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In 1st Hill business meet, Mamata-industrialists stress peace

Statesman News Service | Darjeeling |

Banerjee sought peace in return for development, she appealed to the people to begin afresh for the development of the Hills. “Give me peace, and I will give you development,” Miss Banerjee told the Hills’ first ever Business Summit at Chowrastha here on Tuesday.

The CM appealed to the people to maintain peace, even as industrialists gathered for the summit pointed out that investment was not possible in Darjeeling without long-lasting peace.

Miss Banerjee further invited her opponents in the Hills to start a competition for development, and not for killing people. “Let us do competition for development, not competition for murder,”she said.

The two-day Hill Business Summit that kicked off on Tuesday is being organised by the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA), the state government and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

“We can do more collectively. We will work jointly with the GTA. Our government will extend all cooperation, all assistance for setting up industries here. If there is violence, there is no prospect for development. Violence helps politicians. Politicians earn dividends from violence, but ultimately common people suffer,”Miss Banerjee said.

She also did not hesitate to criticize the BJP and accused the party as being a “conspirator for the division of Bengal.”

“Delhi is doing politics to divide Bengal for one single seat (Darjeeling Lok Sabha),” she said.Industrialists like Harsh Neotia, Rudra Chatterjee, Mayank Jalan and former director general of the CII, Chandrajit Banerjee, spoke of violence in Darjeeling and made to the gathering clear that investment will not flow without peace, despite a lot of potential in Darjeeling and Kalimpong in many sectors besides tea, tourism, timber, transport and traditional educational institutions.

Addressing the Summit, GTA board chairman Binoy Tamang assured industrialists and the state government that he will keep the Hills away from bandhs and strikes.

“I ensure and announce that both Darjeeling and Kalimpong are strike-free zones,” Mr Tamang said.

GNLF president Mann Ghisingh also rooted for peace and claimed that his party had been working to ensure peace across the Hills.Darjeeling MLA Amar Singh Rai urged the people to begin afresh and said: “We need to forget the past to begin for the future at present.”

Miss Banerjee, meanwhile, asked officials associated with the industrial affairs to ready a plan for Bengal as well as Darjeeling after industrialists stressed on industrial development in the agro, horticulture and food processing sectors.

While Mr Neotia informed the gathering that two hospitality projects are going on at Makaibari in Kurseong and Ghoom in Darjeeling where he has invested Rs 300 crore, other industrialists assured that they were interested in investment in food processing, education and even the health sector in the Hills because of “healthy climate” in Darjeeling.

The CM has accepted a proposal from the CII for skill development programme and water flow management to resolve the water crisis in the Hills.

After the end of the first session on Tuesday, a B2B (Business to Business) and B2G (Government) meet were also held on Tuesday, and industrialists joined in a session on export potential of tea in Darjeeling.

The CM claimed that due to the strike last year, the tea industry suffered a loss of Rs 300 crore, while the overall losses for the agitation period were estimated to cross the Rs 1,000 crore mark.

Officials said the CM will tomorrow announce how much investment will be made for the development of the Hills.“Yesterday it was raining, but on Tuesday the weather is sunny, as a result, Darjeeling (Kanchenjungha) is smiling,” Miss Benerjee said, adding that Darjeeling can show that it can bring in development.