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Mamata tom-toms trips to north

- Others are visitors only in season of elections, says chief minister

Siliguri, Sept. 1: Chief minister Mamata Banerjee today said that unlike leaders and ministers of other political parties who visited north Bengal only ahead of elections, she came to the region at least once in a month to expedite development work.

Mamata, who arrived this afternoon on a four-day visit to Siliguri and the hills, said at the government event meeting: “Earlier, footsteps of people could be heard in north Bengal only ahead of the elections and the practice was prevalent for several years. However, I can proudly say that I come here once a month to ensure that north Bengal progresses forward.”

The chief minister, who inaugurated a host of services and infrastructure projects, said she was determined to improve communication facilities in the region.

“Today, we are introducing taxis and NBSTC buses here in Siliguri and tomorrow, similar taxis and buses would be introduced in Kalimpong for the hill region. Over a long time, no attention was paid to improve connectivity and communication facilities and even issuing of permits had stopped. We have simplified the process of issuing permits to people interested in running vehicles,” she said.

“Two more important projects would come up in north Bengal. These are Asian highways. One of these will connect Panitanki (on the India-Nepal border) with Fulbari (on India-Bangladesh border) and would be built by spending a sum of Rs 602 crore. Another one will connect Changrabandha (on the India-Bangladesh border) with Jaigaon (on the India-Bhutan border) for which Rs 823 crore would be expended. Both the projects would be executed by the state PWD. Once these projects are complete, road connectivity of north Bengal will largely improve with neighbouring countries such as Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh and with the Northeast,” she said.

The chief minister was referring to the South Asia Sub Regional Economic Cooperation Programme project of Asian Development Bank. She was silent about the longstanding four-lane project of NH31D, taken up by the NHAI in 2002.