West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday ruled out division of the state while announcing a flurry of development projects for Darjeeling hills.
"As long as I live, I will help Darjeeling and the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) but I will not allow Darjeeling to separate from West Bengal," the chief minister said inaugurating a tourism festival at the Mall.
"Darjeeling's economy is greatly dependent on tourism and a master plan for tourism development is under preparation which will come off shortly," she said flanked by top Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leaders, including its president Bimal Gurung.
Pointing out that the Centre gave a special grant to North-Eastern states, she said Darjeeling should also be considered for such a facility.
Pointing out that she had visited the hills thrice in the last four months, the last being for signing of the tripartite agreement for the GTA, Banerjee said the Centre, her government and GJM would work together for the development of Darjeeling hills.
Referring to the GTA agreement signed in July paving the way for formation of a regional autonomous administrative authority for Darjeeling with more financial and executive powers, she said "GTA is designed for peace and development in the hills."
She accused the previous Left Front government of ignoring the development of the hills in the last 30 years.
Referring to the recent earthquake that caused severe damage to roads and buildings in Darjeeling hills, the chief minister said she had written to the Centre for assistance of Rs 495 crore as disaster management fund to cope with the situation.
"I will write for an additional Rs 500 crore," Banerjee said.