Showing posts with label GTA Sabha. Show all posts
Showing posts with label GTA Sabha. Show all posts

The First Nail in Central University Coffin?

Writes: Upendra for The Darjeeling Chronicle

As Mamata lays the foundation stone for the extension of Presidency University campus offering a handful of courses, we are worried that this may actually be the 1st nail in the coffin of Darjeeling Central University.

Hitler had once said, “The best way to take control over a people and control them utterly is to take a little of their freedom at a time, to erode rights by a thousand tiny and almost imperceptible reductions. In this way, the people will not see those rights and freedoms being removed until past the point at which these changes cannot be reversed.”

What is happening in Darjeeling in these past few years is exactly that, gradually through the formation of Development Boards, appointment of Para teachers, non-transfer for departments actually signed out in the GTA Agreement, Bengal is taking away our autonomy, and the hill people need to speak out against these incursions.
The First Nail in Central University Coffin?
GTA agreement Section 5 clearly mentions that all Government
Schools have been transferred to GTA

The same set of "intellectuals" who say GTA is a stumbling block to the formation of Gorkhaland state, do not see any issues with this sly act of subverting our demand for a Central University. It is sad to see that the "intellectuals" have two set of rules, a double standard of sorts, while they decry GTA as being stumbling block (perhaps rightfully so), they are applauding this move by Bengal, which has every chance of diluting the demand for a Central University in our hills.

As such,
GTA agreement Section 5 clearly mentions that all Government Schools have been transferred to GTA, so how is the state government usurping school lands?

How long will we allow Bengal to dictate terms to us?

Source The Darjeeling Chronicle

Bimal Gurung directed Darjeeling Municipality to stop demolition drive

9:25 AM
Gurung stops demolish drive

Vivek Chhetri

Darjeeling, Aug. 16: Bimal Gurung today directed Darjeeling municipality not to dismantle buildings above the stipulated height of 11.5m and said the height limit will be increased to 14.5m.
Bimal Gurung directed Darjeeling Municipality to stop demolish drive
Bimal Gurung directed Darjeeling Municipality to stop demolish drive
The directive to stop pulling down illegal structures comes less than a month after Gurung instructed the municipality to start dismantling such buildings.

Today, Gurung held a meeting with civic body officials and building owners, who had been served notices for violating the 11.5m regulation, at the Gorkha Rangamanch Bhavan.

"After hearing all sides, we have decided that no building in town would be dismantled. We have also decided to raise the height restriction from 11.5m to 14.5m as done by the previous board. We will strictly monitor all new constructions and no buildings beyond 14.5m height will be allowed to come up (from now)," Gurung said after the meeting. "Well, there is also political controversy," he added without elaborating.

On July 27, Gurung had directed the civic body to pull down illegal structures and two floors of an under-construction market building were dismantled the next day. Gurung mentioned nothing about the building today.

Gurung's volte-face, however, comes as no surprise as his party is set to face three elections in the next two years. While the municipality and Assembly polls are scheduled next year, GTA will complete its five-year term in 2017.

The GTA chief executive's decision to raise the height ceiling came as a surprise.

In 1997, the GNLF controlled Darjeeling municipality had written to the state to increase the height restriction from 11.5m to 14.5m. D.K. Pradhan, a central committee member of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, was the chairman of the civic body when the resolution was adopted.

In Darjeeling, an 11.5m building is usually four storied. A five-floor building is around 14.5m high.

Although a resolution had been forwarded to the state, there has been no amendment with regard to the 11.5m restriction.

A recent survey conducted by the Darjeeling civic body found 337 buildings, including the Gorkha Rangamanch Bhavan where Bimal Gurung sits as the GTA chief, had violated the 11.5m limit. Rangamanch Bhavan has seven floors and is more than 18m tall.

"The survey gave a clear indication that it would be impossible for the civic body to go ahead with such an extensive drive. It was also revealed that many flats, five, six or seven storied, had been bought by local people and builders had nothing to do with the structures any more. There would have been a lot of problems if the municipality had gone ahead with the drive," said a source.

