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Monday, July 11, 2011

Mamata likely to visit Hills next week..... Mamata to kick off tour of two issues

Mamata likely to visit Hills next week
TOI, KOLKATA: Chief minister Mamata Banerjee is likely to visit Darjeeling on July 17 or 18 to attend a meeting on the tripartite agreement on Gorkha Territorial administration. Representatives from the union government, officers and ministers of the state government and those from the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), who spearheaded the movement for separate statehood, will attend the meeting.
The meeting has been organized after the union home ministry concurred with the date. The state government has finalised the draft of the agreement that would be sent to the Centre and to Darjeeling for a consensus before the meeting.
Significantly, within 17 days of taking charge of the state administration, Mamata managed to break the long impasse that plagued the Hills for long. Immediately after, peace was restored in Darjeeling. Tourists started swarming the Hills.
The state administration is of opinion that this is the right moment for the tripartite agreement that would take peace to the next level.
On Friday, there was a meeting between the state administration and GJM representatives at the state secretariat. The state government proposed separate school service commission, college service commission, PF and insurance offices for the Hills.
The meeting also decided that the Gorkha Territorial administration would be able to create and appoint government officials, said an official.
The self-governed Hills body would be created through an election. After the agreement, the government would bring a bill in the next assembly session for the authorization of the body. The bill will also require a concurrence from the President. The state government expected that an election for the body can be held by March next year.
The GJM has asked for the inclusion of 300 moujas of Terai and Dooars into the proposed territory. On the other hand, the residents of Terai and Dooars think otherwise. So the state government has proposed the formation of a committee that would have representatives from the Hills as well as from Terai and Dooars.
The committee, which would have four representatives from the state, one from the Centre and four from the GJM, would submit its report within six months.
Till the election, the five-member administrative board, which includes the hill council administrator, three MLAs from the Hills, the DM of the Darjeeling district, would carry out the development works in the Hills.
Mamata to kick off tour of two issues
TT, Calcutta, July 10: Mamata Banerjee will tomorrow hit the road that can take her to the heart of two complex problems and eventually to the July 21 Brigade rally where she is expected to project her government as one that keeps its word.
Trinamul sources said the chief minister would leave for the Maoist-hit Jungle Mahal tomorrow evening. She is scheduled to address two rallies in West Midnapore’s Jhargram and Nayagram and distribute pattas (land deeds) among farmers on Tuesday.
The next day, she will attend a rally in Bankura’s Sarenga before returning to Calcutta. Mamata is also expected to “announce development projects”. The effort comes against the backdrop of a peace initiative launched by the government last week.
Mamata is also expected to pursue the Darjeeling deal before the July 21 rally, the martyrs’ day event that will be shifted to Brigade to mark the election victory.
The sources said she was expected to embark on a two-day trip to Darjeeling on July 18. “The inking of the tripartite agreement with the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha and the Centre is expected around that time,” a Trinamul leader said.
Mamata, he said, will push for the resolution of the two issues “keeping in mind the July 21 rally”. “She had promised to solve the problems in Darjeeling and Jungle Mahal within 200 days of coming to power. Her message to the state will be she fulfils her promises.”
A state government official said: “We had requested the Union home secretary to visit Darjeeling on July 12 or 13. But we were informed that the trip could not be arranged in such a short time. So Mamata will visit Jungle Mahal first.”
Dad ‘jumps’ with boy
TT, Alipurduar, July 10: A man in Itkhola allegedly jumped off the roof of his house with his four-year-old son today, a week after he had been accused of assaulting his wife who is now in hospital.
The condition of Sujit Ghosh, who owns a shop selling stationery items, and his son Aritra, is critical.
Around 8.45am Sujit’s neighbour Babu Ghosh heard a loud thud. He came out of his house and saw Sujit and Aritra lying on the ground and bleeding from the mouth.
“It was raining heavily and the boy was bleeding from the mouth. His grandfather took him to the (subdivisional) hospital immediately. After sometime, we followed with Sujit,” said Babu.
Aritra was referred to Cooch Behar and then to North Bengal Medical College and Hospital in Siliguri. Sujit too was referred to the medical college.
On Tuesday, Sujit had hit his wife during a fight. “He had asked for his lunch and I had told him to wait for five minutes. But he started quarrelling and struck my head with a piece of wood. My left hand got fractured when I tried to ward off the attack. I am scared of going back to him,” said Shankori, who has not filed any police complaint.
She has not been told about her son yet.
Shankori said Sujit did not visit her at the hospital till yesterday. “I was sleeping at that time. My father-in-law and other members of the family come to see me every day,” she said.
Although Sujit’s relatives said he fell from the roof trying to save Aritra who stepped on the edge while playing on the terrace, neighbours claimed it was unlikely that the boy was playing in the rain.
Specific tea plans must, says Deb
TT, Siliguri, July 10: North Bengal development minister Gautam Deb today told small tea growers to drop the piecemeal approach and instead, after consulting experts, submit to him within seven days concrete proposals to revamp the sector so that he could forward them to the right authorities.
Deb, after taking charge as the minister, had been insisting on time-bound specific plans for the region. Last month, he had chided the north Bengal chapter of the CII for only “talks that don’t yield results”.
The minister said the state government was ready to extend all necessary support to the tea and agro-based industries, which are important for the economy of the region. “But we need an approach paper for that. It is not necessary that the representatives from the industry have to go to Calcutta every time. If it is necessary, the ministers concerned will visit north Bengal.”
He said since tea was a very “specialised subject”, it was difficult for him to comment offhand on issues related to the industry. “When the small tea growers were facing inconveniences, they failed to get any response from the previous state government. But now I would like to suggest to them that instead of submitting piecemeal projects, they should chalk out a concrete proposal by consulting experts. I can then take the proposals to the finance and other departments concerned,” said Deb at the 17th annual general meeting of the North Bengal Small Tea Planters’ Association here this afternoon.
The minister also said the government was willing to explore the potential of the industry by introducing tea and village tourism, but not at the cost of workers’ interest.
R.N. Bhattacharya, the chairman of the Siliguri Jalpaiguri Development Authority and MLA from Siliguri, suggested that the small growers form co-operatives to run their businesses. He also urged the growers to use organic pesticides instead of chemicals.
According to the Tea Board, there are more than 22,000 small growers in north Bengal. But only 15 per cent of them were registered with the board. “Only registered growers get subsidies. I have requested the growers' association to urge its members to get themselves registered with the Tea Board,” said Rakesh Kumar, the assistant director of tea development, Tea Board.
Nitai Majumdar, the secretary of the small growers’ association, said an expert report would be sent to the minister soon.

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