Darjeeling: Urging the people of North Bengal Hills to remain peaceful, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday said her government will provide all support to the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) and work relentlessly for development of the region.
Inaugurating the week-long Uttar Banga Utsav (North Bengal Festival) in Siliguri's Kanchenjunga Stadium, the Chief Minister said: "The people of North Bengal can no more complain that North Bengal is neglected. We have always given priority to these regions. The people of North Bengal love me and I have been visiting these parts at least once every month. The recent tourism festival in the Hills was very successful. I want the people of this region to be peaceful and happy. Our government will provide full support to the GTA for the development of Hills."
She stated that North Bengal is a land of mountains, forests, rivers and docile, friendly people. "We have been constantly striving for the betterment and development of North Bengal from the Hills to the foothills, incorporating all the districts in our stride," she stated.
She further said that the North Bengal Development department, Tourism department and the Siliguri Jalpaiguri Development Authority have been working for the development of these parts.
"We are establishing road networks with neighbouring countries — Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal. A corridor connecting North Bengal with South Bengal is being constructed at a cost of Rs 3 and a half crore," she added.
The CM further stated that National Highway 55 connecting Darjeeling to the plains is being repaired at Paglajhora along with the stretch of NH-10 from Siliguri to Sikkim.
On the tourism front, Gajoldoba, 25 km from Darjeeling is being developed as a major tourism hub. "I have named it Bhorer Alo (morning light.) Soon people from all across the state will come to visit it," stated Banerjee.
She stated that new airports are being built in Balurghat and Malda respectively. "Air Deccan will soon start a Kolkata-Cooch Behar service. Cooch Behar has already been declared a heritage town," she remarked.
She stated that tourists have already started visiting the Darjeeling Hills. "If the Hills remain peaceful, tourism will automatically grow."
"Binay (Tamang) and Anit (Thapa) are now working in the GTA. There is another development board led by Mann Ghishing here. There are at least 12-13 development boards in the Darjeeling Hills working for the development of the region. I wish to congratulate them all," she said.
Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) leaders Tamang and Thapa, who rebelled against the GJM chief Bimal Gurung during the Gorkhaland agitation in Darjeeling, have been appointed to the board of administrators of the GTA by the state government.
Besides, Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) chief Mann Ghising has been given the chairmanship of newly constituted Hill Area Development Committee.
She also stated that projects are being taken up for the socio-economic development of the tea garden workers. "A new Tea Directorate has been opened up along with a welfare board for tea garden workers with schemes amounting to Rs 100 crore being launched for them," she stated.
She also said that she would be visiting Alipurduar district on Tuesday from where a host of development projects will be inaugurated.
As many as nine persons were awarded the "Banga Ratna" award from the inaugural ceremony of the Uttar Banga Utsav by the Chief Minister.
"Festivals such as these are very important as it gets people together, despite differences," she remarked.
Similar festivals including Vivek Utsav, Subash Utsav, Chhatro Utsav, Bigyan Utsav and Krishi Utsav are in the offing and will be commemorated at all the blocks of the state.