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

Bimal Gurung lashed out at party leaders

10:45 AM
Vivek Chhetri Telegraph - Darjeeling, July 10: Bimal Gurung today lashed out at party leaders for not being serious about tackling erosion in the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha's vote share that was apparent in the Assembly polls.

Although the Morcha won all the three hill Assembly seats, the party's winning margin dropped by around 68.5 per cent compared to the 2011 elections.

"There has been an erosion in the votes. If we work seriously, things will improve. I, however, think that the elected members (of the party) are not very serious about it," the Morcha chief said at a book release here today.

The thin attendance at the book release event at the Gorkha Rangamanch Bhavan - the place seats 600 but around 150 people were there - may have also triggered Gurung's rage.

Referring to the civic polls due this year and the GTA elections to be held in July next year, he said: "Elections are nearing but proper focus is not there. The Prime Minister did not form a committee to examine the demand of granting ST status to 11 communities for nothing. This is an outcome of my 62 days' padayatra (in October last year)."
Bimal Gurung

The committee headed by Asok Pai, the joint secretary, ministry for tribal affairs, was formed in April this year.

In this year's Assembly polls, the Morcha's winning margin dipped in all the three hill seats.

In 2011, Trilok Dewan, the Morcha candidate from Darjeeling, had defeated GNLF's Bhim Subba by 1,06,555 votes. While the Morcha had polled 1,20,532 votes, the GNLF had bagged 13,977.

This year, the Morcha (Amar Singh Rai) won the seat by 49,913 more votes than Trinamul's Sarda Rai Subba. The GNLF had supported Trinamul in the seat.

In 2011, the Morcha's Harka Bahadur Chhetri had bagged 1,09,102 votes in Kalimpong while his nearest rival, Prakash Dahal of the GNLF, could poll only 7,427 votes. The Morcha's winning margin was 1,01,675 votes.

This year, Chhetri who floated the Jana Andolan Party, was defeated by the Morcha's Sarita Rai by 11,431 votes - a slide of around 90 per cent for the hill party despite Gurung's personal campaign in this seat.

In Kurseong, the Morcha's Rohit Sharma had bagged 1,14,297 votes in 2011 giving the party a lead of 93,096 votes. His nearest rival from the GNLF had to forfeit her deposit.

This time, Sharma won the seat by 33,726 votes defeating Shanta Chhetri of the GNLF.

According to sources, the anti-Morcha votes in the hills began consolidating since the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

In the parliamentary polls, the GNLF had joined hands with Trinamul and they stayed allies in the Assembly elections.

In 2014, the anti-Morcha votes in the three seats in total was 1,57,890. This year, in the three Assembly segments that figure has risen to 1,94,699.

Gurung seemed visibly irritated at the low turnout for the release of " Rajnitika Kuraharu" (Talks of politics) authored by P. Arjun, a former member of the party's Study Forum, who had been expelled for his connections with Independent candidate Mahendra P. Lama during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

"I came from Kalimpong last evening to attend the programme today. I was expecting a number of writers and literary figures to felicitate P. Arjun here and a good turnout. This shows how things function when I am not around," Gurung told the gathering of around 150 people at Gorkha Rangamanch Bhavan.

Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri was present at the book launch, as were the three hill MLAs and senior leader Binay Tamang.

"Even today, many elected GTA Sabha members and municipality commissioners have not come here, probably because they think they will not get a ticket in the next election," Gurung said at the programme that was organised by the Morcha.

"I have asked for the event to be videographed for my reference," he added.

During his address, Arjun said it was time for the party to introspect. "It is time for introspection right from the GTA to erosion of votes in the recent elections," he said.

EOI Report - DARJEELING 10 Jul 2016 A low turnout of party leaders for a programme forced Gorkha Janmukti Morcha chief Bimal Gurung today to announce the re-launch of a book  brought out by a senior member of the Study Forum - the GJM intellectual wing.

The GJM had organised a programme at the Gorkha Ranga Manch Bhawan in Darjeeling to launch the book 'Rajniti Ka Kura Haru' written by P. Arjun, a Study Forum member. Although Gurung launched  the book, he was visibly annoyed by the low attendance and minced no words to express it. “It is sad our leaders including the GTA Sabhasads and municipality commissioners are not present  for such an occasion. Maybe a section of municipality commissioners are apprehensive they will not get tickets for the upcoming election this year,” Gurung said.
Launch of the book 'Rajniti Ka Kura Haru' written by P. Arjun in Gorkha Ranga Manch Bhawan in Darjeeling
Launch of the book 'Rajniti Ka Kura Haru' written by P. Arjun in Gorkha Ranga Manch Bhawan in Darjeeling 

Usually during party programmes, especially the ones Gurung attends, senior and unit party leaders, Sabhasads, municipality employees and members of frontal organisations are present.

However, today’s programme at the Gorkha Ranga Manch Bhawan saw no more than 100 people in attendance, despite the venue having a seating capacity of more than 600.

Expressing his frustration in strong words, the GJM chief issued a direct warning to the absentees. “I have noticed and made note of everything. I don't see a lot of leaders. I have asked our party’s official photographer to videograph the whole programme, which I will go through,” Gurung said.

Sources within the party said invitations for the programme had been dispatched well in advance and reminder calls had also been made. “We dispatched invitations to all leaders including the GTA

Sabhasads, municipality staff and officials and frontal organisations. We also called the leaders to remind them about today’s programme. What more can we do besides this?” said a senior leader on condition of anonymity.

The GJM chief said P. Arjun's book would be re-launched with much more fanfare from Kalimpong. “I will be in Kalimpong on July 18 or 19 and we will re-launch this book there.

I will invite prominent dignitaries including personalities from various fields of intellectual strata and felicitate P. Arjun,” Gurung said even as he admitted that the party had failed to live up to expectations in Kalimpong during the Assembly election.

“We have not done well in Kalimpong due to various reasons. But we don’t need to panic as we will sort things out and re-establish our base there. We however, need to retrospect on what has gone wrong  and try to rectify them,” he said.

In the recent Assembly election, the GJM’s margin of victory, especially from Kalimpong constituency, was low. Harka Bahadur Chhetri of the Jan Andolan Party, riding on the separate Kalimpong district plank, managed to tear into the GJM’s vote bank.

Gurung, who is also the chief executive of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration, emphasised the need to respect and preserve the works of writers along with the community’s literature, art and culture and language. “We must respect the work of writers as they contribute immensely to our literature, art, language and culture. Otherwise it will harm us socially and educationally,” he said.

P. Arjun, besides being a Study Forum member, was also a close advisor to the GTA chief executive till he was expelled from the party in 2014, just before of the Lok Sabha election. He however, returned to the GJM fold earlier this year.

JISTO critical of Roshan Giri's handling of regularisation issue

12:24 AM
Darjeeling, July 8: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha today dissolved the JISTO Movement Committee that was spearheading an agitation for regularisation of over 500 voluntary teachers in hill schools and was critical of Roshan Giri's handling of the issue.

