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Darjeeling court stays prohibitory order issued by district admin

Darjeeling : The Darjeeling District and Session’s court has issued a stay order vacating section 144 of the CrPC imposed by the district administration on 13.8 acres of agricultural land at Jamuney, 22km from town, which is being developed as a tourist hotspot by the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration. Taking cognisance of a complaint filed at the Darjeeling sadar police station on April 28 by nine land losers, the district administration had clamped the prohibitory order, suspending the GTA’s ongoing work at the site. The matter was to be revised by the administration after 60 days. However, district and session’s judge Uday Kumar, taking note of a revision petition filed by Dawa Lepcha, the GTA tourism department member on duty the day the prohibitory order was enforced by the district magistrate, passed an order on May 28 staying the administration’s order. 

Advocate Biden Gurung, representing the GTA, said, “The honourable judge has ruled the land losers must prove their property was taken away forcibly by the GTA. The stay order will remain in force till then, which means the GTA can proceed with their development project for the time being.” The nine land losers, allegedly owing allegiance to the Trinamool Congress, had claimed the GTA had forcibly acquired their land that falls under the Pul-Bijanbari block and it also failed to pay the mandatory compensation. The land losers are all farmers who cultivate paddy crops for a living. When contacted over the matter, Darjeeling DM Puneet Yadav said he hasn’t received the court’s written order yet, but assured he would “work accordingly”. It may be recalled that at the time of clamping the prohibitory order, the DM had said “no one can forcibly take over land without paying adequate compensation although the GTA is free to continue its development work in adjoining areas if plots are acquired according to norms”. 

 Manilal Tamang, one of the land losers, said he has not yet received any order from the court. “I am not aware of the court ruling as I have not received any order as yet. But I will take up the matter with the district administration,” he said. Meanwhile, Lepcha expressed satisfaction with the court’s ruling and said development work in the area would be expedited as per plans. “We will start work on developing a tourist spot at Jamuney according to our original plan now that the court has ruled in our favor,” said the GTA sabhasad. The GTA is developing the Jamuney area into a tourist spot as it is surrounded on all sides by hills to make the place a scenic beauty worth beholding. There is a natural lake right in the middle of Jamuney where boating facilities can be availed of including cottages for an overnight halt. The GTA has also been organising its ‘Krishi Mela’ and various cultural programmes at the spot every year. Plans are also afoot to set up a Mughal garden, two Olympic-size swimming pools and a water kingdom to attract tourists to the otherwise secluded area. 

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