Bhutia Development Board announced saying no further boards

Mamata announced Bhutia Development Board Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today announced the formation of a Bhutia Development Board while flagging-off the much-touted ‘Clean and Green Darjeeling’ project. At the same time, she said no more boards would be formed henceforth for other communities of the hills. The Bhutias will be the fourth community to get a board after the Lepcha, Sherpa and Tamang communities. Speaking on the occasion, the chief minister announced a slew of projects related to sanitation, healthcare, education and tourism that would be worth Rs 500 crore. The projects would be implemented with the support of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration, she said. “We will form a board for the Bhutia community. Boards have been formed for the Lepcha, Sherpa and Tamang communities. The Bhutias have been residing in the hills since a very long time and we thought of doing something for their welfare and development,” said Banerjee. However, she made it clear that no more boards for other communities would be formed going forward. “There are several other communities too, but we cannot form boards for all of them as doing so is almost impossible. However, we will merge those communities with the four boards to ensure their development,” said the chief minister. But she clarified that the state government has recommended to the Centre the inclusion of the 10 communities of the hills into the Scheduled Tribe list. The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has been demanding such an inclusion. As is her wont, the chief minister asserted it was imperative for Darjeeling to remain well and beautiful and this reasoning is behind her idea to implement the Clean and Green Darjeeling project, which encompasses issues such as solid and liquid waste management, ban on poly-bags, jhora (stream) cleaning, spring-shed water development, rainwater harvesting and afforestation. “The Swach Bharat Abhiyan has been emulated from the Nirmal Bangla initiative. We want Darjeeling to become more beautiful as it has become otherwise due to an increase in pollution. There are several schemes we have planned for Darjeeling and they will be implemented with the GTA’s support,” said Banerjee.

GJM president Bimal Gurung, who made a last minute cancellation to his Delhi trip in order to attend today’s programme, appeared in the same wavelength as that of the chief minister. He said it was important to make the chief minister’s dream of a beautiful Darjeeling a reality and this can be only achieved through practical work. “We wish the chief minister the best in her endeavour as it comes with a vision for Darjeeling. However, only making promises is not enough. We must put words into action and only then will things change for the good,” he said.

Gurung made it a point to underscore the renewed bonhomie with the state government did not go unnoticed. “The clean and green project is the chief minister’s dream and we are happy that it is being implemented beginning today. She is continuing to work with the GTA for the welfare of the hills and we are happy to work together,” he said. The GJM president did not meet the chief minister for a private tete-a-tete as he had done the last time she had visited Darjeeling. However, a party delegation that met Banerjee at Richmond Hill after the programme at Chowrastha said there are issues in the GTA agreement that need to be addressed immediately. “The GTA was formed three years ago but till date a school service commission, college service commission and a sub-ordinate selection committee have not been formed in the hills. The transfer of the 57 departments we have been demanding has not been fully implemented, while the GTA has not been given the power to recruit group B, C and D employees. Even so, we are hopeful all pending issues will be addressed soon,” said GJM general secretary Roshan Giri after meeting the chief minister.(EOI)

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