Rey-Ranka protestors call off road blockade

Gangtok, 02 Feb:

The residents of Rey-Ranka and Sajong called off their protest late last evening after the Tourism Department gave them a written assurance that the widening and strengthening of the road in their area will be completed by 18 May this year.

The public of seven villages from Ranka Zero Point to Sajong, it may be recalled, had blocked the Rey-Ranka-Sajong road from 6.30 a.m. on 01 Feb in protest over the inordinate delay stretching years in road repairs (despite the same having been commissioned) in their area.

The residents today informed media-persons that they want the road to be completed at the earliest and, as assured by the department of Tourism & Civil Aviation, they will wait till May.

However, they warned that if the road is not completed by May, they will not hesitate in taking the matter to court.

It was informed that the Martam-Rumtek MLA, Dr Mechung Bhutia, had appraised the Tourism & Civil Aviation department about the delay more than 16 times in the last two years but the department had not shown any interest in addressing the issue.

The MLA had also appraised the Chief Minister during several legislators’ meets but the voice of the MLA went unheard, local public said while quoting the area MLA.

The area MLA is thankful to the local people for voicing their genuine grievances, said one Phurba Lepcha adding that the protest was peaceful and a success.

The public has also thanked the civil and police administration for their cooperation on the issue, said Sonam Bhutia.

In a minutes of the meeting drawn in the presence of the area MLA, the Tourism & Civil Aviation department Commissioner-cum-Secretary Puneet Kansal sought one month's time to arrive at the final plan for completion of the work adding that the department will follow the matter earnestly.

In the minutes of the meeting, it is also stated that the tenure of the project is coming to a close on 15 March and there are several options before the Department to be explored in consultation with the Law Department and Roads & Bridges.

In 2013, the contract work was awarded to Thuckchuk Lachungpa for widening and strengthening the Ranka Sajong road along with the construction of wayside amenities. The cost of the project was Rs.14.35 crore of which Rs. 5 crore has already been disbursed to the parties.