Army offers to repair hill roads

Kalimpong, April 22: East Main Road continues to be a road, but only on paper. Lack of repair has reduced it to a bundle of metalled shreds.

However, all this could change if Kalimpong Municipality agrees to a proposal of the local army station at Durpin. The army would like the civic body to hand over the road along with three others to it for maintenance.

A source said the army has sent the proposal because all the four roads (the other three being West Main Road, Upper Cart Road and Rinkingpong Road) are frequently used by them to reach Durpin, which is about 3 km from the centre of the town.

All these roads are in a pitiable condition, having gone without repairs for a very long time. However, the plight of the roads cannot be attributed to the civic body alone since they were looked after by Kalimpong Engineering Division (KED) of the DGHC till 10 months ago.

East Main Road, Upper Cart Road and Rinkingpong Road were part of the 33.2-km stretch of roads, previously looked after by the KED, that were handed over to the municipality last year.

“Once the municipality took up the responsibility of maintaining these roads, we were hopeful that they would be relaid. But though the civic body is repairing several old roads around the town, these continue to be neglected,” rued Dip Thapa, a member of Target Group, a youth organisation on East Main Road, that has taken up the cudgels on behalf the people.

In support of his claim, Thapa points to important roads like Tirpai Road, Primtam Road and K.C. Mintri that have been repaired recently. Even the state highway from Chitre on NH31A to the hill town was repaired by the PWD last winter.

By way of explanation municipality chairman C.K. Kumai had told The Telegraph recently that repair work on roads in the municipality’s jurisdiction was being held up due to a funds crunch.

The people, though, are not willing to buy that. “If the road is not repaired before the monsoon, we will take to the streets, and even start sowing seeds on the muddy road as a mark of protest,” said Thapa. “We are not bothered which agency repairs the road so long as they are repaired,” he added.

With Kumai indisposed, The Telegraph could not get the municipality’s response to the army proposal, but observers said it is unlikely to hand over the roads. In fact, the civic body, it is learnt, has recently prepared an estimate of about Rs 4 crore for the repair of the roads that lead to the army station.

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