The Darjeeling civic body has also been directed to form a board to take legal opinion on what stand would be taken on the illegal buildings (over 14.5m). The earlier board had regularised such structures (by imposing fines on them) but the present board had recently said it would not consider the buildings as legal. "A legal board will be formed. D.K. Pradhan and P.T. Ola (GTA Sabha members) who are lawyers, will be part of the board," said Darjeeling civic body chairman Amar Singh Rai.

According to Darjeeling municipality records, there are 9,996 registered holdings (houses) under the civic body.

Today, Gurung said GTA was exploring the possibility of constructing a circular ropeway between Ghoom and Darjeeling and setting up satellite townships at Rangit and Happy Valley tea garden areas. "During construction of the circular ropeway, few floors of some buildings might have to be dismantled as we might have to set up six towers. We will adequately compensate the building owners," he said.


Bhupendra / Pradeep Pradhan apology to GJM chief Bimal Gurung

7:51 PM
Bhupendra or Pradeep Pradhan, the chairman of GTA (Gorkhaland Territorial Administration) Sabha who was recently arrested for his alleged involvement in a fake antique coin case, today apologised to the GJM (Gorkha Janmukti Morcha) chief Bimal Gurung and said he was falsely implicated in the case.
Bhupendra / Pradeep Pradhan
Bhupendra / Pradeep Pradhan
Pradhan today came to Darjeeling and met Bimal Gurung. “I briefed him (Gurung) about the details of the case. He scolded me and said that I should not have gone to such a hotel. He told me that our party leaders should always be careful in Siliguri,” he said.

“Regarding the March 4 incident, I want to say that I am embarrassed by the turn of events. I want to apologise to my family members, my supporters and the party. I was framed in the entire case. Even though my name did not figure in the FIR, I was arrested,” said Pradhan.

Bhupendra, who is popularly known as Pradip Pradhan, was released on bail by the additional chief judicial magistrate’s court in Siliguri yesterday.

Pradhan was arrested in Siliguri on March 4, after a Jalpaiguri based businessman, Ravi Kithania lodged an FIR stating that Sanjib Maitra of Baghajatin Colony in Siliguri, and Sachin Biswakarma, from Gorubathan in Kalimpong subdivision had duped him regarding the sale of an antique coin. Bhupendra and eight others were allegedly introduced as “associates.”

Pradhan said that he had gone to Siliguri to arrange railway tickets for 33 GTA Sabha members for the March 9 Delhi dharna.

“I met two Vidyarthi Morcha supporters in Siliguri and we had lunch near Pintail village. The two started talking about opening a local cable channel in Kalimpong and then to discuss the issue further we went to a hotel. Then the police entered the hotel and started searching,” said Pradhan.

He said it was only after his arrest that he came to know about the issue. “After my arrest, the police brought a bowl like thing, which had an imprint of East India Company in a glass case. Later, I was told that some person had brought the item from Nepal. I am totally unaware of the details.”

Police sources had earlier said the two youths with whom Kithania had struck a deal had claimed that the coin was a “rice puller coin” minted by the East India Company in 1818.

Source: Telegraph

GTA push for central university in the Darjeeling hills

8:41 AM
Vivek Chhetri:

The GTA (Gorkhaland Territorial Administration) is pushing for a detailed project report on setting up a central university in the Darjeeling hills which the hill council wants featured in the next Union budget.
GTA central university in the Darjeeling hills
GTA central university in the Darjeeling hills pic- Himalaya Darpan
The Noida-based EdCIL (India) Limited has been entrusted with the task of preparing the report as the GTA believes the university should find a mention in the coming Union budget. The GTA today held a meeting with representatives of EdCIL (India) Limited, which offers consultancy and technical service in different areas of education, to discuss the project report.

Roshan Giri, the executive GTA Sabha member in charge of education, said: “We have entrusted EdCIL to prepare the DPR. We are expecting the report to be completed by the end of this month after which we will submit the same to the ministry of human resource development. We are hopeful that the issue of central university will find a mention in the budget.”

This is the first time that the GTA has made known its expectation from a Union budget, which is scheduled to be presented by Union finance minister Arun Jaitley on February 28.

Today’s meeting was also attended by Tanka Bahadur Subba, the vice-chancellor of Sikkim University, a central university, and its faculty members.

