Showing posts with label wake up. Show all posts
Showing posts with label wake up. Show all posts

“Security Threat” – Unwelcome ‪Bengal‬ Interference in ‪‎Darjeeling‬

10:59 AM
Writes Upendra for The Darjeeling Chronicle

In a strange and unusual order, definitely one of the 1st such orders ever issued, the Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM also popularly known as SDO) Avik Chatterjee (WBCS, Exeutive) of Darjeeling has imposed a blanket ban of construction from St. Andrews Church to HMI.

While Darjeeling residents would have otherwise supported the innocuous seeming order in the hopes of retaining whatever green space is left under the Darjeeling Municipality area, it is the manner in which the order was issued and the nature of the order which is highly dictatorial to say the least.
Order issued under section 144CrPC prohibiting construction work in the area of the East Jawahar Road from Gorkha Rangmancha Bhawan to Himalayan Mountaineering Institute
Order issued under section 144CrPC prohibiting construction work in the area of the
East Jawahar Road from Gorkha Rangmancha Bhawan to Himalayan Mountaineering Institute
The order dated 7th of September, 2015 issued under section 144CrPC prohibiting, “construction work of any type in the area of the East Jawahar Road from Gorkha Rangmancha Bhawan to Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, except with prior permission from the Executive Magistrate, Darjeeling after submitting all relevant documents in this court” hints at attempts by the Bengal government to take over the functioning of Darjeeling Municipality, and establish their writ on Darjeeling

Let me quickly elucidate why it is so.

ANNOYED MAMATA
We have earlier reported that, when Mamata visited Darjeeling in August she went for a walk and she was annoyed at the under construction Ram Krishna Siksha Parishad (RKSP) School building which apparently blocked her view. So she wanted a portion of the school building to be dismantled.

RKSP was formed in 1944, before India became an independent country and the school has stood there even before Mamata was born. RKSP which was designed as a school for the “drop-outs” is today one of the most prominent schools in town, thanks to their hard working teachers, supportive parents and local administration.

Currently, GTA was in the process of converting RKSP into a Model school for which the funds are sanctioned by the Central government. The proposed school building was duly approved by Darjeeling Municipality and it follows all the laws of the land and is within the stipulated height restriction of 11.5 meters. In fact, the new building strictly follows the height of the older school building.

However, if Mamata wants it destroyed, it has to be destroyed.

Former Darjeeling SDM Soura Mondal did not demolish the building, or order its demolition as he could see that the building was well within the stipulated norms. So Mamata during her recent visit did what she does best, she shunted out the officer who did not toe her line.

SDM Soura Mondal was kicked out from the office on Friday 4th of Sept, 2015 and a new SDM Mr. Avik Chatterjee who seems more subservient was put in his place. The former SDM Soura Mondal has not been giving any new posting and he continues to draw his salary from Darjeeling District, but without having any responsibilities or power. In administrative circle, that particular state of limbo is often referred to as “Pichone Banss” these days [details: http://on.fb.me/1KCRiBZ]

As soon as he took charge, the new SDM Mr. Avik Chatterjee set things rolling according to Mamata’s wishes, and the 1st order of business he dealt with was to issue the dictatorial order preventing any Construction without prior permission from his office on the 7th of Sept, 2015 [Pic attached]

ABSURD ORDER
Since Criminal Procedure Code or (CrPC) 144 requires for the issuing officer to state the nature of the emergency under which such an order is passed, the SDM has listed several such reasons. In my personal opinion, all of them are absurd, and hints at the SDM trying to keep the eccentric Mamata happy, than justifying real reasons for a need to pass such an order.

The SDM writes, that “due to the presence of Rajbhawan and other Govt buildings the area is sensitive,” and that since “there is nearby Mahakal Temple, St. Andrews Churh and HMI buildings and tourist regularly visit the areas and also VIPs including state dignitaries visit the area”

So he states, “with many new buildings are being constructed which has made the area vulnerable from Security and traffic point of view”

He then claims that “few buildings are in violation of the limits of the prescribed height as per existing norms,” and he then cites “recent earthquake in the hills and subsequent aftershocks rendered the region very vulnerable to large scale landslides.”

