The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Asok guns for unused defence land
New growth tracks

A 232-acre township near NBMCH by Bengal Unitech Universal Siliguri Limited jointly with SJDA

Speciality hospitals, IT centre, non-polluting industries and corporate offices in the township

A 16.5-acre SAI regional centre near the medical college

An 85-acre inland container depot in New Jalpaiguri

A 100-acre Knowledge City

Silpangan, a centre for self-help groups, on four acres

A second industrial estate for small-scale units in Siliguri

A hub for apparel industries

Siliguri, Jan. 21: Bengal urban development minister Asok Bhattacharya made it clear today that the state government and its agencies like Siliguri-Jalpaiguri Development Authority (SJDA) will seek some of the unused land owned by the defence and paramilitary forces as well as the railways in north Bengal.

“If such land is made available, then we will not have to look for agricultural plots,” Bhattacharya said while detailing some of the ongoing development schemes and spelling out the new projects (see chart) that will be taken up in and around Siliguri.

“Thousands of unused acres are lying with the defence, BSF and railways in the region. Considering the increasing demand, we want them to hand over these lands,” he said.

“Our perusal confirms that at least 5,000 acres are lying idle with the army around Siliguri. In north Bengal, the total area would be more than one lakh acres,” the minister said.

Though he could not provide further break-ups of land owned by these central agencies, Bhattacharya said he has already raised the issue with the Union government, including the defence secretary. Bhattacharya, who is also the SJDA chairman, said the assertion on the development authority’s part to procure such land has started bearing fruit.

“We had approached the railways to hand over 100 acres for the inland container depot or dry port at New Jalpaiguri. They have given us about 85 acres for which we have made 50 per cent payment,” he said.

On a different note, the minister said: “When the defence or the railways acquired thousands of acres without any compensation, nobody said anything. But when the government is trying to (take over land to) develop the state, several protests are taking place. It is clear that the Opposition does not want any development in Bengal.”

According to Bhattacharya, Videocon will by mid-February release televisions and computers manufactured at Kanchan, the food-processing unit that was taken over.

On the proposed township near the medical college, the minister said the total investment would be around Rs 2,500 crore.

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