– Mamata’s announcement for landless in Mirik
Writes: Vivek Chhetri
The historic day for the people of Mirik, now Mirik is excluded from the Kurseong sub-division. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has announced Mirik Subdivision officially and congratulated the people of Mirik being the new member of sub-division of West Bengal. M. Dey, Chief Secretary for Home, read the Gazette Notification for the inclusion of Mirik Sub-division officially during the occasion. Chief Minister also introduced Mr. A Kumar Roy as a new Sub-division Officer of Mirik.
Mamata Banerjee today tossed a trump card that could checkmate the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha by announcing that the state government would conduct a survey on granting land rights to the residents of a tea garden in Mirik municipal area.
Around 70 per cent of the nearly 8.75 lakh hill people live in tea gardens and cinchona plantations and don’t have right to the plots where their families have been living for generations.
However, the chief minister today just spoke about the survey for people without land rights in six-seven wards of Mirik municipality.
“We will conduct a survey to address the land problem that you have in Mirik town. The survey is needed as we will have to get a clear picture, find out who has what, a shop or a residential house. After the survey, we will take an official decision so that you get an address of your own. We will find out a solution to your problem,” Mamata said, drawing a huge applause from a gathering that came here to witness her declaration of Mirik as a new subdivision.
Mirik municipality has nine wards and residents of only wards 4 and 5 have land rights. The rest of the land belongs to Thurbo tea garden.
M.K. Zimba, who was previously the vice-chairman of the Morcha-controlled Mirik municipality but had joined Trinamul recently, today said: “The municipality has a population of about 12,000 today but most of the people here do not have land rights. Only those residing in wards 4 and 5 have land rights along with about 25 percent population of ward 3. This is a major announcement from the chief minister.”
The land right demand has always been raised by the Morcha and Harka Bahadur Chhetri’s Jana Andolan Party. The Morcha had formed a 115-member committee to pursue the demand, but has been inactive of late.
Told about Mamata’s announcement, the Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri said: “She has made the announcement keeping elections in mind. She is only indulging in politics. We, however, demand that the entire population spread across the hills be given land rights.”
Observers believe Mamata’s one announcement on land rights could pose fresh problem for the Morcha as Trinamul will now take this message to tea garden dwellers. The announcement could also put the Morcha in a tight spot in the coming municipal polls in Mirik.
“There is every reason for the Morcha to be worried now. If the state government initiates the process now, the political fortunes of Trinamul could swing positively across the hills,” said an observer.
A former bureaucrat in the hills, however, sounded cautious. “Granting land rights to residents of seven wards in Mirik town might not be a problem. However, it would be a huge task to replicate the same across all tea gardens and cinchona plantations in the hills. We are not sure how the management of respective tea gardens would react to such a move,” said the retired officer.
The cinchona plantation is under the GTA now.
Not just in the hills, tea garden workers in the Dooars and Terai do not have land rights. “This would complicate matters,” said the ex-bureaucrat.
[In pic: Mamata with a beneficiary of a government scheme in Mirik on Thursday. Picture by Passang Yolmo]
[Via: The Telegraph]
Mamata Banerjee blasts as Darjeeling hill body fails to carry out development schemes
Mamata also instructed Information Technology, agriculture, horticulture and floriculture sectors to generate employment and economically uplift the people of Darjeeling and Kalimpong.
KOLKATA: Chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday held the semi-autonomous Gorkha Territorial Administration (GTA) responsible for lack of development in Darjeeling Hills despite financial and administrative support given to the organisation by her government.
“The GTA was created for the development of entire Darjeeling. It was also created to maintain peace and integrity of the Hill people. Our government has also helped a lot to the GTA for carrying out development projects in Darjeeling. But I am sorry to say that nothing has happened in the Hills. Let the GTA tell us about their failure and we will certainly devote much more time for implementing all the development schemes in the Hills. Even the GTA could not keep the lake at Mirik clean,” Mamata said at a function at Mirik in Darjeeling district while announcing tyhe area as a new sub-division.
Interestingly, the GTA is being run by the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) activists. Bilateral relation between the ruling Trinamool Congress and GJM which practically runs Hill administration, is not very cordial and chief minister’s criticism about the GTA, just a few weeks ahead of civic polls in Darjeeling bears tremendous political significance.
Four municipalities of Kalimpong, Kurseong, Darjeeling and Mirik are likely to go for polls in May. All these civic bodies are now under the control of the GJM. Trinamool Congress had won 211 of the total 294 seats in the state Assembly last year. But all the three Assembly seats of Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong were won by the GJM. The BJP had also won the Darjeeling lok sabha seat in 2014 with support from the GJM. Naturally, Trinamool Congress is not in a very sound position in Darjeeling despite their massive control over rest of Bengal.
Very recently, Trinamool Congress has managed to bring splits in the GJM and Thursday’s criticism of the GTA by the chief minister indicates clearly that the ruling party is making all possible moves to win the May civic polls in Darjeeling to give an impression throughout the state that chief minister’s popularity is growing every day.
Apart from her blast against the GTA, the chief minister also instructed Information Technology, agriculture, horticulture and floriculture sectors to generate employment and economically uplift the people of Darjeeling and Kalimpong. The Tea Park in New Jalpaiguri will also become operational soon, she said.
” I have asked the Agriculture, Animal Resource Development and Industries department to look into this. I have also instructed the Secretary of the Information Technology department to prepare IT projects for the Hills.” the chief minister said.
The Chief Minister stated that tourism projects including the ones at Gajaldoba and Tiger Hill were discussed in detail in the presence of tourism minister Gautam Deb and the Chief Secretary.
“We have discussed different projects in connection to roads, drinking water and electricity,” she added.
[Via: The Economic Times]
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