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Fast-track GTA or forget it: Gurung

Darjeeling, Aug. 21: Bimal Gurung has urged the state government to start immediately the process of forming the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration, saying that his party might forget about the new arrangement — a hint that they might revert to statehood cry — if the delay continues.

The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha chief’s statement comes at a time when the tabling of the GTA bill in the monsoon session of the Assembly is bleak. The session ends on September 2 but the draft of the bill is not yet ready, a source in the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, which has demanded the setting up of the GTA as early as possible, said.

The bill was not mentioned in the business advisory of the House that contains the list of proposed legislations to be tabled in the monsoon session.

If the GTA bill is not tabled in the monsoon session, the Morcha will have to wait till the winter session, which usually begins in end-November.

“We want to develop the hills and the Terai and the Dooars but if the government continues to delay the setting up of the body, we might have to think about forgetting the GTA,” Gurung told the members of the Janmukti Asthai Karmachari Sangathan in Darjeeling yesterday.

Sources said the state government is minutely examining the tripartite agreement signed between the Centre, state and the Morcha on July 18 before drafting the bill. “In all probability, the bill will be placed only during the winter session,” said a source.

The Trinamul Congress, which heads the government, however, has refused comment on Gurung’s statement. But a party general secretary said the government had not made any commitment that it would bring the GTA bill in this session of the Assembly.

Gurung, however, said he had little time. “We have to show to the government and the Opposition parties in the hills what we can achieve. We want to immediately start the construction of the parking spaces in Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong. The current DGHC should provide us with Rs 6-7 crore,” said Gurung.

Gurung also requested the people of the hills to dress in traditional attires — stressing it was not mandatory — for a month from October 7. This is part of the annual month-long “cultural movement” that the Morcha had been trying to enforce for the past three years to differentiate between the hills and the plains.

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