The movement committee had criticised GTA executive sabha member in charge of education Giri for quite sometime for his alleged failure to solve the issue. The committee had set a deadline of 20 days to fulfil the demand that ended today.

Binay Tamang, the assistant general secretary of the Morcha, today said the party's central committee was dissolving the JISTO Movement Committee. "Bimal Gurung has decided to dissolve the JISTO Movement Committee, which had been formed from our frontal organisation, JISTO, to spearhead their movement. The frontal organisation, JISTO, however, will not be dissolved," Tamang said. The claim has been contested by the committee.

Asked about the reason for dissolving the committee, Tamang said: "It is being dissolved for various reasons," but gave none of the reasons.
A demonstration by the JISTO Movement Committee.
The Janmukti Insecure Secondary Teachers' Organisation (JISTO), a frontal organisation of the Morcha, has been demanding that more than 500 voluntary teachers in six junior high schools (till Class VIII), 52 high schools (up to Class X) and 71 higher secondary schools in the hills be made permanent. The School Service Commission (hills), which essentially is to cover the present GTA area, has been defunct since 2003 and that is why the schools had to appoint the voluntary tea-chers.

A demonstration by the JISTO Movement Committee. File picture
Amit Gurung, the co-ordinator of the JISTO Movement Committee, denied Tamang's claim that the JISTO and the committee were different entities. "It is the same entity. The JISTO central committee was dissolved by Bimal Gurung and the JISTO Movement Committee was formed in the Morcha's Patlabas office on November 19, 2015."

"It is because we expressed our displeasure over Roshan Giri's inability to solve the problem that the committee is being dissolved. It only proves that the Morcha is running away from the problem rather than solving it. Efforts are being made to break our unity but all teachers are together and we will continue our agitation," he added.

Asked about the next step, Amit said: "Since they dissolved the committee only today, time will tell what move we will take."

On July 5, Giri had met state education minister Partha Chatterjee and demanded that an ad hoc selection board be formed to make 519 voluntary teachers permanent.

Amit today said Giri was not aware of the number of the voluntary teachers. "At times, he talks about 500-odd teachers. At other times, he states there are 519 teachers. But from the GTA secretariat, we have found out that there are 570 voluntary teachers," he said.

After the Calcutta meeting on July 5, Chatterjee had said there were several part-time (voluntary) teachers who did not fulfil the eligibility criteria recommended by the National Council for Teacher Education, the apex body that regulates teachers' education in the country. He said the government would consider absorbing the teachers with required qualifications.


Roshan Giri's peal to state education minister Partha Chatterjee

1:25 PM
DARJEELING 5 July 2016 Gorkhaland Territorial Administration sabhasad Roshan Giri today said the state government has given a positive response to the demand for regularising teachers serving on voluntary basis in various high schools and higher secondary schools in the hills.

Today, Giri and the three MLAs from the hills called on state education minister Partha Chatterjee in Kolkata and served a memorandum of demand following which they got the assurance. Speaking from Kolkata, Giri said, “We met the state education minister today and submitted a memorandum of our demands regarding regularising the voluntary teachers. The minister gave us a patient hearing and positive assurance.”

At present, 519 teachers are serving voluntarily in 129 junior, high and higher secondary schools in the hills. However, these teachers now want to be regularised and have started various forms of agitation under the aegis of the Janmukti Insecure Secondary Teachers’ Organisation (JISTO) to pressurise the state government.
Roshan Giri accompanied by hill MLAs Amar Singh Rai, Sarita Rai and Rohit Sharma met state education minister Partha Chatterjee
Roshan Giri accompanied by hill MLAs Amar Singh Rai, Sarita Rai and Rohit Sharma
met state education minister Partha Chatterjee
Besides regularisation, the GTA also wants the state government to form an ad-hoc selection board, giving permanent status to the headmasters of various schools currently holding temporary posts and a raise in salary of the voluntary teachers.

“There are schools in the hills that have headmasters who have been given temporary charge. We want permanent status for them for the smooth functioning of the schools. We also raised the issue of enhancement of salary of the voluntary teachers as assured by the state government in 2014,” Giri said.

According to the GTA sabhasad, the education minister assured the delegation that the process to regularise the voluntary teachers would start on receiving the green signal from the state chief secretary. “We have been assured that the minister would start the process to absorb the voluntary teachers, form an ad-hoc selection board and enhance salary once the state chief secretary gives the directions,” said Giri.

When asked for his comment on the development, JISTO coordinator Amit Gurung said, “We have not received any information yet about the meeting between the GTA and the state education minister. We will first wait for the details of the proposed ad-hoc selection board to see if it benefits us and comment only then.”

A discrepancy to be noted here is that on May 20 last month, the joint secretary of the state school education department had written to the home and hill affairs department stating that regularisation, absorption and appointment of voluntary teachers in the GTA could not be entertained until they secure their candidature through the West Bengal School Service Commission, which ironically, has remained defunct in the hills since 2003.

Telegraph - The GTA Sabha member in charge of education, Roshan Giri, met state education minister Partha Chatterjee today and demanded that an ad hoc selection board be formed to make the 500-odd voluntary teachers in the hills permanent.

Giri, who was accompanied by hill MLAs Amar Singh Rai, Sarita Rai and Rohit Sharma, said: "We have demanded that an ad hoc selection board be formed to absorb the 519 voluntary teachers in the hills. Since 2003, the SSC (School Service Commission) has been lying defunct and that is why the managing committees of the schools have had to recruit voluntary teachers. After having served for so long, it is justified that their (the teachers') services are regularised."

Chatterjee, however, said there would be no separate system for recruiting hill teachers. "The system followed in the plains will have to be followed in the hills as well," he said after meeting Giri at Bikash Bhavan in Calcutta.

Via   EOI and Telegraph

Panchayat election in GTA area claims hill TMC president Rajen Mukhia

9:26 AM
TMC hints at rural elections

Writes Vivek Chhetri
Darjeeling, July 1: The Trinamool Congress (Hills) president today hinted that the state was planning to hold the panchayat elections in the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration area by the end of this year.

Although the state Election Commission has not made any announcement regarding the polls, Rajen Mukhia, the president, TMC (Hills), said: "I am hopeful that the panchayat election, even if it is for two tiers will take place in October-November this year."

The last time the hill rural polls were held in 2000.

Although the Centre, state and the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha had agreed to hold the three-tier rural polls in the GTA area in 2011, it was not held as a constitutional amendment is needed to start the process.

As of now, the Constitution has a provision to hold a two-tier panchayat elections in the hills - the gram panchayat and the panchayat samity.

Today, Mukhia said: "I was told to take charge of TMC (Hills) for the second term yesterday. I will try my best to justify the faith reposed on me by the leadership. We will take part in all three elections - panchayat, municipality and the GTA - and we are confident of doing well."
Hill TMC president Rajen Mukhia
Hill TMC president Rajen Mukhia
Trinamul sources said Mukhia's confidence about the poll timing comes after getting strong indications from the party leadership. "He will not speak with such confidence unless he has been given a strong hint," said a source.

