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24 Mar 2017

Mamata set to chart tribal progress

Mamata Banerjee
TT, Siliguri/Jalpaiguri, March 23: Mamata Banerjee is scheduled to attend a meeting of the Tribal Advisory Development Council in Jalpaiguri on March 27 to discuss an array of development projects taken up for the socio-economic development of adivasis in north Bengal and other parts of the state.
"On March 27, the chief minister will land in Bagdogra and head for Jalpaiguri. In the evening, she will attend a meeting of the council," said Sourav Chakraborty, the Alipurduar MLA, who visited Jalpaiguri today to oversee the preparations for the March 27 meeting.
"The chief minister will discuss a number of development projects taken up for the tribal people in north Bengal and elsewhere at the meeting. In her recent visits to the Darjeeling hills, the chief minister had made announcements like creation of new development boards for hill communities and formation of separate Kalimpong district. After such announcements, demands like creation of an autonomous board for tribal people in the Terai and the Dooars arose. The adivasis have been complaining about lack of full-fledged implementation of social welfare schemes, poor quality of rice provided by the state government and absence of employment opportunities," said a source in the tribal council.
In such a situation, he said, the government intends to give impetus to the progress of adivasis, particularly because the rural polls are scheduled for next year.
"In north Bengal, votes of tribal people are important in rural belts. Along with tea estates of the Dooars and the Terai, there are tribal belts in districts like South Dinajpur and Malda. That is why Trinamul does not want to take any chance and tries to retain its base in tribal belts," said an observer.
Other issues which are likely to be discussed at the meeting are the longstanding demand of land rights for tea plantation workers and implementation of social welfare schemes by panchayats in tea estates, the source said.
The council is headed by Mamata and has state tribal affairs minister James Kuzur and a number of MLAs from north Bengal as its members. Birsa Tirkey, the state president of the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad, is also a nominee at the council.
Along with them, the chief secretary, officials of tribal affairs departments and MPs from the region will be present at the meeting.

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