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11 Jun 2018

Forest department set to radio collar leopards in N Bengal

Forest department set to radio collar leopards in N BengalMP, 11 Jun 2018, Kolkata: In a bid to prevent leopard attacks particularly in the tea gardens of North Bengal, the state Forest department has kicked off the process of radio collaring the animals and then release them out in the wild.
"We have been conducting various awareness programmes in the tea gardens, informing the workers of some precautionary measures that can be taken to keep a check on leopard attacks. However, things have not worked out. Hence, we have decided to follow the most scientific method of radio collaring of leopards, which is being done by the Wildlife Institute of India. Four leopards have already been radio collared," said state Chief Wildlife Warden Ravikant Sinha.
The Forest department has set a target of radio collaring all the leopards in North Bengal by the middle of 2020. The effort will also help the department have an idea of leopard population.
"Leopards mostly attack humans in self defence. This process will help us track the animals' location and movement and hence we can communicate this movement in advance to the concerned authorities, so that they become cautious," a senior official of the department said.
At least 60-70 human injuries are reported every year in North Bengal because of leopard attacks. The animals' movement pattern will further help form an idea about their habitats, which can later be scanned for scat samples and analysis of these samples can reveal their food habits.
A senior official of the department informed that the drainage system of the tea gardens is very good and leopards prefer to stay in these drains of the tea gardens. Most of the attacks in tea gardens take place when tea plucking operation is carried out.
"We advise the people to follow a single straight line while plucking tea. But they do this in a scattered manner, thereby blocking the escape route of a leopard if it is staying in the drains during plucking. So, in a desperate attempt to flee, it attacks those who come in its escape route," the official added.
The tea garden labourers are also advised to burst some crackers while going for tea plucking. "But they hardly do so," the official said.
Earlier, the state has successfully radio-collared tigers and elephants and have gained crucial information about the movement of these animals.
read more...

Fake Eid holiday notice put up on social media

Fake Eid holiday notice put up on social mediaMP, 11 Jun 2018, Kolkata: In a bid to malign the Mamata Banerjee government and show her "weakness" towards the Muslim community, a fake notification stating that "Governor is pleased to declare state government holiday from June 12 to 15" in connection with Eid, has been circulated through social networking sites. 
Police have initiated a high-level enquiry to find out who has uploaded the "fake notification" with the intention of spreading canards. 
When contacted, a senior officer of the state government said: "It's fake. The top brass of the Finance department has already taken up the issue and there was a detailed discussion in this regard on Saturday night itself. Necessary action has been taken. A case has also been lodged." The officer further stated that the government is taking it very seriously as the photograph of the piece of paper containing the notification looks almost similar to an original document of the state government and moreover, it also carries the image of the logo of Bengal at the top of the notification.

In a tweet, Kolkata Police has uploaded the photograph of the fake notification and stated that "a fake notification is doing the rounds in social media about Eid Holidays. It is false. Those who have masterminded this will be strictly dealt with as per law." 
It has been stated in the order that "In order to celebrate Eid festival, which falls on June 12 to 15, 2018, in a befitting manner, the Governor is pleased to declare state government holiday on June 12 to 15, 2018, in addition to 16 June, 2018, which has already been notified as a public holiday."

It has also been stated in the fake notification carrying signature of an additional secretary level officer of the state Finance department, that all state government offices along with educational institutions and other state government undertaking companies shall remain closed.

Stating the information to be completely false, a senior officer of Kolkata Police's cyber cell said: "They have initiated necessary steps to identify the origin of the rumour that spread among lakhs of people through the social networking site, within a very short span of time." 
This comes at the time when Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has repeatedly urged people not to fall into the trap of any rumour, as there had been constant attempts of creating disturbances in the state. 
The police are also maintaining vigil and also creating awareness among netizens to ensure that people inform the police as soon as they come across any rumour. The police are also taking strict measures against rumour mongers, said the police officer. 
read more...

Tea union panels to help secure arrears

TT, Alipurduar: Representatives of one of the trade unions that had filed a writ petition at the Supreme Court over the issue of old dues of tea workers announced formation of a five-member committee in each of the 29 tea estates of Dooars to ensure that all such workers receive a portion of their dues from the state.

The payments are to start from Monday.

On Sunday, the Paschimbanga Khet Mazdoor Samiti (PBKMS), held a workers' convention at the Demdima tea estate ground in Birpara of Alipurduar district. Around 1,200 workers from different tea estates participated at the meet.

