Darjeeling, Sept. 1: Mamata Banerjee has decided to develop Tiger Hill, a well-known tourist point at 8,100ft famed for its view of the Kanchenjungha as well as the Everest on a clear day.
|Darjeeling Tiger Hill in winter|
Darjeeling district magistrate Anurag Srivastava today said: "We will basically take up three projects. The first will be to renovate a bungalow of the Darjeeling Improvement Fund, which is in a dilapidated condition. Apart from that, there are plans to renovate a forest museum, which was not opened for some reason. We will also work with the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration to develop the sunrise point at Tiger Hill."
The pavilion and the two-storied viewing point is under the GTA. The other two sites are under the state government.
Sources said senior officials of the state tourism department had surveyed Tiger Hill on Friday for the proposed project.
"As far as the museum is concerned, the forest department has agreed to take up the project," Srivastava said.
Sources in the GTA said the hill body had also been separately preparing a detailed report on developing the sunrise point.
The Tiger Hill area, 14km from Darjeeling town, was notified as a reserve forest in 1998. Srivastava said: "All projects will be undertaken only in permissible areas."
On May 15, 2013, Mamata had laid the foundation stone to revive a golf course at Tiger Hill. The project was to be undertaken by the GTA but it didn't take off because the site is part of the reserve forest.
The golf course's revival was planned under the Rs 200-crore special annual package offered to the GTA. The state government's tourism department had also decided to allocate Rs 2.10 crore for land reclamation and development of the area where the golf course existed.
According to the initial plan drawn up by the GTA tourism department, the nine-hole golf course was to have been spread over an area of 31.85 acres and would need an approximate expenditure of Rs 46 crore.
In 1907, the then district commissioner had leased out the golf course to a golf club christened Golf Links for 99 years. After the British left the country in 1947, Golf Links virtually became defunct.
Army personnel used the turf till the late 1980s. The army left the area as documents proved that the land actually belonged to the Darjeeling Improvement Fund (district administration).
The golf course gradually fell into ruin in the mid-90s when then chairman of the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council, Subash Ghisingh, moved in excavators and flattened a portion of the Tiger Hill area to construct a helipad.
With Ghisingh failing to obtain the necessary clearance from the ministry of environment and forests, the project at Tiger Hill was shelved and the helipad was built in the Dooteriya area, about 20km from Darjeeling.
Meanwhile, Mamata is scheduled to visit the hills from September 16-18.
According to the tentative plan, she is expected to visit the Dow Hill area in Kurseong for an inspection for the proposed educational hub.
The next day, she will be attending a programme of the Lepcha development board at Mela Grounds in Kalimpong followed by a meeting organised by the Tamang development board at Ronaldshay Park in Kalimpong on September 18," said an administrative source.