Saturday, June 21, 2008

Bandh, and now rains wreak havoc in Sikkim

Gangtok, June 20: Sikkim cut-off from the rest of the country
As if the bandh called by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) was not enough, nature added more woes to people of Sikkim after heavy rains caused a major landslide at Kalijhora on the NH-31A.
The landslide has cut off Sikkim’s only road link with the rest of the country.
The indefinite bandh, which entered fifth day today, has already created a scarcity of essential supplies in Gangtok. The GJM supporters had closed every approach road to the state as part of their demand for a separate state. The landslide will further deepen the crisis there.
Sources in the Sikkim Chief Secretary’s office said the people were facing difficulties in getting LPG, fuel and food items. They added that the state government was in touch with the Centre to overcome the crisis.
Darjeeling Superintendent of Police Rahul Srivastav told The Indian Express that all efforts are on to resume road connectivity with Sikkim. “Due to the landslide, a section of the road has been breached at a place called 28 Mile. A team of Border Roads Organisation personnel is working on repairing that section and clearing the debris . As of now only small vehicles can pass through,” Srivastav said.
There were, however, no reports of any untoward incident on Friday.
In Kolkata, veteran CPM leader and former West Bengal chief minister Jyoti Basu said the state government was willing to take part in the tripartite talks involving the GJM and Centre.
“If the Centre calls a tripartite meeting, the state government will join it,” Basu told mediapersons. He, however, added that the GJM’s decision of not accepting Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s offer of talks was “regrettable.” Reacting to the GJM’s offer to join in tripartite talks that could include the chief minister, Basu said nothing much could be achieved if the GJM is not willing to talk.
GJM general secretary Roshan Giri, meanwhile, said the stalemate will continue, but difficult to say for how long. “We have not taken a decision on ending the bandh as yet. As of now, the bandh is indefinite. People, however, are prepared for the struggle and have stocked up necessary items. We cannot say when the situation will change,” he added.