Mukhia added that new committees at all levels - from district to panchayat - would be formed in the next two weeks. "The party expects results from us and we must deliver. We are very clear that only those leaders who perform will get a place in the new committees. ... Those who do not perform or are not active in the party will have to sit out irrespective of seniority," he said.

A source said Trinamul was eager to contest the elections in the hills after its performance in the Assembly polls.

While elections to the four hill municipalities - Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Kurseong and Mirik - are due later this year, the GTA polls are scheduled for July next year.

A Morcha leader refused comment on Mukhia's statement. "We would not like to react unless it is discussed in a party meeting."

Via Telegraph

Roshan Giri writes to state education minister to regularise the voluntary teachers

2:21 PM
DARJEELING 29 Jun 2016 GTA Sabhasad and education department executive Roshan Giri has written to state education minister Partha Chatterjee reminding him about his assurance to regularise the voluntary teachers engaged on temporary basis since several years in various schools of the hills.

Around 515 voluntary teachers under the aegis of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha-affiliated Janmukti Insecure Secondary Teachers' Organisation (JISTO) who are demanding permanent status have even  threatened to quit the organisation if the party leadership failed to find a solution to their case. The Sabhasad has brought to the notice of the minister the assurance given by him during a meeting in Kolkata in December 2015 to regularise all voluntary teachers. “A GTA and JISTO delegation had met minister Chatterjee in Kolkata last year. Chatterjee had then assured them to form an ad-hoc board to appoint the 515 voluntary teachers based on their eligibility and register of appointment. At that time the minister had also said the appointment would be confined only to the 515 voluntary teachers,” Giri said.
Roshan Giri
Roshan Giri 
On the contrary, on May 20 of this year, the joint secretary of the state school education department wrote to the home and hill affairs department informing him that regularisation, absorption and appointment of voluntary teachers in the GTA could not be entertained until they secure their candidature through the West Bengal School Service Commission. “We want the voluntary teachers to be regularised but it is the state government that is creating obstacles. There is lot of resentment among the voluntary teachers who have given their prime time. The growing frustration can lead to bigger problems in the future and anything can happen,” warned Giri.

There are presently 515 teachers in more than 129 junior, high and higher secondary schools in the GTA area working on voluntary basis. However, these teachers have not been able to appear or  take their SSC examination as it has become defunct since 2003 during the tenure of the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council.

Giri, who is also the GJM general secretary, said that Basudeb Banerjee, the then state home secretary, said in a meeting in 2014 that a decision had been taken to enhance the salary of the voluntary teachers but this is yet to be implemented. He said the party has also written to state panchayat and rural development minister Subrata Mukherjee, requesting him to fill vacant posts in the Sishu Siksha  Kendra (SSK) and Madhyamik Siksha Kendra (MSK). “In the 539 SSKs in the hills there are 1,060 vacancies, while in 67 MSKs 63 posts are available. But nothing has been done to fill the posts.

We have also requested the minister to establish a separate accounts section of the SSK and MSK in the hills,” Giri said.


GJM leadership weak, corrupt and lacks vision - Trinamool Congress

10:17 AM
DARJEELING 28 Jun 2016 Firing a fresh salvo at the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, the hill Trinamool Congress today accused the GJM leadership of being weak, corrupt and lacking in vision, the fallout of which was the reluctance of the state government to trust it and hand over absolute power to the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration.

The latest charge comes after Bimal Gurung on Monday shot-off a letter to chief minister Mamata Banerjee blaming the state government of non-cooperation in enabling the smooth running of the GTA.

Speaking to reporters today, hill TMC Mahila Congress president Sardha Subba said, “The GTA was formed four years ago but the GJM has nothing to show in terms of the development and progress of the region. The GJM leadership is weak and lacks vision. There is rampant corruption and nepotism in the GTA. This is why the state government cannot trust the GJM and give full autonomy to the GTA.”

Ever since the souring of relations with the chief minister, the GJM has been alleging of state government non-cooperation and unnecessary interference in the independent functioning of the council body. The GTA was formed with the state and central governments and the GJM signing an agreement in September, 2011 to bring to end four years of agitation for a separate state.
GJM leadership weak, corrupt and lacks vision - Trinamool Congress
Hill Trinamool Congress leader
But the hill TMC leader chose to differ saying it was an attempt by the GJM to hide four years of its failure in managing the council’s affairs properly. “Why is the GJM suddenly leveling such charges against the state government? What were they doing for four long years at the helm?

Blaming the state government now is nothing but the GJM’s effort to cover up its faults as they have not worked for the people,” charged Subba.

She was also of the opinion that not keeping a healthy relation with the state government would have a counter effect on the hills and its people. “The GJM has failed to keep good relations with the chief minister and the state government. She is after all the chief minister and the hills are a part of Bengal. Therefore, it makes sense that the two remain be on the same wavelength to usher development in the hills,” Subba said.

When asked about the possibility of the TMC contesting the upcoming municipality and GTA elections this November and next year, respectively, the TMC leader said, “Lots of things are going wrong in the hills and this needs rectification. However, the decision to participate in the elections rests completely on our party high command.”


Gorkha Janmukti Morcha reshuffled, 29-member Central Working Committee formed

9:50 AM
DARJEELING 28 Jun 2016 In a major reshuffle, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) has decided to hand over the party’s reigns to a 29-member Central Working Committee with a view to help strengthen the organisation as well as chalk out future policy matters.

Addressing a press conference today after a grueling day-long central committee meeting at the party’s Patleybas office in Darjeeling, GJM assistant general secretary Binay Tamang said, “During the day-long session of the party’s central committee, we deliberated on several issues including reshuffling our present organisational body. The aim of the reshuffle is to strengthen our party with fresh initiatives.”

The move to reshuffle the party comes at a time when it is facing heat from rival parties that have started making inroads in the hills. The GJM was victorious in the Assembly elections but a large chunk of its previous vote bank was lost to parties such as the Jan Andolan Party and the Trinamool Congress, slashing its victory margin by nearly half in the three hill assembly constituencies.

The TMC is gaining ground albeit with help from the state government, which is doling out development carrots including development boards for various hill communities. The Gorkha National Liberation Front too has started its political activities in the hills and is slowly on the revival path.
Binay Tamang
Political observers have suggested that these factors, along with growing unemployment issues and corruption in the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration, which opposition parties are taking advantage of to gain popular support, were making the GJM wary and hence the major re-jig within the party. “People have become aware of the politics being played out in the hills. The GJM is facing heat from various quarters, be it from the opposition or non-cooperation by the state government in running the GTA smoothly. They (GJM) emerged victorious in

the recently concluded Assembly elections but the win margin is something that has got them worried. Therefore, a reshuffle in the party ranks was due for sure,” reasoned a political pundit, not wishing to be named.

Earlier, in the party hierarchy, an 87-strong team of the central committee and a seven-member core committee took decisions on the party’s activities and political programmes. All these will now be done by the CWC to be headed by Bimal Gurung, the GJM president.