The PBKMS, along with the International Union for Food Workers and another trade union, had filed the petition at the apex court. The Supreme Court, after hearing the case, had ordered that the state governments of concerned tea-producing states will have to pay a portion of these dues.

In Bengal, the state will have to distribute around Rs 15 crore among 34,000 workers of 29 tea estates. The total due however, is Rs 135 crore, which the tea companies concerned will have to pay to the workers or their dependants.

"We have asked the workers who will receive the dues not to pay money to any person assuring prompt payment, not to sign on blank forms and also do not succumb under any pressure. We have formed a five-member committee in each of these gardens who will help the workers to finish all the formalities and get the money," said Anuradha Talwar, a state committee member of PBKMS.

The trade union, she said, will also organise workshops for workers of all these gardens. "They should be apprised about the steps, like filling up and submitting the forms with all relevant details so that not a single worker is deprived of the payment," Talwar added.

Leaders of the trade union also raised questions over the plan of action adopted by the state labour department. Following the directive of Supreme Court, the department has made moves to start disbursement of the money.

"It is ridiculous that the state labour department has sought records from the managements of the gardens about the workers' dues, despite the fact that it is a section of tea companies which own or owned these gardens, have not paid legitimate dues to the workforce. We apprehend that some tea companies might even provide wrong records," said Talwar.

"On June 11 and June 12, the disbursement will start in Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar respectively. It has been decided to put priority on retired workers and to the family members of workers who have died," said Pashupati Ghosh, additional labour commissioner of the state.
read more...

Gurung aides want to join TMC: Binay

Vivek Chhetri, TT, Jun 11, 2018, Darjeeling: Gorkha Janmukti Morcha president Binay Tamang has claimed that senior party leaders on the run with rival Bimal Gurung want to join Trinamul.

Tamang said he "had been told" that some of Gurung's loyalists were in contact with Trinamul leaders and that they had expressed their desire to join the party.

"This is a development of the last nine to ten days," Tamang, who replaced Gurung as the Morcha chief, said on Sunday.

No senior Trinamul leader wanted to comment on the claims as political affairs related to the hills are handled by chief minister Mamata Banerjee or minister Aroop Biswas. Biswas could not be contacted despite repeated attempts.

Tamang claimed that a leader, who was earlier based in Delhi and later shifted to Darjeeling, was trying to "liase" for the Gurung camp leaders.

"I have been told that this person is establishing contact with the TMC leadership. He is basically trying to seek an escape route as we have found out that a sum of Rs 1.25 crore meant for cinchona plantations was deposited in the bank account of his wife," said Tamang.

The Morcha chief highlighted this to drive home the point that he had safeguarded the party since taking over as its chief late last year.

"Had I not taken the step then (of revolting against Gurung), this party (Morcha) flag would have vanished from the hills by now. Look at those leaders who were calling me a betrayer, they now want to join the TMC," Tamang, also the chief of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA), said.

Tamang spoke at length on why he had objected to Gurung's decision to turn the statehood agitation violent last year. "When I told Bimal Gurung not to indulge in violence, he told me to come and meet him wearing saris and bangles. I had told him that violence will lead us nowhere."

According to Tamang, he had asked Gurung to shun violence after nearly 300kg of gelatine sticks were stolen from a power plant from near Bijanbari during the last phase of the agitation.

"Even if you read history, there is much planning when an armed struggled is launched. Here, we had someone suddenly deciding to indulge in such activities, even though the people had supported our party for our non-violent philosophy," said Tamang.

Gurung faces a slew of cases related to the violence during the statehood agitation that began in June last year when the chief minister was in Darjeeling holding a cabinet meeting. He briefly surfaced in January this year in Delhi.

Tamang said he feared for the lives of the youths who were with Gurung at present. "I am getting information that these youths are given Rs 2,000 (in Nepalese currency) per week. They are leading a miserable life and being asked not to return home over fears that they would spill the beans about their whereabouts," said Tamang.

"Just a handful of youths are with him (Gurung) now and I am hearing that many of them have stopped contacting their family members," Tamang added.
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Cyclone shelter windfall hope Govt plans to let out Aila havens

A cyclone shelter in Ramnagar, East Midnapore. Picture by Jahangir Badsa 
ANSHUMAN PHADIKAR , TT, Jun 11, 2018, Tamluk: Over 50 cyclone shelters built to shelter the storm-affected in Bengal could soon yield a "windfall".

