Kalimpong, April 27: The hill town is set to take the first tentative step towards becoming a centre of higher technical education.
With help from the Bengal and central governments, Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) has decided to set up an engineering college here, which will start functioning from 2008. Dawa Pakhrin, the president of the Kalimpong unit of the GNLF, said the institution would be spread over five acres of land at Jorpokhri near Deolo, around 5 km from the town (see map). “The total cost has been pegged at Rs 14.5 crore, of which the state government has already released Rs 5 crore that was sanctioned by the Centre earlier,” Pakhrin told The Telegraph over phone from Calcutta. “The state has also agreed to move the Centre for the release of the remaining Rs 9.5 crore.”
The college will start functioning from the next academic session and to begin with, it will offer courses in four disciplines, the GNLF leader said. Pakhrin made the announcement in Darjeeling yesterday following a meeting with additional chief secretary Asok Mohan Chakraborty, director of technical education Sajal Dasgupta and education secretary of the DGHC D.K. Sharma.
Residents here are happy with the announcement, but given that many such proposed projects are yet to take off, they are a bit sceptical. “If the news is true, it is the best thing to have happened in the Darjeeling hills. But it can well be a political ploy,” said Harka Bahadur Chettri, a writer. “In the past, they (GNLF) had talked about setting up a Manipal institute here, which never materialised. The fate of the science centre, which is under construction at present, is no better.”
Architect Subin Pradhan, who had to leave the town for higher studies, said: “Studying outside, especially in the technical field, one has to face all sorts of difficulties, right from getting admission to adjusting to a different environment. The new college will solve that problem for youths here.”
According to some, the institution will also give a boost to the local economy.