All-party delegation from W Bengal meets Patil

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New Delhi, Jan 21 (UNI) A 27-member all-party delegation from the West Bengal State Legislative assembly, led by the Parliamentary Affairs Minister Sailen Sarkar, today called on the Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil and Union Minister of State for Commerce Jairam Ramesh and apprised them of two important issues involving the State.

Later briefing newsmen here Mr Sarkar said during their meeting with the Home Minister, they have requested him to ensure that the amended bill about the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) get the Parliament's approval during the coming budget session.

He said, ''Mr Patil has assured us that if the bill comes back from the Standing Committee, after they make their full studies, then it will be placed in the first session itself for the approval of the Parliament to fasten the process of DGHC induction in the sixth schedule of the Constitution.'' The delegation met the Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Ministry of Home Affairs Ms Sushma Swaraj and the other members of the committee and requested them to expediate the matter.

The inclusion of the DGHC in the sixth schedule becomes very important for the security of the country as there were demands for the creation of Greater Sikkim as well as that of Greater Nepal by various vested groups which would be dangerous for the country, he added.

Later West Bengal's Urban Development Minister Ashok Bhattacharjee said earlier in the day the delegation has called on Mr Ramesh and urged him for the reopening and speedy revival of the closed tea gardens of North Bengal.

He said out of the 300 tea gardens of the Dooars, North Bengal and Darjeeling areas, 14 gardens are closed and despite his personal assurance, nothing has been done towards the reopening of these tea gardens.

The delegation has urged the Centre while announcing any package for the reopening and revival of these tea gardens, they should take care of the plight of the 22,000 workers, who are now on the roads following the closure of these tea gardens.

The delegation has also requested the Centre to keep a close monitoring on the utilisation of the funds so that the proposed central package funds cannot be siphoned out by the owners of these tea gardens.

Mr Bhattacharjee said in this context, the delegation has proposed a monitoring committee comprising local MPs, MLAs trade union leaders, State Governemnt representatives, representatives of the tea garden owners and a representative from the Central Government.

Mr Ramesh had complained that the tea gardens were closed mainly due to the fault of the tea garden owners, he added.

Mr Ramesh apprised that the Center had already initiated move for the reopening as well as for the revival of these tea gardens and shortly six to seven tea gardens cases would be sorted out in that regard and the rest would follow thereafter, Mr Bhattacharjee added.

Later the Congress Legislative Party (CLP) leader, Dr Manas Bhuiya said except the Trinamool Congress, members from all other parties have joined this all party delegation.

In a democratic process, all political parties should join hands for the welfare and development of their respective state, he added.

The delegation wanted to meet External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee here. However, in view of his hectic schedule the meeting was held at Kolkata yesterday, prior coming to Delhi and the minister assured full support on those issues and also advised the delegation on various other issues, he added.


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