Darjeeling: Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee arrived in Darjeeling on Monday to flag off the two-day historic Hill Business Summit, beginning on March 13.
Once projected as an immensely disturbed region politically, the Hills are witnessing a sea change under the leadership of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
This Hill Business Summit, the first-of-its-kind in the Hills and North Bengal, is being considered a peace initiative and is expected to bring in great hope for reviving the trade and industries of the region.
Organised by the state government and the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) along with the Confederation of Indian Industries, the two-day-long summit will be held on March 13 and 14 at the Darjeeling Chowrasta.
It is aimed at wooing investors to the Hills that will, in turn, result in employment generation.
The Chief Minister, on arriving at the Bagdogra Airport, headed for the Hills. Binay Tamang, Chairman, Board of Administrators, GTA welcomed her at the Bagdogra Airport.
Braving the inclement weather, people gathered in several places to welcome the Chief Minister.
On arriving in Darjeeling, Banerjee headed straight for Richmond Hill Government Guest House where she will be putting up.
The top brass of the Northern Frontier Railway has also arrived in Darjeeling and are scheduled to meet the Chief Minister in Darjeeling to discuss the Sevok-Rongpu (Sikkim) rail link.
"On March 13, the summit will be inaugurated by the Chief Minister during a function at the Darjeeling Chowrasta. On March 14, there will be two sessions from 11 am to 1 pm and from 1:30 pm to 2:30 pm. It is a historic summit and we are optimistic that there will be investments in the Hills," stated Tamang.
Around 250 investors and invitees are scheduled to attend the summit including ITC, AMRI. Tamang stated that the Hills have immense potential in IT, tourism, horticulture, agro, medicinal plants, food processing and education sectors.
"Our job will be to make the industrialists and investors aware of the immense potential of Darjeeling as an industrial hub along with the resources available," said Tamang.
Sources stated that AMRI is interested to open a state-of-the-art medical facility in the Hills. Along with this, the GTA will be focusing on small-scale and micro industries, marketing local produce including brooms, honey, turmeric, ginger, cardamom, medicinal plants creating a new brand "Darjeeling."
Last minute preparations are on at the Chowrasta which is the venue for the summit. A makeshift conference hall has been put up along with stalls.
Prior to this, multiple rounds of preparatory meetings have been held in Kolkata and Siliguri for the summit.
Important issues were discussed in these meets including an auction centre in Siliguri from farmers of the Hills and plains, eco-tourism and homestays, training to be imparted for adventure sports, adventure tourism, heritage tourism and proposal to convert old buildings into heritage hotels.
However, inclement weather could emerge as a major dampener. There is a forecast of sporadic heavy showers, hail storms and dense fog. The rainfall would continue for the next few days, added MeT office.
"An upper air trough and western disturbance are prevailing in the north-south direction from Bihar and adjoining areas. There is an anti-cyclone over Bay of Bengal drawing in the moisture thus, causing rain in Sikkim and adjoining areas. This will continue in the next few days," stated Dr Gopi Nath Raha, in-charge of the MeT office in Gangtok.