The EdCIL team was headed by V.V. Murari, chief general manager (projects), and included R.C. Malhotra, former director, IIT Kanpur, among others.

Malhotra said: “We visited four possible sites for the university in the Mungpoo area on our way from Bagdogra to Darjeeling. We quite liked the third and fourth sites that were shown to us yesterday. They are close to Darjeeling town. We have sought details like acreage (total land available), water availability and other parameters before everything is finalised.”

The location, which the team is zeroing in on, is about 30km from Darjeeling town. Malhotra said the detailed project report should be ready by the end of this month.

Giri today stressed that a central university in the hills had been promised in the tripartite agreement signed by the Centre, state and the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha in 2011.

“We have also met Smriti Irani (Union human resource development minister) and Arun Jaitley in this regard and their response has been positive,” said Giri.

Even though the estimated cost of the central university is not immediately known, the project is expected to cross Rs 750 crore.

Subba, who is helping the GTA in the project in his personal capacity, said: “Sikkim University still needs roughly around Rs 750-800 crore (to come up with the complete infrastructure) but to set up a varsity in Darjeeling, the figure could be high as it has to start right from recruiting the faculty.”

Source: Telegraph

GTA Sabha disagrees with the choice of principal secretary

9:12 AM
Vivek Chhetri
Darjeeling, Feb. 3: The GTA Sabha has decided to reject the two names sent by the state government for the post of the hill body's principal secretary, saying it needs more names to make a choice and that one of the two officials had been arrested earlier.

Sources in the GTA today told The Telegraph that the state government had yesterday forwarded the names of Ravi Inder Singh and Akhtar Karim.

Barun Roy, the divisional commissioner of Jalpaiguri, is holding the additional charge of the principal secretary after incumbent Gautam Ghosh retired on December 31.

A source in the GTA said: "We have decided to reject both the names. A list of two officials cannot be considered a panel. Moreover, we have received information that Ravi Inder Singh, while on deputation in the Union home ministry, had been arrested for allegedly leaking sensitive information. We believe that by proposing Singh's name, who has been involved in a controversy, the state government is belittling the autonomous body and is taking the issue lightly."

Singh, an IAS officer who was director (internal security) in the Union home ministry in 2010, was arrested for allegedly leaking corporate secrets to a Bengal-based businessman.

Singh was in charge of security clearances of several thousand companies in the telecom, shipping and mining sectors. The Delhi police special cell arrested him after prolonged surveillance. He was booked under the Prevention of Corruption Act and later repatriated to Bengal.

Singh, a 1994 IAS batch officer, is currently secretary, planning, in Calcutta.

Karim is the managing director of the West Bengal Food Processing and Horticulture Development Corporation.

The source in the GTA said the hill body would immediately write to the state government about the decision to reject the two names.

"Bimal Gurung (the chief executive of the GTA), is not happy with the state's decision. The GTA will write to the government in a day or two," said the source.

This is not the first instance that the GTA Sabha has disagreed with the choice of principal secretary.

The hill body had cried foul at the state's decision to forward the names of only Gautam Ghosh and Barun Roy for the principal secretary's post.

The GTA, however, relented after the government informed that it could not propose more names. The GTA selected Ghosh because he had earlier served in the Darjeeling hills and was conversant in Nepali.

The names of Ghosh and Roy were forwarded on June 29 following the retirement of R.D. Meena on May 30.

Even during Meena's appointment, there had been a standoff between the state government and the hill body.

The GTA approached Calcutta High Court as the state government had forwarded only the name of A.K. Singh, who was then the divisional commissioner of Jalpaiguri, for the post of principal secretary.

Following a directive from the high court, the state forwarded a list of four IAS officers to the GTA, following which Meena was selected.

Although Section 13 of the GTA agreement states a "panel" has to be submitted by the government to the hill body to select the principal secretary, the GTA Act doesn't have the word "panel".
Picture of first GTA sabha in 2015 (pic from Darpan)
Picture of first GTA sabha in 2015 (pic from Darpan)
Section 51 of the GTA Act states: "There shall be a principal secretary to the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (herein referred to as the Principal Secretary), not below the rank of secretary or Commissioner to the State Government, appointed by the State government in consultation with the Chief Executive."

