Vivek Chhetri,TT, 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.
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.
Strike threat
The Darjeeling Terai Dooars Plantation Labour Union, the Morcha affiliated union for tea garden labourers, has threatened to call a token strike and block roads in the hills if the Alchemist Group doesn’t clear dues in three of its estates. The group owns three gardens and the management has dues of Rs 10 crore.