A new district of Kalimpong was on Tuesday carved out of Darjeeling, which has seen separate statehood demands since 1980s, with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee making the formal announcement in Kalimpong. Announcing a slew of development projects for the newly created district at a colourful ceremony, Banerjee said “a Rs 220 crore road link project will be taken up to connect Kalimpong with Sikkim via the old Silk Route.”
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She said a Rs 50 crore water supply project by the public health engineering department will be taken up soon to address Kalimpong’s water scarcity problem.
Darjeeling Hills has been witness to violent statehood movements since 1986 under the leadership of Subhas Ghising and after a few years’ thaw, again under Bimal Gurung, the present chief executive of Gorkhaland Territorial Administration, in a bid to break away from West Bengal.
While Subhas Ghising-led Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) had got the West Bengal government to set up the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC), the Bimal Gurung-led Gorkha Janmukti Morcha’s agitation had set the ball rolling for replacing DGHC with the present Gorkhaland Territorial Administration, a local governing body with certain powers.
“I urge all people in the Hills to live peacefully and not pay heed to any attempt of igniting violence,” Banerjee said while referring to the burning down of forest and other government bungalows at Tagdah, Kalimpong and some other places in the Hills.
“We have rebuild the Tagdah bungalow and others. We will ensure all-round development of the Hills,” she said after announcing the creation of the state’s 21st district.
“Lepchas, Gurungs, Bhutias and all others are living together, we want you to light up diyas (lamps) of peace,” she said.
“We are celebrating Kalimpong Day on Valentine’s Day,” the Chief Minister said in a lighter tone.
“After the formation of GTA, I set up several boards in the Hills for better development and all are working well,” Banerjee said adding, “The new district has been formed for ensuring better development.”