IN A bid to make residents of enclaves in Cooch Behar more “self dependent”, North Bengal Development Minister Rabindranath Ghosh on Monday said that solar-based water pumping units would be set up in the 51 enclaves that had become a part of India last year, following the historic exchange of land between India and Bangladesh.
“The step is aimed at making people in the enclaves self dependent. The project is a brainchild of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and the irrigation department has taken the necessary initiatives to ensure that people benefit as much as possible from the scheme,” Ghosh said.
He added: “Most importantly, residents in these areas will not have to pay for this. They can use the solar power unit and have an uninterrupted supply of power.”
“People residing in areas adjacent to the enclaves will also be benefit, since water channelised using these units will could be used for cultivation of crops in their fields,” said the minister.
Officials said these units would lead to “augmentation of profit”, essential for improving the standard of living of enclave residents. “In the first phase, 212 units will be set up in these enclaves. Each of these units cost around Rs 9 lakh and have the capacity to channelise water across 80 to 100 bighas. Once completed, in the first phase, 6,360 families will benefit,” said an official.
Officials added that apart from channelising water for irrigation of agricultural land, the solar pumps can also be used to fill low lands to form initial units for pisiculture, which would also be supported by the government.
The residents of the enclaves, while welcoming the move, alleged that a number of problems remained unsolved over the past year, in spite of repeated assurances from the state government. “Food continues to be a problem. As is education of our children. A number of our children have not been issued the right papers and they have lost time due to this. Moreover, many of them have lost out in the change, since the education system here is completely different,” said Montu Burman, a enclave resident.