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Free hand to GTA at bipartite talks

Kalimpong, Sept. 1: The state government has given the GTA Sabha the option of raising any issue at tomorrow’s bipartite meeting, besides the 10 points of discussion already decided for bipartite talks.

Sources in the GTA said home secretary Basudeb Banerjee had communicated to the hill body on August 27 about the 10 points to be discussed.

These are proposals for amendment to the GTA Act 2011, issues related to transfer of departments and rules of business, issues related to staff matters (hill compensatory allowance, position of ad-hoc/contractual/casual employees), fund position (unspent balance and one-time non-plan grant), incentives/subsidies and waiver of taxes for private investment, central university/national institute of technology, tribal status to Gorkhas, reintroduction of three-tier panchayat system, dues to WBSEDCL and BSNL and withdrawal of cases.

The August 27 letter also said that apart from the agendas fixed by the state government, other matters may also be raised at the bipartite meeting to be held here tomorrow.

Sources in the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha said the party wanted at least 29 amendments to the GTA. Even though details of all the amendments are not known, the party wants the Act to be tweaked to introduce a 100-point roster system in the GTA and reserve seats for SC and ST communities in the autonomous body.

However, the state and the GTA are unlikely to reach a consensus at the bipartite meeting on matters such as the establishment of a central university and NIT, tribal status for Gorkhas and reintroduction of three-tier panchayat system. “Decisions on these issues can be taken only at a tripartite meeting of the state and central governments and the GTA. These issues are related to the Centre,” said an administrative official.

However, a concrete decision is expected to be taken on the transfer of departments.

Roshan Giri, an executive member of the GTA, said: “We would not want to disclose the issues we will raise (at the meeting tomorrow). But we have quite a few issues to discuss, apart from the 10 agendas.” However, sources said the issues that were out of the purview of the 10 agendas laid down by the state, but were likely to be taken up tomorrow were the formation of a sub-ordinate selection committee, review of powers of the district magistrate in running hill municipalities and transfer of schools such as Victoria Boys and Dow Hill, which are state institutions, to the GTA.

The meeting will be held in the Kalimpong Circuit House at 2pm and will be presided over by chief secretary Sanjay Mitra. Sources said the Morcha delegation would meet chief minister Mamata Banerjee at Deolo near here at 1pm tomorrow.

Gurung-Jaitley meet

GTA chief executive Bimal Gurung met Union finance minister Arun Jaitley in Delhi on Monday. “We apprised him of the recruitment of GTA youth into police, army and para-military forces and establishment of a Sainik School in the GTA area,” said Gurung.