August 24, 2013
Trinamool Congress distributes rations and arranges transports for the strike-affected locals in the Hills
Amidst the indefinite Darjeeling Hills strike which has reached almost a month, Trinamool Congress is making efforts to provide relief to the sufferings of the Hills people by taking initiative to distribute ration and arrange transport facilities for the strike-affected locals in the Hills.
The people of the Hills are forcefully kept under strike called by the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha. West Bengal Chief Minister Ms Mamata Banerjee said, “the worst sufferers are the poor people of the Hills. Supply of food and essential commodities has been cut off. The schools and educational institutions have been forced to shut down and development works have been stalled due to threats coming from political parties. “ The strike called by the GJM has already resulted in a loss of Rs 12 crore in the tourism sector. Local people of the Hills including those in hotel and transport business as well as handicraft sellers have been hit. The worst sufferers are the students of the residential schools. The West Bengal Govt. has taken a strong stand against this unlawful strike.
Trinamool Congress has undertaken a programme to distribute ration at 20 spots in different parts of the Hills. Trinamool District President Gautam Deb distributed rice, wheat, potatoes, at a camp formed in a primary school at Mirik. Around 300 people turned up to take the ration among which more than 100 were poor families. The rations were collected from the public in Siliguri and the TMC party and each family was given free ration of 10 kg rice, 5 kg atta and 2 kg of potatoes. Mr Deb said, “The State Government is serious about peace prevailing in the Hills as well as uninterrupted development. The Government, in order to keep peace, has hence dealt with tough measures and will keep doing so. Priority on development should be emphasised and its process speeded up through the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration for which the Government has always encouraged. We want normalcy and democracy to prevail in the Hills and if there are any issues troubling the people, it should be solved by talking it across the table. Bandhs are not answers to the various problems but instead it should be discussed. “
The State Government had also sent rations to the local people through the Public Distribution Sysytem distributed at 11 spots from police stations, police outposts, block development offices or panchayat offices in different parts of Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong.
The North Bengal State Transport Corporation (NBSTC) buses which had earlier been sent by the State Government to facilitate transport for the hills people amidst the bandh are also seen packed to the hilt. Due to the indefinite bandh called by the GJMM to press for statehood, transportation among other things has been totally paralysed in the Hills. Hence, keeping in mind the Hills peoples` problems as well as to arrange transportation facility, the State Government had taken the initiative to ply NBSTC buses in the three sub-divisions of the Hills in the second week of August. The NBSTC buses plying across the Hills are seen full so much so that besides the seats, the passengers have been seen standing even on any vacant space inside the buses or hanging outside in order to travel. The number of Hills people availing the facility arranged by the Government is increasing daily. Such kind of environment was not only seen in the Darjeeling to Siliguri route via Kurseong but even in the Kalimpong-Siliguri route and other routes in the Hills.
Importantly, the bus services in the Hills are being plied amidst tight security which has two armed security personnel seated inside each and every bus of the NBSTC as well as police escort vehicles have also been arranged for each bus in order to securely reach their respective destinations. Presently there are more than half a dozen NBSTC buses plying in the bandh-stricken Hills of Darjeeling.