Millennium Post

Defence Minister to inaugurate school building in Darjeeling

Manohar Parrikar, Minister of Defence, Government of India will be inaugurating a school building in Darjeeling town on March 5. He will be accompanied by SS Ahluwalia, Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmers' Welfare, Government of India and Member of Parliament from the Darjeeling Parliamentary constituency.

The Minister will inaugurate Ramakrishna Shiksha Parishad (RKSP) Model School Building at Darjeeling at 10.30 am on Sunday.

"Minister Parrikar will be arriving at Bagdogra Airport at around 3 pm on March 4. From Bagdogra, he will fly to Lebong Helipad in Darjeeling by Helicopter if the weather and visibility is clear. Else, he could either come up by road to Darjeeling on the same day or come up on Sunday morning. The Minister is scheduled to depart from Darjeeling at 12.30 pm on March 5 after the programme." stated Binay Tamang, Executive Member, Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA).

RKSP School is under the GTA. Work for the upgradation of the school into a model school has been on for the past two years. "The renovation and upgradation has been completed at a cost of Rupees 15.98 crore from a special central assistance fund to the GTA" added Tamang.

RKSP was founded in 1944 by Swami Prabhudananda. The school catering to the Economically Backward Section of the society has the student strength of 1,200. With construction work having started for the upgradation of the school in 2015, the Darjeeling district administration had clamped Section 133 CrPC ordering the construction work to stop.

Section 133 CrPC had been invoked by the district administration on the grounds that the RKSP would pose a security threat to the Darjeeling Raj Bhavan (Governor's House) owing to its vantage location opposite it. Along with this, the district administration had also stated that following the earthquakes, aftershocks and killer landslides, they had received a note from the Disaster Management Cell, Kolkata asking them to keep close tab on constructions as the area has become highly vulnerable. They could pose a threat to public property and life.

The stopping of construction work at RKSP had resulted in student rallies protesting against this move by the state government. Bimal Gurung, the GTA chief had claimed that it is a conspiracy hatched by the state government to stop the upgradation of the school into a model school with Central Government funds.

He had threatened to resign from the GTA, launch a major agitation including public rallies and bandhs as a mark of protest. Finally on September 11, 2015 the prohibitory orders were lifted by the district administration, stating that in view of the prayer submitted by school authorities and inconvenience caused to school children, the orders were being lifted.

They stated that the school authorities were advised to take appropriate measures to ensure their structure is safe in all regards and there will be no threat to safety of the building in case of any natural calamities, along with ensuring that there is no security threat to Raj Bhavan from their structure.

The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) run GTA since long has been trying to get Union Ministers to visit Darjeeling to inaugurate various GTA projects including the RKSP Model School and parking lots constructed with funds from the Special Central Assistance to the GTA. Earlier the GJM had claimed that Rajnath Singh would inaugurate the school building. Incidentally the GJM is an ally of the BJP.

With the TMC making political inroads in the Darjeeling Hills, the Defence Minister's visit with a single point programme to inaugurate a school building is being read as a face saver for the GJM. The hill party has been loud on its relation with the Union Government iterating that it enjoys sound support of the NDA-led Centre.
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