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Gurung tells govt not to meddle

Darjeeling, Oct. 14: Bimal Gurung today warned the Mamata Banerjee-led government not to meddle in the functioning of the GTA, saying that such interference would only cause “headaches” to the state.

“You have given us the GTA and there should be no interference in its working. If there is an interference, the state government will get headaches, not us,” Gurung told a gathering of Gorkha Janmukti Yuva Morcha activists here.

The meeting was organised to mark the fifth foundation day of the Yuva Morcha. This was the first public appearance of the GTA chief executive after his father died on September 24.

Even though Gurung did not spell out the nature of the state’s interference in the functioning of the GTA, but he said: “When we wanted to evict hawkers from Chowrastha, we received calls from the Writers’. I am not the one to accept such interference and at the end, we did go ahead with the eviction drive.”

Going by the Morcha president’s tone, it seems that he doesn’t want the government to dictate terms of the formulation of projects or the recruitment of employees to the GTA.

The GTA Act has a provision that allows the autonomous body to form a selection committee for the recruitment of employees of Grades B, C and D after due clearance from the state government.

“My boys are unemployed. They need jobs. We are working out an elaborate plan to generate a lot of jobs. The plan will be in place in the next one and a half months. Our youths who have worked hard during the agitation have a right to employment in the GTA.”

The Morcha leader also laid stress on the need to make the GTA corruption free. “I won’t tolerate corruption. We have released Rs 70 crore for road construction and tourism development. The municipalities have also been given funds. They must build good roads without corruption. We will ensure transparency in the functioning of the GTA and unlike the previous dispensation (DGHC), we will publish a detailed list of construction costs,” said Gurung.

He informed that construction of a car parking space near the Darjeeling railway station would commence in a few days. The GTA chief executive also launched a vitriolic attack on the Morcha’s rivals.

“We have organised rallies for Gorkhaland and for the inclusion of the plains in the GTA. But these Opposition leaders are taking out rallies with two to three motorcycles. Our fight for the inclusion of more mouzas in the GTA is still on and we had a meeting with the state government on the issue yesterday,” Gurung said, referring to the CPRM’s recent rally for Gorkhaland.

Gurung also said the GTA must explore ways to generate its own revenue instead of begging for funds from the Centre.

“I have decided to open the gates of Lal Khoti (the administrative headquarters) of the GTA for tourists. While entry will be free for the local people, tourists can come there after paying Rs 10. Lal Khoti could be a tourist spot as films have been shot there. We will also earn a bit,” he said in half jest.

Morcha leader dies

Bhim Raj Pradhan, 35, the president of the Yuva Morcha’s Rongo zonal committee, died and three other party workers were injured when their vehicle collided with a truck at Khunia More near Malbazar at 8am today. They were on their way to Darjeeling to attend the meeting.