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Board of Administrators take charge of the GTA

By Amitava

Darjeeling, September 25, 2017: Amidst much criticism from different quarters the Board of Administrators (BOA) took charge of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration in Darjeeling on Monday.

Board of Administrators take charge of the GTA

Incidentally on June 23, 2017, GTA Chief Bimal Gurung along with 42 Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) elected and nominated members had tendered their resignations from the GTA en masse.

On September 20, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had announced the formation of the BOA invoking Clause 65B of the GTA Act.

The BOA announced by the CM comprised of Binay Tamang as the Chairman, Anit Thapa as Vice Chairman along with 7 members.

The members included Darjeeling MLA Amar Singh Rai; Mirik Municipal Chairman LB Rai; GTA Principal Secretary; GNLF President Mann Ghising; Sanchabir Subba, Joytun Khatun and Anu Chettri.

Gurung and the GJM were under pressure from the Gorkhaland Movement Coordination Committee (a conglomeration of 14 pro Gorkhaland outfits) to resign from the GTA and walk the path of agitation.

"Our priority will be a corruption free GTA along with good governance" stated Binay Tamang, Chairman, BOA, GTA talking to media persons.

The focus of the BOA will be on water, education, health, tourism and infrastructure development.

"First the incomplete projects will be completed and the roads in bad condition repaired, then only we will take up new projects concerning roads. Communication and connectivity has to be developed but we will not start immediately by building roads." added Tamang.

Two back to back meetings took place after the BOA took charge. First the BOA met which was followed by the meeting of the BOA with the GTA Departmental Heads and Executive Directors.

The departmental heads have been asked to prepare a list of all assets under the GTA within October 10. They have also asked to prepare a detailed report of damages (total and partial) to all GTA properties during the past 103 days of agitation and bandh.

Incidents of arson and vandalizing have been rampant during the agitation in which properties owned by the State as well as the GTA have been torched, vandalised and damaged.

The Board will also stress on improving work culture in the GTA offices. "All employees of the GTA including Officers or Group D staff have to be present in office from 10am to 4pm. We will be installing biometric scanners to keep tab" stated Tamang.

The Lalkothi in Darjeeling will function as a full fledged Secretariat of the GTA. "Security features in the Lalkothi will also be beefed up" added Tamang.

Tamang has also asked the District Administration to remove the Security Forces presently stationed at the Gorkha Ranga Mancha Bhawan and return the Bhawan to the GTA.

Following clashes between GJM supporters and police forces on June 8, the District Administration had taken control of the Rangamancha and sealed it.

"Many of the GTA departments have offices in the Ranga Mancha, hence we have requested the district administration to return the premises to the GTA" stated Tamang.

However GNLF President Mann Ghising and Amar Singh Rai have refused to be a part of the BOA. Both were not present at the Lalkothi on Monday.

Incidentally an agitation had taken place under the aegis of Bimal Gurung and the GJM in 2008 which culminated in the signing of the GTA Accord between the Union, State and the GJM on July 18, 2011.

The tripartite accord had paved way for the formation of the GTA, an autonomous administrative body, in the Hills of Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts. Election to the GTA was held on July 30, 2012. After winning all 45 seats of the GTA, the GJM members led by Gurung had been sworn to office on 4th August 2012.

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