'If local bodies were under us could have done more'
Assuring all assistance for the development of the region, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Sunday said: "Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) Board and local municipalities are not run by us or else we could have done much more work for the people".
She also asked people of the hills to be united for the sake of development. This comes at the time when allegations of the lackadaisical attitude of the GTA board members to take up development work after it came into existence in July 2011 were raised by a section of local people and their Opposition. The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJMM) had also refused to accept that GTA had received Rs 4,095 crore from the state government as claimed by the Chief Minister during her visit to the hills in September 2016. It may be recalled that the GJMM, that runs the GTA, had claimed that the board had received only Rs 2,927 crore. But their claim was later debunked by the state government saying that they had released even more than Rs 4,095 crore for the GTA.
While speaking at a programme in Kurseong on Sunday, from where the Chief Minister inaugurated the Uttar Banga Utsav, she told the gathering about the development projects that the state government had already undertaken for the development of the parts which are not in the GTA. She announced 34 different projects for the hills on Sunday. She said that 12 different development boards have already been set up for fast execution of the work which is essential for the development of the region and three more such boards will come into existence soon.
The three development boards are Gurung, Khas and Paharia. Assuring jobs to the people who received individual awards in Himalaya-Terai Dooars sports festival, she said: "A Rs 100 crore project has been taken up for the development of tea garden workers." She added that her government had pumped in Rs 268.78 lakh to the 12 development boards to boost developmental work in the region.
A day before Netaji Jayanti in the hills, Banerjee urged the people of the hills not to allow any sort of disturbances that could restrict the progress of the region. "We want hills to prosper. We want peace. Violence will bear no fruit," Banerjee said adding that she would come back to hills again as she wanted her brothers and sisters in the hills to be happy. Banerjee will be attending the Netaji Jayanti programme at Mall in Darjeeling on Monday.
During her last visit to the hills, Banerjee had issued a stern warning, without naming the GJMM, saying that the state government would not tolerate any attempts to disrupt the peace in the hills. She had said: "Whenever there is an election, they talk about violence and bandhs. We will not tolerate this."
Banerjee also launched a Big Cat Safari in Bengal Safari Park at the same programme and laid the foundation stone of the first ESI hospital in north Bengal that will come up in Siliguri.