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9 Jun 2017

Secretariat promise for hills

TT, Darjeeling, June 8: Mamata Banerjee today held a "historic" meeting with her cabinet colleagues in the hills, the first since one by the Siddhartha Shankar Roy government in the 1970s, and announced a slew of decisions that included setting up a state secretariat in the region.
Thirty-one ministers and senior government officials attended the 45-minute meeting in Darjeeling's Raj Bhavan this afternoon, minutes before the unrest fuelled by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha.
"This was a truly historic meeting. A cabinet meeting took place here for the first time in 45 years.... It is indeed a historic occasion and we have taken the decision to hold two cabinet meetings in the hills and two in Jungle Mahal every year," she said, before rolling out a list of key decisions she had taken.
Mamata said the cabinet had approved a new state secretariat in Darjeeling, adjacent to the circuit house complex. This is the second such initiative in north Bengal after Uttarkanya in Siliguri.
"To fulfil the long-standing demand of the people of the hills and to give more thrust on development in the area, we have taken a decision to set up a new West Bengal state secretariat in Darjeeling. The new building will be named Tenzing Norgay Bhavan," she said.
In response to a query on the decision to make Bengali compulsory in schools, one of the issues behind the Morcha agitation, Mamata said: "This is being totally misinterpreted. There is no such compulsion. Students of the hills can study whatever languages they like. Bengali has not been made compulsory for them."
In response to a question on whether she thought the agitation was backed by Morcha ally BJP, she said: "Yes, of course.... They are being provoked by the BJP."

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