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FALAKATA: Chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday issued 4,611 house allotment orders to workers spread across 12 tea gardens in Alipurduar, Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling, living up to a promise she made last year to those who didn’t have dwelling units.

In a region where Trinamool Congress suffered a rout in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, Banerjee also announced her government’s decision to bring Falakata and Mainaguri under municipalities.

The CM reached out to Falakata — having a heavy presence of Adivasi tea garden workers and Rajbanshis — a day after Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman proposed a Rs 1,000 crore welfare fund for tea garden workers in Bengal and Assam. She also attended a mass marriage ceremony of 450 Adivasi couples as part of a community policing programme.

“Many have made promises about tea gardens. We are not like others. We keep the promise we make. I had kept Rs 500 crore for setting up dwelling units for tea garden workers. Today, I am giving you the housing allotment orders,” she said.

The 12 tea gardens where workers got the allotment are Mujnai, Rahimpur, Lankapara, Dheklapara, Red Bank, Torsa, Dharanipur, Manabari, Sukna, Gayaganga, Grassmore and Atal.

Addressing the gathering at Falakata, Banerjee said: “There are many BJP MPs in north Bengal. Have they done anything for you? BJP leaders had promised to open seven closed tea gardens ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. They disappeared after the elections were over. On the contrary, we have opened nine tea gardens.”

The CM then narrated her government’s achievements for north Bengal, including setting up of state secretariat Uttarkanya and the Rajbanshi Development Board.

“We have banned transfer of Adivasi land. This government is the government of Adivasis, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and poor tea garden workers. We have written to the Centre for recognition of Sarna religion of the Adivasis. Wages of tea garden workers have increased from Rs 67 to Rs 200 during our tenure,” she added.

Banerjee iterated her government’s decision to announce state holidays on the birthdays of Adivasi icons Birsa Munda and Raghunath Murmu, Rajbanshi icon Panchanan Barma and Matua guru Harichand Thakur. “We have named the second campus of Cooch Behar University after Panchanan Barma. The government has also introduced a certificate course on Rajbanshi language. As many as 52,000 students are pursuing the course.”

She also told the gathering how her government has arranged for free rations under Khadya Sathi and free treatment up to Rs 5 lakh annually under Swasthya Sathi. After her speech, the chief minister danced with a group of Adivasi women to the beatings of dhamsa.



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