Sikles folk mourn death of a mentor, guardian

Pokhara, September 25 :

People of Sikles, a tourist village in Kaski district, are grieving after hearing the news of the death of Dr Chandra Prasad Gurung, a native of Parche VDC-7 of Sikles, and 23 others aboard the Shree Airlines helicopter that crashed on Saturday in Taplejung.

The villagers came to know about the deaths this afternoon. Gurung, a conservationist and member of the World Wildlife Fund in Nepal, was regarded as a mentor and guardian by the villagers. His death just before Dashain has come as a severe blow to the villagers. Instead of festivities, a pall of gloom hangs over the village. Dr Gurung contributed greatly to making all basic infrastructure of development available to people in this remote village, said former VDC chairperson of Parche, Man Bahadur Gurung.

It was because of Dr Gurung’s efforts that electricity supply was made available to Sikles at a time when the villages adjoining the district headquarters Pokhara were without electricity, said Gurung.

Dr Gurung, who was also the founding director of the Annapurna Sector Conservation Project, took the initiative for the construction of a 100-KW hydropower plant at Sikles in 1993.

He also contributed a lot towards the economic and infrastructural development of different VDCs, including Parche, Namarjung, Sildujure, Thumakodanda, said a social worker, Bed Bahadur Gurung.

There is no place in Sikles and adjoining villages where Dr Gurung did not lend some contribution. Though he had been living in Kathmandu lately, he was still helping in the development activities in the village, said locals.

His contribution is great in the construction of physical infrastructure and providing scholarship to students in the Annapurna Secondary School in Sikles, said a teacher at the school, Gehendra Gurung.

Locals had been glued to their radio sets since Saturday after they heard that the helicopter carrying him was missing. Director of the Annapurna Sector Conservation Project, Lal Prasad Gurung, said Dr Gurung’s death was a great shock to all those involved in nature conservation.

Dr Gurung had worked in the Annapurna Sector Conservation Project as its director up to 1994 after its establishment in 1986. He also served as general secretary of the Mahendra Nature Conservation Fund for two years.

Crash aftermath :

TAPLEJUNG: The family of Bijay Kumar Shrestha, who left home on the day of Ghatasthapana for Ghunsa, is steeped in grief at his tragic death in the Shree Airlines helicopter crash. Shrestha was a central member of the Federation of Nepal Chamber of Commerce and Industries. Shrestha’s wife Alina went into a coma at her home in Taplejung headquarters after it was confirmed on Monday that the helicopter that went missing on Saturday had crashed and that there were no survivors. Alina Shrestha had given the rescue team a jacket for her husband so he wouldn’t feel cold. Shrestha’s 10-year-old son Reyanch and five-year-old daughter Ritika too could not stop their tears after coming to know that their father had died in the crash.

The Shrestha residence is crowded with relatives and well-wishers. Family members of chairman of the Kanchanjunga Conservation Area Project Management Council, Dawa Tshering Sherpa, also are overcome with grief at his death in the crash. The accident has left the whole of Taplejung stunned. — HNS