School building with history burnt down
OUR CORRESPONDENT - The Telegraph
The burnt walls of the school; (Above) students console each other after seeing the fire-ravaged building on Wednesday. Pictures by Suman Tamang
Darjeeling, March 25: A school building more than 160 years old and the second to be registered with the government in this hill town was razed to the ground by fire today.
The fire in the main building of Sardeswari Government Girls’ High School seems to have started around 12.45am. “When we reached the spot, we could see that a portion of the building which was very near to the electric pole was up in flames,” said Bimal Sharma, a witness. It is suspected that sparks from the electric pole from where the school draws power may have started the fire.
The school has over 400 students. The building was constructed by an Englishman, T.E.M. Turton, said Nayan Prakash Subba, a writer and a historian. “It is a very sad day for us as it was the second building to be registered in Darjeeling. It was registered in 1845 and its registration number was 2,” he added.
Darjeeling as a hill town is nearly 170-years-old. In 1835, the Chogyal of Sikkim had handed it over to the British. Darjeeling hardly had any human settlements then.
The school was set up by Swami Prabhuddhananda after buying the property from the Maharaja of Cooch Behar in 1946.
As soon as the building caught fire, the local people joined hands with civil defence and the fire department personnel for almost three hours to control the blaze from spreading further. The building which was razed to the ground housed all classes except, VIIIB, IX and XII. “The school has classes from V to XII and the building that was razed had the entire administrative wing, library, computer classroom and other classes,” said Seema Pakhrin, the English teacher.
Even though the state government is building a new structure it has only four rooms and a hall which is not big enough to accommodate all students. “We have lost almost everything, right from the desks and benches to computers. Only two shelves and a few benches could be recovered,” said Arati Chhetri, the teacher in-charge.
The school authorities along with district officials are trying to find a new place near the present premises where classes can be held for the time being. Given the historic importance of the building, a large number of well-wishers including leaders from most of the political parties today visited the school.
Many students who were unaware of the incident reached the school at the usual time. Finding the main building razed to the ground, most of them started crying.
“We are determined to start classes from Monday,” said Chhetri who along with other teachers decided to hold assembly in the school hall. The teacher in-charge delivered an inspiring speech to inconsolable students urging them to look forward to building a better structure.
Gorkha Janmukti Morcha chief Bimal Gurung, now in Delhi, has asked the DGHC and district officials to construct a new building of the school as early as possible. “I have told them to expedite the work,” he told The Telegraph.
The school, which is named after Ramakrishna’s wife Sarada Devi, has its share of problem. The DGHC had to stop construction following litigation over the land. At the moment, the school has only two permanent teachers. The rest were recruited on a contractual basis.
Fire officials today urged hill institutions to install fire extinguishers. “Most of the schools do not have a fire fighting system. We appeal to them to give a thought to this safety aspect,” said an official.
Fire destroys Darjeeling school
Siliguri (PTI): Fire destroyed a government-run school in Darjeeling town early Wednesday.
Superintendent of police, Darjeeling, Rahul Srivastab said, "Saradeswari Government Girls (Secondary) School, established in 1946 and used to run in century-old Hermitage Building in Darjeeling town, caught fire at about 1.15 am."
Three fire tenders fought the blaze for four hours, but nothing except a few computer sets could be saved, he said.
Mr. Srivastab said administration was taking measures to help the school authories to start its office in a nearby place. Short circuit could be the reason behind the fire and a police picket has been put up, he said.
Kalimpong, March 25: The Janamukti Secondary Teachers’ Organisation has threatened to file a defamation suit against urban development minister Asok Bhattacharya, reports our correspondent.
The minister had accused the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha of demanding Rs 2 crore from hill schools in a meeting on March 1. The Morcha-affiliate challenged Bhattacharya to prove his allegation.
The meeting at Gorubathan between the Morcha and the school heads had been called to work out the admission modalities of the students from the Dooars in the hill institutions, the JSTO said.
Tea offerings dip in last week's sale
Kolkata , Mar 25 The total offerings declined to 52,203 packages comprising 45,039 packages of CTC, 6,918 packages of Orthodox and 246 packages of Darjeeling teas in the last week&aposs sale.
There was a good general demand for CTC offerings, all sorts sold in line with quality. Major Blenders were quiet. There was fair support from another packeteer. Western Indian operater selective on liquoring teas and other internals lent good support.
Orthodox offerings also saw good demand at the sale. In this section very selected quantities of well made early invoices were readily absorbed and remainder sold irregularly in line with quality. Middle East and CIS shippers were very active, North Indian buyers lend good support on the Whoole leaf.