Alleging negligence in maintaining the water pipeline of Nippon Private limited 3-MW Lodhoma Khola Mini Hydel Project at Lodhoma, around 65 km from Darjeeling town, the Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha (Binay Tamang camp) unit there today said it will not allow repair work on the leaking pipes until a committee is set to investigate why such incidents are taking place time and again.
A portion of the water pipe there burst at Phensitar in Rimbick-Lodhama on 26 June. The pipeline connects a 4-km stretch of intake tank of the project to the power house. A huge amount of water gushed out of the pipe, while local people said such incidents pose a danger to the people who walk on the roads just beside the pipelines.
“After the project started in 2007, this is the fourth time that the pipe has burst. Such incidents have occurred in 2009, 2013, 2016 and now. We feel that the pipe bursting in short intervals like this could be due to the negligence of the mechanical and civil work of the company. This is only causing problems to the people living there, as a motorable road exists along the pipelines. On an average, 200 to 300 people use that road every day, including students. Such incidents could be dangerous for them,” said the Rimbick Lodhama Morcha unit president, Norden Sherpa.
The Lodhoma Khola Mini Hydel Project, which is locally also known as the Phedi Khola project, was commissioned in 2013 with it generating 3 MW of electricity, which is given to the power grid of the Rammam sub-station. The project, however, started in 2007.
According to Mr Sherpa, two students returning from the Basbotay High School had a close shave when the pipe burst there on Wednesday.
“We do not want similar incidents to take place again and we have submitted a memorandum to the district administration and the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration regarding the matter, and have asked them to form a committee to investigate why such incidents are occurring,” said Mr Sherpa. He added that until this is done, they will not allow repair work of the pipeline to be carried out.
He said that GTA chairman Anit Thapa has assured a committee to look into the matter. The Morcha leader maintained that the reservoir of the project too was in a precarious state and could burst anytime, with leakage also seen in the tank.
“There are three houses near the tank and we want these houses to be shifted to a secure place. Memorandums regarding the matter had been served earlier too, but nothing happened,” he said. Mr Sherpa also said that the company had made an agreement with the local people before starting the project, but the promises they made had not been fulfilled.
According to him, the company had promised a good road, an ambulance service and a bridge to connect Phensitar and Dilpa areas.