March 15: Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said the state has taken up the initiative to restore Cooch Behar airport to promote industrialisation in north Bengal.
On a two-day visit to the region, Bhattacharjee arrived at Chakchaka in Cooch Behar today to inaugurate a dozen industrial units.
“We feel that improvement of communication by air, rail and road is essential for industrial growth in the region. I have told the Centre to take effective steps to restore the Cooch Behar airport,” Bhattacharjee said. North Bengal is presently served by only one airport at Bagdogra.
“We even told Delhi that the state is ready to contribute funds required for the purpose. We are ready to repair the runway. If the Centre does not come forward, it is not possible for the state alone to do the job.’’
Unveiling the state’s plan for the overall development of north Bengal, he said: “We are getting good response from entrepreneurs. We have told industrialists to set up units in north Bengal and the government will protect their interests.’’
Railway communication was still a problem, Bhattacharjee admitted, though the state had been urging the Centre for years to build a line in Cooch Behar.
“To avail the opportunity in the food processing industry, a number of big companies have already come up in the region. We have also got response to rejuvenate medicinal plantations and allied industry,’’ he said.
Bhattacharjee refuted the Opposition allegation that the state was neglecting the region and said politically motivated people were stirring up a campaign, saying Rajbanshis were deprived of employment. “Unemployment is a major problem all over the state. Are the Rajbanshis the only unemployed people' Are there no unemployed in the other communities'’’ he asked.
At Kamakhshyaguri, he urged the Kamtapur Liberation Organisation to give up arms and return to the mainstream. “Throw out arms, stop killing people and only then we shall hear you,’’ Bhattacharjee said.
Earlier, he had inaugurated the Teesta-Ganga Utsav at Kamakhshyaguri in Jalpaiguri. The chief minister was accompanied on the tour by urban development minister Asok Bhattacharya and tourism minister Dinesh Dakua.