“This is our first central committee meeting after the Assembly elections. We have segregated some of our present organisations and also formed new committees,” said Tamang. The party has also increased posts of vice-presidents and assistant general secretaries including leaders from the Kalimpong and Mirik regions to give better representation.

The GJM has an existing legal cell but a decision was made to constitute a Legal Advisory Body comprising seven members to advice the party on all legal matters, given the many litigations pending in the courts.

This aside, for better coordination among its various organizations and parent body, leaders from the party’s central committee have been appointed as coordinators. At present the GJM has 23 frontal organisations. The 12-member Study Forum that has been entrusted with the responsibility of advising and studying the Gorkhaland demand has been left intact.

The GJM assistant general secretary also said that on July 12, a new committee would be formed to take forward the demand for tribal status to 10 communities of the hills, effectively disbanding the existing Bharatiya Gorkha Janjait Sangharsh Mahasangh.


The following Report was published on the Telegraph

Writes Vivek Chhetri
Darjeeling, June 28: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha today put in place a new body called the central working committee that would be the highest policy-making wing of the party at it's first major meeting after the recent Assembly polls.

Till date, the highest body of the hill party was the 87-member central committee.

"We have decided to form a 29-member central working committee that will decide policy and organisational matters. The changes have been brought about to further strengthen the party," Binay Tamang, the assistant general secretary of the Morcha, told reporters here today.

Most central committee members were present at the meeting.

The Morcha has made several other changes and appointed leaders from Kalimpong and Kurseong subdivisions to important posts to make the party more inclusive.

This year, the Morcha had to face tough competition from rival parties in Kalimpong and the hill party's victory margin in the subdivision came down from around 1 lakh in the 2011 Assembly polls to around 11,000.

The Morcha's victory margin in Darjeeling and Kurseong seats also went down by nearly 50 per cent this time.

"We had three vice-presidents in the party and today, we decided to appoint L.B. Rai from Mirik as another vice-president," Tamang said.

Till now, Tamang and Jyoti Kumar Rai were the Morcha's two assistant general secretaries. Today, the party decided to appoint R.B.Bhujel (Kalimpong), Bimal Darjee (Kurseong) and S.N. Ghisingh (Mirik) as assistant general secretaries as well.

The Morcha also formed a seven-member legal advisory committee today.

"We already have legal teams in Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong and we have formed the advisory committee to advise those," said Tamang.

For better co-ordination, the Morcha has decided to attach two or three co-ordinators to each of the party's 23 frontal organisations, like the Nari Morcha and Yuva Morcha.

"All co-ordinators are from the central committee," said Tamang.

According to Morcha sources, at the meeting today, the leaders discussed at length the party's performance in the recently-held Assembly elections and there was an agreement on the need to make the organisation more cohesive.

"The effort is to activate all leaders. Moreover, given the number of frontal organisations in the party, it was not possible to address the issues of all of them unless the party was decentralised," said a source.

Earlier, Morcha leaders had raised complaints that only a handful leaders would take decisions for the party.

"Let us see if things change. Although, old habits are difficult to change," said a Morcha central committee leader.

Gurung writes to Mamata Banerjee reminding her of GJM demands and GTA issues

9:41 AM
Writes Vivek Chhetri

Darjeeling, June 27: Bimal Gurung today wrote to Mamata Banerjee saying he was aware of her "soft corner" for the hill people and went on to list a series of issues that the state government had failed to address even four years after the GTA had come into being.

The letter was sent as a forerunner of the chief minister's visit to Darjeeling from July 11. President Pranab Mukherjee will also be in Darjeeling during that period.

"We are pretty sure that the chief minister is aware of the problems with regard to the GTA but the letter has been sent to her so that she is aware that these are the issues we will be raising when we meet her in Darjeeling," said a senior Morcha leader.

In the letter, Gurung reminded the chief minister of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha's demands: complete transfer of departments to the GTA, setting up of school service commission, college service commission and subordinate selection committee (for recruitment of Group B, C, and D employees to the GTA), implementation of three-tier panchayat system, allocation of funds for the hill body and regularisation of GTA casual workers.
Gurung writes to Mamata Banerjee reminding her of GJM demands and GTA issues
Roshan Giri speaks to the media in Darjeeling on Monday. Picture by Suman Tamang

Apart from the regularisation demand, all others were promised in the GTA memorandum of agreement.

The Morcha had raised the same issues before also.

However, what is of interest is the pleasing tone of the letter.

"Kindly allow me to express my best wishes for your 2nd term as the Chief Minister of West Bengal. Aware of your soft corner for the people of Darjeeling hills the GTA has strong reason to look forward to your focused attention to help, support and handhold the GTA in its development efforts for the people of Darjeeling hills," reads the opening line of the letter, which was released to the media by Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri here today.

Not long ago, Gurung had accused Mamata of dividing the hills by forming development boards. Soon after the Assembly elections in May, Gurung expressed his desire to forge a working relationship with the state government. Even though three Morcha MLAs have meet Mamata after the polls, this is the first time that Gurung is writing to Mamata after her electoral success.

Today, Giri said: "On August 2, the GTA will complete four years and the problems remain the same......There is no co-operation from the state government. Jobs are not being created for our youths and the hill body has still not been able to function to its fullest."

"Whenever we talk about setting up subordinate selection board, they (state government) say the matter is being looked into by the Public Service Commission and it has been four years now," he added.

"A notification has been issued by the state government for transfer of departments like land and land reforms, and food and food supplies, but the employees have not been asked to report to the GTA. How will the GTA function?" asked Giri.

Via Telegraph

Pathetic condition of schools under GTA shame on concerned authorities

9:48 AM
WAKE UP NETAS - Especially Sabhasad In-charge of Education

Writes: Kiran Subba

Seeing these pictures, what can we say?
No shame to Managing Committee, no shame to Headmaster, no shame to area Sabhsad, no shame to Education Department Sabhsad Mr Roshan Giri, no shame to GTA Chief and especially no shame to education department District Inspector and ASI.

Inspection of these school have to be done immediately.
The Sabhsad in charge of education only talks about "Central University," but he has never talked about reformation in education polices, school curriculum, examination timetable and never sat for meetings with DI, ASI, head of various institutions under GTA for the purpose of policy making regarding the upliftment of educational standard of GTA schools.
Pathetic Condition of School under GTA
Water logged‬ due to seepage, the pathetic condition of classrooms at Mirik MURMAH PREM SUNDAR HIGHER SECONDARY SCHOOL

Instead he sits meeting with Governor, CM, Education Minister, HRD Minister and even with Prime Minister where he talks about the regularisation of "adhoc teachers" and enhancement of grade pay of adhoc teachers. He never makes use of the great opportunities he gets to change our education system fundamentally

Abysmal state of Barnsbeg High School, please note these pics are from different classes
After becoming Sabhsad in-Charge of Education under GTA
(1) How many schools you have visited?
(2) How many meetings you have arranged with headmaster for educational matters not political?
(3) How many times you have given a surprise visit to schools?
(4) How many times you had a meeting with District Inspector, ASI regarding school matters like
- Strength of students in primary school/high school
- Mid-day meals
- SC/ST, religious minority students facilities
- regarding quotas of GTA students in pharmaceutical studies, fisheries, horticulture, engineering, medical etc after class twelve.
- Games and sports
- Water, toilet electric facilities.
- Examination of infrastructural facilities
- Availability of teachers
- Primary teachers appointment etc.
(5) For how many students, you as being education department sabhsad, have given scholarships to toppers from GTA?
(6) Have you ever helped to the teachers of esteemed institution of GTA areas to get text book number (TB NUMBER) so that they can publish school text books?
(7) Have you ever arranged a meeting with teachers union to discuss about educational matters/not political?
(8) Have you ever paid a visit to the Govt High School in Darjeeling after becoming educational Sabhasad and conveyed any meeting with the headmaster and teachers regarding reviving the educational standard of school and accommodating more number of students?

