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Cut in GTA members’ salary to pay elderly

Rangbhang, Jan. 14: Bimal Gurung has decided to deduct the salaries of GTA Sabha members to pay old-age pension to 900 senior citizens in the hills.

The GTA had decided to pay the pension and had even passed a resolution to this effect. But sources said since the provision was not included in the GTA’s budget for the current fiscal, the pension plan has not been approved by the state finance department.

Bimal Gurung, the chief executive of the GTA, while addressing a crowd at the inauguration of Krishi Mela at Rangbhang, near Mirik, said: “I am now only committed to the welfare of my people. I am not bothered about what the Opposition has to tell me or what critics have to write in their newspapers. I had earlier announced a pension plan for senior citizens called Kamansingh Ramudamu pension scheme, and we will immediately pay the pension by deducting salaries of the elected GTA members.”

According to Gurung’s plan, 20 people aged above 70 from each of the 45 GTA constituencies, who do not receive any benefits from the government, will be paid Rs 500 a month. This means each of the elected GTA Sabha members will have to fork out Rs 10,000 every month.

“The pension will be distributed during the ongoing Krishi Mela and we will give four months’ (from January to April) pension at one go. After April, GTA officials will have to work out the nitty-gritty of the scheme,” said Gurung.

GTA officials said money would be allocated for the pension in the budget for the next financial year.

It is not clear how the GTA members’ salaries would be deducted to pay the pension. An elected GTA member gets Rs 25,000 a month. A GTA executive Sabha member is entitled to Rs 30,000 and the deputy chairman draws Rs 35,000. The chairman’s monthly pay is Rs 40,000, while the deputy chief and the chief of the GTA draw Rs 45,000 and Rs 50,000, respectively.

Gurung today said the GTA had also received funds from the Centre to construct 1,150 houses under the Indira Awas Yojna. “When the construction starts, Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leaders and contractors should not accept even a cup of tea from the beneficiaries. I don’t want any corruption in the scheme.”

Sources said the hills were receiving funds under the scheme after seven years.