But Section 13 of the GTA agreement says: "There shall be a Principal Secretary of the GTA, who shall be of the rank of the Principal Secretary/Secretary to the State Government and who shall be selected by the Chief Executive from the panel sent by the State Government and shall be paid from the GTA Fund such salaries and allowances as may be fixed by the State Government."

The GTA agreement and the Act are silent on the minimum number of names that the state should forward.

Before Meena, Saumitra Mohan was discharging the duties of the principal secretary. He was then holding the post of the Darjeeling district magistrate.

When relations between the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha that runs the hill body and the government deteriorated in 2013, the GTA got Mohan removed as the principal secretary on the grounds that he was not of the rank of secretary. Mohan was the first officer to discharge the duties of principal secretary after the GTA was formed in 2012.

Source: Telegtraph

GTA Act Leds to Sanjay Thulung Suspension Complications

10:51 AM
Vivek Chhetri
The (Gorkhaland Territorial Administration) GTA Sabha is in a fix over its decision to suspend elected member Sanjay Thulung, who is wanted in cases related to recovery of arms in Assam and Darjeeling, as the GTA Act does not have provisions for suspension of an elected member.
GTA Act Leds to Sanjay Thulung Suspension Complications
GTA Act Leds to Sanjay Thulung Suspension Complications
When the issue was taken up in front of Bhupendra Pradhan, the chairman of the GTA Sabha, by The Telegraph, he agreed that there was a mistake and they would look into the matter.

The GTA Sabha had taken the decision to "suspend" Thulung on January 6.

The next day, The Telegraph had pointed out that the GTA Act does not have such a provision and Pradhan had said: "I will refer to the Act and get back."

Today, he said: "We will go through all the provisions and see what can be done."

Earlier this month, the GTA Sabha had said Thulung had been suspended till his name was cleared in the arms haul cases.

The elected GTA Sabha member had been named in an FIR related to recovery of arms from Assam in November last year and from 27th Mile in Darjeeling district in December.

The "suspension" resolution taken up by the GTA Sabha has come under scanner as according to Section 18 of the GTA Act, which deals with "removal of members", "government, may after giving an opportunity to an elected Member to show cause against the action proposed to be taken against him, by order, remove him from office".

The section clearly states that it is the government that can "remove" a member.

Although the GTA Sabha had "suspended", Thulung, there is no provision in the GTA Act that empowers either the government or the GTA Sabha to "suspend" any elected member.

According to the GTA Act the government could "remove" an elected member on several grounds one of which is: "if after an election a criminal court convicts the member of an offence involving moral turpitude punishable with imprisonment of more than six months".

This provision cannot be applied even in Thulung's case as he has neither been arrested nor convicted by a court.

The GTA Sabha member is currently absconding.

Another provision regarding the removal of a GTA member in the Act is: "if he fails to attend three consecutive GTA Sabha meeting without its permission".

After Thulung went missing, the GTA Sabha has not held three meetings.

Even if the government is to "remove" Thulung, on the behest of the GTA Sabha, the Act clearly states that the government must form an authority to which the removed member can make an appeal against removal.

Although there are other grounds for removal, for example, if an elected member is below 18 years old, or is not a citizen of India, and others, none of the grounds can be applied in Thulung's case.

The other ground for disqualification of a member of the GTA is on grounds of defection but this does not hold for Sanjay Thulung as even for disqualification on this ground, a "prescribed authority" cannot declare any member disqualified without giving the member a reasonable opportunity to represent his case and to be heard in person.

Sources in the GTA Sabha said the decision to suspend Thulung was taken as no one was aware of the provisions of the Act.

"Everyone started talking about the need to suspend him and this is how the resolution was passed," said a GTA Sabha member.

The Sabha members could not say what would be the next course of action now that it was known that the "suspension" of Thulung was not in accordance with the provision of the GTA Act.

Opposition parties in the hills were quick to criticise the GTA Sabha members for not knowing the provisions of the GTA Act.

Binny Sharma, the general secretary of Trinamul hills, who is also the party spokesperson, said: "The GTA members do not even know the act of the body that they are currently administering. What else can be expected of them."

