Kolkata, Aug 8 (IANS) West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday said that to date, the total estimated loss due to the ongoing indefinite shutdown in the Darjeeling hills has been pegged at around Rs 550 crore.
“The total estimated loss, including the damage to government property and loss of revenue due to shutdown of tea gardens, tourism and transport in Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts, amounts to Rs 550 crore,” she said in the assembly.
Making a statement on the Darjeeling unrest in the House, she said the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha had called for an indefinite shutdown in Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts from June 12, 2017, and ever since, common people in the hills had been facing hardships.
“GJM’s movement just before the expiry of the tenure of the GTA (Gorkhaland Territorial Administration – the Darjeeling hills development body) is siginificant,” she said.
CPI-M legislator Ashok Bhattacharya blamed the state government and the Chief Minister for raising the language issue in the hills and also said that the situation became worse after that.
Banerjee criticised the CPI-M for “fishing in trouble waters” and praised the Congress for not politicising the issue.
She also blamed the CPI-M for misleading the House on the language issue.
Banerjee’s comment irked the Left members and they walked out of the assembly.
Congress MLA Shankar Malakar said time had come for all political parties and the central government to arrive at a solution.
Banerjee said Chief Secretary had convened a meeting but the GJM did not attend it.
The state government is willing to have talks with political parties in the hills only when violence is stopped and the ongoing strike withdrawn.
Banerjee appealed to all hill parties to shun violence and restore normalcy in the region, so that common people could get a respite from the problems they had been facing due to the agitation.
Voicing her love for the north Bengal hills, the Trinamool Congress supremo said it would continue to be part of West Bengal, and declared she would stop any division of the state even at the cost of her life.
Banerjee also said she would not allow any “external force” to instigate attempts to divide the state.
She has been claiming that the Centre was fuelling the agitation in north Bengal hills.