More water for Kalimpong

Mrinalini Sharma ALGARAH (Kalimpong), May 18: The Union external affairs minister Mr Pran-ab Mukherjee today inaugurated the Algarah Open Ground Water Reservoir at Algarah, 16 km from Kalimpong today. “Water supply is one six main agendas taken up by the government. I appreciate the work that has been done as it will solve the water crisis in the region,” the minister said.The reservoir comes under the Neorakhola Water Supply Scheme and was initiated in 1989-90 before work was stalled due to technical reasons. However, with the help of an expert committee its construction commenced in 2005 and was finally completed in December 2007. Neorakhola and the Dhaulakhola are the two sources of the reservoir which has a capacity of 13.44 million gallons. The project, which is a joint venture of the state government and the Army, is designed to supply water to the Kalimpong municipal town, Army establishments and the en-route village. Initially an amount of Rs 22 crore had been sanctioned for the project which was revised to 31 crore in 1990. While complimenting the Public Health Engineering (PHE) department for completing a complicated project because of the difficult terrain, the Union minister emphasised the need to sustain such projects. “It is one thing to complete the project but sustaining for the future is more important,” he said.Mr Mukherjee further added that priority is given to water, food and energy security by international bodies. “Emphasis should be given to obtaining pure portable water more than the ground water resources,” he said.The Housing and PHE department of the state government is expected to take up similar projects in the 3.2 km Algarah to Lava and areas in Pedong. The minister also assured to consider the issue of re-opening the Jelep-la pass with Tibet, at the urgings of the Darjeeling MP Mr Dawa Narbula. “I am aware of the economic and commercial benefits that Kalimpong will receive if the pass is opened, so I will definitely take up the issue,” he said. The Jelep-la pass used to be a part of the historic silk route between China and India prior to its closure during the Indo-Chinese war in 1962.Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Gorkha Bhutpurva Sainik Morcha submitted a memorandum to Mr Mukherjee requesting him for a fair trial on the inquiry of the one-man commission on the 9 April incident in Siliguri.“Following the assault on us on 9 April, the ex-Armymen are completely demoralised. We have requested the minister to review the matter seriously,” said retd. Col. Ramesh Allay, president of the association. (The Statesman)

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