We hope to get some answers from our honourable Sabhsad in-Charge of the education department, GTA

Via TheDC

"GTA cannot be Dissolved" says Darjeeling MP S.S. Alhuwahila

9:20 AM
MP to Voice Gorkhaland. Not to Defend GTA.

Writes Neeraj Zimba Tamang

The historic mandate bestowed by the people of Darjeeling Hills to Shri. S.S. Alhuwahila, MP BJP, is only for a Single Point Agenda of Gorkhaland. He is expected to deliver the wishes of his electorate, to be the advocate of the Gorkhaland cause and be its loudest VOICE in the highest political forum - the Indian Parliament.

So far, apart from speaking on a few developmental related issues in Parliament and fixing few courtesy appointments in the PMO and MHA for Bimal & Co. he has not been able to utter in the Indian Parliament, even a word "Gorkhaland" to the utter dismay and exasperation of the Indian Gorkhas who gave him such a thumping victory in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

Now, our MP is advocating the cause and legitimacy of GTA over Gorkhaland and making loose statements like, "GTA cannot be Dissolved". This are words put to his mouth by Bimal & Co who all know very well that GTA is a unconstitutional body and be scrapped anytime. The case challanging the constitutional validity of GTA will come up for hearing soon in the Kolkata High Court under the directives of the Supreme Court. There is NO proviso in the GTA Agreement which says that GTA cannot be dissolved without the consent of the Center Government as GTA is a State Subject and the State Government can scrap it anytime.
"GTA cannot be Dissolved" says Darjeeling MP  S.S. Alhuwahila
Why is GJM so serious and scared about the dissolution of GTA.? Wasn't it was Bimal Gurung who once said Bye Bye to GTA and resigned? After signing the GTA Agreement the GJM had told the public that it was just a temporary set up and their ultimate goal is Gorkhland and that it was just on an experimental basis they had consented to GTA while catogorically accepting the region to be an "integral part of the State of West Bengal" and rhetoricially "not dropping their demand of Gorkhaland". Then why is it so vehemently protecting and propagating the validity and legitimacy of GTA?

Darjeeling MLA Amar Rai on the debate on the Governor's address

9:53 PM
Writes Amar Singh Rai

I was allotted 5 minutes to make a presentation on the debate on the Governor's address.
I thanked the Speaker for giving me the opportunity to address the august House.
I started my speech on the " charm" of Democracy. It's this" charm" that gives us the opportunity to express our views, to discuss and debate, to raise issues, to interact, to develop friendship and know members, to share and care.

I took up 3 issues mentioned in the Address
1. An " inclusive" approach for development which would be pro- people and cater to the marginalised sections.
2. The plight of Tea Garden labours.
3. Scope of Education.
Darjeeling MLA Amar Rai
The inclusive approach is welcomed and hope the Govt. applies it without disparity.
I pointed out the decent instance of the Govt decision to raise the pay of Group C and D casual workers in GTA. This has led to an agitation by the Group A and B Staff which is affecting the work of the GTA. These should also be included in the decision of the Govt immediately.
On the issue of the plight of Tea garden labourers I made a mention of the long standing problems faced by them. The immediate one being the problem faced by the Gardens owned by the Alchemist Group. I Appealed to the Govt. to look into this immediately.

Regarding the scope of Education I made my point that school education is in doldrums in the Hills due to the non establishment of the School Service Commission. Requested the Govt. to take immediate steps to establish the School Service Commission, College Service Commission and the Subordinate Staff Selection Commission as all these were agreed to upon in the MOA and included in the GTA Act.

I also raised the important issues of Land Rights and Minimum Wages but time did not permit.However these issues were raised by Dr. Rohit yesterday.

विधानसभामा आफ्नो सम्बोधनको क्रममा दार्जीलिङ विधानसभा समष्टिक्षेत्रका विधायक अमरसिहँ राईले दार्जीलिङ पहाड़सम्बन्धित तीनवटा मुद्दाहरू क्रमैले सबै वर्गका मानिसहरूको समान विकास, उत्तर बगांलसितै दार्जीलिङ पहाड़का चियाकमानहरूको आर्थिक उत्थान अनि पहाड़को शैक्षिक विकासको पक्षमा राज्य सरकारको ध्यानाकर्षण गराएका छन्।

गत 17 जूनको दिन राज्यपाल केशरीनाथ तिवारीले समग्र राज्यवासीहरूको पक्षमा राज्यवासीहरूलाई समान विकासतिर अग्रसर गरिनुपर्ने, उत्तर बंगालक्षेत्रका चियाकमान अनि चियाश्रमिकहरूको उत्थान गरिनुपर्ने तथा राज्यमा सर्वाङ्गीन शिक्षा विकास गरिनुपर्ने विषयहरूमाथि आफ्नो वक्तव्य पेश गरेका थिए भने उक्त प्रस्तावहरूमाथि प्रतिक्रिया व्यक्त गर्नको निम्ति विधायक राईले आज 5 मिनटको समय पाएका थिए। सोही अवधिमा राज्यपालको उक्त वक्तव्यको स्वागत गर्दै उनले यी तीनवटा विषयहरूमा दार्जीलिङ पहाड़को निम्ति पनि राज्य सरकारले यी विषयहरूमाथि ध्यान दिन आवश्यक रहेको विचार व्यक्त गर्दै उक्त कुराहरू राखेका हुन्।

