Villagers Oppose Bridge Connecting West Bengal, Sikkim, Demand Implementation of FRA First

Reported by

Mitali BiswasLand Conflict Watch

Last updated on

November 4, 2019

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West Bengal



The construction of an 826metrelong bridge in Rongpo village in Kalimpong district in West Bengal linking the state to Sikkim has been embroiled in a controversy. The bridge is being built across the Rongpo river, which forms the border between Sikkim and West Bengal About 200m of the bridge is proposed to be built in Rongpo village in Kalimpong district. While the bridge on the Sikkim side has been completed, the construction of the remaining part in West Bengal has been halted. At least 58 families in Rongpo have objected to the bridge as construction work will require them to be evicted. According to Swarup Saha of the Uttar Banga VanJan Shramjivi Manch, an organisation fighting for the implementation of the Forest Rights Act (FRA) in Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Cooch Behar districts in West Bengal, the district administration of Kalimpong and the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration have been exerting pressure on the Rongpo Village Assembly for issuing No Objection Certificates and consent letters for forest diversion proposals for the construction of the bridge. However, forest dwellers in the village have refused to give consent as their demand for implementation of the FRA in 168 villages in Kalimpong and Darjeeling districts is still pending.The Uttar Banga VanJan Shramjivi Manch and the Himalayan Forest Villagers' Organisation, which works with villagers to ensure forest rights implementation, alleged in a press release that the district administration is planning to use force to demolish the 58 houses and arrest the Village Assembly leaders in clear violation of the FRA. A copy of the press release is available with Land Conflict Watch. The organisations announced in another press release that Justice Debangshu Basak of the Kolkata High Court issued a stay order on all eviction attempts after the Rongpo Village Assembly filed a writ petition on February 7, 2019.The SikkimBengal Border Bridge is being built by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways at an investment of Rs 55 crore approximately and managed by the National Highway Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited. The project started in February 2017 and is scheduled for completion in February 2020.

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Private and Common

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Government Bodies Involved in the Conflict:

National Highway Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL) , Ministry of Road Transport and Highways , District administration of Kalimpong

Other Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Uttar Banga Van-Jan Shramjivi Manch, Himalayan Forest Villagers' Organisation

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