The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Siliguri courts status and funds

Siliguri, March 8: The business community here has renewed its plea that this northernmost urban sprawl of Bengal be granted the status of a city of national importance.

This is the second time that the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry in North Bengal (Focin) has raised the demand in its pre-budget memorandum to finance minister Asim Dasgupta.

“Siliguri is of tremendous importance due to its location as the gateway to the Northeast, sharing international boundaries with three countries. With every passing day, its importance is growing, which is why it is necessary that it is assigned the status,” said Focin general secretary Biswajit Das.

“If it is accorded the label, not only will it usher in more development with more funds coming in directly from the Centre, but it will also be a status symbol for the residents of this fast-growing town,” he added.

“In our last budget proposal we had asked the finance minister to take up this issue with the Government of India, but we got no response after that. We are hopeful that this time our plea will be heard,” Das said.

The Siliguri Municipal Corporation, too, has been voicing the same demand for five years now. “We have been fighting for this cause for a long time now though nothing has materialised so far. It is time Siliguri is given such a status. Over the years it has registered tremendous growth, both in terms of political and economic activity, which, added to its strategic location, makes it necessary for the Centre to give it special recognition,” mayor Bikash Ghosh said.

“Siliguri is of prime importance as the only corridor to the Northeast, a fact the Centre cannot afford to overlook any more,” added Nurul Islam, mayor-in-council, PWD, development and planning. “Once earlier, the Central government had funded a Rs 10-crore development project for Siliguri, which was beneficial, but not enough,” Islam said.

“When Darjeeling can get separate funds from the Centre, why not Siliguri, which boasts of such a unique location,” said local MLA and minister Asok Bhattacharya.

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