Tourism minister Goutam Deb today held a meeting with traders of Bidhan Market who had been engaged in alleged illegal constructions. The minister also met the Darjeeling District Magistrate (DM), chairman of the Siliguri Jalpaiguri Development Authority (SJDA) and police officials to discuss the matter. It is learnt that the traders asked Mr Deb not to remove them from their place, and that they would rather support steps taken by the SJDA, which looks after the market.

“Traders who lost their shops in a recent fire came today and we had discussions. I am doing this neither as a politician nor a minister. Some people have been selling the city illegally for their own profit. Today, traders hae decided that they would not continue work on that illegal construction. A new construction will be done by the SJDA within two months. On humanitarian grounds, we cannot stop their business, and they will continue their business, while the SJDA work will start within two months, I assured them this,” Mr Deb said.”We had another meeting with the SJDA chairman, the SJDA CEO, Commissioner of the Siliguri Municipal Corporation, Darjeeling DM, DCP East, fire officials and electricity officials. Illegal works have to stop in the city. The illegal construction will be removed as early as possible,” added Mr Deb.

Subrata Saha, the president of the Bidhan Market Babyasayee Samiti, said that he was in the town when all the developments took place. “I met the minister today morning, and he asked us to show him all the papers like trade licence and electricity bills. All the traders have the documents. The minister assured us that the SJDA would reconstruct those shops in between three months,” said Mr Saha. SJDA chairman Bijoy Chandra Barman said that he was not in Siliguri when the construction started. “As Mr Deb said, we will have to stop all illegal construction here. As I do not stay here I was not aware of the facts. We will now work on this accordingly,” Mr Barman said.