CJ: Kumar Sarkar
After a brief lull, the hills of Darjeeling threaten to become restive again. The Gorkha Mukti Morcha has now threatened to stop construction work in two hydel power projects being set up by the National Hydel Power Corporation..
THE LEFT Front government’s rejection of the demand for a separate state of Gorkhaland by the Gorkha Mukti Morcha (GMM) has once again signalled unrest in the hills. This time, however, the disruption planned is of a severe nature and could be deemed an anti-social act.
The chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s assurance of greater autonomy for the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) failed to appease the Morcha leadership, which has rejected the offer. It is sticking to its demand for a separate state where it wants the inclusion of the foothill town of Siliguri and the sprawling lush green Dooars, famous for its tea and timber.
The Morcha has embarked on a plan, which is likely to bring it into a direct confrontation with the Centre and the state. The Morcha has threatened to stop work on two power projects under construction in the hills as of June 7. The threat was delivered through a news agency.
The Morcha wants to put a spanner in the works in the Teesta Low Dam projects III and IV. The two projects are being built at a cost of Rs 1,830 crores. Morcha leaders have also threatened to close down the offices of the National Hydel Power Corporation (NHPC) in the hills of Darjeeling district. The Morcha leadership’s contention is that the hydel power projects are being set up drawing on the resources of the hills but they would end up supplying electricity to the plains of West Bengal. The parochial tone of the Morcha leaders seems all but evident, given that no such decision has been announced.
The 111 megawatt Teesta Low Dam Project III being constructed at an estimated cost of Rs 768.92 crores is slated to be completed by the end of this year. The on going 132 mega watt Teesta Low Dam Project IV being built at an estimated cost of Rs 1,061.38 crores is slated for completion by September 2009.
In the course of reviving the movement for a separate state of Gorkhaland, which was first spearheaded by the Gorkha National Liberation Front supremo Subhas Ghisingh over 20 years ago, the Morcha is gearing up to take on the Centre. Ghisingh, was careful not to annoy the Centre. On the contrary, he kept his channels to the Centre open through former Union Home Minister, Buta Singh. During Rajiv Gandhi’s tenure, the Congress government sided with Ghisngh blatantly to needle the Left Front government in West Bengal. Though it had no intentions of carving up West Bengal by creating a separate state of Gorkhaland, political expediency seemed to have demanded that the GNLF remain a thorn in the Left government’s side.
The Morcha, in yet another departure, is seeking to disrupt work in hydel power projects where the central agency, the NHPC, is involved and had earlier threatened that hill residents would stop paying taxes, telephone bills and the like.(Merinews)
CJ: Kumar Sarkar