Millennium Post

The Tiger Hill project will be eco-friendly: Deb

Trying to lay to rest the allegations of green groups and political parties that the tourism project at Tiger Hill in Darjeeling would cause serious damage to the environment, state Tourism Minister Gautam Deb claimed that the project is eco-friendly and in no way would harm the environment.

The West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation Limited has undertaken the project which includes four cottages, 20 double-bedded rooms and a 20-bedded dormitory at Tiger Hill, around 13-km from Darjeeling town. The project cost is around Rs 40 crore. The foundation stone of the project was laid in the first week of March by Deb, following which the construction work started.

The project soon ran into rough waters with protests from green groups and other political outfits. "Some people have expressed concerns regarding the impact of the project on the environment. Let me assure them that the project will be environment-friendly. All necessary permissions have been taken from the state Forest department. No government project can come up without following proper norms and rules," stated Deb.

The minister stated that there existed a chalet built by the British in 1916. "The chalet had been torched during the Gorkhaland agitation in the 1980s. We are rebuilding it."

Meanwhile, the Jan Andolan Party (JAP) supporters staged dharnas at Nabanno in Howrah and the New Secretariat Building in Kolkata protesting against the tourism project at Tiger Hill.

"We were removed from both the places with the police stating that Section 144 CRPC has been clamped in these areas. We then staged dharnas in public places in Park Street and Chowringhee to create public awareness," stated Amir Basnet, General Secretary, youth wing, JAP.

JAP also formed human chains in different parts of the Hills including the Darjeeling Chowrasta protesting against the project. The protesters have expressed concerns stating that the project is inside a wild life sanctuary hence it would adversely affect many endangered species of the fauna along with the flora. Further, they have expressed concerns over the sewage and garbage from the project that will contaminate the three lakes located just below the project site. The three Sinchal lakes are the main sources of potable water for Darjeeling town and the surrounding areas.
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