal, an only child, had passed HSLC in 2006 and CBSE from Kendriya Vidyalaya ONGC in 2008, before joining the institute for a degree in electronics and telecommunications. His father, Girin Das, an official of the department of industry and commerce, is posted at Nagaon, while mother Bino Devi, is a United Bank of India employee.
Debashish Bharali, Kuntal’s cousin, told The Telegraph this evening that parents of one of Kuntal’s classmates told them that he had met with an “accident and was serious”. “When our aunt (Kuntal’s mother) arrived from the bank, they said that they had received a phone call saying Kuntal was dead,” Bharali said. Kuntal’s mother fainted and had to be administered medicines.
Bharali said they were told that four students had gone to the riverside (Teesta) to click photographs when suddenly two of them fell into the river.
Guwahati resident Imanjal Gohain is the son of Sushil Buragohain, who retired last December as professor and head of the department of livestock production and management, College of Veterinary College, Guwahati.
On July 24, two students from the institute had drowned in the river.
Alumni seek heritage tag - plea to preserve school ‘character’
TT, Kalimpong, Oct. 28: Ex-students of Dow Hill and Victoria Schools will organise a two-day event to seek heritage status for the institutions and ensure that the schools are not brought under the purview of the Right to Education Act.

More than 200 ex-students of the two hill schools from across the country will gather in Kurseong on November 5 and 6 to take part in the programme.
“We will hold a seminar on the rich heritage of the institutions at Victoria School on November 5 and follow it up with a book release and a musical evening in Dow Hill the next day. The book Dow Hill to thee that is written by an ex-Dowhillian Jaya Roy Choudhary,” said Manoj Chandra Rana, the secretary of the north Bengal chapter of the Victoria and Dow Hill Alumni Association.
“We are seeking a heritage status for the schools at the state, national and, if possible, even at the international level to acknowledge their contribution in spreading the light of education in the region,” Rana said.
The 132-year-old institutions are managed by the directorate of schools (Anglo-Indian schools) of the state school education department and they are among the oldest institutions in the hills.
Both the schools feature the list of the 225 sites compiled by the North Bengal University that would be placed before the state heritage commission in November to grant them heritage status.
“However, we do not want only the physical infrastructure of the schools as heritage sites. We are also campaigning to ensure that the present character of the schools is not changed. We have already moved the state education department in this regard. If the need arises, we will also approach the chief minister with our demands,” said Rana.
According to the ex-students, two clauses in the RTE Act do not blend with the values of the schools. First is the provision to do away with the merit-based selection system and introduction of a lottery system for admitting students to standard I.
“Students should be admitted after interviews on a merit basis and not by lotteries,” said Rana.
The second clause of the Act that the ex-students have opposed is the admission of children from the economically backward families in the vicinity of the schools.
“As things are now, students from Bihar, Calcutta and many other places study in these two hill schools and they get a chance to interact with the local children. If the schools admit students only from the locality, the children would not get that exposure and they will not be able to interact with different kinds of people,” Rana added.
Victoria School has Classes from IV to X and 30 per cent of the seats are reserved for students from the three hill subdivisions.
Hill students are allocated 50 per cent seats in Dow Hill School that teaches students from kindergarten to Class X.
Although the RTE Act came into force in all government schools on April 1, 2010, the two hill schools were exempted.
“However, the directorate has recently issued an order stating that the two schools will be brought under the purview of RTE Act from the next academic session,” said a source.
The academic session for both the schools is from March to November.
Jaya Roy Choudhary, of the 1974 batch, said: “The Darjeeling hills that is acknowledged as the centre of education will lose two branded schools (if the Act is implemented).”
Gift turns curse as son dies in crash
TT, Siliguri/Malda, Oct. 28: A youth returning home on a motorcycle that was gifted by his father on Diwali died in an accident along with his friend.
While Tapas Mondal, 21, and Tushar Kanti Mondal, 17, died after the crash, their friend Bandhan is battling for life at the district hospital here. The 18-year-old student of Satatari High School was admitted to the facility with head injuries.
In another incident, three persons who had gone pandal hopping near Bagdogra were killed when the motorcycle they were riding hit a vehicle on NH31 near Khaprail More in Matigara early this morning.
Thirty-year-old Subrata Bhowmik, Pradip Mondal, 18, and Uttam Das, 21, were travelling towards Siliguri town when the mishap happened.