Hence he concludes, “I am satisfied there is sufficient ground to promulgate an order u/s 144 CrPC to prevent and stop construction of building or any repair or extension thereof.”

For me the whole host of issues raised by the SDM are very vague, generalized, and boat loads of baloney.

To begin with, the school has stood next to the Governors house forever, and till date the school has not posed any threat to anyone. Even during the 1986-88 violent Gorkhaland andolan days, the school did not pose any threat to anyone. So what changed all of a sudden? Moreover, Shri. MK Gandhi the former Governor invited RKSP boys to sing at Governor house on a regular basis, as he was mesmerised by their morning assembly. How did these boys all of a sudden start posing a threat to the Governor, or other so called VIPs?? It is not like VIPs never visited Darjeeling before.

If the concern for VIP safety etc is so paramount, then why is Nabanna the seat of power of Bengal government situated in the heart of an industrial township in Howrah, right next to a highway? How is Nabanna safe and why is Governor House in Darjeeling unsafe? Moreover, Howrah is 100 times more crowded than Darjeeling, so if we are to go by traffic jam argument, then Nabanna should be immediately vacated as no other place in Bengal sees more jams than Howrah.

Moreover, the governor hardly visits Darjeeling for 15 days in a year, so why is his safety more important than the quality education and future of our children? Governor is just a figure head, so what threat would he face, and from whom?

So if tourists and Bengali politicians start visiting a certain portion of Darjeeling, will the Bengal government declare it to be off limits for the locals?

The argument that “few buildings are in violation of the limits of the prescribed height as per existing norms,” could have held some ground, but only if the SDM had bothered to verify the documents surrounding those buildings, instead of issuing random probationary orders.

Recent Earth quake has left all of Darjeeling region equally vulnerable, so the absurd argument that only a particular part of the town is more vulnerable is completely unfounded.

All these are indications of how desperate Bengal is to run its writ on our hills.

CrPC 144
CrPC 144 is a draconian law devised by the British in 1861 to prevent our freedom fighters from what they termed as “unlawful assembly.” The country which gave us this dictatorial act – Britain, eradicated the law in 1986, civilized countries like Bangladesh did so way back in 1976. Where as in India CrPC has been used time and again by the government to harass and bully the people.

This law, though designed to prevent “unlawful assembly” for the fear of leading to riots etc, provides any magistrate wriggle room to impose his will whenever, in the opinion of the magistrate, “there is sufficient ground for proceeding under this section.” So it’s like a blank cheque given to the administrators to use, 'as and when they see fit.'

Even though the order “gives the magistrate God-like power, it also urges him/her to apply their mind”[details: http://bit.ly/1VMfxQ3]. More often than not, the magistrates apply their mind in using CrPC 144 to prevent riots, every once in a while we have administrators like the new Darjeeling SDM Mr. Avik Chatterjee who misuse this important provision.

UNFOUNDED GROUNDS
CrPC 144 is designed to empower a magistrate to stop an imminent threat or danger to the public, the operative phrase is “to be used depending on the urgency of the situation.”

To prevent the construction of RKSP school by using CrPC 144 as a tool reeks of sycophancy on the part of the SDM to keep Mamata happy, and is definitely not used to prevent any threat to the public. Rather by stopping the construction of a new school building, the SDM is himself becoming a nuisance and a threat to the welfare of the hill people.

Moreover, the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India has clearly stated that, “the Parliament never intended the life on an order under section 144 of the code to remain in force beyond two months when made by a Magistrate” [Details:http://bit.ly/1FwHHVC]

So what will happen after 2 months Mr. SDM?? What will you do then? Will ground realities – as stated by you while issuing the order have changed? I don’t think so, what is true today will remain true is two months time, so after the duration of your order runs out, what will you do?

SPEAK OUT AGAINST THIS DICTATORSHIP
The Bengal government is trying to wrestle Control of Darjeeling administration by hook or crook. They have interfered in the functioning of GTA, and now they have stooped very low to control the functioning of Darjeeling Municipality.

This order is a proof of how intrusive and dominating Bengal actually is, even when they don’t have any grounds to stand on, they will use existing laws and rules to prevent us from expressing our rights.

