The Telegraph
Thursday , January 12 , 2017
 
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Minister tussle shows on mart

Siliguri, Jan. 11: A perceived tussle between two ministers has put the state's biggest annual travel mart on the back foot, a fortnight before the event.

Administrative sources said north Bengal development minister Rabindranath Ghosh was not ready to provide funds for the Bengal Travel Mart.

Ghosh, whose department was supposedly asked to make available Rs 36.23 lakh, said he had no idea about the event. "I have no inkling of the event. How can I confirm that my department will provide funds for the event?"

The Bengal Travel Mart is scheduled on January 27-29 at Savin Kingdom, on the outskirts of Siliguri.

Tour operators now plan to scale down the show, given the doubt regarding allocation of funds.

Sources in Trinamul said Ghosh has been in a tussle with tourism minister Gautam Deb for a few months.

"North Bengal development minister Rabindranath Ghosh is not ready to provide funds this year," an administrative source claimed.

This year, the event budget was Rs 1.27 crore, said a source in the Eastern Himalaya Travel and Tour Operators' Association, facilitators of the event.

Accordingly, the tourism department was approached for an allocation of Rs 40 lakh, while the north Bengal development department had been requested to give Rs 36.23 lakh.

A source said Ghosh and Deb "have sharp differences over several issues and don't see eye to eye. We have learnt that Ghosh made it clear in his close quarters that his department would not provide funds because it is an event of the tourism department."

A tour operator said: "We had planned to bring around 200 buyers. However, it appears that we will be able to bring in only 120-odd domestic buyers now. We are also planning to curtail the cultural events."

Asked about the funds, Deb said: "We have told the organisers to go ahead. We are well aware of the importance of the event. We don't know about the allocation of funds by other departments. When I was the north Bengal development minister, funds were allocated as the chief minister wanted to make the mart a success."


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