His announcement coincidentally came on a day Arvind Kejriwal, whose Aam Aadmi Party has positioned itself as the torch-bearer for the common man, also announced he would hold a similar meetings outside the Delhi chief minister’s office every Saturday from 9.30am to 11am. Kejriwal’s six cabinet ministers will join him on Saturdays.
|Gurung at the janta durbar in the Morcha office at the Darjeeling Motor Stand |
on Thursday. Picture by Suman Tamang
It is not known if the GTA chief executive took inspiration from Kejriwal’s idea. The Delhi chief minister has held similar meetings at his home earlier, though the idea of holding such hearings is not his idea.
After he arrived at the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha office in the New Super Market building around noon today, Gurung said: “I will be meeting the public every Thursday in this office from today onwards. People can come to me and share their problems.”
About 300 hill residents came to the Morcha office today to air their grievances.
Among them was Joymala Chhetri from Sukna, 70km from Darjeeling town.
She was in the queue to meet the Morcha chief, as were other people from her locality. “We have basically come here to tell him about our local problems. People of Sukna have sacrificed a lot for the party, but no development work has happened in our area. We will request the chief to look into our grievances,” she said.
Joymala would not be disappointed after hearing the plans Gurung has spelt out for Sukna. Most of the queries put to Gurung were about development issues. The GTA chief executive himself spoke about several projects but also made it clear “we will give priority to education”.
Gurung said schools in Sukna, Barbottey, on the outskirts of Darjeeling town, Neupani in the foothills, and the Pokhriabong and Dhajia tea gardens, which are between 30km and 40km from Darjeeling, would be upgraded. The schools that are primary would be made secondary, and the secondary schools will be made higher secondary. The Morcha chief said the B.B. Gurung High School in Sukna would be turned into a model school.
Gurung also spoke about increasing connectivity in some remote areas of the hills by constructing bridges. He said the bridges would be made at Poobong tea estate in the Teesta valley that is 24km from Darjeeling, as well as Ghoomti estate, Jangapana, Lodhama and Pokhriabiong-Malat. These places are between 40km and 60km from Darjeeling town.
“We will take up all this work by next month with the Rs 200 crore central fund,” Gurung said.
Gurung said the GTA was also looking for land either in Sukna or in Dudhia, which is near Sukna, to set up a super-speciality hospital.
The GTA chief also mentioned that the foundation stone of a ropeway between Giddey Pahar and Rohini in Kurseong would be laid on January 22.
Asked if he would be meeting chief minister Mamata Banerjee during her visit to the hills on January 22, Gurung said he would attend a government event in Darjeeling where she would be present.
“I was also invited to her programme in Siliguri, but I will not be going. Instead, some of our sabhasads (GTA executive members) will attend the programme,” he said.