"Anyway, the Sabha took the decision (to "suspend" Thulung) to save its face. The issue is about arresting the mastermind," he added.

Source: Telegraph

Food and Supplies Offices in the Darjeeling Hills Locked down

8:10 AM
 Vivek Chhetri

The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) today closed down the offices of the subdivisional controller of food and supplies across the Darjeeling hills for an indefinite period, signalling a strategy of the party to force the state government to transfer different departments to the GTA Sabha.
A Morcha poster outside the closed office of the Darjeeling subdivisional
 controller of food and supplies. (Suman Tamang)
Up to now, the Morcha had been relying on talks with the government for the complete transfer of 40 departments to the GTA.

Around 10-15 Morcha workers each went to the food and supplies subdivisional department's offices in Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong and put up posters announcing their closure.

The agitation was led by the Morcha's town committees and the youth front.

Sources in the Morcha said the hill party was adopting a two-pronged strategy to compel the state to hand over the departments to the GTA in a proper way.

Morcha leaders said the government has not issued any missive saying that employees of the food and supplies department should report to the GTA, though the department itself has been transferred to the hill body.

In the absence of such an instruction from the government, the staff has been reporting to the district administration.

"Bimal Gurung has already said he has no fight with the chief minister. He has also said the Morcha will welcome Mamata Banerjee during her visit to Darjeeling on January 20. On the other hand, the party is mounting pressure on the government through lower-rung leaders for the complete transfer of the departments. That is why the Morcha's town committees spearheaded today's agitation," said a Morcha source.

Allan Chhetri, the president of the Darjeeling town committee of the Morcha, said: "Food and supplies is a transferred department but the government is interfering in its functioning. The public has a perception that the GTA is not addressing their concerns whereas the fact is that the government is not allowing the GTA to function."

He added: "We are hearing that ration cards of the hill people are being cancelled. This is nothing but a conspiracy of the government to show that less number of people live in the hills. There is no regular supply of sugar, rice and wheat to ration shops either. We are closing the food and supplies department for an indefinite period. We will not budge unless the state government solves this issue."

The Morcha's claim that the department had cancelled the ration cards could not be verified independently.

Contacted over phone, Pemba Tshering, the subdivisional controller of food and supplies department, Darjeeling, said: "I cannot speak over the phone today as I am currently on my way to see a doctor. I can speak only in my office tomorrow."

Of the 40 departments that need to be transferred, some have. Departments such as information and cultural affairs, fire and emergency services, public works department, college education and excise, Darjeeling Improvement Fund and lotteries have not yet been handed over to the GTA.

Source: Telegraph

GTA resolves to issue Gorkha certificate to Gorkhas Living Across India

9:07 AM
Writes: Vivek Chhetri
The Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) Sabha today passed a resolution to write to the Centre and the state to empower the chief executive of the GTA to issue Gorkha certificates not only to the residents of the Darjeeling hills but also to Gorkhas residing in the rest of the country.
GTA resolves to issue Gorkha certificate to Gorkhas Living Across India
GTA resolves to issue Gorkha certificate to Gorkhas Living Across India
Gorkha certificate is an important document, especially for those wanting to join the police, paramilitary and the armed forces, as Gorkhas are granted relaxations in terms of physical measurements.

At present these certificates are issued by the subdivisional officers of respective areas.

Pradeep Pradhan, the chairman of GTA Sabha, said today: “The GTA Sabha in its meeting has passed a resolution to write to both the state and Centre to empower the chief executive of the GTA to issue Gorkha certificates. The GTA is a body that represents Gorkhas across the country and such a provision should be given to the chief executive of the GTA. Even for those not residing in the hills, the GTA should be given the power to issue the certificate.”

The GTA Sabha today held the meeting after inaugurating a new GTA Sabhagriha (house). During the meeting, the GTA Sabha also passed a resolution to “suspend” Sanjay Thulung, an elected GTA Sabha member whose name has figured in an Assam arms haul case.

It was also decided that the GTA would form a GTA chief executive relief fund with a corpus of Rs 1 crore. The hill body also passed a resolution to come up with GTA Rules and Regulations.

Pradhan said the hill body would write to the various hydropower companies operating in the hills to provide a share of the revenue to the GTA.

Source: Telegraph

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