Vivek Chhetri, TT, Darjeeling, Aug. 5: The GTA today threatened to drag the Mayel Lyang Lepcha Development Board to court for allegedly encroaching on the jurisdiction of the hill body unless the Lepcha board cancelled e-tenders it has floated for execution of 25 development projects across the hills.
GTA chief executive and Gorkha Janmukti Morcha president Bimal Gurung said the time had probably come to burn the copies of the GTA memorandum and act as the state government was not allowing the hill body to function properly.
Bhupendra Pradhan, the chairman of the GTA Sabha, said: “The Mayel Lyang Lepcha Development Board has been formed under the Societies Act, while the GTA has elected representatives and has been given the responsibility of undertaking development work. However, the Lepcha board is now encroaching on and interfering in the functioning of the hill body.”
“We have decided to issue a notice to the development board to immediately cancel the tenders or else, we will go to court. In the past, the GTA had got a favourable ruling from Calcutta High Court when the north Bengal development department had tried to execute development projects by encroaching on the GTA’s jurisdiction,” said Pradhan.
The Lepcha board had on August 1 floated e-tenders for the execution of 25 projects at a cost of around Rs 7 crore. Tenders can be submitted till August 14 and the bids will be opened on August 17. The schemes relate to drinking water supply in Gorubathan, Kalimpong I, Rimbick, Sitong and Pokhriabong; footpaths in Kalimpong I; community halls in Kalimpong, Pokhriabong; artisan centres in Mirik and Bijanbari and construction of schools and playgrounds at various places in Kalimpong.
The estimate for each project ranges between Rs 6 lakh and Rs 55 lakh.
When Mamata Banerjee had announced the Lepcha board, Gurung said it was part of a strategy of the state government to divide the hill community. The chief minister subsequently announced boards for nine other communities.
Lyonsang Tamsang, the chairman of the Lepcha board, refused comment on the GTA’s threat. “The member-secretary of the board will be able to answer your queries,” said Tamsang.
G. Namchu, the member-secretary of the Lepcha board, said: “The funds were provided by the tribal development department and we were asked to execute the projects. The projects relate to drinking water supply and protection wall to prevent landslides and they are of urgent nature. We have followed all laid down procedures for the implementation of the projects.”
Namchu said he could not comment on the GTA’s stand. “I have nothing to comment.”
Addressing a Morcha meeting at Gorkha Rangamanch Bhavan here today, Gurung said: “Since the state government doesn’t want to follow the GTA agreement or the GTA Act, I think time is coming to burn (the copies of) both the agreement and act.”
Gurung did not bring up the tender issue in his speech and was speaking generally.
Binay Tamang, the GTA Sabha member, said: “On May 13 this year, we had filed a case in Supreme Court against violation of GTA agreement and act. We have made both the Centre and state parties in this case. We are expecting the first hearing to be held either on August 28 or 29.”