'Build eco-friendly tourism, small scale industry projects to boost Hill economy...'

Build eco-friendly tourism, small scale industry projects to boost Hill economy...

DARJEELING: In a bid to boost Hill economy and generate employment, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday proposed adoption of eco-friendly projects in tourism; medicinal plants; floriculture, horticulture and other small scale industry sectors. She also emphasised on the need to step up marketing of local produce.

Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) would have a key role to play, she suggested. The Chief Minister also informed that about Rs 43 crore has been released as part of the budget for Gorkhaland Territorial Administration.

Chairing an administrative meeting in Kurseong on Tuesday, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee stated: "We have allowed 15 per cent land of tea gardens to be used for tourism purposes. Eco-friendly projects like cottages, hotels, marketing complexes selling local produce and produce generated by Self Help Groups should come up. This will generate revenue, boost local employment as well as save the environment. We have to stop concretisation of the Hills."

She suggested that Confederation of Indian Industries and Chamber of commerce should take up projects whereby local youths are imparted skill training and motivated to take up livelihoods connected to medicinal plants, floriculture, horticulture, animal husbandry and fisheries in the Hills.

"We have unused land in the cinchona plantations. This can be put to use for all these activities. Along with that, we can have IT Parks with focus on Data Research and MSME Parks. Earlier, the minimum requirement for MSME parks was 20 acres. We have now brought this down to 5 acres," stated Banerjee.

HIMUL, a state-owned milkmen's cooperative that has been lying defunct, is being rejuvenated and will appear in a new avatar "Bangla Diary" soon. Along with dairy products, it will integrate poultry, cattle and fish feed plants.

"Each block will have a Bangla Diary stall (on franchise model) and mobile vans from where products will be sold. This will also generate income," added the chief minister. A cluster will also be formed for boosting woolen knitting trade. SHGs will take up this activity.

Regarding the Darjeeling Hill University, the Chief Minister instructed that classes should commence soon in available buildings and can later shift to its own complex when construction is complete. "At present, space available at the Dow Hill Government School in Kurseong can be used," suggested Banerjee.

She took to task the PWD and asked them to carefully inspect the roads. "Sub-standard stones are being used in some places, which is shortening the life span of the roads. This has to be looked into," stated the Chief Minister.

Along with inaugurating 6 projects including community halls and police station buildings in Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts, the Chief Minister announced that 4 multipurpose community centres will be built in Darjeeling, Kurseong, Mirik and Kalimpong.

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