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HindustanTimes Thu,17 Apr 2014

Mamata Banerjee spends night at former Maoist hub to woo visitors

Koushik Dutta, Hindustan Times  Purulia, September 24, 2013
First Published: 10:18 IST(24/9/2013) | Last Updated: 10:21 IST(24/9/2013)

In her efforts to encourage tourists to visit Ayodhya Hills, a former Maoist stronghold, and convince them that peace now prevails in the area, chief minister Mamata Banerjee, along with some ministers and senior bureaucrats, has decided to spend Monday night at a guesthouse there.

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Earlier in the day, Mamata held a meeting at the zilla parishad and according to sources would attend and address a rally at Laharia under Baghmundi on Tuesday.

Despite the claims of the administration and the police that the Ayodhya Hills is now relatively safe, security arrangements were tightened in the area in light of the chief minister’s visit.

Many years back, before the area became a Maoist stronghold, it used to be a favourite tourist destination.

The innumerable trees and the natural beauty of the Ayodhya Hills contributed to its popularity but things began changing as the Maoists started making their presence felt.

Though it is now considered to be safe, the chief minister will be staying there to help address the people’s misgivings.

Despite the chief minister’s claims that several projects have been undertaken for the development of the tourism sector in Ayodhya Hills and Rs. 4.80 crore has been allotted for this purpose, many roads in the area are in very bad condition.

Earlier in the day, Mamata held a meeting at the zilla parishad complex, which was attended by some ministers and MLAs from her party.

This is the first time that the chief minister visited the zilla parishad after the Trinamool came to power.

She announced that a special drive would be launched beginning Nov 5 (till Nov 30) and unemployed adults would get work under the 100-days scheme implemented in rural areas.

Criticising the central government for failing to fulfil electricity requirements in the district, Mamata said the state government would take the initiative to provide facilities for continuous power.

It was also decided that a new engineering college, an ITI, two new colleges, a trauma care centre, a new campus for the Birsa Munda university would be set up in the district.

The chief minister also said that onion would be cultivated in Purulia and Bankura.

The government is also planning to set up an institute for the development of lac cultivation and Rs. 1 crore had been allotted for it.

Though Mamata refused to comment on the problems facing the DVC power plant in Raghunathpur, she promised that the area would be developed as an industrial town.

“We have also started to allot land for setting up industries and 500 acres have been allotted for small scale industries there,” Mamata said.

Later, she said, “We have allotted Rs. 4.80 crore for the tourist circuit. New cottages and youth hostels would be set up there as well as in Jaychandi hills.” She also offered puja at the Kalyaneshwari Temple in Asansol.

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