Alipurduar becomes Bengal's 20th district

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Wednesday formally declared Alipurduar as the state's 20th district, carved out by bifurcating Jalpaiguri district.

Amid a festive atmosphere in this northern West Bengal town, a cake was cut and enthusiastic people blew conchshells and ululated at the official function marking the creation of the new district.

Several ministers, elected representatives, officials, leaders of various political parties and eminent people were present on the occasion.

Banerjee said her government would lay stress on developing tourism sector in Alipurduar, which comprises eight blocks - Alipurduar, Shamuktala, Kumargram, Falakata, Birpara, Kalchini, Jaigaon and Madarihat.

"We seek advice from several business houses and chambers on ways to boost tourism here," she said.

The Banerjee government decided to form the new district to expedite services for the people. Alice Vaz has taken over as Alipurduar's first district magistrate and Anup Jaiswal as the new police chief.

Of the 17 police stations of erstwhile Jalpaiguri district, nine will remain in Jalpaiguri while the other eight will now be under Alipurduar.

Banerjee said the bifurcation was a long standing demand of people of the district.

"Alipurduar now consists of tourist destinations like Jayanti, Rajabhatkhawa, Jaldapara, Chilapata among others," she said, adding June 25 would be celebrated as Alipurduar Divas from now on.

Banerjee also announced plans to start chopper services in the district to increase accessibility.

"People used to mock me when I said north Bengal can become Switzerland. We are developing infrastructure here," she said.