Currently on a foundation-laying spree, GTA chief executive Bimal Gurung today launched a ropeway to connect the Delo and Relli areas of Kalimpong. The project is estimated to cost Rs 26 crore and will complement transportation besides boosting tourism.
Commissioned by the GTA and to be built by Damodar Ropeway Infra Ltd, the latter’s deputy chairman KB Banerjee said the company is all set to begin construction and the blueprint of the project has been finalized. He informed the 4.3km long ropeway will stand at a height of 1.5km from ground level and move at a speed of 3m per second. There will be a stopping point at Albert Villa Point near SUMI, midway between Delo and Relli. Gurung said construction work is expected to start within the next 20 days, but Banerjee pointed out there are formalities to be completed with the Union environment ministry and rules and regulations have to be strictly followed before and during construction. Banerjee added the ministry will also hold a public meeting to seek an NOC before construction begins. If the GTA completes all formalities at the earliest, work on the ropeway can begin smoothly and as soon as possible, noted the company executive. Meanwhile, Gurung said the GTA will set in motion all projects undertaken by it before the code of conduct for the general election comes into force. “The Rs 200 crore granted by the Centre has to be utilized within March. We will hand over tenders and initiate development works within this month,” he said, adding: “As much as Rs119 crore went unutilized during the DGHC’s tenure. We won’t waste money by allowing it to freeze as the DGHC did.”
The GTA chief said the ropeway is a gift to the residents of Kalimpong and promised to promote all-round development of the hills within the next three and a half years. Announcing the Mela ground will be upgraded into a proper stadium, the GTA chief executive said its blueprint is ready, but construction will begin only after proper rehabilitation of those likely to be displaced. Later in the day, Gurung laid the foundation stone for a 30-bed hospital in Kage. He is also scheduled to launch the reconstruction of the Leprosy hospital here in a few days. Further, two old-age homes are to be built in Kalimpong and Relli. Gurung went on to inform that the GTA has already granted a sum of Rs one crore each to the Kalimpong and Darjeeling municipalities for resolving their waste management problem. Infrastructural development will be carried out in Relli, Lava and other areas to encourage tourism. A new office for the Janmukti Chalak Mahasangh has also been promised. “We are not just gatekeepers. We will now show that we can do many things,” concluded the GTA chief.