Tripartite accord on Darjeeling signed

Tripartite accord on Darjeeling signed

Tripartite accord on Darjeeling signed

The historic tripartite agreement for the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) was signed here on Monday to resolve the vexed Darjeeling problem amidst protests and bandhs in the Terai and Dooars areas.

The agreement was signed by West Bengal Home Secretary G D Gautama, Union Home Ministry Joint Secretary K K Pathak and the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha General Secretary Roshan Giri at the Pintail village, about 8 km from Siliguri.

Union Home Minister P Chidambaram, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and GJM chief Bimal Gurung and the BJP MP from Darjeeling Jaswant Singh were present at the accord-signing ceremony, among others.

Describing the occasion as 'historic,' Chidambaram said the Centre and the state government would fully back the GTA.

"Both the Government of West Bengal and the Government of India will stand by you and hold your hand. The task before you is stupendous. There will be many hurdles, but there is no hurdle that cannot be solved through dialogue, determination and spirit of give and take," the Home Minister said.

Pointing out that the area under the GTA jurisdiction had a pluralistic society, he said, "There will be many races, different languages, different cultures. But we are one people. The new administration must respect the plurality of the region."

Categorically ruling out any division of the state, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said the new memorandum of agreement sought to confer to the GTA maximum possible autonomy within the constitutional framework and within various state and central acts.

Banerjee assured a complete economic package to the GTA which, she said, would function within West Bengal.

The Amra Bangali, Jana Jagaran and Jaja Chetana, backed by the Adivasi Bikash Parishad, have called a 48-hour bandh in the Terai and Dooars in the plains area against the signing of the treaty.

The chief minister said the newly-formed GTA, to have 45 members, will hold elections within six months.

"The election process will start shortly," she said.
Categorically stating that the GTA will have jurisdiction in the three sub-divisions of Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong, she said, "There has been a hue and cry over the formation of a panel to explore demand for inclusion of the Gorkha-dominated areas of Dooars and Terai in the GTA. Many people do not want the Darjeeling problem to be resolved."

Lashing out at the CPI(M) and some regional outfits for objecting to the nomenclature of the GTA, she said, "They are indulging in politics over the name. They are indulging in false propaganda to create confusion among the people. They could not do anything (to resolve the Darjeeling problem) in the last 35 years. Let us do our work."

Without naming the CPI(M), she said, "They are trying to pit Bengalis against the hill people. But this will not happen. We will remain together. Darjeeling is not outside Bengal."

In a word of advice to the GJM leadership, Chidambarm said, "Your task is stupendous. Your subjects cover an entire range of development."

The subjects under the GTA included, among other things, agriculture, irrigation, food, industry, education, women and child development, water resources, land and land revenue, municipalities, panchayats, urban development, public health and tourism, he said, adding "everything that concerns people are given to you."