Mamata at the event in Alipurduar on Wednesday. Picture by Anirban Choudhury
Alipurduar, June 25: Chief minister Mamata Banerjee today inaugurated the 20th district of the state and congratulated residents of Alipurduar on the “fulfilment of the people’s dream”.
“This is a monumental achievement, a momentous occasion, a day that will be remembered in history.... Cherish it. This is the beginning of a new era,” Mamata told the 10,000-odd people at the Parade Ground in Alipurduar town this afternoon.
She had announced the new district in the Assembly few days back. The government notification announcing the formation of the district is already out.
In her 13-minute-long speech, the chief minister said her government would emphasise on developing tourism in the new district that will have six blocks: Alipurduar I and II, Kumargram, Falakata, Kalchini and Madarihat-Birpara.
“We will seek advice from business houses and chambers on ways to boost tourism,” Mamata said.
She added that the areas of focus would be Jayanti, Rajabhatkhawa, Jaldapara and Chilapata which would be promoted as tourist destinations.
Mamata said June 25 would be celebrated as Alipurduar Divas and annual festivals would be held in the district to mark the day.
“We will need some time to develop new infrastructure. Till then, our officials of the new district will operate out of the existing infrastructure in Jalpaiguri district ... Eventually, we will make Alipurduar a model district, exemplary for the rest of the country.”
Mamata today introduced the first district magistrate of Alipurduar, Alice Vaz, and the first district police chief, Anup Jaiswal, at the event. “She’s a good girl. He’s a good boy. They’re like siblings. The sister and the brother will work together to ensure a great future for your district,” she said.
Assembly Speaker Biman Banerjee was also present on the stage along with the chief minister and administrative officials. “We all have heard of judiciary being taken to the doorsteps. This noble initiative of taking executive services to the people’s doors is rare in the country,” Banerjee said in his speech.
Of the 17 police stations in Jalpaiguri district, eight are now part of Alipurduar.
The chief minister said the bifurcation of Jalpaiguri district was a long-standing aspiration of the people and she was grateful for having been able to deliver.
She said the government was planning to start helicopter services in the new district. “Many people used to laugh at me and make fun of me when I spoke of turning north Bengal into Switzerland. I ask those who refuse to believe to come and see first hand the kind of infrastructure we have been developing here,” she said.
Senior Congress leader and Alipurduar MLA Debaprasad Roy, who had been at the forefront of the movement for a new district, was also present at the programme. He lauded the chief minister for the “glorious, historic” decision.
“This is a moment for all of us to set aside political differences and give credit where it is due.... For once, I do not find any reason to criticise the ruling party or the chief minister. This is a 66-year-old dream coming true. I’m overwhelmed,” Roy told The Telegraph on the sidelines of the event.