I urge Darjeeling Municipality to file a write petition against the Bengal government and particularly this SDM who has definitely issued this order not out of concern for our people, but to please Mamata.

We cannot, and we should not allow such intrusions from Bengal.

Our elders used to say, “कति जाना मान्छेको बेउरानै हुँदैन… काँध मा टेक्नु दियो भने… टाउको मा हग्छ” which roughly translates to, “some people do not have any manners, if you allow them to stand on your shoulders, they will end up shitting on your head”… and that is exactly what has been happening in Darjeeling. For far too long we have allowed Bengal and its two penny bureaucrats to dictate terms to us, they now believe that they can do whatever they please.

It is high time that we spoke against such acts of Dictatorship, today it is RKSP school they have objection to, tomorrow it could be the students they may term as security threat, and the next day all the people of Darjeeling may be labeled as “security threat” and asked to leave, perhaps using CrPC 144.

Source :The Darjeeling Chronicle

Darjeeling - Hotel Mount Everest Was Once “The Grandest Hotel In The Orients”

9:32 AM
When Hotel Mount Everest was inaugurated on the 12th of October, 1915 the proprietor Mr. A. Stephen gave a grand opening dinner to the who’s who of the town. The hotel designed by Mr. Stephen Wilkinson – Architect was hands down the most imposing architectural marvel in town, and was described as potentially being “The Grandest Hotels in the Orients” by Mr. E. C Dozey

Here is an excerpt from Chapter – III of the book “Concise History of the Darjeeling District Since 1835” by E.C. Dozey which was published in the year 1922.
Clearing of the land behind the Hotel Mount Everest  has already started
Clearing of the land behind the Hotel Mount Everest  has already started
The Evolution of Hotels.


The evolution of hotels in Darjeeling began in 1839, when 'The Darjeeling Family Hotel, ' which contained but I 3 rooms, was followed by 'Wilson's Hotel' which was established (by the proprietor of the hotel of the same name in Calcutta, now known as 'The Great Eastern Hotel') in a two-storied house containing 8 rooms. A large one-storied building of the same name (Castleton, in which the District Engineer's Office is now located) now stands on the same spot on Hooker Road. Then Woodlands" came into being, to be followed shortly after by Drum Druid, Rockville, Bellevue, and the Central Hotel, which can accommodate 40 boarders and is situated at the junction of the Post Office and Mount Pleasant Roads; the transition eventually evolving 'Hotel Mount Everest .'

This hotel, which was completed on the 12th October, 1915, was the scene of a fashionable gathering the evening following when a dinner was given by the proprietor, Mr. A. Stephen, to commemorate the opening of this up-to-date hotel built on the latest principles adopted in all continental hotels.

To say that this palatial structure is unique is but to repeat a truism, for it is unsurpassed by any building of a similar nature in the East.

The hotel' which commands a view of over IOO miles of the snowy range, and stands well above the town on the Auckland Road, was designed by Mr. Stephen Wilkinson, the architect. At present the building consists of a central block, with a north or right wing attached thereto, and contains 120 rooms furnished: with all appliances which go toward making life comfortable. But when the existing annex is demolished and the left wing added the number of dwelling rooms will be increased to 170. On the ground floor is a large lounge, which is 85 x 50 feet, luxuriously fitted up with arm chairs upholstered in dark green leather and small tables arranged on a highly polished wooden floor which is covered with handsome rugs.

From the east of this hall the ascent to the dining room above is made by the grand staircase, which is one of the features of this building being 16 feet in width until midway when it branches off to right and left. The dining hall has a rich panelled plaster ceiling, while from the centre of each panel hangs an electroclier of
beautiful design ; the walls are panelled up to a height of 7 feet in highly polished wood which gives the room a pleasing and warm effect.

Four fire-places serve to heat the room, while four concealed passages behind curved and mirrored sideboards enable the servants in attendance to appear as if by magic.

Seated round such a table one can truly say with 'Punch' :-

"How good to sit at twilight's close
In a warm Inn and feel
That marvellous smell caress the nose
With promise of a meal!
How good when bell for breakfast rings
To pause, while tripping down,
And snuff and snuff till Fancy brings
All Arcady to Town."

