West Bengal CM allots over 4,600 houses to tea garden’ workers – ET RealEstate

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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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West Bengal to regularise all colonies on central, private land – ET RealEstate

KOLKATA: The state cabinet on Tuesday approved a proposal to regularise all refugee colonies set up on land owned by the Centre and private agencies across Bengal in the past four decades.

The objective is to ensure that these settlers get land pattas and can avail of various licences and facilities extended by the state government, which has already regularised colonies on its land.

“The cabinet has decided to recognise all refugee colonies. We have already regularised 94 and given away related documents to the owners. We are looking at refugees from Kakdwip and Namkhana to Darjeeling. At least 119 are under process and plot by plot are being handed over to the owners,” chief minister Mamata Banerjee said after the meeting.

The state government has already given pattas (long-term settlement rights on government land) to 3.5 lakh families since it came to power in 2011

In Bengal, there are 94 refugee colonies on state land and 237 such colonies on central government and private land, where some 1.5 lakh families, who had crossed over from Bangladesh 40-50 years ago, reside. The state regularised the 94 colonies on its own land last fiscal.

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Four sections of crucial Kolkata Metro links likely to be operational in two years – ET RealEstate

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KOLKATA: Chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s vision of snarl-free city commute via multiple Metro links in two years seems to be matching RVNL’s deadlines. At least four sections of some crucial Metro corridors are likely to be operational within the above time frame.

Now that the Majerhat bridge construction is out of the way, Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL) is trying to expedite construction of Phase 1 or the 8.5km Joka-Taratala stretch. If all goes well, the truncated stretch will commissioned by 2021 end.

Simultaneously, work is being speedily executed for Phase 2 or the 2km Taratala-Mominpur section so that commuters could use the Metro from Joka to Mominpur by December 2022. “This Metro corridor is Mamata Banerjee’s pet project. She had flagged it in July 2011 and conceived it when she was railway minister in 2009-10,” a senior RVNL official said.

The Joka-Esplanade Metro route running alongside the bridge posed a challenge for the Majerhat bridge construction, especially since the initial design of the bridge, which was made 28m wide, overlapped with the alignment Metro. Even after the issue was sorted out and bridge’s width reduced to 22m and its central line shifted to make room for the Metro station’s pillars, PWD had asked RVNL to limit construction till the pillars because the entry and exits of the Majerhat station “infringed” on the new bridge. The Metro station construction started last month with the foundation work.

Construction of the Metro four pillars adjacent the bridge started in February, this year. RVNL chose to engage SP Singla, the Haryana-based company constructing Majerhat bridge, to build the piers next to the bridge “to avoid any dispute.”

RVNL is also trying very hard to complete the truncated Ruby section of the New Garia-Airport Metro by December 2021. The 5km stretch between the terminal Kavi Subhas station and the Ruby crossing (Hemanta Mukherjee station) is currently undergoing ballast-less track laying.

Finally, and the most imminent Metro project: The 4km extension to Dakshineswar that is awaiting an inspection for the Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS). The Dakshineswar Metro is likely to be operational next month.

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Infosys to start work for its IT hub in Kolkata in July 2021: West Bengal CM – ET RealEstate

KOLKATA: IT giant Infosys would commence work at Rajarhat New Town from July 2021 for its maiden project in the state and will complete it in two years, chief minister Mamata Banerjee said on Tuesday.

“I had sent them a letter about the project and Infosys has replied. It will get final approval for the project this month only,” Banerjee said, adding that Wipro, too, has committed to invest for a second campus in the state.

At the foundation stone-laying ceremony of the Bengal Silicon Valley Hub by the chief minister on August 13, 2018, Infosys had officially announced the commencement of work on its new software development centre in Kolkata, but it did not disclose any date. The IT bellwether had an initial plan of Rs 100 crore investment in the 5,25,000-sq ft New Town hub with the creation of around 1,000 engineering jobs.

Both Wipro and Infosys have been offered the ‘free-hold’ status for the land parcel in Rajarhat. The IT duo was given 50 acres each in New Town.

Besides these two mega projects, Banerjee added that cabinet has approved an additional 100 acres for Silicon Hub in the second phase. “Now, there are 100 acres for the state silicon hub already and the major part of the land parcel has already been booked. We have got 20 more applications for land in the hub,” she said while chairing a cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

Last year, the CM had announced that IT heavyweight Wipro was all set to begin work for its second campus in the state following Infosys’s 2017 decision to invest here. Wipro’s total investment for its 10,000-employee-strong new campus was pegged at Rs 500 crore.

Wipro, unlike Infosys, had set up its first campus in Salt Lake Sector V in 2005-06 during the Left Front regime. Both Infosys and Wipro have been sitting on their allotted plots in Rajarhat-New Town for around a decade, for which they had paid Rs 75 crore each. The state cabinet had allowed the IT giants to use 49% of the plot for whatever purpose it deemed fit after using the remaining 51% for its core IT operations. The sop was the biggest till date given to an IT-sector investor in Bengal.

In response to the demand for an SEZ tag for their Rajarhat land, the Bengal CM had been categorically telling IT bigwigs that her government would offer “everything else but an SEZ status” to any industrial unit interested in Bengal.

“The company got the land on November 18, 2011, for IT-related work on 75% of the land on 99 years’ renewable lease,” state higher education minister Partha Chatterjee had said in 2017.

Salil Parekh, CEO and MD, Infosys, had said: “I would like to thank CM Mamata Banerjee for giving Infosys a unique opportunity to be a part of this prestigious project, and further strengthen our presence across the country.”

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