Darjeeling deadline - Mamata Banerjee underscored the reality in Darjeeling

Old Steam Train in Darjeeling
However obliquely, Mamata Banerjee has eventually underscored the reality in Darjeeling. Specifically that the Gorkha Territorial Administration, indeed a loose experiment in federalism short of statehood has come a cropper several years after its foundation. If its functioning was carried to its logical conclusion, it would have translated to considerable development of the tormented Hills.
The Chief Minister’s lament-cumcaveat in Kurseong on Wednesday would suggest that the watershed GTA experiment has not even been given a try. Hence the three-month deadline, set by the Chief Minister, to the GTA and the four hill municipalities to complete the projects that ought to have been up and running by now. There is a pronounced emphasis on the economic factor in Miss Banerjee’s new blueprint for the Hills.
The region was ever a favoured tourist destination; she has suggested the development of yet more tourist destinations, notably Lava and Lolegaon near Kalimpong, now upgraded to a district. The major deterrent though has been the persistent tension, violence and ethnic disenchantment. The fact of the matter being that there are many more tribes ~ the Lepchas were the original settlers ~ other than the Gorkhas. Indeed, the grim reality can be contextualised with her admission that frequent disturbances have impeded development of the Hills.

The fineprint of her presentation must be that since the mid-1980s to the present day, successive dispensations have not had the nerve to address the canker of instability, ethnic disaffection, and also of course the demand for statehood. In terms of periodisation, this would cover the dispensations of Jyoti Basu, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and Mamata Banerjee. It does redound to the credit of Miss Banerjee that the GTA initiative was an earnest effort to defuse the festering crisis.
Alas, it has made no headway. Even after its formation, little or no attempt has been made to change the breathtaking topography of the Hills. Darjeeling is a long way from the promised Switzerland, her electoral pledge in 2011. But little or no progress has been recorded in the construction of Swiss Cottages, so-called. These will take another six months, according to the sluggish GTA, provoking the Chief Minister’s sharp retort ~ “I have been hearing this for the past five years. You have to complete it within three months.”
Even the basics of civic administration are not in place considering her directive to the hill municipalities to improve roads, sewerage and garbage collection… once again within three months. The decidedly economic facet to her presentation was her suggestion to hoteliers and traders to start accepting both Indian currency as well as US dollars “because a large number of foreign tourists visit the hills”. That advice was couched in the lament that tourists don’t “come in droves any longer because of the lack of stability”. More the pity, therefore, that instability and negligent nonchalance are virtually institutionalised in the Hills.

https://www.thestatesman.com
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However obliquely, Mamata Banerjee has eventually underscored the reality in Darjeeling. Specifically that the Gorkha Territorial Administration, indeed a loose experiment in federalism short of statehood has come a cropper several years after its foundation. If its functioning was carried to its

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