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18 May 2017

Dawn of a new era in Hills

Dawn of a new eraAmitava Banerjee | MP | 17 May 2017 | Darjeeling: The TMC is eyeing the party's victory in the Mirik municipality as a new era begins in the Hills. The victory is being credited to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's announcement of giving land rights to residents of Mirik Municipal area.

Out of the 9 municipal wards in Mirik, the TMC won six wards and GJM the remaining three. "Thanks to Mirik for reposing faith in us. We will work sincerely for you. After so many decades we begin a new era in the hills," Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee tweeted.

Incidentally on March 30, while addressing a government programme on the occasion of upgradation of Mirik into a subdivision, Banerjee had assured land rights to the residents of Mirik municipal area. Apart from wards 4 and 5, which include the Deosay Dara and Krishnanagar localities in Mirik, the entire land that makes up seven other wards of Mirik belongs to Thurbo tea estate. The state government has already completed a survey to grant land rights to the residents.

Mirik has 8,875 voters and land rights has always been a major issue for Mirik residents. The Chief Minister's announcement propelled the party that hardly had any support base in Mirik to its present stature of winning the elections, feel political observers.

The TMC won in wards 2, 3, 5, 7, 8 and 9 while wards 1, 4 and 6 were retained by the GJM. Former Municipal Chairman L B Rai is projected as the Chairman of the Mirik municipality by the TMC. "People have voted for change and development. We will strive hard to live up to their expectations," stated Rai.

Mirik is a major tourist attraction with the lake as the pivot. The lake and its surroundings are in a deplorable condition. Other problems are the sewage system of Mirik and potable drinking water. With no proper sewage system most of the liquid and solid wastes get emptied into the lake resulting in contamination and siltation.

"We will work for the beautification of the surrounding areas of the lake and also a proper sewerage system" stated Rai. Mirik switched onto celebration mode with the TMC victory. TMC supporters sang and danced on the streets and burst crackers. "People have reposed their faith in us and we will live up to our commitments," assured Rajen Mukhia, president, Darjeeling District TMC (Hills).

GJM insiders blame choice of candidates as their defeat in Mirik along with infighting. Many disgruntled GJM supporters who did not manage to secure party tickets had contested as Independent candidates. These Independents gnawed into the GJM support base acting as the final nail in the coffin for the GJM. Interestingly, while the GJM fought on the Gorkhaland plank, the TMC emerged victorious on the land rights issue.

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