This building already possesses a most imposing frontage, but when the scheme has been given full effect to and the left wing added Darjeeling might well be proud of possessing one of the grandest and most up-to-date hotels in the Orient.

Today, clearing of the land behind the hotel has already started, and unless something is done collectively, chances are that this HERITAGE of ours will be forever lost.

If you want to help save this monument,

Please join: https://www.facebook.com/hotelmteverestpetition

To sign an online petition please visit: http://chn.ge/1IPQzGp

Source - TheDC

Stop Demolition of Hotel Mt Everest Darjeeling

9:06 AM
DEVELOPMENT vs HERITAGE – Does Anyone Care?

Upendra for TheDC

When the Brits designed Darjeeling, the town was meant to cater to a population of around 20,000 to 30,000 people. According to 2011 census currently 132,016 people live in the Darjeeling Urban area. This makes Darjeeling the most crowded mountain towns in the world, with a population density of roughly around 13500 people per square kilometer, Darjeeling is literally busting at the seams.

When the Brits developed Darjeeling, they did so as the climate and temperature here were perfect to help soldiers recuperate from their tiring military services. Even after the Brits left, Darjeeling retained its claim as the “Queen of the Hills.”

Sadly 68 years after the independence, the Queen is in tatters and no one cares.

Today, Darjeeling is like the drunkard wayward scion of a rich and illustrious family, selling off family heritage to continue financing its wayward ways.

100 years old Hotel Mt Everest Darjeeling
100 years old Hotel Mt Everest Darjeeling
While the rest of the world takes pains to protect its heritage, we seem to be in a rush to break down our rich legacy and build multiplexes. Since Independence not ONE building of repute (outstanding architecture) has been built in Darjeeling, but hundreds of beautiful buildings that the Brits built have been demolished to make room for shoe-box structures. Stop Demolition of Hotel Mt Everest Darjeeling

Mr. B M Garg and his business partners who bought the iconic Mt. Everest Hotel have expressed their plans to break the building apart and build a housing complex and hotel in its place. That is another heritage which we are set to lose. Hotel Mt. Everest was inaugurated on the 12th of October, 1915 and the proprietor was Mr. A. Stephen and designed by Mr. Stephen Wilkinson – Architect. But what’s 100 years when you can make 100 crores by developing it?

The Development Argument
While many care about the Heritage of our place, most don’t. I was shocked recently when someone wrote, “time to remove the toy train from Darjeeling, takes up too much space and the smoke pollutes our place,” so I asked him how about removing thousands of vehicles that pollute 1000 times as much? He didn’t reply.

Some people have argued that when a housing complex and a new hotel is built, it will allow for employment opportunities for the locals.

I don’t disagree…

But at the same time, I also cannot help but point out a simple fact that employment can also be generated by declaring the property a Heritage Hotel and renovating it, instead of completely taking it apart.

Moreover in the name of “development” Bengal has already ruined our rivers Teesta and Rangeet, in the name of Development earlier DGHC and now GTA have already ruined each and every part of our hills… how long will we continue to let this happen?

Fact of the Matter
Fact of the matter is that the land on which Mt. Everest Hotel stands did not belong to the EHI Group which recently sold the hotel, so this whole deal is murky and chances that those in power will get lots of money to mutate the land in favour of Mr. B M Garg is very high.

When recently we raised the issue of Red Cross chopping down trees in its premises, Mr. Bharat Prakash Rai of the FOSEP (whose office is in Red Cross building) questioned our sincerity. He asked us where were those people (Us and those concerned with the chopping down of trees) when trees in Chowrasta was being cut. Earlier Mr. Enos Das Pradhan had also questioned our sincerity when we coordinated the ‪#‎SaveChowrasta‬ protests, even he had wondered where were we when trees in Chowrasta were being cut. To both the gentlemen here is our answer – TheDC was yet to be formed, however you guys were there, so no thanks for not preventing the cutting down of trees in Chowrasta…

However, here is a chance to redeem ourselves – can we all work together, united to save one of the most iconic heritages of Darjeeling from being razed to the ground?

