BJP using central agencies, black money to dislodge elected state govts: Mamata
West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee

Darjeeling: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who was in attendance at the oath-taking ceremony of Gorkhaland Territorial Administration Sabha members on Tuesday, delivered a clear message of ‘no interference in the affairs of the hills’.

During the swearing in ceremony at Chowrasta in Darjeeling, where 44 members took oath from Jalpaiguri Divisional Commissioner AK Bardhan, including newly elected Bharatiya Gorkha Prajatantrik Morcha leader Anit Thapa who will be nominated as the Chief Executive of the GTA at a ceremony on July 14. Thapa is likely to take oath again under Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankar.

The 44 members also included Trinamool Congress leader Benoy Tamang and Hamro Party leader Ajoy Edwards among others.

Speaking on the occasion, Banerjee stated, “I want friendship and do not want to fight. I want the happiness of the people here, I will not come to interfere here but to love you all. Forget which party you belong to and work for the people here.”

The Bengal CM highlighted how the state government had given Rs. 7,000 crore to the GTA in the past along with other funds. “We do not want to repeat what happened in the past and I will not let anyone disturb the hills. If peace remains in the hills then the economy will rise,” said the CM.

The TMC supremo also announced development plans for the region including a “new city in Darjeeling” on 200 acres of land. Speaking about the ‘New Darjeeling’, she said, “I have asked Anit (Thapa) that after he takes oath as chief executive to come to Kolkata. There is 200 acre of land in Darjeeling where a new city can be made which will be an industrial hub. It can have new shops, home stays, restaurants, shopping mall and hotels for tourists to stay in.”

Mamata also proposed plans for Kalimpong and Kurseong while adding that an eco-tourism project can be prepared for Mirik, which she referred to as a “baby hill” and needed special projects as the region falls in the high seismic earthquake zone.

While stressing on the need for home stays as a source of income, Banerjee said, “I request my chief secretary to amend the rules as per the law. When we are allowing 15 percent for tourism purposes to the tea gardens, Anit requested me yesterday (Monday) to allow the people who are staying in tea gardens to run some home-stays as they have two rooms.”

She added that tea garden owners could chip in with funds from their tourism sector CSR activities to help such tea garden workers who have two rooms in their houses to run home-stay businesses.

She also promised drinking water for all houses in Darjeeling by the end of 2024 claiming that pipe-laying was taking time. “Stream waters could also be saved in reservoirs and made use. A Swedish team had earlier visited Darjeeling for the same and talks could be held with them to set it up here”.

Women’s empowerment was also one of the main features in her speech with the CM maintaining school uniforms be made by them along with encouraging women drivers.
The Bengal CM also announced Rs 2 lakh and a job as homeguard to the dependents of the soldiers who recently died in the Manipur landslide.

BGPM president Anit Thapa, while addressing the gathering, said, “We have tried starting practical politics which has been successful. We should now work as a family and all elected members should take their vision forward unitedly for the people. The system here has collapsed and the people have shown their mandate. We need the State’s blessing to make it better and it has been our appeal.”

The oath-taking of different GTA portfolios like the chief executive, deputy chief, chairman and vice-chairman is likely on July 14 by the Governor who is expected to arrive in Darjeeling on Wednesday, according to sources.

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