The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Buddha plays development card

Siliguri, Sept. 25: 'Amra chai kaj, kaj kaj! Aar ora (opposition) shudhu golmal, golmal golmal (We want work and more work, but the opposition wants trouble and more trouble),' claimed the chief minister Buddhabeb Bhattacharjee today at a public meeting here.

Bhattacharjee today asked the people of north Bengal to foil the designs of certain parties to divide the people and disturb the peace of the region.

Addressing the meeting organised by the CPM Darjeeling district committee here at Baghajatin Park, the chief minister said while his government was trying to put north Bengal on the path of development, these elements were misleading the people in an effort to impede progress in the region.

'We are trying our best for the development of north Bengal and our efforts are bearing fruits. Siliguri has become the best city in north Bengal, and a lot of industries are wanting to invest in the region,' he claimed before a crowd of over 15,000 people. 'The new airport at Cooch Behar will help in the industrialisation of the district,' he added.

Alluding to the opposition charge that development was being carried out at the expense of the poor, he said: 'In the process of development, it is natural for villages to turn into cities, and agricultural land to be used for industries.'

Citing the example of Haldia, Bhattacharjee said: 'What was Haldia' It used to be a village, where few people were involved in fishing. Now, it has become an industrial town.'

He, however, added that the government was committed to rehabilitating the poor people whose lands are used for development purposes. 'The poor who are losing their land must be rehabilitated. They must be given work, as monetary compensation alone will not suffice,' the chief minister declared.

Claiming that CPM was the party of poor people, Bhattacharjee said, the Left Front government had distributed 1.9 lakh bighas to the poor in Cooch Behar alone.

Referring to the recent flare-up in the district that resulted in the death of five persons, including three policemen, the chief minister said the demonstrators were trying to disturb the peace in the district with the help of Ulfa. 'The economy of Assam is in tatters because of Ulfa. But, we will never allow north Bengal to turn into another Assam,' Bhattacharjee said.

On the condition of tea gardens in the region, he said that the owners and workers have to work in tandem to improve the output in view of growing competition from countries like Kenya, Sri Lanka and China. 'We have asked the planters to invest and replace the old plants. But the workers also must work harder,' he said.

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