The state government has decided to let out the shelters for social events to raise funds for their maintenance.

The shelters were constructed at a cost of Rs 4 crore each in the wake of cyclone Aila in 2009. They were funded by the central government.


The shelters in North and South 24 Parganas, and East Midnapore, ready since 2014, have been lying largely unused and locked, except during floods.

The financial burden of maintaining each shelter is borne by the local panchayat samiti.

"For the last two years, these shelters have been languishing. I have seen three within my area. They are useful once a year during the floods but not otherwise," said Nitai Charan Sar, the outgoing chief of Ramnagar Panchayat Samiti in East Midnapore where one of the sprawling three-storey structures have come up.

"We have to pay the sweeper and caretaker out of our own funds. The costs come to Rs 10,000 a month," Sar added.

Each of these shelters boasts large halls, kitchens, bathrooms, submersible pumps and lightning conductors, making them not only safety bulwarks but ideal locations for social gatherings as well.

East Midnapore disaster management officer Mrityunjoy Haldar said: "The principal secretary of the disaster management department has written to us saying these shelters shouldn't lie idle, as they have been over the past few years."

State disaster management authorities have written to district officials asking them to form a local committee for each of these shelters. Each panel should have at least seven members, comprising a block officer, a gram panchayat member, a panchayat samiti member and representatives of NGOs. The committee will come up with ways for profitable use of the shelters.

Around 50 more shelters are under construction in East Midnapore's Digha, Ramnagar, Contai, Khejuri and Haldia.
read more...

10 Jun 2018

Tea land offer for Bagdogra airport

Pranesh Sarkar and Avijit Sinha, TT, Jun 10, 2018, Calcutta/Siliguri: The Bengal government has informed the Airports Authority of India (AAI) that it can arrange over 70 acres from a tea garden for the Bagdogra airport's expansion, but the central entity must compensate the estate's owners.

The expansion of the airport in Siliguri has been stuck for the past few years for want of land and the state government had pleaded helplessness citing its hands-off land policy.

The airport has seen a record rise in passengers in recent years following a spurt in the number of daily flights, which stands at 26 now.

"The state government has sent a letter to the AAI informing it that land could be made available for the project but for this, the authority has to compensate the tea garden owners," said a senior state official.

While the state is optimistic about a breakthrough, the compensation clause has caught AAI officials off-guard, said a source.

"The AAI usually develops infrastructure only when the land is provided free of cost by the state government concerned. If the state wants us to pay compensation, we have to take it up at higher levels in the ministry of civil aviation," the source said.

According to senior state officials, the AAI had sent a proposal for expansion of the Bagdogra airport a couple of years back.

Sources at the AAI had said that initially they had sought 120 acres. "But the state government expressed inability to provide so much land and thus, we had scaled down the plan," said the source.

Sources in Nabanna, the Bengal secretariat, said that the AAI had finally scaled down its demand to 80 to 90 acres.

"The present terminal building in Bagdogra can handle 450-500 passengers per hour but has over 1,000, particularly in the afternoon hours (when most flights operate). Long queues at the check-in counters and outside the security-hold area are common," said a source in the AAI.

Initially, Nabanna sources said the state government did not find any way to meet the demand of the AAI as the government had no land adjacent to the airport and its land policy did not allow acquisitions.

"Later, it was found that the land could be made available from a nearby tea garden. Now, the proposal has been sent to the AAI to take a call," said a source.

Under the West Bengal Land Reforms Act, 1955, tea gardens were set up on leased plots.

The state government can cancel the lease for a portion of the gardens and change the character of their land any time. But if it does so, the garden owners will be eligible for compensation. Additional compensation has to be paid for any loss of plantations and other structures.
read more...

Morcha not to support BJP

Binay Tamang at the meeting in Darjeeling on Saturday
Vivek Chhetri, TT,  Jun 10, 2018 Darjeeling: Binay Tamang on Saturday told supporters from Dooars that the party would not support the BJP in the 2019 parliamentary elections, the expected message assuming significance as it was the first time that the Morcha chief clearly spelt out the party's decision to dump the saffron party.

Tamang was interacting with his supporters from Dooars for the first time after taking charge of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha in Darjeeling.

"I am happy that you want to strengthen the party in the Dooars. Please go and start reorganising the party, go the villagers and explain our stand but I want to tell you at the very onset, I will not support the BJP in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. I am clear on this front and please make it clear to our people in the plains at the very outset," said Tamang.


