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PMO reviews development programmes for Darjeeling Hills

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Ways of speeding up existing and undertaking new development schemes pertaining to industrial infrastructure, medical and educational institutions, health care facilities and improving connectivity and drinking water facilities in the Darjeeling Hills were discussed at a high level meeting in the Prime Minister's Office here yesterday.

The meeting was chaired by Mr T K A Nair, Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, and was attended by Secretaries and senior officials of the Departments of Industrial Promotion and Policy, Health and Family Welfare, Drinking Water Supply, Higher Education, Road Transport and Highways and Tourism.

The meeting noted that presently subsidy to the tune of 75% of cost of transportation of raw material and finished goods to and from the location of the unit and designated rail head is available for Darjeeling district. The Government of India will support any such proposal of the State Government to set up industrial infrastructure and clusters in Darjeeling.

Currently 44, out of 600 sanctioned, rural water supply schemes are under implementation in the district.

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The meeting ws told that 91 % of the rural population, the entire scheduled caste population and 78% of scheduled tribe population of Darjeeling district is covered with safe drinking water. Only 88 habitations, out of 1689 habitations are not covered with safe and adequate drinking water. In order to reassess the requirement of drinking water in Darjeeling, the government has asked for a report from the state government, an official press release said.

It said the Government of India will sanction grant for all such schemes that are required for full coverage of safe drinking water. It was also noted that there is acute water shortage in Darjeeling town. A Rs 56 crore double stage pumping project is nearing completion for supply of 9 million litres of water to the town.

Darjeeling has one 100 seat medical college. Government of India will support all efforts of the state government or any private agency which decides to set up another medical college in Darjeeling, provided all Medical Council of India norms are fulfilled, the release said.

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With regard to imparting non-formal need-based training in various trades and transfer of viable technologies especially to the weaker sections of the society so as to generate self/wage employment opportunities, a scheme of Community Development through Polytechnics is being run at the Polytechnics at Kurseong and Siliguri. In order to enhance enrolment of women in polytechnic education, a one-time financial assistance of Rs 50 lakh has been provided for construction of women's hostel at Siliguri Polytechnic.

The central government will provide partial financial assistance to strengthen and upgrade the two existing polytechnics in the district, the release said.

The Detailed Project Report for two-Ianing of NH 55 will be prepared within a month and the project will be taken up under the aegis of the World Bank. The work is likely to be completed in 3-4 years. In view of extensive damage to the National Highway, Rs 4 crore have been approved for permanent restoration of the affected stretch.

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In order to encourage tourism in Darjeeling, a total amount of about Rs 32 crore has been sanctioned by the Government of India for Darjeeling. With the completion of these projects, the tourism industry will get a very positive boost. Any other proposal of the State Government for enhancing tourism in the district will be extended financial support.

Government of India will also resolve all issues pertaining to the introduction of Pahar Kanya luxury train, the release added.

NNN

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