Streamline signs float for GTA

Jobs to education, CM trip sets pace for change in hill body working

By Vivek Chhetri in Darjeeling
  • Published 10.02.18
Binay Tamang

Darjeeling: Signs that the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) could be streamlined have emerged after chief minister Mamata Banerjee's visit to the hills and the many administrative meetings she held during the trip.

An autonomous hill body had come into existence after the formation of Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council in 1988 and the body was replaced by the GTA in 2012. However, the functioning of both these autonomous bodies had left much to be desired largely because the administration was never properly organised.

"We are now looking at streamlining the administration so that things can function smoothly. Many positive decisions were taken during the administrative meeting with the chief minister," said Binay Tamang, chairman, board of administration, GTA.

The DGHC in its 24 years of existence did not have a proper mechanism even to provide a regular government job to hill employees. As of result of this, nearly 7000-odd workers are working as pay-band employees without post-retirement benefits like pension and with salaries that are less than regular government staff.

"The state government has decided to examine the technical aspects of setting up a sub-ordinate selection board. At least some headway is being made on this regard," said Tamang.

The selection board is to be constitute to recruit Group B, C and D employees. The DGHC, too, had the powers to recruit Group C and D employees subject to clearance from the stat government but the authority was ever exercised by the council.

"We have also been asked to form a seven-member committee and send the names to the state government for approval. The committee is to function till the revival of the School Service Commission (SSC)," said Tamang.

A separate SSC formed for hill schools in 1998 was wound up in 2003, following opposition from the GNLF. "This meant that regular filling of vacancies in hill schools was not possible. The issue of regularisation of teachers is in a complete mess but atleast the committee can streamline teacher's appointment to some extent," said an academician from the hills.

The decision to set up a state university in the hills is also expected to help the hill students to a large extent. "The chief minister has directed the administration to start the process of identifying land. The GTA wants the university to come up in Mungpoo as there is land available there," said Tamang.

Hill colleges that are affiliated to North Bengal University face a problems as the academic calendar of the hills are different from the plains.

"The academic calendar in the hills starts from mid-February till November before the educational institutions. Since the academic calendar of NBU caters to the plains, hill students were losing out on classes. Ideally, it would be great if all hill colleges can have all their exams over by November," said the academician.

"Another important decision was to have inter-departmental meetings between GTA and various state wings. This will bring about better co-ordination," said Tamang.