Writes: Vivek Chhetri
A section of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leadership believes the state government is pushing the GTA to the brink of failure by dithering on transfer of various departments to the hill body although discussions are scheduled here next month.
After a meeting with top state government officials in Calcutta yesterday, GTA Executive Sabha member Roshan Giri had said principal secretaries of various departments would visit the hills in December and hold talks with executive directors of the departments concerned at the hill body on the Morcha's grouse that the transfer of various subjects was not done properly.
A Morcha leader who didn't want to be named today expressed doubt that if the government was serious about the autonomy of the GTA. "The decision taken by the state government to send the principal secretaries of different departments for discussions with the executive directors, who are heading the respective departments at the GTA, is a positive step. It has been three years since the GTA was formed and the delay in transferring the departments to the GTA makes us believe that the state government is pushing the hill body to the brink of failure," he said.
According to the GTA Act, 59 subjects need to be handed over to the hill body by the state government. The 59 subjects are clubbed together and turned into 40 departments.
The Morcha leader said although the government had issued 35 notifications on the transfer of almost all subjects to the GTA, the process was incomplete and the hill body was unable to exercise executive, financial and administrative powers over them.
He listed a few departments which the GTA has been unable to control. "Land and land reforms, PWD, fire and emergency services, minority affairs and madarsa education department, technical education and training (polytechnic), co-operation and disaster management are among the departments which were transferred to the GTA, but the employees and the assets are still with the state government... such has been the attitude of the state government that while it has issued notification, the actual transfer has not taken place."
With the state government agreeing to send principal secretaries to hold meetings with GTA executive directors to discuss the bottlenecks, some Morcha leaders see some hope but are not over enthusiastic. "These meetings will be important for the GTA's future," said a Morcha leader.
Roshan Giri today said the principal secretaries were expected to come to Darjeeling before December 15. Asked if the bottlenecks in the departments' transfer would be removed, he said: "We will wait and watch the developments."
The next bipartite meeting between the GTA and the state government is scheduled to take place in Darjeeling on December 15.