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3 Aug 2017

Mamata talks of development projects for tribals

Mamata inaugurates an auditorium at Uttarkanya in Siliguri on Wednesday. Picture by Passang Yolmo
Avijit Sinha, TT, Siliguri, Aug. 2: Mamata Banerjee today said the Bengal government was working on a number of projects for the socio-economic development of the adivasis in north Bengal and in other parts of the state.
The chief minister's focus on the tribal development is seen as an attempt to win the favour of the community at a time Trinamul is fast losing the support of Gorkhas in the wake of the renewed statehood movement in the hills.
Today, Mamata held a meeting of the Tribal Advisory Council, of which she is the chairperson, at Uttarkanya here and left for Calcutta in the afternoon.
"We held a meeting of the Tribal Advisory Council today. The previous meeting was held in March. We have discussed several issues pertaining to the development of the tribal population of our state. Such works will continue," the chief minister told journalists at Uttarkanya.
"Over 45,000 pattas (secured land tenures) have been issued to tribal people. The state government has also developed around 200 community plots of the tribals and fenced them in different areas of the state, she added.
After the meeting, Mamata formally published a trilingual dictionary of the alchiki language, spoken by the Santhal tribal community.
"We had taken the task of preparing a dictionary on the alchiki language. Researchers have contributed to the work and the book is finally ready. We published it today," Mamata said.
According to administrative sources, the dictionary is the first-of-its-kind and has been prepared by the state backward classes welfare department,.
"The dictionary has around 24,550 alchiki words with their meanings in Bengali and English," a source said.
The chief minister didn't take any question from journalists on the situation in the hills.
Political analysts said the fresh impetus given by Mamata to the tribal development points to the chief minister's bid to retain the adivasis' support base.
"During her earlier visits, she had always made some announcements for the hills. It was either creation of development boards for hill communities or launch of new projects. This is the first time in recent years that the chief minister did not speak on the hills during her visit to north Bengal. Today, she only spoke about the state's initiatives for the development of the tribals," an observer said.
This change, he said, is because of the ongoing agitation in hills.
"Since 2011, she has taken several decisions like creation of development boards, allocation of funds for development projects and formation of the new Kalimpong district and the Mirik subdivision. The chief minister always tried to prove that the state government was concerned about the hills and intended to work for its development. However, such initiatives did not eventually work and the movement for the statehood has renewed in the hills," the observer said.
"Trinamul has been losing support in the hills in a consistent manner for the past one-and-half months. That is why, it seems, the chief minister is now focussing on the tribal population in the vast stretches of the Dooars and Terai, located in the foothills. The idea is to retain the support base of the tribal people by putting emphasis on their development," the observer said.
Today, sources said the chief minister had taken stock of the current situation in the hills. Senior police officers, who were posted in north Bengal after violence erupted in the hills, were present at Uttarkanya today.
Ministers Rabindranath Ghosh, Gautam Deb and James Kujur were also present at the meeting.

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