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GTA relents, picks secy from list of 2

Darjeeling, July 14: The GTA Sabha has selected Gautam Ghosh as its principal secretary from a panel of two names sent by the Bengal government, sources in the hill authority said today.

The GTA accepted the panel after initial rejection following a missive from the Bengal chief secretary who expressed the government’s inability to send more names.

The sources in the GTA said the hill body had written to the government last week saying it would want Ghosh as the next principal secretary.

Other than Ghosh, the name of Barun Roy had also been forwarded by the government to the GTA.

The GTA wrote to the government on June 26, demanding more choices claiming that the two names could not be considered as a “panel”.

“In reply, the chief secretary wrote to the GTA, expressing the government’s inability to send more names. So, we decided to pick Ghosh,” said a GTA source.

The GTA’s decision on Ghosh is an indicator that the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, which controls the hill authority, does not want to get into any avoidable confrontation with the government.

Even though the decision has been conveyed to the government ahead of chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s scheduled visit to Darjeeling this week, sources in the Morcha said this did not necessarily mean there was a thaw in relations between her and Bimal Gurung.

The GTA source said Ghosh was selected because he had served in the hills. “Ghosh was posted as the Rangli-Rangliot block development officer and later served as the subdivisional officer of Darjeeling Sadar. He also has a working knowledge of the local language (Nepali),” said the source.

Ghosh is the director general (Ayush), health department, at present.

After R.D. Meena retired as the principal secretary on May 30, Manoj Agarawal, the secretary of the north Bengal development department, has been officiating as the interim principal secretary of the GTA.

The GTA had sought the panel according to Section 13 of the GTA agreement that deals with the appointment of the principal secretary.

However, the GTA Act doesn’t mention a “panel” on the matter.

Earlier, too, the GTA had a confrontation with the government over the appointment of principal secretary. The GTA moved the high court after the government had asked A.K. Singh to take additional charge as principal secretary of the GTA on March 29, 2013.

The state government hadn’t forwarded a panel to the GTA and that was why the GTA approached the court.

Later, according to the court order, the government proposed the names of four IAS officers and Meena was one of them.

Trinamul today said Mamata would visit the Darjeeling hills from July 16. Sources in the administration said she was scheduled to hold a public meeting at Chowrasta on July 17.

“The details of her itinerary are not known,” said an administrative source.

Sources in Trinamul said Mamata could announce the names of office-bearers of the Tamang Development Board.

There was no word on whether Morcha leaders would meet the chief minister.