SATURDAY, MARCH 26, 2016 For a passerby Kalimpong is a small sleepy town. Untouched by the harsh industrialization overtaking other small towns. It is so small and idyllic that the Main Road in town is a two minute walk through. This small town contains a cheerful people as has been noted by many anthropologists in the past.
Beyond the town, Kalimpong is a vast landmass, the largest among the three hill constituencies of Darjeeling and Kurseong. Here live people who mostly make their living from agriculture or send their children to toil in the Indian cities or as illegal migrant laborers in the Gulf. An often heard phrase here is- “There is nothing in the hills for us anymore.”
|MAP of Kalimpong District|
A lot of Facebook comments on the various news sites has revealed that people seem confused about the formation of a Kalimpong district. They seem to think that a district is an impediment in the demand for Gorkhaland. Here are some basic factual clarifications on the urgent need for a district Kalimpong-
· Unlike Darjeeling Kalimpong does not have a plantation economy, we are agriculture based but since we are under a district that is listed as a plantation district we are deprived of the funds allocated by the Centre towards the State for development of agricultural districts. If you travel beyond the town area to places like Suruk, Samthar, or even just beyond Seed Farm, you will see what I mean.
· Since one of the fastest growing cities in India, Siliguri, comes under Darjeeling, Darjeeling district has been listed as the top three most economically developed districts in West Bengal. If you are from Kalimpong you will understand the cruel irony of this statement. But as a Kalimpong district, we immediately enter the backward districts zone, which means schemes from the state for development and betterment of the region.
· A district means establishment of DM office, District Court and various other official necessities in Kalimpong itself. In terms of size Kalimpong is the largest among the three hill constituencies so a person from remote regions like Tode and Tangta will have to pay a huge amount simply to reach these offices in Darjeeling.
· It will mean creation of sub divisions in Algarah and Pedong ,various departments (Fire Brigade, Bank, court) will be set up in those regions along with basic infrastructure like roads which those places lack.
· It will mean multiplication of Panchayats and Blocks so job opportunities will increase.
· The 100 days scheme which was coming to Darjeeling directly so that we got only the leftovers will now reach Kalimpong directly benefiting more and more people.
Gorkhaland is a demand to be made with the Central Government. When we are contesting the Assembly elections for the state the motive should be not to sit in silence in the state assembly but to make these demands heard. Otherwise it will mean a wastage of votes. District Kalimpong is a right which we will have to obtain from the west Bengal state legislative assembly.
Let Kalimpong remain a small sleepy town but let it also contain people who are cheerful and contended in real life and not just for some BBC documentaries on hill tribes "