With Tamang saying no to the BJP, the question now is whether the Morcha will field its own candidate or support a Trinamul nominee.

Sources in the Morcha said that a decision to this effect was not yet taken, but some sources said that a Morcha candidate from the hills was the most likely scenario.

Tamang recalled how the BJP failed to deliver on its promises despite bagging the Darjeeling seat twice with Morcha support. "The BJP won from Darjeeling for two consecutive terms. We accept that they were in the Opposition during Jaswant Singh's time. Now they are in power but they have done nothing for us," said Tamang.

The hill leader reminded the audience that no other than Narendra Modi had promised to grant tribal status to 11 hill communities. "Forget Gorkhaland, they have not been able to fulfil even this promise," said Tamang.

"We want the BJP government to grant tribal status within August," he said.

Darjeeling MP, S.S. Ahluwalia's silence during last year's Gorkhaland agitation was another major point Tamang broached. "The Darjeeling MP, who is also a minister, did not show any sympathy to our people during the agitation period. The BJP has only played with our emotions."

read more...

Track death after meet on jumbos

The elephant run over at Banarhat in Jalpaiguri on Saturday. Picture by Biplab Basak
TT, Alipurduar/Jalpaiguri: An elephant died after knocked down by a passenger train early on Saturday, hours after rail and forest officials held a brainstorming session to reduce such fatalities on the Dooars tracks.

The railway line through Dooars connects Siliguri with Alipurduar and passes through wildlife habitats like Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary, Chapramari Wildlife Sanctuary and Buxa Tiger Reserve and also through the fringes of Gorumara and Jaldapara, both national parks.

Since 2002 when the track was converted from metre to broad gauge, over 70 elephants have been mowed down by speeding trains.

The deaths had prompted the railways and the forest department to come up with new plans like regulation of speed, putting signage posts along the track in elephant crossing zones and alerting loco pilots time and again. The latest initiative was installation of buzzers which release sounds like a swarm of bees that discourages elephants from moving towards the track.

On Saturday, sources said the female elephant was crossing the tracks near Debpara Tea Estate in Banarhat of Jalpaiguri when the train, heading towards Alipurduar Junction, knocked it down, killing the animal the spot.

"The train driver's statements reveal the elephant had suddenly come on to the tracks. We are conducting an inquiry into whether the train was running within the speed limit," said Chandraveer Raman, DRM of the Alipurduar division of the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR).

On Friday, foresters and railway officials had held a meeting at the Nature Interpretation Centre in Madarihat of Alipurduar district that continued till late evening.

At the meeting, it was decided to build a 100-metre-long overpass near the Diana river in Nagrakata block of Jalpaiguri (a common elephant crossing zone) and install CCTVs.

Two trampled

Two persons were trampled to death by wild elephants in Alipurduar on Saturday. Jangibir Bahadur Chhetri, 68, was from Madarihat. Lakshman Rai, 40, was from Purba Khayerbari.
read more...

