Minister Gautam Deb at the CII meet in Siliguri on Friday. Picture by Kundan Yolmo
Siliguri, Oct. 14: The CII’s eastern region council today unveiled an industrial road map for the development of north Bengal in the next 10 years, the efforts drawing an assurance from the government that had been insisting on time-bound proposals.
Vision 2022, which was formally released by north Bengal development minister Gautam Deb here today, has a list of specific programmes that the CII hopes the government could explore in the coming years. The minister, while appreciating the agenda, has assured the CII of all necessary support from the Mamata Banerjee-led government.
“It is a welcome initiative. The state government is keen to work closely with the CII for improving the industrial prospects in the region. Our major focus areas are healthcare, connectivity, infrastructure support for the tourism sector and employment generation,” Deb said this evening at the programme held in the conference room of a hotel in Salugara.
He said chief minister Mamata Banerjee was keen on developing the region and had created a new department — north Bengal development — of which he is the minister.
“At a time our government is serious about ridding north Bengal of the neglect by the Left Front government, such an initiative by the CII will prove to be useful for developing the region,” Deb said.
The appreciation comes four months after the minister had chided the business community for only “talks that don’t yield results”. At an interaction with industrialists in June, Deb had said: “We would prefer to attend events where specific plans are discussed rather than listen to speeches on a general topic where nothing concrete emanates at the end. Such meetings yield nothing.”
After today’s programme, Deb told reporters that a lot hinged on the Union government’s plans to develop backward districts in the country.
“The central government has sanctioned Rs 8,000 crore for the development of the backward districts of the country. Of the six districts in north Bengal, four of them fall in this backward category. We are keenly interested in utilising the funds under this scheme for the improvement of the region,” Deb said. The backward districts are North and South Dinajpurs, Malda and Jalpaiguri, he said.
Saugata Mukherjee, the regional director of the CII, said during the preparation of Vision 2022, the aspirations of the common people of the region were taken into consideration.
“There is ample scope for the growth of tourism, IT and agro-based industries that have been highlighted in our road map. We are ready to help the government explore these sectors with proper planning,” Mukherjee said.
A special initiative has been taken for Cooch Behar. “Our study on the employment potential in Cooch Behar was also placed before the minister and was appreciated. The district has enough potential to prosper in the field of IT, food processing and tourism. We are ready with our district development plan and skill development programmes,” he added.
Ranveer Sinha, the chairperson of the CII’s eastern region, said: “Apart from working on the industrial progress of north Bengal, the CII is ensuring social development by focusing on IT, tourism, and food processing and developing infrastructure.”