The Bengal Post
Darjeeling-The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) has said that they would provide compensation to the fire victims that lost their shops and homes in a blaze recently at H D Lama Road through the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) and try to do the same through the central and state governments.
As temporary relief, on Saturday, the GJM distributed Rs 50,000 each to the victims of the fire, which occurred on March 8. “Within a few days, we are making arrangements to provide funds to the victims from the GTA and we will also contact the state and the Centre so that compensation can be paid by them,” said GJM chief and GTA chief executive Bimal Gurung.
Speaking about the money already given to the victims, Gurung said: “The money that has been given to the victims is from our party funds so they can use it to get temporary relief.” The money was handed over by Gurung himself on Saturday. He was seen handing over the cash to different families affected by Friday’s fire that gutted five shops, six houses and a hotel.
Under Gurung’s direction, Darjeeling Municipality would also conduct a verification programme to see whether the shops and houses that were burnt down were on civic or private land.
“I have asked the municipality chairman to conduct a survey to see if the land belongs to them. If the land belongs to the municipality, then we would be in a position to construct a concrete structure which would be safer and offer better facilities,” said Gurung.
It may be mentioned here that a similar fire last year in April at the same location had destroyed more than 100 shops and some houses. A new four-storied building is now being constructed at the site but is yet to be completed.
Though the earlier estimate provided for losses in Friday’s fire was being pegged at more than Rs 4 crore, the GTA now states that the losses could well be over Rs 23 crore.
“After we have had talks with the victims, we have come to know that the losses from the fire could be more then Rs 23 crore. A portion of a hotel was also damaged by the fire along with the shops and houses. Actual figures, however, have not been calculated,” said GTA member Binay Tamang, who is also the Morcha assistant secretary.
With the Darjeeling hills vulnerable to fire incidents because of the proximity of buildings to one another and the use of wood for structures, the three municipality chairmen of Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong subdivisions are planning to meet the concerned authorities in Kolkata for new projects so that infrastructure of the town area is improved.