Saibal Sen | TNN | Feb 16, 2017,Kalimpong: Kalimpong is all set to have a mall of its own, chief minister Mamata Banerjee told reporters on Wednesday.
The Mall at Darjeeling Chowrasta is a very popular tourist destination, which offers everything from shopping to pony rides and panoramic views of Kanchenjungha.
The chief minister also had other plans to build Kalimpong's tourism potential. "The Kalimpong sub-divisional correctional home will be relocated," she announced. "It is a British-era structure, which needs to be refurbished immediately to prevent it from crumbling down; also, the prison occupies the heart of the town and offers breathtaking views of the Kanchenjungha. This will draw a lot of tourists." She proposed the relocation of the prison to the huge expanse of unutilized land near the Dr Graham's Homes school.
The idea of a mall in Kalimpong isn't new. Shankar Chakraborty and H A Safi, both former prison ministers, had inspected the prison and proposed land where it could be relocated. "We welcome the chief minister's announcement. When you enter Kalimpong, the first thing you encounter is the police station, and then the prison. It isn't a good sight, now that Kalimpong is also district headquarters. Also, the prison is almost in the centre of the town. This is a good, bold step," said Harka Bahadur Chetri, a former Kalimpong MLA who has been persistent in his demand for Kalimpong to be made a district.
Banerjee also announced the state's intent to create another tourist lodge at Deolo. This will have political ramifications. The lodge, spread over a huge expanse, is administrated by the GTA. This creates problems in booking; also, the tariffs are quite high. The state tourism department, under the aegis of the West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation, has been developing the Morgan House and Tashiding Tourist Lodges. The CM, however, feels that Deolo, due to its vantage position (it is at an altitude of 5500 feet) should also be made accessible to all. "We will promote tea, tourism and transport here," she said.
Having carved out the separate district of Kalimpong a day earlier, Banerjee held her first administrative meeting at the Kalimpong Town Hall. She asked all 15 development boards to compile a list of 150 clubs who will receive a dole of Rs 2 lakh from the state government. She also asked them to prepare a list of folk artists who could be included in the existing state government's monthly stipend schemes. The CM also announced a permanent exhibition hall to showcase indigenous folk art. She directed the boards to complete all earmarked projects by March.