9 Jun 2018

जमीनको पट्टा लिनुअपर्ने सञ्चबीर सुब्बाले गरे आह्वान

डी.के.वाइबा, कालिमन्युज, कालेबुङ । सरकारले वितरण गरिरहेको पर्जापट्टा जनसाधारणले ग्रहण गर्नुपर्ने जीटीए बोर्ड अफ् एडमिनिस्ट्रेसनका सदसय सञ्चबीर सुब्बाले बताएका छन्। उनले आज एक पत्रकार सम्मेलनलको आयोजना गरेर निजो गृह निजो भूमि योजना अन्तर्गत पाउने पट्टा लिनु आवश्यक छ भन्ने मानिसहरू अन्योलता पर्न नहुने आह्वान गरेका छन्। उनले यो एउटा सरकारी सहुलियत रहेको भन्दै यस्तो सहुलियत मानिसहरूले लिनुपर्ने उनले आह्वान गरेका हुन्। 
‘अहिले पर्जा पट्टालाई लिएर मानिसहरूमा कतिपय अन्योलता छाएको छ। एकातिर फरेस्ट राइट एक्टको कुरा छ, जुन फरेस्ट राईट एक्टले सर्वभारतीय मानिसहरूलाई दिएको कानुनी अधिकार हो। अर्कोतर्फ निजो गृह निजो भुमी योजनाको कुरा छ। जुन कुरालाई मानिसहरूले स्पष्ट बुझ्न आवश्यक छ’ सञ्चबीर सुब्बाले भने। उनले निजो गृह निजो भूमी योजना अन्तर्गत जुन व्यक्तिको आफ्नो घर घडेरी भएर पनि जमिनको पट्टा छैन त्यस्ता व्यक्तिहरूलाई निजोगृह निजो भूमी योजना अन्तर्गत पट्टा दिइने कार्य चलेको बताउँदै उक्त पट्टा जनताले स्वीकार गर्नुपर्ने आह्वान गरेका छन्। 
यस योजना अन्तर्गत सरकारले एकदेखि पाँच डेसिमल जमिन दिने व्यवस्था रहेको भन्दै कतिपय मानिसहरूले यस्ता पट्टा लिन्न भनिरहेको सुन्नमा आएको बताउँदै पट्टा लिनु आवश्यक रहेको उनको भनाई रहेको छ। उनले जमीन विविधप्रकारको भएको कारण सम्पूर्ण जमीनहरूको जाँच गरेर मात्रै सरकारले पट्टा दिने व्यवस्था गरिरहेको पनि उनले बताएका छन्। 
मानिसहरूले आफ्ना घडेरीको जमिन लिनु आवश्यक रहेको भन्दै अहिलेसम्म पट्टा बिनै बस्ने मानिसहरूका निम्ति यो एउटा महत्वपूर्ण दस्तावेज हुने पनि सुब्बाले दाबी गरेका छन्। यसक्रममा उनले कतिपय मानिसहरूले पाएको अधिकारलाई फर्काउने कुरा गरिरहेको जानकारी आफूलाई प्राप्त भएको बताउँदै मानिसहरूलाई यस प्रकारको गलत कदम नउठाइदिने सुझाव पनि दिएका छन्।
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WBBSE suspends errant headmaster

MP | Kolkata: The West Bengal Board of Secondary Education (WBBSE) on Thursday suspended the headmaster of Maynaguri Subhasnagar High School Haridayal Roy, on charges of opening the seal of question papers much before the scheduled time. He had allegedly made question papers of more than one subject available to the topper of the school, during the Madhyamik examination a few months ago.
"We have suspended Roy and disciplinary proceedings have been initiated against him," said Kalyanmoy Ganguly, president of WBBSE, who had led the enquiry that was conducted in this regard.
The WBBSE also announced strong action against some others who, according to the probe, were involved in the entire matter. The Board has started disciplinary proceedings against Biswajit Roy, the English teacher of the school who had videographed the strongroom of the school, where the question papers were kept. It may be mentioned that during the enquiry, Roy had admitted his wrongful act.
"Samrat Biswas, the history teacher of the school, who had given contradictory statements regarding the matter during the probe, is being handed over 'stricture.' He has been warned that if he is found to be involved in similar acts in future, strong action will be taken against him," a senior WBBSE official said.
At the same time, the School Education department has showcaused sub-inspector of school of the region Biswanath Bhowmick. He has been directed to respond to the showcause within three days.
"Bhowmick has been found guilty of making statements without verification of facts and has even spoken to a number of media persons, which has given a wrong message regarding the entire matter," the official added.
The WBBSE has also not spared Mantu Roy, the additional venue supervisor, for dereliction of duty. "We have started disciplinary
proceedings against him," Ganguly
said.
However, Board officials remained tight lipped on the allegations of question paper leak that had been triggered as the seal of the papers were opened before the scheduled time.
A number of teachers of Maynaguri School in Jalpaiguri district had been vocal against Roy and had told the Board that he had provided undue benefit to the topper of the school through his act and demanded exemplary punishment for him.
It may be recalled that state Education minister Partha Chatterjee had condemned the incident and had said that if the accused teacher is found guilty, then the Shiksha Ratna award conferred upon him will be taken back.
read more...

