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Signal on GTA Sabha shuffle

- Informal discussion at Gorkha Bhavan on new team

Darjeeling, Dec. 29: GTA Sabha chief executive Bimal Gurung has decided to shuffle the portfolios of executive Sabha members “to ensure better administration”, sources in the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha said today.

“Gurung held an informal discussion at the Gorkha Bhavan in Calcutta with senior Morcha leaders soon after taking oath as the chief executive of the GTA on December 26. He stressed the need to expedite development in the Darjeeling hills and has also decided to reshuffle the portfolios to ensure better administration,” a Morcha source said today.

However, Gurung, hasn’t decided on the composition of the new team. “He has just taken a decision to shuffle the portfolios. The details like whether any executive Sabha member will be shunted out or a new face will be inducted into Gurung’s team will be worked out in a day or two. Some executive Sabha members might retain their portfolios also,” said the source.

As of now, Gurung is in charge of 24 of 57 departments under the GTA.

The rest of the departments are headed by 14 executive Sabha members.

The GTA consists of 45 elected and five nominated members. Of the five, three were nominated by the Trinamul Congress, while the remaining two were by the Morcha.

The hill autonomous body also formed 19 committees with 32 “members on duty” to assist the executive Sabha members. The panels accommodate all GTA members other than the three Trinamul nominees and 15 executive Sabha members.

“The members on duty are Sabha members who don’t have powers to approve projects. Nor do they have any signatory powers. The committees supervise the functioning of the departments concerned and have an advisory role. No financial powers are given to them,” said a GTA source.

The GTA Act has no designation as “member on duty” mentioned. But Clause 50 of the act reads: “The chief executive may, from time to time appoint such committees constituting of members from amongst the members as may be required for the efficient discharge of the functions of the GTA.”

Some members on duty have jurisdiction only over a particular subdivision. For example, Uday Dewan is a member on duty on a committee that looks after municipal corporation/district board/local authorities and fire services (departments handled by executive Sabha member Binay Tamang) for Darjeeling subdivision.

A source in the Morcha said: “In all probability, even the members on duty will be changed.”

Gurung today said the GTA would focus on areas such as health, education, drinking water and tourism.

“We had a cordial meeting with the chief minister and senior officials of the state government. At the meeting, we were asked to take up a number of development works on the basis of priority. Accordingly, we have decided to focus on areas such as health, education, drinking water and tourism,” Gurung said at the Bagdogra airport.

Over 3,000 Morcha workers were at the airport with flowers and “khadas” (silk scarves) to greet Gurung who returned from Calcutta.