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Mamata calls on Hill parties to work together

Statesman News Service | Darjeeling |

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday said she has requested all political parties to work together for the benefit of the Hills. As Miss Banerjee wrapped up her three-day visit to Darjeeling, she addressed a Press conference after an hourlong meeting with political parties like the Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha, Gorkha National Liberation Front, Akhil Bharatiya Gorkha League, and representatives of the 13 development boards of various communities at the Governor’s House here in the afternoon.

“A meeting was held between representatives of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration and political parties, after which the chairpersons and vice-chairpersons of the different boards also joined in. The meeting was fruitful,” Miss Banerjee said. “We have to work for peace and development in the hills. We have to take this place forward and I request all political parties who might have their own ideologies, that they should work together for development and benefit of Darjeeling,” she said, stressing on the need of doing things together and forgetting whatever happened in the past.

The CM also spoke of an Industrial Meet in Darjeeling in March this year and another meeting on community development to be convened by the development boards in May in Kalimpong. “There is a potential for software here, along with IT industries, horticulture, agriculture and tourism. I will request business houses to come here and see if any new industry can be set up. It will help in creating employment opportunities for the youths here,” she said. Miss Banerjee also said, land will be identified for setting up a university in Darjeeling, adding that processes like handing over of the parcha patta (land documents) in Mirik and appointment of teachers, which had stalled due to the agitation, would be resumed. She also said Gorkhaland personnel (GLP) volunteers who have a clean record will be taken in as civic volunteers.

GNLF spokesperson Niraj Zimba, meanwhile, said, “In the meeting, the chief minister asked all the bodies in the hills to work together in coordination with either the GTA or the Hill Area Development Council, as no one was smaller and was formed by the governor’s signature.” Asked if anything was discussed on a permanent solution for the Hills, he said, “We learnt it was a meeting for peace on Thursday, and due to some miscommunication, we had not come prepared.

We came to know it was a follow-up meeting of the earlier allparty meetings only after the CM spoke,so we did not take up the issue on Thursday. Dialogue for that will go on, but right now, the focus in on peace and harmony.” State to take up tribal status issue with Centre:Later in the evening, Mr Tamang issued a Press release, saying that the CM on Thursday said that the state government will send another letter to the central government over the inclusion of 11 Gorkha communities in the Scheduled Tribe list. He added that an inter-departmental meeting among the GTA and heads of various departments of the government will be held in Darjeeling and Kolkata in the coming days.

He added that until the formation of the SSC in the GTA, a seven-member committee for appointment of teaching and non-teaching staff will be formed by the GTA. A Sub- Ordinate Staff Selection Board for recruitment of new employees for the GTA will also be formed, he said. “A new Information and Cultural Affairs Department under the GTA will also be created, and the CM has asked the Education Department in-charge, Amar Singh Rai, and the state Education minister Partha Chatterjee to meet her in Kolkata after 19 February to solve all issues pertaining to the Education Department,” he said.

“A total of 109 post will be created in the GTA Power department, as we are contemplating Hydel electricity projects, while we are also planning separate mining rules for the GTA, and empowering the Principal Secretary of the GTA to exercise powers of the district authority and District Magistrate and also prepare a mining plan,” Mr Tamang said, adding that an official notification will be issued regarding inclusion of Nepali language as an elective language in the WBCS.