State tourism minister Gautam Deb today offered an equal measure of land, some cash and casual jobs to 14 farmer families who had opposed land acquisition at ‘Bhorer Alo,’ the mega tourism hub the state government is building at Gazoldoba near Siliguri in Jalpaiguri district.
It may be recalled here that the farmers had recently gone up in arms against the state government’s plans to acquire their land and build a helipad at the tourism hub.
The agitating farmers, under the Gazoldoba Milanpally Bhumi Raksha Committee, were backed by BJP leaders, who said they would not give an inch of land for the tourism project.
“The state government has made some proposals, like we give them the same volume of land, and Rs 1.5 lakh in three installments, while they are also offered casual government jobs on merit at the Gazoldoba action area. Moreover, we will also build toilets for each house worth Rs 10,900 and the shifting cost, infrastructure development, lights of those houses will be borne by the state government. The government will also give them the ‘patta’ (documents) for the existing land and of the new land too,” Mr Deb said after holding a meeting with the farmers here today.
Badal Roy, one of the members of the Bhumi Rakha Committee, said they were happy with the steps taken by the minister and that they hoped their demands would be met. “The minister has given us assurances. While we are not against development, we had some demands and now Mr Deb has assured to fulfil them,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mr Deb said he has chalked out elaborate plans to introduce some new tourism projects at ‘Bhorer Alo.’ According to him, the new additions may be introduced before Durga Puja this year. According to him, visitors can be part of the elephant safari, while another attraction at Gazoldoba would be houseboats on the river Teesta, which, according to him, may draw a huge number of North Bengal-bound tourists.
“We can arrange some small parties with 60-70 persons on the houseboat. We are expecting some more additional things before the Puja, like cycling, elephant safari, and three-four watchtowers,” said Mr Deb. Moreover, with the construction of a bridge, a direct connection between National Highway-31 near Siliguri and the tourism hub would be possible. Currently, there is a barrage at Gazoldoba and one has to take the road on the barrage to reach the tourist spot, which has prompted the state government to take steps to construct the bridge. “There is a canal that runs along the barrage to the Teesta river, and the bridge will be constructed across the canal,” sources said. “There will be three-four watch towers, while CCTV cameras will monitor the area for the security of tourists. These will be functional before the Durga Puja,” Mr Deb said.