Mamata's gift: Kalimpong all set to become district
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is all set to gift Kalimpong a district status on St. Valentine's day. Kalimpong, at present a sub division in the Darjeeling district will be upgraded to become the 21st district of West Bengal on February
Preparations are on in full swing at the administrative level. Though the CM's itinerary is not yet confirmed, she is expected to arrive at Kalimpong on February 13. On February 14, she is scheduled to make this important announcement at a government programme at the Mela Ground in Kalimpong town.
"Tentatively, she will announce the formation of the Kalimpong district on February 14. After the announcement, Kalimpong will start to function as a district," stated Anurag Shrivastava, District Magistrate, Darjeeling.
During her recent visit to the Darjeeling Hills, addressing a government programme at Kurseong on January 22, Banerjee had stated "I will be
visiting Kalimpong in February to announce the formation of the new district."
Administrative sources claim that preparations are on with the programme schedule being finalized and invitation cards being prepared. A host of
Government top brass are expected to attend this historic programme in Kalimpong.
The West Bengal cabinet had given a nod to the creation of the Kalimpong district on December 18, 2015. Initially, the new district will start
functioning with areas under the present Kalimpong Assembly constituency. "The District will commence with a single Sadar sub division and existing 3 blocks. Delimitation will take place later," added Shrivastava.
The area includes Kalimpong Municipal area, Kalimpong 1 block, Kalimpong 2 block and Gorubathan block. The area under the present Kalimpong sub division is 1068 sq km with a population of 2.5 lakhs.
Kalimpong is steeped in history too. The land was ceded by the Kingdom of Bhutan to the East India Company. Through the Treaty of Sinchula signed on 11.11.1865 between Sir John Lawrence, Viceroy, Governor-General of Her Britannic Majesty's possessions in the East Indies and the King of Bhutan ceded the "whole of the tract known as the Eighteen Doars, bordering on the district of Rungpoor, Cooch Behar and Assam together with the Talook of Ambaree Fallacottah and the Hill territory on the left bank of the Teesta (the Kalimpong area) upto such points as may be laid down by the British Commissioner appointed for the purpose is ceded by the Bhootan Government to the British Government for ever." The British agreed to make an annual allowance to the Government of Bhutan the sum of Rs. 50,000/- for the land. With Indian independence, these parts became an integral part of the country.
Earlier the state government had announced that Kalimpong would be declared as a district on April 14, 2017, on the day of "Poila Baisakh."
Political pundits opine that with Municipal, Panchayat and Gorkhaland Territorial Administration polls slated to take place in the Hills in 2017, the Mamata-led state government is in a hurry to see the Kalimpong district formation sail through. This definitely would emerge as a major boost to the Trinamool Congress in the elections, at least in Kalimpong . A separate district has been a long standing demand of the people of Kalimpong.
During the last West Bengal Assembly elections the Trinamool Congress, Jan Andolan Party and Gorkha National Liberation Front alliance had managed to make a sizeable dent in the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM- the party in power in the Darjeeling Hills.) GJM's winning margin nose dived by a near 50% than the previous Assembly election. Following the creation of the Kalimpong district, the state government is all set to upgrade Mirik block into a sub division in the Darjeeling district. At present Mirik block is under the Kurseong sub division of the Darjeeling district.