CM's hill progress pitch

Siliguri, Jan. 31: Mamata Banerjee today said that even though her government was "short of funds", she was trying her best to continue development work.

"Even though we are running short of funds, we are trying out best to carry out development work for people in the state. I am repeatedly making trips to north Bengal to expedite this process. We have a full-fledged ministry with Gautam Deb who is here constantly. Added to that, I also visit the region on a regular basis and intend to come again in March or April," the chief minister said.

She also elaborated on development work taken up in Darjeeling and said the state had obtained funds from the Centre for NH55, the principal highway connecting Darjeeling with Siliguri which is partially closed between Kurseong and Siliguri since June 2010 because of landslides at Paglajhora and Tindharia.

"We have obtained Rs 80 crore from the Centre for the highway. Similar funds have been obtained for two other stretches of highways in Cooch Behar and Jalpaiguri districts," Mamata said.

For Siliguri and north Bengal, she mentioned two projects ' a Rs 2,500-crore tourism project at Gazoldoba and the already announced Film City.

"Tenders have been floated for Gazoldoba and soon we will start work for the Film City. These projects altogether will change the economy of Siliguri," she said.

"We are planning to develop tourist destinations in Kurseong, Kalimpong and Mirik as Darjeeling is getting crowded these days," she said.

"We visited Algara (in Kalimpong) yesterday and intend to develop it as another tourist spot like Lamahatta. A slight disturbance in the hills will reduce the inflow of tourists and hit the local population hard. None of us, we feel, wants the development of Darjeeling to stop and see that industries like tourism suffer again," Mamata said.