GTA members sworn-in; Centre announces fund
As the newly elected 45 members of the Gorkha Territorial Administration (GTA), including Bimal Gurung — the chief executive of GTA — was sworn in on Saturday in Darjeeling, Union Home Minister, Sushil Kumar Shinde, and Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee assured all help for the development of the hills.
“We are giving Rs 200 crore every year for the next three years to GTA from the Centre. And, if it performs well, the Central government will provide more funds for the development of the hills,” Shinde said at the swearing-in ceremony.
Congratulating chief minister of West Bengal Mamata Banerjee for successfully solving the hill problem, Shinde said: “The GTA has a huge responsibility to ensure development in the hills. I had talks with Bimal Gurung, and I have high hopes that with his interest in working for the people, he will do well.”
The long-standing demand for a separate state of Gorkhaland has led to the loss of hundreds of lives, and has severely affected the region’s economic condition, especially tea and tourism.
Speaking on the occasion, Banerjee said: “You should work hard for the development of the hills. The state government is there with you. Please don’t quarrel.”
“We will build a university, three ITIs, two polytechnics, a Nepali academy at Mongpu and a sainik school here in Darjeeling. The hospital will also be renovated,” the chief minister assured.
“I want Darjeeling and Dooars to be like Switzerland. Tourism should be developed here like never before,” Banerjee said.
On July 18 last year, a tripartite agreement was signed between the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM), the state and Central governments for setting up a new autonomous, elected GTA, a hill council armed with more powers than the previous Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) formed in the late 1980s.
The process of elections to the 45 GTA seats, held on July 29, came to an end on Thursday with GJM winning uncontested in all the 45 seats.
The GJM had already won a majority even before the elections statred; the party bagged 28 constituencies uncontested, after the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPM) and independent candidates withdrew their names from the fray, accusing the GJM of letting “loose a reign of terror”.
The TMC, which initially decided to contest 17 seats, also withdrew after Mamata Banerjee declared that they wanted GJM to run the council smoothly.
DH News Service