Kalimpong Farmers’ Welfare Association demands three-tire panchayat election

The Kalimpong Farmers’ Welfare Association (Kalimpong Krishak Kalyan Sangathan ) has demanded for a three-tire panchayat elections in the hills for the benefit of the rural populace. Association secretary Vishnu Chettri said the state government has neglected the rural areas of the hills from even providing the basic developments and is surprised the different political parties in the hills have done nothing about it.

Kalimpong Krishak Kalyan Sangathan (KKKS)
Kalimpong Krishak Kalyan Sangathan

Chettri claimed the rural people have not been provided with any benefits by the district administration despite the formation of Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC ) or the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA). “The tree-tire panchayat election started in the hills during the 80s, but DGHC and GTA discarded it after they were formed,” he informed.

The Panchayat Raj system in West Bengal started in 1973 and the main intension behind starting the system was for the development of the rural areas, Chettri said. Despite having passed the regulation in 1973, the first panchayat elections in the state were held only in 1978. In Darjeeling too the first three-tire panchayat elections were held in 1978 and 1983. However, with the rise of GNLF and the ensuing 28 month statehood agitation in 1986, the panchayat system was dissolved in the hills. “After the agitations ended and the DGHC was formed in 1988 after a tripartite meeting with the state, centre and GNLF with the aim of developing the hills. But, despite having a legal presence of panchayat samiti not a single panchayat election has been held in any of the 8 wards of Darjeeling since then,” Chettri stated.

He alleged the state government did not play heed to any of the decisions taken at the tripartite meeting and has kept the rural people of the hills away from the benefits they could get through panchayats. “The state government betrayed the people by not abiding by the decisions taken during the tripartite meeting. The rural areas were suppose to get benefits and development worth Rs1,200 crore during the 1988-2006 period through the panchayat system. Later about Rs480 crore worth developmental works reached the rural areas during the 2007-2013 period, that too through the MGNREGA (100-day work scheme),” Chettri added.

The KFWA secretary further said the current administration, GTA, is under pressure due to the legal cases it faces and has not been able to function effectively. As per the tripartite settlement, GTA is obligated to conduct three-tire panchayat elections in the hills, but has not been able to. “However, the important question is why the regional and national parties which are active in the hills have not voiced against such atrocities to the rural Gorkha populace? Why has there been no legal approach made by anyone?” he questioned.

“Therefore, this is the main reason why the Kalimpong Farmers’ Welfare Association is demanding the state government to conduct three-tire panchayat elections in the hills. This will lead to the development of the rural areas, which has been left neglected for so long,” he explained.

Source: EOI

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