Statesman News Service
SILIGURI, Aug. 25: National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) has agreed to construct an alternative road from 27th Mile near Rambhi to Takdah in Darjeeling sub-division. However, the concerned locals will have to wait for at least another eight to ten months before their alternative lifeline becomes a reality.
The nearly 2 km long road is to pass through the Riang reserve forests under the Darjeeling forest division and, hence, a mandatory clearance from the Union ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) is needed before the road project gets the green signal.
“After we get the detailed project report (DPR) from NHPC, we will require at least a month to complete the paperwork before forwarding the same to the state forest authorities in Kolkata. The state authorities will then send the DPR to the MoEF in New Delhi for their consideration. The decision of the MoEF will return by the same channel. The whole process will take at least six months, if not more,” Darjeeling DFO Mr GP Chhetri said today after conducting a preliminary survey for the proposed road.
If the MoEF gives the go-ahead, at least four to five months would be needed to carry out the physical construction work of the new road.
Today’s survey was a joint effort by the state forest department and NHPC. The chief engineer of NHPC’s Teesta Low Dam Project -III at Rambhi in Kalimpong sub-division was present, as were activists of the Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha Teesta Takdah Valley unit, who represented the locals.
Demanding the alternative road, the GJMM had closed down the 132 MW TLDP-III hydropower project on 18 August and relented five days later only after the NHPC authorities assured them of taking up the matter as a priority. Today’s preliminary survey is the outcome of GJMM pressure. Two more surveys are required before NHPC prepares the DPR. “We are working hard to have the road ready at the earliest,” TLDP-III chief engineer Mr SK Khatua said.
Portions of the existing stretch between 27th Mile near Rambhi and Takdah have been badly damaged by the construction of TLDP-III. This road is the sole lifeline of nearly 50,000 residents of Takdah block.