Police said the trio were not wearing helmets and a search is on to locate the unidentified vehicle.
Five friends from Malda’s Gansaihaat village had set out on two motorcycles to visit a Kali temple and a fair in Ratua yesterday evening.
The two-wheeler was gifted to Tapas by his father on Diwali. Police said on the way back, one of the two-wheelers collided with a truck on Amriti-Mothabari state highway near Kaliachak.
“We were following the motorcycle that Bandhan was riding. Tapash and Tushar were riding pillion. All of a sudden, we saw a truck come from the opposite direction and hit it. It was completely dark and a deserted stretch. We did not know what to do and felt very helpless,” said Jaidev, who was riding the other motorcycle along with Tushar’s brother Chandan.
He added that they managed to stop a passing motor-driven van and took the injured to the Malda district hospital.
“I had gifted the motorcycle to Tapas a day before Kali Puja. My son had to travel 25km by bus to go to the college. I bought him the bike for his convenience. But that turned out to be a curse for him and us,” said Tapas’s father Benoy Mondal, a labour supplier. Tapas was a third year student of Gour College in Old Malda.
According to hospital sources, Bandhan’s condition is critical. Tapas’s family members said Chandan is in a state of shock and he is not being able to speak. District superintendent of police Jayanta Pal said the driver of the truck had been arrested and the vehicle seized.
Youth body found
TT, Siliguri, Oct. 28: Pradhannagar police recovered the charred body of a youth from an abandoned house at Pramodnagar in Champasari today.
The deceased has been identified as Suraj Gazmer, 32. The police suspect that Suraj and his brother Pritam were drug addicts and Suraj was burned to death during an altercation between the siblings. Maya Gazmer, the deceased’s mother, has lodged a police complaint on the basis of which Pritam has been arrested. The police said an investigation has started.
Man kills wife
TT, Malda: A man allegedly stabbed his wife to death and later consumed poison to kill himself at Mianhat near Harishchandrapur on Friday. Police said Md Tajibur murdered Saheda Biwi after she refused to pay him Rs 1, 000 that he had asked for. Later, Tajibur consumed poison. Local people rushed him to the Harishchandrapur Rural Health Centre where he is under treatment.
Ticket fine
TT, Siliguri: Northeast Frontier Railway officials at New Jalpaiguri collected Rs 50,000 as fine from 40 persons for travelling without tickets on different trains. The team that conducted the raid was led by Debsish Karjee, the chief commercial inspector of the NFR in NJP.
Road death
TT, Alipurduar: Two persons died and five were injured when an auto-rickshaw collided with a car on the Jaigaon-Hasimara SAARC Road near Beech Tea Estate on Friday evening. The deceased have been identified as Ranjan Bhujel, 36, and Prem Lama, 30, the driver of the auto. The injured persons have been admitted to the subdivisional hospital here. The car has been seized but the driver escaped.
Sikkim seeks Bengal nod for alternative highway
Amalendu Kundu, TNN, Oct 29, 2011, LACHUNG: Sikkim chief minister Pawan Chamling has requested the Mamata Banerjee government for forest clearance to construct an alternative highway from Siliguri to Gangtok.
"I have requested Mamataji for an no-objection certificate (NOC). I told her the alternative highway will be important for Sikkim as well as Darjeeling," Chamling told TOI. "An NOC from Bengal is also necessary for the construction of a rail link to Sikkim." The necessary NOC from the Bengal government is, however, still awaited.
The Sikkim government had earlier sent a plan for the alternative highway to the Centre since NH 31A from Siliguri to Gangtok is overused and often gets blocked due to landslides. But an NOC from the Bengal government is a must before the ministry of environment and forest gives the final approval.
The Sikkim government is mulling a new highway from Chalsa in north Bengal, connecting the existing NH 31A at Rongpo in Sikkim via Jaldhaka, passing through the Neora Valley forest in Bengal. The army had also favoured the proposal as it would improve road connectivity to strategically important east Sikkim. The proposed road would pass through four forests in Bengal and one in Sikkim.
Chamling was hopeful that the clearance won't be a problem now as he shares a better rapport with Mamata than her predecessor. After the September 18 earthquake, Mamata had visited Gangtok and on October 24, the two chief ministers met briefly at Bagdogra airport.
Chamling, who is now touring the earthquake-hit areas of north Sikkim, faced criticisms as roads links to Chungthang, Lachen, Lachung and the Dzongu area remained cut off for weeks after the tremor. "All the important roads in Sikkim, NH 31A, the North Sikkim Highway, the Nathu La Road and the Kuppup Road are maintained by the Border Roads Organization (BRO). A total of 873 kms of roads in Sikkim is maintained by the BRO. I have told both the DG BRO and the Chief Engineer BRO in Sikkim about the condition of these roads," Chamling said.

No comments:

Post a Comment