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GTA seeks pending funds from state govt,planning makeover of hills in 3 years time

GTA members with Governor MK Narayanan at the Raj Bhawan in Darjeeling
The Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) today decided to write to the state government, asking it to release funds and to remind it of the long-pending demand for transfer of some subjects to the GTA.
GTA chief executive officer Bimal Gurung today summoned all the executive members and department heads for a review meeting at Lalkothi here. The meeting also discussed the status of all the GTA projects being undertaken.
The executive member of the information and cultural affairs department, Binoy Tamang, told reporters later that the meeting was one of the best he has attended in the past two years.
"The meeting today was called to discuss the present status of all the projects. The GTA that has been functioning since the past two years also discussed its financial standing and the problems of every department," he said.
"While the list is long, the GTA will soon make public the department-wise progress reports on every project, the amount of funds sanctioned and the time taken. We will ensure transparency in every work done by the GTA," he added.
According to Mr Tamang, the GTA has received Rs 165 crore as the first instalment of the central assistance of Rs 200 crore.
"Of the 165 crore, projects worth Rs 91 crore 77 lakh, 89 thousand and 917 is being undertaken. The West Bengal government that frozen Rs 119 crore meant for the erstwhile Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council, while it has sanctioned only Rs 21 crore to the GTA. We will write to the state requesting it to sanction the remaining amount," Mr Tamang said.
According to him, a project to build a ‘Gorkha Bhavan’ in Vellore, similar to the one in Delhi, has been okayed and that work on it will begin soon.
He said Mr Gurung had on 19 May sent a letter to the chief secretary of the state to send the list of names for the new principal secretary of the GTA. (sns)

GTA planning makeover of hills in 3 years’ time

With the change of dispensation in Delhi, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha-led Gorkhaland Territorial Administration has embarked with new vigour on a development tryst for a makeover of the Darjeeling hills over the next three years.
Back from attending the swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, GTA chief executive and GJM president Bimal Gurung today convened a marathon meeting with officials and executive members at Lalkothi to take stock of the status of ongoing and pending development projects in the hills.
“The GTA chief executive today held a meeting with officials, executive members with portfolios and executive engineers of the engineering cell to review the status of the projects that have been taken up and those still pending. They have been asked to submit a report on a weekly basis on the works being carried out in the region,” informed GTA sabhasad and executive member Binay Tamang, adding the meeting lasted well beyond four and a half hours.
He further said, “We want the people of the hills to get a taste of development in the next three years. The chief executive has directed us to submit progress reports of the schemes undertaken under the central package assistance and the financial status of the GTA. We also tried to identify our weaknesses in terms of running the council and how best to make amends.”
Tamang, who is also the in-charge of the GTA information and cultural affairs department, said key issues discussed and reviewed in the meeting were related to the healthcare, education and tourism sectors and included handing over of funds from the erstwhile Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) to the GTA. The funds total Rs119 crore and has been frozen by the state government.
“The GTA has been allocated just Rs21 crore from the unutilised DGHC fund and Rs98 crore is still lying unused. We want this amount to be handed over to us to help in expediting development work in the hills,” said the sabhasad.
In the two years of its tenure, the GTA has utilised Rs91.77 crore from the annual action plan for the year 2013-14 for implementing development work, said Tamang.
“According to a report from the finance department, we have utilised Rs91 crore for various works from the special assistant package of Rs200 crore allotted by the central government. However, we would also like to point out we have received only Rs165 crore from the central assistant fund,” he said.
As per the July 2011 GTA agreement, the central government has promised to grant the administrative body an additional special assistance package of Rs200 crore for a three-year period.
The sabhasad also said the GTA will appeal to both the state and central governments to complete the process of transferring the 56 subjects to the new council as per the tripartite agreement.
“Departments including information and culture, PWD, higher education (college) and fire service, among others have not yet been fully transferred to the GTA. We want this to be done at the earliest to ensure the smooth running of the council. We will be forced to take legal steps if our demand, which is based on the GTA agreement, is not addressed positively,” warned Tamang.
Later in the evening, a GTA delegation comprising GJM leaders along with Darjeeling MLA Trilok Dewan called on Governor MK Narayanan at the Raj Bhawan. Issues such as holding Panchayat elections in the hills that have remained suspended since 2000, transfer of departments, appointment of a new principal secretary to the GTA and rescinding pending arrests warrants against GJM activists and leaders were placed before the governor for his intervention and necessary action.(EOIC)

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