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GTA seeks talks report

- State to hold bipartite meet in September, Gurung

Darjeeling, Aug. 26: The GTA has sought an action report from the state government on the outcome of the five bipartite talks held so far, Bimal Gurung said here today. It is the first time that the hill body has asked for such a report.

The GTA chief executive also said the government had verbally informed that a bipartite meeting between the hill body and state would be held early next month and the issues that would be raised by the GTA during the talks would depend on the report.

“We have been told verbally that a bipartite meeting will be held at Kalimpong on September 2. We have asked the state government to give us a report on the outcome of the five previous bipartite meetings. Depending on the report, we will finalise the issues to be taken up at the meeting,” Gurung said on the sidelines of a programme here today.

“I have been told that the report will reach us in the next couple of days. Let us see what the report states,” he said.

The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha chief today released a quiz book, Gyananjali, written by Gyanendra Aryal at Gorkha Rangamanch Bhavan here.

Till now, the GTA has not asked for any action report from the state and observers said, the hill body’s appeal for a report now, ahead of the bipartite talks, was Gurung’s way of delivering a subtle message to the government that even after five rounds of talks, issues concerning the GTA had not been resolved.

“There are issues like non-transfer of staff of the PWD, although the department has been shifted (to the GTA). The issue of making the DM (district magistrate) the reviewing officer of hill municipalities also needs to be taken up,” Gurung said.

In the past, Morcha leaders have complained that many departments that are supposed to be transferred to the GTA have not been shifted yet. “Many departments like, lotteries, excise, Darjeeling Improvement Fund, fire and emergency services, information and cultural affairs and college education, have not been transferred,” said a Morcha leader. “In many departments that have been transferred, the staff members have not been shifted to the GTA making the department transfer a mere formality. Land and land reforms department is an example.”

In order to transfer staff, state government employees have to be sent on a deputation to the GTA.

“Issues like setting up of a separate College Service Commission and subordinate selection board to allow GTA recruits in certain posts, which are mentioned in the GTA agreement, have not been followed up,” said a Morcha leader.

The bipartite talks scheduled for September 2 are being organised after chief minister Mamata Banerjee announced in Darjeeling on July 18 that the state would hold a bipartite meeting followed by a tripartite meeting to look into the working of the GTA.

Sources said Mamata might be touring Darjeeling district between September 1 and 3 but there was no confirmation on her attending the talks.

Today, Gurung reposed more faith on the Centre than the state. “The Centre is now involved (in the working of the GTA) and we expect them to play a positive role,” he said.

He will leave for Delhi tomorrow to attend the foundation stone laying ceremony of a Gorkha Bhawan on August 29.