Skill Development Centre to come up in Darjeeling

MP | Darjeeling: Darjeeling is all set to get a Skill Development Centre, thanks to the state government, Gorkhaland Territorial Administration and the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII).
The Skill Development Centre will be housed at the present Youth Hostel and will become operational from first week of July.
It had all started with the Hill Business Summit in March this year. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, in her keynote address in the summit, had stressed on the need for skill development facilities in the Hills.
Chandrajit Banerjee, director general, CII, had stated while addressing the summit that CII would stress upon three aspects- skill development, resolving the drinking water crisis in the Hills and a road map on the development of Mongpu.
Immediately after the summit, work had started on starting a permanent Skill Development Centre in Darjeeling. The present Youth Hostel that is under the GTA, was earmarked to house the centre.
Later, during an administrative meeting of Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts in Kalimpong on May 30, the Chief Minister wanted to know about the progress relating to skill development.
Laxmi Limbu Kaushal, CII head, North Bengal and Sikkim, briefed the Chief Minister on the Skill Development Centre.
"The Centre will start functioning from the first week of July this year," stated Kaushal. CII teams from Delhi and Kolkata had visited Darjeeling for setting up the centre.
Surveys were conducted along with mappings. Meetings were also held with GTA top brass. Finally, three sectors were identified.
"Training will be imparted in Hospitality, Health Care and Beautician sectors," added the CII chief.
Around 650 youths will be benefitted each year from the trainings, to be conducted throughout the year in batches. Placements will also be offered to around 80% of the trainees.
The first batch with 90 trainees (30 each in the three categories) will commence from the first week of July. The course will continue for 3 months.
Class 10 dropouts and pass youths are being targeted for the training. The trainees are being selected by CII in consultation with the GTA, based on strict interview and counselling.
Residential facilities will also be provided from the next batch. "The Youth Hostel has been handed over by the GTA to CII for the Skill Development Centre," stated Suraj Sharma, Liaison Officer, GTA.
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'Status' of hill leaders elevated

Vivek Chhetri, TT,  Darjeeling: The Bengal government has accorded the ranks of minister-in-charge to the chief of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration, Binay Tamang, and minister of state (independent charge) to his deputy Anit Thapa.

Besides, Gorkha National Liberation Front president Mann Ghisingh was given the status of the minister of state. He is the chairperson of the Hill Area Development Committee formed by the Mamata Banerjee government.

The decision to confer such ranks on Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leaders Tamang and Thapa; and Ghisingh of the rival party is seen as a balancing act by Mamata in hill politics.

Tamang is the chairman of the board of administrators formed by the government to run the GTA, while Thapa is the vice-chairman.

Both the Morcha and the GNLF have welcomed the decision.
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Deb orders encroacher removal

TT, Siliguri: State tourism minister Gautam Deb on Friday instructed officials of the Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri district to clear stretches of government land which have been illegally occupied in Siliguri and its adjacent areas.

The minister also said that a private group that has taken land years back for a project will be asked to launch the project or else, return the land to the state.

At his office in the Mainak Tourist Lodge campus, Deb spoke with where Joyoshi Dasgupta, the district magistrate of Darjeeling, Sunil Choudhary, the commissioner of Siliguri Metropolitan Police, Akhilesh Chaturvedi, the superintendent of police of Darjeeling district and PP Roy, the additional district magistrate of Jalpaiguri.

"Many stretches of land owned by different state departments have been encroached in and around Siliguri. In most of the places, permanent structures which are illegal have been raised on such land. I have already spoken with ministers of the concerned departments in this regard. At the meeting, administrative and police officials of Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri districts have been instructed to take initiatives and remove such encroachers. They should also work to prevent land-grabbers from encroaching," said the minister.

Sources said chief minister Mamata Banerjee had recently expressed concern over the encroachment of government land across the state.

The minister, who is also the MLA of Dabgram-Fulbari Assembly constituency, had earlier expressed anguish in closed quarters after names of some local Trinamul leaders figured in illegal land deals and incidents of encroachment.

"He got agitated on learning that a section of party leaders are involved in illegal activities, particularly in his Assembly constituency. In Dabgram-Fulbari, there is around 600 acres of government land, a major portion of which has been encroached. He has passed a clear instruction to vacate such land stretches and on Friday again, he reiterated it to the officials," said a source.

Some other locations where such encroachment has been reported are in Panitanki (the India-Nepal border) and at Salbari, located on the northern end of Siliguri on way to Sukna.

"On Saturday, the tourism minister will visit Salbari with state agriculture minister. There are reports that land owned by the agriculture department has been illegally occupied by some people. The minister wants to send a clear message that the state will act sternly against people who are encroaching such land and even making illegal land deals," said a source. Deb also referred to a 25-acre plot in Fulbari, on the southern end of Siliguri that was provided to a private group that makes electronic gadgets, several years back.

"The private group had taken the land and had announced setting up a project where locals would have got employment. But so far, the land is lying unused. I have told officials of the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation to send them a notice. They should immediately start the project or return it to the state. We can use it effectively then," said the minister.
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