राज्यवासीको हितमा सरकारद्वारा शुरू गरिने विकासकार्यहरूमा दार्जीलिङ पहाड़लाई पनि समावेश गरिनुपर्ने माग राख्दै विधायक राईले राज्यवासीहरूलाई समान विकासमा दोहोराउने राज्यपालको योजनालाई स्वागत पनि गरे। गत फरवरी महीनामा सी अनि डी वर्गका कर्मचारीहरूको वेतन वृद्धि गरिएको प्रसङ्ग झिक्दै विधायक राईले उक्त दुई वर्गको मात्रै वेतन वृद्धि गरिदाँ ए अनि बी वर्गका कर्मचारीहरूले असन्तुष्ट रहेको बताउँदै दार्जीलिङ पहाड़मा पनि ए अनि बी वर्गका कर्मचारीहरू असन्तुष्ट भएर विरोध गरिरहेकोले जीटीएलाई प्रशासनिक तौरमा धेरै प्रभाव परिरहेको पनि विधायक राईले विधानसभालाई बताए। यसरी एक वर्गको हितमामात्रै कार्य नगरी सबै जनतालाई समानरूपमा विकासकार्यमा अग्रसर गराए राज्यको विकास संगसंगै शान्ति अनि सद्भावनापूर्ण माहौल पनि सृजना हुने पनि राईले आफ्नो सम्बोधनको क्रममा भने।

यसबाहेक दार्जीलिङ पहाड़का चियाश्रमिकहरूको उत्थानको निम्ति पनि राज्य सरकारले सोच्न अनि पदक्षेप लिन आवश्यक रहेको पनि राईले विचार व्यक्त गरे। दार्जीलिङ पहाड़का चियाकमानहरूमा धेरै प्रकारको समस्याहरू रहिआएको र कतिपय चियाकमानहरू बन्दावस्थामा रहेको पनि उल्लेख गर्दै यसलाई व्यवस्थित गर्नको निम्ति राज्य सरकारको हस्तक्षेप आवश्यक रहेको पनि उनले बताए।

यसै सन्दर्भमा अल्कामिस्ट ग्रुप अधिनस्थ रहेका दार्जीलिङ पहाड़ अनि समतलक्षेत्रका यिचाकमानहरूको समस्या समाधानको निम्ति पनि राज्य सरकारले यथाशीघ्र ठोस पदक्षेप लिन आवश्यक रहेको पनि विधायक राईले विधानसभामा माग उठाए।

यसपछि दार्जीलिङको शिक्षा व्यवस्थालाई व्यवस्थित बनाउनुको निम्ति पनि राज्य सरकारको पहल आवश्यक रहेको पनि राईले बताए। जीटीए सम्झौता अनि जीटीएको कानूनमा पनि जीटीएक्षेत्रको शैक्षिक विकासको निम्ति स्कूल सर्भिस कमिशन(एस.एस.सी), कलेज सर्भिस कमिशन(सी.एस.सी) अनि सब अर्डिनेट सेलेक्सन बोर्डहरू स्थापना गरिने कुराको उल्लेख रहेको भएतापनि हालसम्म यस दिशामा कुनै पहल नभएको उल्लेख गर्दै पहाड़को शिक्षा व्यवस्था ठीक गर्न राज्य सरकारले यी विषयहरूमा अविलम्ब पहल शुरू गरिनुपर्ने पनि विधायक राईले आफ्नो सम्बोधनको क्रममा भने।

यसरी नै अब राज्यपालको सोही प्रस्तावहरूमाथि भोलि कालेबुङका विधायिका सरिता राईले पनि विधानसभामा प्रतिक्रिया व्यक्त गर्नेछिन्।
श्री अमर सिहँ राई
दार्जीलिङ विधानसभा समष्टि।

Amar Singh Rai Official

Gurung announced Rs 50 crore to upgrade Kalimpong Mela Ground into stadium

9:56 AM
Writes Rajeev Ravidas

Kalimpong, June 21: GTA chief executive Bimal Gurung today announced that he had sanctioned Rs 50 crore for the upgrade of the Mela Ground here to a modern stadium, but the project cannot be executed until and unless the land, which is with the Darjeeling Improvement (DI) Fund, is given to the hill body.

Sources at the GTA said the estimated cost of the project that envisaged the construction of both indoor and outdoor facilities, along with proper seating arrangements, was Rs 105 crore.

Addressing the International Yoga Day event at the soggy Mela Ground, Gurung said the project would be a gift to the people of Kalimpong, especially the children and youngsters. "Mela Ground is at the centre of the town. But its condition is like that of a paddy field. I have been trying to build a big stadium at the ground for a long time as a gift to Kalimpong. Just yesterday, I sanctioned Rs 50 crore to build a big stadium at the Mela Ground," he said.
Gurung announced Rs 50 crore to upgrade Mela Ground into stadium
50 crore for the upgrade of the Mela Ground here to a modern stadium
The Mela Ground with a measurement of 110ft X 62ft hosts football matches once in a while and it has cemented galleries which are partially covered. The galleries can at most accommodate 5,000 spectators. Political parties and organisations hold meetings and other events at the ground.

Although the GTA chief executive did not reveal the details of the stadium, sources said a Delhi-based firm had already prepared a detailed project report and the stadium, which would have both indoor and outdoor facilities, was estimated to cost Rs 105 crore. "To begin with, a start-up fund of Rs 20 crore from the Centre's special package has been set aside for the project. According to the chief executive's instruction, an e-tender will be called at the earliest," said a source.

The bulk of the remaining funds for the project, the source said, would be sought from the Union sports ministry by taking the state government into confidence.

However, according to another source, before the GTA can execute the project, the hill body must get possession of the Mela Ground land, which belongs to the Darjeeling Improvement (DI) Fund that continues to remain under the state government despite being a transferred subject as per the GTA Act. "According to the GTA Act, the DI Fund plots should have been transferred to the hill body. However, we are still to get the possession of these lands. Until that happens, the GTA cannot execute the project. The GTA has already written to the state government, seeking the transfer of all DI Fund plots to the hill body," said the source.


GNLF strengthening alliance with Mamata Banerjee.

8:33 AM
Writes Vivek Chettri

Darjeeling, June 20: The GNLF today said it had found a common ground with the Trinamul Congress to take on Bimal Gurung in the hills and was confident of strengthening the alliance with Mamata Banerjee.

Mann Ghisingh, the president of the GNLF, today led a six-member delegation that met Mamata at Nabanna for nearly an hour and discussed issues concerning the hills, like granting tribal status to 11 communities and the dues of workers of three tea gardens owned by the Trinamul Congress MP K.D. Singh.

After the meeting, Neeraj Zimba, a central committee member of the GNLF who was part of the delegation, said: "Whenever we feel we cannot go alone, we will go with TMC. There is no formal alliance yet and we might not be natural allies. But we have found a common ground."
GNLF delegation met Mamata Banerjee
GNLF delegation met Mamata Banerjee
Asked about common ground, Zimba said: "There is a need to end corruption in the hills and bring about better administration that Bimal Gurung has not delivered. As far as formalising the alliance is concerned, our party president will take a call as and when its needed."

Zimba was hinting at an election-centric alliance rather than a long-term political front.

Even though the GNLF had supported Trinamul during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and the recent Assembly polls, the party has not been able to cement its relations with Trinamul.

GNLF's apparent closeness with Mamata comes at a time Gorkha Janmukti Morcha president Gurung, too, is keen on establishing a working relation with the state government. Sources said the Morcha was keenly following the Mamata-Mann dialogue.

