Sonada and Sukhia Pokhari in Darjeeling Hills should have declared municipalities

Former state urban development minister Asok Bhatacharya today questioned the exclusion of Jaigaon, Atharokhai, Birpara and Karimpur in the list of 22 new municipalities the state government announced yesterday. He said the state government selected the other places to “gain political advantage.”

Asok Bhatacharya
Asok Bhatacharya

“The Left Front government had earlier already decided to declare 16 of the 22 new areas as municipalities. So actually, the state government yesterday announced only six new municipalities.

It, however, excluded four areas–Jaigaon, Atharokhai, Birpara and Karimpur. Rapid urbanization has taken place in Jaigoan and Atharokhai in the past few years, while commercial activities have gone up in Jaigaon.”

“There are several important educational institutions–North Bengal Medical College and Hospital, North Bengal University, BEd colleges and at least seven high schools in Atharokhai (near Siliguri). It is beyond our understanding why these places were not included in the list,” Mr Bhattacharya told a Press meet here today.

According to him, the state government declared only six new municipalities–Gazole, Buniadpur, Tarapith, Mallarpur, Baxirhat and Thakurnagar.

“The government should have declared Sonada and Sukhia Pokhari in Darjeeling Hills as municipalities. The Gorkhaland Territorial Administration should have recommended this to the state government,” he said.

Mr Bhattacharya added that the state government has failed to prepare a policy on urban development.

“It seems that the state government announced the municipalities in all those places to gain political mileage. It left out those areas where it thought gaining such political mileage was difficult.

Three years since the TMC government in the state, it still does not have any vision,” he added.
Talking about the withdrawal of a proposal to grant tribal status to 10 communities in Darjeeling Hills, Mr Bhattacharya said it was the “state government’s move for political interests.”

“It (proposal) was a political stunt ahead of the Lok Sabha polls. The government did it for politics of vote bank,” he said.


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