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CM, hill chief talk tourism

Calcutta, Sept. 24: Tourism was on top of their minds when Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council chairman Subhas Ghisingh today met chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee here. Understandably so, as the Gorkha leader is on his way to Singapore to pick up ideas on attracting tourists to the hills.

Asked about the reason behind his visit to Singapore, Ghisingh said his mission was to improve tourism in the hills.

“Ghisingh is going to Singapore to get some ideas about boosting tourism in and around the Darjeeling hills,” Bhattacharjee concurred.

During the 30-minute meeting, the chief minister stressed the need for Ghisingh to initiate moves to boost tourism. The hill council chief, in turn, asked him to release funds for infrastructure development, particularly roads, augmentation of drinking water and electricity supply, and improvement of sanitation.

“There was no specific agenda in the meeting with the chief minister. We have discussed some common issues on overall development of the hill region. I am happy that the chief minister assured to continue the state government’s support and co-operation for the sake of the people of the hills,” Ghisingh said after the meeting.

He added that tourism is his council’s top priority.

“There are two tourist spots in Bengal that have acquired international fame. One is the Sunderbans and the other is Darjeeling. I myself like the Sunderbans very much. As there is a huge possibility of tourism in the hills, we are making all efforts to fully explore the possibility,’’ Ghisingh said.

A large number of domestic and foreign tourists visit Darjeeling every year, Ghisingh pointed out, but added that to attract more visitors, the overall infrastructure has to be improved.

“In order to reduce congestion in Darjeeling, we want to improve the surrounding areas,” he said. With this in mind, the DGHC has developed tourist spots like Gangamaya Park and Barbati Rock Garden, within 12 to 18 km from Darjeeling town.

He said he requested the chief minister to inaugurate an amusement park recently constructed near Richmond Hill.

The chief minister also asked Ghisingh to develop the sectors of fruit processing and horticulture. He told the Gorkha leader that several entrepreneurs have shown interest in setting up fruit processing units in north Bengal.

Bhattacharjee added that Ghisingh should try and generate employment by utilising local resources, especially oranges, medicinal plants and horticulture.

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