Siliguri, Oct. 16: Darjeeling MP and BJP leader Jaswant Singh today blamed the Centre for “ignoring” the national highways that pass through north Bengal and connect the northeastern states with the rest of the country.
“The condition of the highways in north Bengal is deplorable and yet the central government is undermining the importance of these roads. The region is of manifold importance because of its geographical location and the highways here connect the entire Northeast with the rest of our country,” Jaswant, who reached Darjeeling today, said.
“It is unfortunate that the central government has failed to realise that these roads are not only for general traffic but also for the military and other security forces to move to the frontiers of our country,” he said.
The NH31, NH31D, NH31C and NH34 that pass through the region are all in bad shape. The only bridge over the Teesta river near Jalpaiguri over which heavy vehicles can run is in a deplorable condition as well.
“This year we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the 1962 war and everyone is aware of the sensitivity of north Bengal and the Northeast. We don’t understand why the Centre is not focusing on improving the infrastructure in north Bengal. I have expressed my views before the Prime Minister and the Union ministers of home and defence. Unfortunately, nothing has been done so far,” he said.
The BJP leader appreciated chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s “energy and enthusiasm” in forming the GTA.
“I was here in August when the GTA was formed. So far, the state has been extending support for the proper functioning of the GTA and we expect that the state government-run schemes would be implemented in the area. The GTA is supposed to receive an annual assistance of Rs 200 crore from the Centre and the funds have not reached the administrative body so far. These funds should reach the hills soon to expedite development.”
Jaswant added that he would talk to GTA and Gorkha Janmukti Morcha representatives and his party was in favour of smaller states. “The Morcha has not dropped its demand for Gorkhaland but has accepted GTA as a stepping stone. As far as our party is concerned, we are always in favour of smaller states for better governance,” he said.