Darjeeling: Investment proposals worth over Rs 1,500 crore were received in the two-day Hill Business Summit that concluded here on Wednesday, said West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
“My industry friends held discussions and agreed to investment over Rs 1,500 crore in the Darjeeling region. There are so many areas like agriculture, eco-tourism, tea, transport, horticulture, medicinal plants, orchids, home stay tourism where we can work better,” Banerjee said in the concluding session of the summit in this north Bengal hill town.
Describing the first ever business summit here as a “positive step”, she said it would give a boost to the economy.
The Chief Minister said the hill development body Gorkhaland Territorial Administration and the state government, besides the local people have worked hand in hand to make the summit a success.
She said while Darjeeling was an international tourist spot, tourism related industries were never nurtured in the places like Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Kurseong and Mirik.
Banerjee said the Luxmi Group, that owns the Makaibari Tea Estate, has agreed to pump in Rs 300 crore at Makaibari and Matigara.
She said the Keventer Group has also expressed its willingness to invest in the region.
The Confederation of Indian Industries has prepared a plan, the final version of which they would submit soon.
Banerjee said an education hub would come up in Kurseong, where the Presidency University is setting up its Himalayan Centre.
“Our target is to help the people of Darjeeling, Kurseong, Kalimpong and Mirik, especially the young people, to get employment,” she said.
The Chief Minister announced that a folk art centre would be built in Mirik, a future cultural hub.
“There are great opportunities for food processing, hotel, dairy and aquarium, orchids, eco-tourism, medicinal plants and agro-industries,” she said.
Three hundred youths from the north Bengal hills would be recruited as state police home guard soon.
In an indirect reference to the history of violence and disruptions like strikes and shutdowns related to the movement of a separate Gorkhaland state that has impacted the economy of the northern Bengal hills for decades, the Chief Minister urged all to maintain peace.
“Don’t be afraid. Let us all work together to take Darjeeling forward. Remember, the abundant resources that you have here, is enough to produce good results provided they are utilised properly. If we are on the right track, no one can pressurise us,” she said.
“Remember, Delhi is far off, we are all part of Bengal,” she said, perhaps alluding to the recurring instances of pro-Gorkhaland leaders turning to Delhi for support during crisis situations in the region.
Banerjee alleged that whenever the economy picks up in Darjeeling, “there is a game to push the region back. This should not happen”.
“We don’t want anything from Darjeeling, except peace”.