Monday, June 01, 2009

Appeal from Darjeeling: In Support of the people displaced by Darjeeling Landslides(Darjeeling Press Guild)


Dear Friends,

Cyclone Aila left a death trail as it whizzed past through Bengal, early this week. Our Hills, too, have also been battered and maimed and is today housing hundreds of inconsolable souls who have lost their near and dear ones.

Darjeeling recorded 240 mm of rainfall within 24 hours. Given our poor planning and lack of proper expertise in disaster management our infrastructure has crumbled so have the dreams of many families.

500 houses have been destroyed and more than 1400 people are currently staying in 41 government relief camps. Many families are still searching for their dear ones hoping to find their bodies even after four days. Till date 26 bodies have been recovered, mainly from Darjeeling and Kurseong while two more are missing at Haridashatta and the villagers have not yet given up on the search.
Nature’s fury has spared none. Six people who were trying to save the family of Pooja Gurung, at Haridashatta, have been buried alive. None could save the saviors who saved 14 lives. These people had come from as far as Soom tea garden to help the victims in Darjeeling.

Three year old Tashi Doma Sherpa, died on her way to the hospital. Forty one year old Mohan Kumar Rai and his eight year old son Manish Rai from Bara Pattabung were found underneath the debris clutching each other for one last moment.. Siksha Tamang and Yogesh Subba, from Cutlary, Kurseong, had just been married but the slides snubbed their lives in a blink of an eye. Almost every village, every locality has a similar story.

We can only pray for the departed souls but for those who are homeless we can and we will make a difference.

The Darjeeling Press Guild has been moved by the devastation it has witnessed. Following request from the residents of Darjeeling we have decided to undertake a project to rebuild many a dreams.
We cannot construct 500 houses but we want to make a difference in the lives of the underprivileged residing in far flung areas of the district by constructing at least 20 houses- maybe more if can generate more funds.

We have already started our groundwork. The administration has promised us to provide land for reconstruction and we have already formed a team comprising of journalists from all newspapers to identify the beneficiaries. We have made provisions to print every penny that we collect and spend in leading dailies for we want to justify the faith reposed on us.

Given your love for the place, we would also like to appeal for help from your end by mobilizing support among our community members out there. We have also started a thread in Facebook titled: In Support of People Displaced by Darjeeling Landslides. Please browse the thread as well.
Thank You,

Vivek Chhetri.
Darjeeling Press Guild
Principal Correspondent,
The Telegraph
+91 94341 41985

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