Kalimpong, May 24: East Main Road is a road, alright, but fit for only bullock carts, one feels. To the west of the town is Relli Road, which is even worse, and steeper, making driving on its dusty and potholed length a nightmare.
There are many more stretches of roads — all within the Kalimpong municipality area — that are in a similarly pitiable state. “We have been approaching the authorities for donkey’s years, but to no avail,” said Dip Thapa, a resident of East Main Road.
Residents alleged that the administration has done little apart from carrying out occasional patchwork repairs that do not even last a heavy downpour, let alone an entire rainy season. “The badly damaged stretches like Relli Road need to be re-laid completely,” said Navin Poudyal of Lower Dungra Busty on Relli Road.
Major repairs on these roads have not been undertaken for nearly two decades, said residents. “I have not seen our road repaired in my living memory,” said Biren Bhujel, who resides on East Main Road.
Municipality chairman C.K. Kumai admitted that certain roads are in urgent need of repair, but said most of them are not within the jurisdiction of the civic body. “Nevertheless, we have requested the authorities concerned and they have taken up the matter with their superiors,” he said.
Kumai was referring to the Kalimpong Engineering Division (KED), a department of the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC), which looks after about 25-km stretch of roads within the municipality area, including East Main Road and Relli Road. KED’s executive engineer K.C. Ghimeray said: “We have prepared an estimate and submitted it to our superiors. Once it is processed and cleared, funds would be made available.”
He added that repair work would begin as soon as the funds reached his department.
“We have heard that (promise) before, and are resigned to living in the bullock-cart age,” said Suraj Rai, a Relli Road resident. However, Rai can still joke: “Because of the road, I have even disposed of my scooter. Otherwise, I could have been hauled up for causing cruelty to a machine,” he said.