GTA review on May 24 – Morcha to seek Rs 575 crore for infrastructure at meet

The Telegraph

VIVEK CHHETRI

Darjeeling, May 8: The Union home ministry has decided to hold the next review meeting to look into the functioning of the GTA Sabha in Darjeeling on May 24.

Decisions on allotment of additional funds to the GTA and initiating the process for the amendment to the Constitution to implement the three-tier panchayat system in the hills are expected to be taken at the meeting.

The review meetings are attended by representatives of the central and state governments and the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha.

“The review meeting will be held at Richmond Hill in Darjeeling on May 24 from 11am. While a joint secretary of the Union home ministry is expected to represent the Centre, the state will be represented by its home secretary, Basudeb Banerjee,” Morcha general secretary and an executive GTA Sabha member Roshan Giri said today.

Giri, along with Darjeeling MLA Trilok Dewan, are expected to be present at the meeting on behalf of the Morcha.

The review session is important as the Morcha has demanded Rs 575 crore as a one-time grant to put in place the administrative infrastructure of the GTA from both the state government and the Centre. The demand was placed at a meeting between a Morcha delegation and chief secretary Sanjay Mitra in Calcutta on April 30.

Mitra then suggested that the matter could be taken up at the review meeting as the Centre, too, had to share the cost of setting up the infrastructure like buildings and quarters .

“Apart from the grant of Rs 575 crore, we are also looking towards getting some concrete assurances on increasing the financial grant to the GTA from Rs 200 crore per annum to Rs 400 crore for the next three years,” said Giri.

The Morcha will also demand that the fact verification committee, which was formed to look into the recommendations made by Justice (retired) Shyamal Sen High Powered Committee, be asked to make a field visit to the Dooars and Terai. Justice Sen had recommended the inclusion of only five of the 397 mouzas demanded by the party in the GTA.

Giri said the Morcha would also demand at the May 24 meeting that all Gorkha communities, except Schedule Caste members, be granted Schedule Tribe status.

The Morcha also hopes it would get a positive feedback on amending the Constitution to implement a three-tier panchayat system in the hills. The state had earlier said it had already written to the Centre to start the process for the constitutional amendment.

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