Rootless People
Any community which does not care for his history is bound to suffer in the future. Our ancestors never bothered to record our history, because of which today we are called “foreigners” in our own land, by those who actually came to India after 1971. The fault is not theirs, its ours, we never bothered to contest their claims.

100 years from today when our future generations will want to assert their connection to these lands, chances are that, they will be called “foreigners” and asked to either prove their connection or leave – don’t think its farfetched in Assam and Manipur it is happening already – when that time comes, our people won’t have anything to show that belongs to them… for our heritage and historical connection to the land would have been razed to the grounds by those with money, ably supported by morons who are currently in power.

Who Needs to Act
I am not sure if we can stop this madness, however here are the people/authorities who can do so
1. Darjeeling Municipality
2. Darjeeling land and land reforms department
3. District Magistrate
4. Gorkhaland Territorial Administration

Please write to the people who occupy important positions in these organizations, tell them to protect our heritage.

May be, just may be if we all speak out together someone may listen.

A community of activists have veen formed to try and save Darjeeling Heritage... please join the page and extend your support:https://www.facebook.com/hotelmteverestpetition

To sign an online petition please visit: http://chn.ge/1IPQzGp

All pics showing closeup and interior of the hotel taken from: The Forgotten Hotel in Darjeeling http://bit.ly/1W9wlkU

Source- TheDC

Police complaint against Darjeeling Red Cross for cutting trees

2:20 PM
Darjeeling 16th July: Early morning today, it surfaced on the social media that trees on the Red Cross premises in Darjeeling were being cut and the planks from these trees were being loaded into pick up vans. Later when it was revealed that they did not have any permission the forest  authorities seized Wood and also filed Police Complaint Against Red Cross.
Police complaint against Darjeeling Red Cross for cutting trees
Trees on the Red Cross premises in Darjeeling were being cut and the planks from these trees
 were being loaded into a pick up vans
The incident have raised the serious question of the very existence of the most prominent NGO which is housed at the same Red Cross building where it took place, the Federation of Societies for Environmental Protection [FOSEP], which claims to champion the cause of Environmental Conservation in the region.

When FOSEP had nothing to say or do when the trees were being chopped down right under their nose, the concerned and responsible citizens of Darjeeling and Let's Green Darjeeling(N.G.O.) with the help of social media (The Darjeeling Chronicle) have saved the day.

It all started when TheDC published a post  [Detailshttp://on.fb.me/1Of6qTCon 14th July saying "Some people have been cutting trees in the Red Cross premises for the past few days... and it's two more trees out of the town landscape ..." and raised the questions like Who gave the permission to CUT DOWN these trees?? Why is FOSEP quiet?? Why are none of the NGOs or Civil Society members concerned?.

When the report led Ms. Sumitra Tamang, a member of the Let's Green Darjeeling initiative to step in Mr. Prem Moktan from Red Cross had the reason for falling those trees, "these will cause landslides or damage homes in the neighbourhood." Mr. Prem Moktan allegedly told her that, their plan is to cut down all the trees below Red Cross building, and plant around some Rhododendron sapling.

Following the report from The Darjeeling Chronicle, Darjeeling Sub-Divisional Land Reforms Officer confirmed that he had not given any permission. He then went to visit the Red Cross Premises and after inspecting the area found that Red Cross did not have any permission from anywhere to cut those trees. Finally he filed a complaint against Red Cross authorities for felling the trees without any permission.

With inputs from The Darjeeling Chronicle

How Bengal Government and Darjeeling Dist Administration Let People in Tingling to Die

9:37 AM
Special Report: Upendra for The Darjeeling Chronicle

When landslides happened in Tingling, the only group of people who were not shocked were the Tingling residents.

