Kalimpong, May 3: Local GNLF legislator Gaulan Lepcha today protested against the move to hand over five municipal roads to the army for maintenance.
On April 24, Kalimpong Municipality passed a resolution agreeing to conditionally hand over all the roads (18.8 km in length) leading up to the army station at Durpin to the army for maintenance. This was in response to a proposal made by the army a week before that. The roads — East Main Road, West Main Road, Rinkingpong Road, Upper Cart Road and West Rickshaw Road — had been in a bad shape for a long time and the army offered to take over the responsibility, primarily to aid the movement of their vehicles.
An angry Lepcha, who was reportedly not taken into confidence by the Kalimpong municipality before the agreement with the army, said the civic body was making a “colossal blunder”.
“I have not received any copy of the resolution passed at the meeting. In any case, given the track record of the army in other cities, including Calcutta, where they are in possession of some prime property, it would not be wise to hand over civilian roads to them,” said Lepcha.
The MLA argued that once the army is entrusted with the upkeep of the roads, the men in uniform might try to extend their jurisdiction to civilian areas as well. He, however, admitted that the condition of the roads is very bad and they are badly in need of repair.
“The municipality has not been able to repair some of the roads due to funds constraints, but we must look for other options rather than handing them over to the army,” he added.
Lepcha might have his reasons for his misgivings about the army. However, the people living along these roads have no such problems. As The Telegraph has reported in the past, the people of the hill town are not really bothered as to which agency maintains the roads as long as the repairs are carried out on time.