CM Mamata holds Tribes Advisory Council (TAC) meeting at Lal Kothi, Darjeeling

Mamata Banerjee at Lal Kothi Darjeeling
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday conducted a meeting with the Tribes Advisory Council (TAC) to discuss the welfare and advancement of the scheduled tribes in the state.

The meeting conducted on the premises of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) headquarters in Lal Kothi, Darjeeling, however had nothing to do with the GTA as it was solely a state administration meeting, sources said. However, GTA delegates were also invited to attend the meeting.
Addressing media persons after the meeting, Banerjee said, "This is a routine meeting. A meeting of the same type had been earlier conducted in Jaldapahar, on Wednesday it was conducted in Darjeeling, and the next one will be conducted in Jangalmahal. We have done several development work for tribal people. The new tribes who pluck kendu leaves receive government premiums, and also receive a pension of Rs.2,00,000 once they reach 60 years of age. For the tribal families living in Jangalmahal, rice can be purchased at only Rs.2 a kilo", adding, "Many advantages are given to the scheduled tribe and scheduled caste people with regard to employment as well. The tribal department provides pension to 1,30,000 people, among whom 200 are from the tea gardens and closed down factories."
The chief minister also said that a committee comprising a group of ministers have already been formed to look into the problems of the tea garden."Tribal Bhawans are being constructed in six districts across Bengal. One is being constructed at Rajarghat in Kolkata as well," she added. Sources said that the members of TAC which include MLAs from different regions of the state also raised the issue of reopening the closed tea gardens in Dooars.
It may be noted that GTA chief Bimal Gurung had earlier said that the two largest tea garden trade unions backed by the Gorkha Jana Mukti Morcha (GJMM) and Adivasi Vikash Parishad (John Barla faction) namely the Darjeeling Terai Dooars Plantation Labour Union (DTDPLU) and Progress Tea Workers Union (PTWU) will jointly start an agitation in the tea gardens if the state government fails to implement any measures regarding the problems of tea garden workers.
Principal Secretary of GTA, Ravi Inder Singh and deputy chief of GTA, Col Ramesh Allay were present in today's meeting. When asked Allay whether they discussed any GTA subjects in today's meeting, he said, "No it had nothing to do with GTA. The chief minister had invited us to attend the meeting for which we attended it."
Sources in the GTA said that although the department related to the welfare of the scheduled communities comes under the subject to be transferred to the GTA by the state government, Wednesday's TAC meeting did not witness any discussion in context to the tribes residing in the GTA region.
Asked whether the GTA had invited the chief minister to hold a meeting in Lal Kothi, Alley said, "This meeting was scheduled to take place in Darjeeling. However, a venue was not being found for the meeting. We had invited the CM to visit the beautiful and historic Lal Kothi. So she said that if we permit, she would like to hold the meeting in Lal Kothi."
In may be mentioned that Lal Kothi has seen the presence of eminent personalities like R Venkataraman, former President and Rajiv Gandhi, former Prime Minister, in the past. Banerjee, expressing happiness to be visiting Lal Kothi had said on Wednesday, that although she never got an opportunity to visit it previously, she had heard a lot about it.
After the meeting, Banerjee went for a walk around Lal Kothi and remarked that the place is very beautiful. On completion of her tour around Lal Kothi, the chief minister headed towards Tiger Hill, where she even sang a few lines from a Tagore song.(sns)

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