Turning the Alipurduar sub-division into a district was a long standing demand of the people and they would immensely benefit from the move, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said at a function here. She said since the district headquarters of Jalpaiguri was far away, the people of Alipurduar sub-division faced hardships in availing government services and had to spend long hours travelling to and from the district headquarters which was over a 100 km away.
Alipurduar has a large concentration of Adivasi people and has around 70 tea gardens, the Chief Minister said adding the state government would lay emphasis on tea tourism, besides improving small scale industries there. Banerjee warned against any divisive politics which might threaten the peace in the Hills and plains and reiterated her stand against any division of Bengal.
Without naming the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, which wanted a separate Gorkhaland, she said "Let the people living in the plains and the Hills remain happy. Darjeeling Hills are smiling and Tarai and Dooars are also smiling." The Mamata Banerjee-government had decided to create a number of new districts and Alipurduar was one of them.
Jalpaiguri was carved out as a district way back in 1869 and seven years later the Alipurduar sub-division was set up. In the recent Lok Sabha elections, Trinamool Congress had decimated the Left in North Bengal, a region traditionally considered a stronghold of the Left Front and the Congress.
The election results also showed that TMC, which so far had a grip on South Bengal only, had firmed up its presence in North Bengal as well. Trinamool had wrested four Lok Sabha seats from the Left in North Bengal including Alipurduar, Jalpaiguri, Coochbehar and Balurghat and it was the first time the TMC had won any Lok Sabha seat in the region.
Ever since coming to power, Banerjee had stressed on redrawing the district map, with significant tribal and minority populations, to avail more central funds for development. Jalpaiguri was among 11 districts in West Bengal under the ambit of the Backward Regions Grant Fund scheme and Rashtriya Sram Vikas Yojana.
The Chief Minister announced that the new District Magistrate of Alipurduar would be Alias Vez and the new Superintendent of the Police would be Anup Jaiswal. Banerjee also asked the members of the local chamber of commerce to meet the new DM and SP and give suggestions on industrial prospects of the district and send a detailed report to her at the earliest.
Earlier addressing the function, Banerjee said "We will see if we can launch helicopter services from Alipurduar district". "People used to mock me when I said North Bengal can become Switzerland. We are developing infrastructure here," she said. Alipurduar now consists of tourist destinations like Jayanti, Rajabhatkhawa, Jaldapara, Chilapata among others," she added.