They knew this day was coming. In fact, they had known this day would come since 2011.
Following the 2011 earthquake, land had started to sink in, in Limbu Gaon Tingling. Worried over the sinking, Mr. Dipesh Thapa wrote to the district administration via the Manager of Singbully, to kindly take stock of the landslide threat posed to the village and had pleaded, "arrange us shifting to another safe place within Tingling TE (sic).” The letter dated November 30, 2011 was received by Mirik BDO and Mirik Police Station on behalf of the District Administration.
The letter dated November 30, 2011 was received by Mirik BDO
The letter dated November 30, 2011 was received by Mirik BDO
The district administration allegedly did not take any action, following which, the local people sent another letter to the North Bengal Debelopment Minister, requesting specifically, "we the residents of Tingling Limbu Gaon, under Mirik Block would like to draw your attention of your kind intervention in saving lives of villagers who are under severe threat due to unceasing landslide just below the village (sic)"
letter to the North Bengal Debelopment Minister
Letter to the North Bengal Debelopment Minister
Following this, the Mirik Block Development Office had conducted a survey and found that the threat was sever. However, the BDO Office could not act on the matter, as it required higher authorities to take the decision.

In a letter dated 18th of July 2013, which the Mirik BDO had CC:ed to 1) The District Magistrate, DMS, Darjeeling 2) The Sub-Divisional Officer, DMS, Kurseong and 3) The Executive Engineer, Irrigation and Water Ways Department, Kurseong Mirik BDO writes, "As per field enquiry it is found fact that there is a huge landslide directly affected to the above said village... it is beyond the capacity of the establishment to protect the landslide affected area as desired by the villagers. You are hereby requested to consider the matter urgently."
Letter to the  Manager of Singbully
Letter to the  Manager of Singbully
However, the district administration did not take any action, nor did the North Bengal Minister.
Despite three and a half years of head-start, the Darjeeling District Adminstration and the Bengal government failed to act on repeated pleas by the residents of Tingling, Limbu Gaon. Today the Limbu Gaon is no more, the entire village has been washed away due to the landslide of June 30th night.

It is devastating to learn that the loss of precious human life could have been averted, had the district administration and the North Bengal Minister acted on those repeated requests and desperate please sent by the residents of Limbu Gaon, 20 of who are dead today.

This is a clear case of dereliction of duty, on the part of Darjeeling District Administration and the North Bengal Minister, leading to the death of 19 individuals, which makes it a case of culpable homicide.

The State government has blood on their hands, and hence we all need to write to the Supreme Court of India to order an inquiry to ascertain the responsibilities and initiate criminal proceedings against those who have cause the willful death of our hill people.

[We are MOST THANKFUL to Voice of Mirik For Breaking this news story, and for kindly sharing these letters with us]

Via - TheDC

No blood in Darjeeling blood bank says officials

10:49 AM
Every half an hour, a person in Darjeeling is in need of blood. But blood bank officials say that currently there is an acute shortage of blood across the town. The supplies have reached zero unit, which means there is no supply of blood in the bank.
No blood in Darjeeling blood bank says officials
No blood in Darjeeling blood bank 
Red Cross officials say that there is a lot of lethargy on the part of medical organizations, and locals of the area. Also concerned about the lack of awareness, he said, “People think that the blood they donate cannot be replenished. This insecurity is usually among the first time donors who are almost 30-40 percent of the people who turn up in every camp that we hold.”

He observed that more camps must be mobilised almost on a daily basis to handle the shortage that is primarily due to the sudden rise of epidemics such as Dengue and Swine Flu. To address the demand for specific components of blood, which comprises almost 60 per cent of the total demand, the Red Cross team feels that a more effective way of collecting blood is by separating it into platelets, plasma and red blood cells during the time of collection. If this is done, one bottle of whole blood would benefit two recipients, said the spokesperson.

Another definite reason for the shortage, according to Darjeeling District Hospital officials, was the college vacation period. “The largest part of the donations is from college students. Due to the vacation period, we are unable to collect voluntary blood,” said the hospital source. “It is mandatory for all the denizens of Darjeeling to come together and donate blood voluntarily in order to avert such panic situation. And it is the duty of local NGOs and other governmental organizations to sensitize people of the importance of blood donation,” he added.  A similar situation was reported on January 2014.

“It is sad that after water, Darjeeling has now run out of blood. Such situation arises when the administration, and we the residents of the area, don’t give importance to blood donation camps. We must take it as our duty to donate blood periodically,” said a concerned senior citizen.

Source: EOI

 
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