The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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IIT to chart trade route boom

Kharagpur, July 4: The Indian Institute of Technology will chalk out a perspective plan for development of Siliguri and Jalpaiguri in view of the reopening of the Tibet route.

Urban development and municipal affairs minister Asok Bhattacharya announced this while inaugurating a technical workshop organised jointly by the Siliguri Jalpaiguri Development Authority, Unicef and the department of architecture and regional planning of IIT. The plan will be prepared at a cost of Rs 40 lakh to be provided by the Unicef, the minister said.

“The opening of Nathu-la will lead to major tourism and commercial activities in Siliguri and Jalpaiguri. But we are prepared to tackle the change,” Bhattacharya said at the inauguration.

The IIT team will consult NGOs, panchayats, civic bodies and experts on the region before drawing up the master plan, he said.

“In three months, we should have a perspective plan ready. That will give us an idea of the direction the development work will take in the next 25 years,” said the CPM legislator from Siliguri. “The area in question spans 1,162 square km,” he added.

Bhattacharya said the pace of urbanisation was rapid in north Bengal and the demand for housing and industrial infrastructure had soared. “Urban population in the region is 32.4 per cent when the state’s average is 28 per cent,” the minister said.

He underscored the importance of a perspective plan given the pressure of the burgeoning population on land.

“The perspective plan will not only address the issue of land development, it will spell out what needs to be done to improve education, health, tourism, industry, entertainment, culture and environment in the region,” the minister said. Siliguri being a major transit point, its infrastructure requires special focus, Bhattacharya added.

IIT director Sisir Kumar Dube said his institution would do its best to help the development authority implement the plan. “We had approached the government and the ministers from north Bengal to allow us to play a role in the development of the area. We will do the job with all the resources at our disposal,” he said.

Unicef project director Jude Henreques and West Midnapore district magistrate M.V. Rao were among those present at the meet.

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