Anit seeks consensus on relief fund use
Anit Thapa, the chairman of the board of administrators, Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA), has decided to convene a meeting of “all stakeholders” to decide on using the GTA Chairman Relief Fund set up at the start of Covid-19 pandemic for tea garden workers.
Over 11,000 donors have contributed around Rs 3 crore. The GTA will match the collected amount, making the total sum around Rs 6 crore.
“I have decided to hold a meeting on January 28 with all stakeholders...(donors, politicians and trade union leaders) to discuss its utilisation,” said Thapa, adding the GTA will go by the decision arrived at through consensus.
Political parties in the hills have in the past been raising the issue of the relief fund with some sections suggesting that Thapa might want to take political mileage through it.
Thapa set up the relief fund on March 24, 2020, purportedly to take up the gigantic task of “paying the tea gardens workers during the lockdown”.
The 87 tea gardens in the hills, which employ around 55,000 permanent and 15,000 temporary workers, were however shut only from March 25 to April 9, unlike other sectors, so the fund was not needed for the purpose it was meant for.
With Opposition parties in poll-bound keeping an eye on the utilisation of the fund, Thapa, observers believe, does not want any controversy.
“He probably wants to build a consensus regarding the utilisation of fund but it would be interesting to see how the invited politicians and trade union leaders look into the issue,” said an observer.