The Finance Department of the Government of West Bengal has issued two memos bringing relief to taxpayers and government employees in the Hills of North Bengal. Both had suffered financial loses owing to the recent Gorkhaland agitation including the 104 day long bandh.
The Memo (No. 2120-F.T.) states that normalcy had been affected in the Darjeeling and Kalimpong Hills in North Bengal during the recent agitation. The taxpayers had faced difficulties in paying State government taxes and fees during the period. Penalty, late fee or fine is levied in case of delays.
"With the objective of giving relief to such taxpayers, the State government has decided to grant exemption to the taxpayers of the hill subdivisions of Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts from payment of penalty, late fee or fine for the period from 9th June 2017 to 15th September 2017, for delayed payment of all State government taxes, by whatever name called including additional taxes, annual taxes, advance taxes and fees" declared the memo signed by HK Dwivedi, Principal Secretary, Finance Department.
The other memo (no. 7283-F(P2)/FA/O/2M/47/13) also from the finance department states that all government employees including those in the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration and Government Aided Institutions who attended office during the entire bandh period will get 15 days Special Casual Leave. The leave can be availed within March 31, 2018 on prior application to the head office.
Employees who attended partially during the bandh period will get the leave on pro-rata (proportional to the attendance) basis.
The employees who were absent during the bandh and whose salaries have been withheld will be granted 15 days Special Casual Leave and for the remaining period of absence, Half Pay Leave out of their accumulated Half Pay Leave will be granted to regularize the period of absence.
The teaching and non-teaching employees of Government -aided Schools and Colleges who will attend duty and take classes during winter vacation and other holidays to complete the prescribed syllabus will get their withheld salaries for the bandh period.
Incidentally the Hills were in the grip of an agitation since 8th June to September 15 in demand of a separate state of Gorkhaland. The agitation also included a 104 day bandh.
Initially the State Government through two orders on June 8, 2017 and June 11, 2017 had asked all employees working in the districts to report for duty failing which their salaries would be deducted for the days absent. There would be break in service also the orders had earlier warned.
However with the restoration of normalcy in the Hills, the decisions were reviewed.
During a recent visit to the district, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had assured that there would be no break in service.