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Eviction drive signal in Siliguri market

Siliguri, Feb. 22: The Siliguri-Jalpaiguri Development Authority (SJDA) has decided to demolish all illegal constructions in and around Bidhan Market.

Urban development minister Asok Bhattacharya, who is also chairman of SJDA, made it clear that the administration was determined to carry out an eviction drive inside the prestigious market complex here.

“We have taken up several plans and programmes to develop the town — the gateway to north Bengal, Nepal and Bhutan — and are in the process of spending several crores of rupees for the purpose. We will not allow anything to come up illegally and in an unplanned way,” Bhattacharya told a news conference here.

A series of meetings with the shop owners’ association to seek their help to keep the market complex free from illegal shops and maintain it properly had failed, he said.

“We have asked the shop-owners to contribute the cost of a concrete structure to rehabilitate the encroachers, but they seem reluctant. If they share the burden, they (the encroachers) can be rehabilitated. Otherwise, they have to face their own fate,” Bhattacharya said.

The SJDA in association with Siliguri municipality is making all efforts to make the town cleaner and evict encroachers. “We have already built a bus terminus, taxi and rickshaw stands, market complexes in a planned way and many more development projects are in progress,” the minister said.

He said the SJDA is contemplating three joint venture projects on the railway land near Nivedita Market, the hawkers’ corner and stretches of Bidhan Road. “Around Rs 6 crore have been earmarked for purchase of land… (at a rate) fixed at 30 per cent higher than the market rates as per the provision put forth by the railway authorities. Joint venture projects would go a long way in minimising business risks,” the minister said.

He said a three-member committee has been formed to monitor the joint venture projects. Besides, the SJDA has formed a special team to coordinate with prospective investors.

“Destination North Bengal, an investors’ summit held recently in Siliguri, was a success and a large number of entrepreneurs have shown interest in investing in the region. The special team will coordinate with the investors so that they do not fall in any trouble and will clear any hurdles,” Bhattacharya said.

The state government has started projecting Siliguri as a prospective destination for investments, especially in the food-processing sector.

“Investors will not show interest in setting up any unit here until and unless we provide them all infrastructure facilities, including good roads, smooth vehicular movement and other civic amenities. Above all, everything in the town must come up in a planned way,” the minister said.

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