The Telegraph
Friday , April 13 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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MLA removed from NBSTC top post

April 12: The Mamata Banerjee-government today threw its weight behind a bureaucrat and removed a Trinamul MLA from the top post of a cash-strapped transport corporation to ensure its smooth functioning.

North Bengal development minister Gautam Deb has replaced Rabindranath Ghosh as the chairperson of the North Bengal State Transport Corporation.

The replacement of Ghosh, the Cooch Behar district president of Trinamul Congress and the MLA from Natabari, comes days after his tussle with managing director C. Murugan came to the fore. The MLA had been accused of pressuring Murugan to revoke the order transferring some employees who are members of a Trinamul union.

Additional district magistrate Murugan had been given the additional charge of the NBSTC in December, five months after Ghosh took over as chairperson of the corporation that runs nearly 500 buses across the state.

“Murugan had drawn up a list of some employees and officials to be transferred to which Ghosh had objected. Being the chairperson of the NBSTC, he also asked the MD to revoke the order and created pressure on him,” an NBSTC source said. Murugan, however, stuck to his decision. He had told The Telegraph on Monday that he would carry out the transfers.

Murugan, NBSTC sources said, had also asked Ghosh not to interfere in the day-to-day functioning of the corporation. The MD is the functional executive head of a corporation. The chairman’s instructions are not binding on him.

But on Tuesday Murugan had to face the wrath of a section of the staff, all members of a Trinamul backed employees’ union. They took out a procession in Cooch Behar town, the headquarters of the NBSTC, demanding that he be removed for “not complying with the chairman’s order” to scrap the transfers.

Ghosh had said earlier this week that he would meet transport minister Madan Mitra to apprise him of Murugan’s defiance. The meeting took place yesterday, followed by an order that Deb would replace the Natabari MLA as the NBSTC chairperson.

“All I can say is that as a government we are interested in the smooth functioning of all institutions. Gautam Deb is a cabinet minister from north Bengal who is also in charge of the region’s development. So it is in fitness of things that he heads the NBSTC,” minister Mitra said today.

Ghosh, who claimed that he came to know about his replacement from journalists, said: “I tried my best to revive the NBSTC. No official communication has reached me so far and I have only come to know about the replacement from the media.” He added that he would not like to comment further on the issue.

Sources in the NBSTC said of the 705 buses owned by the corporation, only 498 operate. In total, 3,075 employees serve in the ailing NBSTC.

“Over 100 contractual workers who were inducted during the Left government’s rule have been retrenched. Employees and pensioners get their salaries and pensions irregularly because of a funds stringency,” a source said. “Most of them get salaries in instalments or once in two months.”

Deb, who was in Jalpaiguri this afternoon, said: “I have been informed that I will have to work as the chairman of the NBSTC. I have nothing more to say on the issue, except that I will put in my best efforts to revive the transport corporation.”