The Telegraph
Wednesday , February 12 , 2014
CIMA Gallary

Tea & health boost for north
Uttarkanya meet with focus on LS seats

Siliguri, Feb. 11: Mamata Banerjee today announced ration distribution in five tea gardens and a health directorate for north Bengal at her first cabinet meeting in Uttarkanya, the mini state secretariat in Siliguri.

More than 60 ministers and bureaucrats travelled from Calcutta to Siliguri to attend the meeting where the chief minister gave her nod to several other projects for the six north Bengal districts. (See chart below)

When the government had announced on January 30 the decision for holding the cabinet meeting in Uttarkanya, a senior state government official had said: “Only Siddhartha Shankar Ray, the former Congress chief minister, had held a few cabinet meetings in the districts during his tenure between 1972 and 1977.”

Mamata today said after the cabinet meeting: “I am happy these big decisions have been taken here…. The decisions are a big boost for Bengal.”

Trinamul leaders indicated Mamata’s intent to make inroads in the region ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. Trinamul has no Lok Sabha seat in north Bengal.

Of the eight Lok Sabha seats spread over six North Bengal districts, in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections the Left Front partners had bagged four, the Congress three and the BJP one.

In the intervening five years, Bengal has witnessed a steady rise of Trinamul. In the 2011 Assembly polls, Trinamul won 17 of the 54 in the north districts.

“We gave our word to have a secretariat for North Bengal… That has been achieved and today we also held the first cabinet meeting here. We keep our word,” Mamata said.

The chief minister had inaugurated Uttarkanya on January 20.

In the last two-and-half years, Trinamul has eaten into the Congress’s support base in Malda and parts of North Dinajpur.

The ruling party is already running the zilla parishads in Cooch Behar and South Dinajpur.


Chief minister Mamata Banerjee has announced ration relief for five tea gardens. The status of the five gardens

Red Bank Tea Estate

  • Area: 470 hectares
  • Reason: Management abandoned the garden
  • Employees: 1,200
  • Deaths of workers: Around 30 people died in last three years

Surendranagar Tea Estate

  • Area: 210 hectares
  • Reason: Management abandoned estate
  • Employees: 600
  • Deaths: Five persons since 2013 closure

Dheklapara Tea Estate

  • Area: 1,197 hectares
  • Reason: Abandoned by management
  • Employees: 600
  • Deaths: Over 50 since closure

Kanthalguri Tea Estate

  • Area: 777.06 hectares
  • Employees: 1,149
  • Deaths: Three deaths last year when garden was shut for a month

Dalmore Tea Estate

  • Area: 1,195 hectares
  • Employees: 903
  • Deaths: None

What the government will do lThe state food and supplies department will appoint new ration dealers from among local people

Workers of the gardens will get 1.25kg of rice and 750gm of wheat per person per week at the rate of Rs 2 a kilo

project take-off

Key announcements made by Mamata Banerjee at Uttarkanya on Tuesday

Announcement: 3,714 new hands to be recruited in the transport department, of which 1,850 will be for NBSTC.

Why: Drivers, conductors and mechanics will be hired for JNNURM buses that would be started in Siliguri. The break-up — 815 posts are for drivers, 885 conductors and
150 for mechanics


Announcement: A separate health directorate for six north Bengal districts

Why: “There are around 60-odd district and sub-divisional hospitals across north Bengal, hundreds of block and primary health centres and rural hospitals. All this means a huge number of staff and thus, a considerable amount of administrative work can be done from the directorate, instead of corresponding with Swasthya Bhavan,” a source said. The directorate would be headed by a joint director of health services posted in Siliguri


Announcement: Buniadpur to get municipality status

Why: The demand is over 10 years old. Residents of Buniadpur say all administrative offices for Gangarampur block are in Buniadpur but the town is still a panchayat

Announcement: Restructuring of state-owned West Dinajpur Spinning Mill located in Raiganj

Why: The mill, opened by Jyoti Basu in 1985, has been shut for the past three years and has 498 employees on the payroll. The employees would be absorbed into other
government departments