The delegation today discussed a number of issues with the chief minister. "We talked about the demand to grant tribal status to 11 hill communities, problems in tea gardens owned by Alchemist Group, the closure of NH55, voluntary teachers' jobs, corruption in the GTA and regularisation of employees of the hill body," said N.B.Chhetri, the spokesman for the GNLF.

Chhetri claimed that Aroop Biswas, the Trinamul leader in charge of the hills, had assured that tea garden workers' dues would be cleared within 15 days.

Alchemist Group, which owns Dooteriah, Kalej Valley and Peshok tea gardens, has dues to the tune of Rs 10 crore.


State asks Voluntary teachers GTA to pass the School Service Commission for regularization

9:50 AM
Writes Vivek Chhetri

Darjeeling, June 19: The state's education department has informed that regularisation of voluntary teachers in the GTA area cannot be entertained unless they pass the School Service Commission (SSC) examination.

There are more than 500 voluntary teachers at 120-odd secondary schools in the Darjeeling hills. The SSC (hills), which essentially is to cover the present GTA area, has been defunct since 2003 and that is why schools had to appoint voluntary teachers.

The Janmukti Insecure Secondary Teachers' Organisation (JISTO), which is affiliated to the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, has been demanding the regularization of the voluntary teachers' jobs.

A letter dated May 20, 2016, and bearing memo number: 669-SE(S)/4A-18/15 (Pt -1) written by "joint secretary" of the school education department (secondary branch) on the issue of "regularization of volunteer teachers under GTA" clearly states that "on the subject stated above the undersigned is directed to say that regularization /absorption/ appointment of volunteer teachers in GTA cannot be entertained until they secure their candidature through the West Bengal School Service Commission".
State asks Voluntary teachers GTA to pass the School Service Commission for regularization
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee with Gorkha Janmukti Morcha
general secretary Roshan Giri  - a file photo
The letter has been sent to the commissioner, home and hill affairs department.

The school education department, quoting a Supreme Court order, said no appointment could be regularised without a proper selection process.

The education department has asked the home and hill affairs department to advise them on the matter.

The letter was today shown to the media by Roshan Giri, executive GTA Sabha member in charge of education.

"In the hills, the SSC has been defunct since 2003, long before the GTA came into existence, and we demand that the state government come up with a one-time solution," said Giri.

Amit Gurung, co-ordinator, JISTO, blamed the GTA for failing to solve the impasse and its members have threatened to dissolve the body if there is no fruitful outcome within 20 days.

"The GTA has the power to recruit Group B, C and D employees. If the state government is not allowing it to exercise its functions, what is stopping it from approaching court?" Gurung asked today.

"If there is no fruitful outcome on our demand within 20 days, we will dissolve JISTO, close schools and start a Calcutta chalo abhiyan," said Gurung.


JAKS Intensifies agitation, will close GTA offices from June 20

10:33 AM
DARJEELING 17 Jun 2016 Intensifying its ongoing agitation, the Janmukti Asthayi Karmachari Sangathan (JAKS) today announced it would enforce the closure of the engineering cells of the various offices of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration from Monday till a solution to its demand for increasing the salary of Group A and B employees is arrived at.

Engineers, doctors, managers and curators, who fall under Groups A and B of the GTA, have begun an indefinite cease-work from June 13. Their demand is enhancement of salary as per an order issued in February 2016 by the finance department of the state government.

“We started the agitation on June 13 and will intensify it in phases. We have decided to close all the engineering cells of the GTA from Monday to press our demand. We know our decision could create problems for the general public and feel sorry, but we request everyone to support the agitation,” said Deepak Sharma, the JAKS spokesperson.
Janmukti Asthayi Karmachari Sangathan (JAKS) at Lal Kothi

At the same time, Sharma said the present deadlock had eased a bit as the GTA had initiated dialogues with them. The GTA principal secretary and secretary, the deputy chief executive and Sabhasads held a meeting in the afternoon with JAKS representatives at Lal Kothi to discuss the issue. It was decided that the principal secretary would hold talks with the state government and a GTA delegation would leave for Kolkata soon.

“The deadlock has been broken and talks have started. However, we will continue our agitation of assembling outside Lal Kothi and close the engineering cells. We will also head to Kolkata as part of the GTA delegation for talks with the state government,” Sharma said.

The JAKS agitation reached its fifth day today with 147 engineers, 120 school teachers, eight doctors, two managers and one curator ceasing work. The other demand the JAKS is spearheading is the regularisation of 5,321 workers of the GTA who were originally on contractual basis with the now-defunct Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council.


Janmukti Asthayi Karmachari Sangathan confines GTA officials to their chambers at Lal Kothi

DARJEELING 15 Jun 2016 Members of the Janmukti Asthayi Karmachari Sangathan (JAKS), an umbrella organisation of casual workers, today confined the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration chief principal secretary and a sabhasad to their chambers at Lal Kothi pressing for enhanced incentives.

More than 200 Group A and B employees comprising doctors, engineers, managers and curators of the GTA under the aegis of JAKS are on an indefinite cease-work agitation since June 13.

They have been assembling every morning before the main gate at Lal Kothi, but refuse to do any work.

Today, the agitators reached Lal Kothi around ten in the morning and headed straight into the administrative building. GTA chief principal secretary Ravinder Singh, secretary Don Bosco Lepcha   and Sabhasad Binay Tamang were in their chambers. Executive directors and executive engineers of the GTA had gathered inside for a meeting with the chief principal secretary.
Janmukti Asthayi Karmachari Sangathan (JAKS) file photo
The officials were all taken aback when informed about the gherao by the JAKS, who by then had blocked their chambers. Visitors were also not allowed to enter the Lal Kothi building.

“It is part of our agitation to press for our demand. We confined the officials to their chambers from morning till evening. We will intensify our agitation and even stop all work of the GTA in the coming days,” warned Deepak Sharma, the JAKS spokesperson.

The officials were confined to their chambers till four in the evening and allowed to leave office only afterwards. The GTA chief principal secretary did not want to talk to the press but the Tamang said,

“The chief principal secretary should initiate dialogues with the agitators. There are several development projects on the pipeline and if the agitation continues, it can be a hindrance. One must also note that the monsoon has started in the hills and there are every chances of calamities occurring."

In February, the state finance department issued Order No.1107-F (P) dated February 25, 2016 to revise the benefits and salary of the GTA contractual workers. The order also stated that it had been  decided to enhance the remuneration by 3 per cent every year. Group C and D workers started getting their enhanced pay from April. However, the JAKS’s contention is that although Group A and B employees, presently receiving Rs13,500 to Rs21,000, are also mentioned in the state government order, they have been kept out of the enhanced pay structure.

There are 5,321 workers employed in the various departments of the GTA, who, initially, worked under the erstwhile Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) on contractual appointment for meager payments.


Darjeeling Everest girls Trishala & Suloxchana to get grand homecoming reception

3:12 PM
Report by Swareena Gurung

DARJEELING 13 Jun 2016 The Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) has planned a grand homecoming reception for Everest climbers Trishala Gurung and Suloxchana Tamang who will be arriving at Bagdogra airport from Delhi on June 15. The two girls from Darjeeling  scaled the world's highest mountain on May 21.

