Srikhola/Darjeeling, 21 February: For any off-road adventurer, travelling to Sandakphu, Srikhola is always easy. Far-flung and located about 85 km from Darjeeling, Srikhola, the village named after a small stream here, is a junction that connects around 12 rural villages.
These villages are popular among trekkers who traverse down the route from Sandakphu and Phalut, the first and second highest point of West Bengal.
Villagers here have set up eco-tourism facilities, while their agricultural production contributes heavily to their income. These villages fall under the Daadagaon-Srikhola gram panchayat of the Pul-Bijanbari block of Darjeeling under the Rimbick-Lodhoma constituency of the Gorkha Territorial administration (GTA).
One gets to avail of transportation facilities to the Rammam forest village, Daadagaon, Musheypaakha, Kalyan forest busty, Srikhola village, Bich Gaon, Timburey, Gurudum, Sepi, Bhanjyang, Gorkhey and Samanden only after reaching Sepi, two km away from Srikhola. These villages lack modern infrastructure and electricity and have been long neglected.
The GTA on 19 February took the first step in developing these villages when its chief, Bimal Gurung, inaugurated an electricity project and steel bridges and announced one drinking water project, schools and a slew of other plans to develop eco-tourism and adventure tourism here. Meanwhile, Rimbick, about five km from Sepi, is the heart-line of these villagers when it comes to bringing in supplies and going to Darjeeling town. Electricity poles were put up by the GTA at Srikhola, Sepi and Raja Gaon yesterday, while Mr Gurung officially declared the initiation of the Rajiv Gandhi Gramin Vidyuti Karan Yojna (RGGVY) scheme here. The central government scheme of Rs 198 crore through the GTA is expected to provide electricity to the 52,000 village homes within the GTA.
For the Daadagaon-Srikhola gram panchayat rural village areas, electricity will reach around 980 houses. Around 470-475 homes Below Poverty Line (BPL) in the gram panchayat will be provided free electricity lines and metres, according to Mr Gurung.
Electricity under the scheme is also expected to reach further to Sandakphu and Phalut.
Mr Gurung said the electrification process will be completed within 6-7 months.
He further announced one ambulance at Srikhola and said Rs 3 crore has been earmarked to promote adventure tourism and eco-tourism in these villages.
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