Mamata Banerjee hands over a cheque to a Lepcha elderly man as Trinamool Rajya Sabha MP Shanta Chhetri (2nd left) looks on. At Kalimpong.
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Siliguri: Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today cautioned the community development boards of Darjeeling Hills to maintain transparency while spending the funds allotted by the government.

“Keep in mind that this is people’s money. Maintain transparency in spending and get the accounts audited at regular intervals,” she told a joint review meeting of the 15 community development boards at Graham’s School Ground at Kalimpong today noon.

Although the Chief Minister did not make any specific reference, the cautionary words came against the backdrop of alleged mishandling of funds by the Kami Development Board.

She said that there will be no dearth of funds of the boards work in a transparent manner for the development of the Hills.

“The better you work, the more funds you will get,” she said while handing over cheques worth Rs 96-crore to the 15 boards to carry out development activities in the Hills. Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) officiating chairman Binay Tamang and state PWD minister Aroop Biswas were present on the occasion.

The Chief Minister urged people to realise that tourism is the mainstay of Darjeeling Hills and all sections must steer clear of calling wildcat strikes that inconveniences the tourists.

“Forget everything bitter that has happened in the past. The Hills must move forward with a renewed zeal. The Hills must become self-sufficient on its own strengths and should not rely on doles,” she said.

Banerjee, who is on a four-day visit to the Hills, will on Wednesday chair a review meeting of the development activities of GTA and the Hill Area Development Committee.

On 31 May, she will distribute land titles to 300 families living in the forest villages of Darjeeling Hills under the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006. The Chief Minister will fly back to Kolkata on 1 June.