GTA Information and Cultural Department executive member Binay Tamang has requested members of all castes and communities including students to welcome the two climbers right from Siliguri all the way to Darjeeling by forming groups in several vantage places. Gurung and Tamang will be felicitated at a programme to be organised at the Gorkha Rangamanch Bhawan.

Everest climbers Trishala Gurung and Suloxchana Tamang from Darjeeling
From right Everest climbers Trishala Gurung and Suloxchana Tamang from Darjeeling
The chairmen of the four municipalities of Darjeeling, Mirik, Kalimpong and Kurseong will be present along with GTA and Gorkha Janmukti Morcha members. GJM president Bimal Gurung will  address the function. The climbers will also be rewarded with citizen felicitations on Independence Day in recognition of their praiseworthy feat.


Hills on agitation path for salary hike & dues spearheaded by GJM

10:18 AM
Vivek Chhetri

Darjeeling, June 13: GTA offices and some tea gardens are in the grip of movements spearheaded by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha in the hills.

While all 284 Group A and B ad hoc employees at the hill body started a pen-down strike this morning to demand a salary hike, the Morcha-affiliated tea garden trade union today announced a 72-hour relay hunger strike on the district magistrate's office premises this week to press for the payment of dues in plantations owned by Trinamul Congress MP K.D. Singh.

Janmukti Asthai Karmachari Sangathan, the trade union of the Morcha, launched the strike to demand a hike in salaries of Group A and B casual staff at the GTA similar to the one effected by the state government for Group C and D ad hoc workers from March 1. The Group A and B employees include engineers, doctors, managers and school teachers.
The agitating GTA employees outside Lal Kothi on Monday
The agitating GTA employees outside Lal Kothi on Monday. (Suman Tamang)
"In the GTA, the highest amount a Group A officer like engineers and doctors currently receives is Rs 21,000 per month, while some drivers in Group C section are now getting Rs 22,500 following the recent hike. This is unfair. We will continue the agitation until the government rectifies the anomaly," said Deepak Sharma, the spokesman for the Sangathan.

The GTA has over 19,000 employees in total and 5,321 of them were appointed on a temporary basis. Since there are permanent employees in the Group A and B categories and today was the first day of the strike, the GTA's functioning was not affected.

The Morcha-affiliated Darjeeling Terai Dooars Plantation Labour Union today said it had decided to start the 72-hour relay fast in the district magistrate's office from June 16 and block NH55 on June 21 and 22 to press for the payment of dues in the three gardens run by the Alchemist Group.

The union claims that the dues come to Rs 10 crore.

Early this morning, tea garden and cinchona plantation workers also demonstrated for an hour before reporting for work to demand land rights for the inhabitants of the tea and cinchona plantations.


Who is Bharatiya Gorkha Parisangh Batting For? Why are they demanding OBC status for Gorkhas?

12:19 PM
The Bharatiya Gorkha Parisangh (BGP) which claims to be the "apex body of Gorkhas in India" seems to be trying to undo all the good work done by the Govt of Sikkim and Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) who have pushed for all the Gorkhas to be recognized as Scheduled Tribes.

In a meeting with the DoNER Minister Dr. Jitendra Singh, they have demanded once again that Gorkhas be included under OBC and not ST. Here is a report from the national daily The Hindu [details:]

"The Gorkhas have urged the central government to give “Other Backward Class” status to the community, an official statement said on Sunday. A delegation of the community leaders and members from Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Meghalaya and Uttarakhand made the demand when they met union Minister for Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) and PMO Jitendra Singh here on Saturday.
BGP delegation to MoS DoNER
According to the release here, the minister gave a patient hearing to the delegation led by Bharatiya Gorkha Parisangha president S.M. Moktan. The Parisangha is a national organisation of Gorkhas in the country, the release said. Prominent among the delegationwere V.B. Thupu from Uttar Pradesh, D.C. Poudiyal and P.P. Pradhan from West Bengal, Guman Bhoj Limbo from New Delhi, Jagannath Koirala from Meghalaya and Bhupendra Adhikari from Uttarakhand." This is the 2nd time that BGP has sent representation to Union Ministers, earlier it was to MoS Home Kiren Rijju demanding OBC status for Gorkhas.

Currently the Central Govt has formed a committee to examine the inclusion of all the Gorkha communities as ST, where as BGP is repeatedly pushing for OBC status, thus we wonder whose interest is BGP serving?

Are they getting funded by anti-Gorkha political parties to push for such an absurd demand during such a critical time?


Gorkha Janmukti Morcha says no issues working with the state government

10:36 AM
DARJEELING 9 Jun 2016 The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha today said it had no issues working with the state government, a day after North Bengal Development Department minister Rabindranath Ghosh assured his department would not interfere in the independent functioning of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration.

Ghosh, who has succeeded Gautam Deb as the NBDD minister, on Wednesday held a meeting with department officials at Uttarkanya following which he said  his department would not undertake any development work in the GTA area unless assistance was sought by the hill body.

All this while, the GJM had been accusing the state government of unnecessary interference in the functioning of the GTA and infringement on its autonomy.

In fact, the once cordial relationship between the two had ebbed to its lowest although signs of revival are being noticed of late.

The GJM leadership today took a soft approach in response to the NBDD minister’s remarks. “We welcome the NBDD minister saying the state government would not interfere in GTA matters. This means the territorial jurisdiction of the GTA is being respected. And this is good as controversies will not be created unnecessarily. We are ready to work in tandem with the state government for the greater benefit of the people,” said Roshan Giri, the GJM general secretary and GTA Sabhasad.

In 2014, the GJM-run GTA had filed a petition in the high court against the NBDD for floating tenders and building three roads in the hills under the Rural Infrastructure Development Fund scheme without its consent. The GTA’s contention was that doing so violated the GTA Act.

GJM president Bimal Gurung had earlier asserted he would not meet chief minister Mamata Banerjee or hold talks with the state government. But he has backtracked on that stance since, when he went to Kolkata last month to attend the oath-taking ceremony of the new state government on the invitation of the chief minister.
(From left) Rabindranath Ghosh, Gautam Deb.
(From left) Rabindranath Ghosh, Gautam Deb.

After his party's victory in the Assembly election, Gurung issued a statement congratulating the TMC chief and her party for regaining power. He even said he was ready to work with the state government to usher development in the hills. Meanwhile, Giri said the appointment of Gautam Deb as the tourism department minister was a positive step. “He headed the NBDD and is well aware of the region and its needs. We want the tourism minister to endorse projects the GTA prepares and pursue them with the state government. This will help boost the tourism potential of the hills,” said the GJM general secretary.

But Sardha Subba, senior leader of the hill TMC unit, termed the GJM’s revised stand as a betrayal of the people. “The GJM won the election by advocating for a separate state and terming the TMC as an anti-hill party. But now they are willing to work with the very state government they seemed dead against. The people must understand the GJM is betraying them once again,” she alleged.

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