Mamata at the cabinet meeting at Uttarkanya in Siliguri on Tuesday. Picture by Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya
Siliguri, Feb. 11: Mamata Banerjee today announced ration distribution in five tea gardens and a health directorate for north Bengal at her first cabinet meeting in Uttarkanya, the mini state secretariat in Siliguri.
More than 60 ministers and bureaucrats travelled from Calcutta to Siliguri to attend the meeting where the chief minister gave her nod to several other projects for the six north Bengal districts. (See chart below)
When the government had announced on January 30 the decision for holding the cabinet meeting in Uttarkanya, a senior state government official had said: “Only Siddhartha Shankar Ray, the former Congress chief minister, had held a few cabinet meetings in the districts during his tenure between 1972 and 1977.”
Mamata today said after the cabinet meeting: “I am happy these big decisions have been taken here…. The decisions are a big boost for Bengal.”
Trinamul leaders indicated Mamata’s intent to make inroads in the region ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. Trinamul has no Lok Sabha seat in north Bengal.
Of the eight Lok Sabha seats spread over six North Bengal districts, in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections the Left Front partners had bagged four, the Congress three and the BJP one.
In the intervening five years, Bengal has witnessed a steady rise of Trinamul. In the 2011 Assembly polls, Trinamul won 17 of the 54 in the north districts.
“We gave our word to have a secretariat for North Bengal… That has been achieved and today we also held the first cabinet meeting here. We keep our word,” Mamata said.
The chief minister had inaugurated Uttarkanya on January 20.
In the last two-and-half years, Trinamul has eaten into the Congress’s support base in Malda and parts of North Dinajpur.
The ruling party is already running the zilla parishads in Cooch Behar and South Dinajpur.
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee has
announced ration relief for five tea gardens.
The status of the five gardens
Red Bank Tea Estate
- Area: 470 hectares
- Reason: Management abandoned the garden
- Employees: 1,200
- Deaths of workers: Around 30 people died in last three years
- Area: 210 hectares
- Reason: Management abandoned
- Employees: 600
- Deaths: Five
Dheklapara Tea Estate
- Area: 1,197 hectares
- Reason: Abandoned by management
- Employees: 600
- Deaths: Over 50
Kanthalguri Tea Estate
- Area: 777.06 hectares
- Employees: 1,149
- Deaths: Three deaths last year when garden was shut for a month
Dalmore Tea Estate
- Area: 1,195 hectares
- Employees: 903
- Deaths: None
● What the government will do
lThe state food and supplies department will appoint new ration dealers from among local people
● Workers of the gardens will get 1.25kg of rice
and 750gm of wheat per person per week at
the rate of Rs 2 a kilo
Key announcements made by Mamata Banerjee at Uttarkanya on Tuesday
Announcement: 3,714 new hands to be
recruited in the transport department, of which 1,850 will be for NBSTC.
Why: Drivers, conductors and mechanics
will be hired for JNNURM buses that would be started in Siliguri. The break-up — 815 posts are for drivers, 885 conductors and
150 for mechanics
Announcement: A separate health
directorate for six north Bengal districts
Why: “There are around 60-odd district
and sub-divisional hospitals across north Bengal, hundreds of block and primary health centres and rural hospitals. All this means a huge number of staff
and thus, a considerable amount of administrative work can be done from the directorate, instead of corresponding with Swasthya
Bhavan,” a source said. The directorate
would be headed by a joint director of
health services posted in Siliguri
Announcement: Buniadpur to get municipality status
Why: The demand is over
10 years old. Residents
of Buniadpur say all
administrative offices for
Gangarampur block are in Buniadpur but the town is
still a panchayat
Announcement: Restructuring of state-owned West
Dinajpur Spinning Mill
located in Raiganj
Why: The mill, opened by Jyoti Basu in 1985, has
been shut for the past
three years and has 498
employees on the payroll.
The employees would be
absorbed into other