Hills to get real taste of development in next 3 years – GJM

With the change of dispensation in Delhi, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha-led Gorkhaland Territorial Administration has embarked with new vigour on a development tryst for a makeover of the Darjeeling hills over the next three years.

GTA members with Governor MK Narayanan at the Raj Bhawan in Darjeeling on Monday.
GTA members with Governor MK Narayanan at the
Raj Bhawan in Darjeeling on Monday.

Back from attending the swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, GTA chief executive and GJM president Bimal Gurung today convened a marathon meeting with officials and executive members at Lalkothi to take stock of the status of ongoing and pending development projects in the hills.

“The GTA chief executive today held a meeting with officials, executive members with portfolios and executive engineers of the engineering cell to review the status of the projects that have been taken up and those still pending. They have been asked to submit a report on a weekly basis on the works being carried out in the region,” informed GTA sabhasad and executive member Binay Tamang, adding the meeting lasted well beyond four and a half hours.

He further said, “We want the people of the hills to get a taste of development in the next three years. The chief executive has directed us to submit progress reports of the schemes undertaken under the central package assistance and the financial status of the GTA. We also tried to identify our weaknesses in terms of running the council and how best to make amends.”

Tamang, who is also the in-charge of the GTA information and cultural affairs department, said key issues discussed and reviewed in the meeting were related to the healthcare, education and tourism sectors and included handing over of funds from the erstwhile Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) to the GTA. The funds total Rs119 crore and has been frozen by the state government.

“The GTA has been allocated just Rs 21 crore from the unutilised DGHC fund and Rs 98 crore is still lying unused. We want this amount to be handed over to us to help in expediting development work in the hills,” said the sabhasad.

In the two years of its tenure, the GTA has utilised Rs 91.77 crore from the annual action plan for the year 2013-14 for implementing development work, said Tamang.

“According to a report from the finance department, we have utilised Rs91 crore for various works from the special assistant package of Rs200 crore allotted by the central government. However, we would also like to point out we have received only Rs165 crore from the central assistant fund,” he said.

As per the July 2011 GTA agreement, the central government has promised to grant the administrative body an additional special assistance package of Rs 200 crore for a three-year period.

The sabhasad also said the GTA will appeal to both the state and central governments to complete the process of transferring the 56 subjects to the new council as per the tripartite agreement.

“Departments including information and culture, PWD, higher education (college) and fire service, among others have not yet been fully transferred to the GTA. We want this to be done at the earliest to ensure the smooth running of the council. We will be forced to take legal steps if our demand, which is based on the GTA agreement, is not addressed positively,” warned Tamang.

Later in the evening, a GTA delegation comprising GJM leaders along with Darjeeling MLA Trilok Dewan called on Governor MK Narayanan at the Raj Bhawan. Issues such as holding Panchayat elections in the hills that have remained suspended since 2000, transfer of departments, appointment of a new principal secretary to the GTA and rescinding pending arrests warrants against GJM activists and leaders were placed before the governor for his intervention and necessary action.

Source: EOI

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