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GTA tripartite talks positive claims Roshan Giri

State home secretary Basudeb Banerjee, additional secretary, home affairs (Centre-state relations) Anant Kumar Singh, and GTA executive Sabha member Roshan Giri in New Delhi
After the conclusion of the tripartite talks in New Delhi this afternoon, Gorkha Janmukti Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri claimed the Centre has directed the West Bengal government to implement the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration memorandum of agreement and Act at the earliest to facilitate smooth functioning of the council.

Giri, the GTA sabhasad in-charge of the education department, headed a delegation comprising Darjeeling MLA Trilok Kumar Dewan, GTA principal

secretary Barun Roy and GTA secretary Don Bosco Lepcha. Expressing satisfaction with the discussions between representatives of the central and

state governments, Giri described the North Block meeting as positive. “We discussed several issues related to the GTA and I am happy to say the meeting ended on a positive note,” he said over telephone.

The GJM general secretary’s mood today was quite the opposite of the “disappointment and frustration” he had felt after meeting Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in Darjeeling recently. He had said talks with the state government yields no positive action or results.

Giri highlighted the positive attitude shown by the central government in directing the state government to implement the GTA agreement in its full spirit, to which both parties are signatories. “We discussed at length the issue of transferring departments to the GTA as this is yet to be implemented. In this regard, the Centre directed the state government representatives to uphold the MoA and the Act and fully implement its provisions at the earliest,” said the GJM leader. Departments such as land and land reforms, Tauzi, information and cultural affairs, PWD, and food and supplies are yet to be transferred to the GTA despite notifications being already issued for some of them.

Home affairs additional secretary Anant Kumar Singh, who is also the Centre and state relations in-charge, home affairs department director A Jain and joint secretaries represented the central government at the tripartite talks. Meanwhile, the state government was represented by home secretary Basudeb Banerjee, hill affairs department additional secretary PN Bhutia, West Bengal residential commissioner RD Meena and Darjeeling district magistrate Puneet Yadav.

According to Giri, the Centre has also directed the state to reassess and expedite the process of withdrawing police cases against GJM leaders and activists. “We have repeatedly taken up the issue during meetings involving various levels of government representatives, both of the Centre and the state, but the outcome was always negative. But now we are hopeful of concrete action as the Centre has directed the state government to resolve the issue within two months on case basis,” said the GJM leader.

More than 150 police cases against several GJM leaders and activists are pending since 2008, the year when the second agitation for statehood resurged in the Darjeeling hills. Further, Giri also said that as per their demand, the central government has promised to talk with the railway ministry to operate a broad gauge train service from Gulma station in the foothills and to soon implement a three-tier panchayat system in the hills. He added the issues of implementing rules and regulations for the GTA, granting tribal status to 10 hill-based communities and inclusion of mouzas from the Terai and Dooars into the GTA were also discussed positively. “On most issues concerning the state government, the Centre has asked the former to take them up urgently. As for granting tribal status, we were informed the matter has already been put up before the Registrar

General of India,” according to Giri.

The GTA delegation also proposed a one-time grant of Rs170 crore to construct residential quarters for the sabhasads and an equal amount for a comprehensive water supply scheme for the hills. (EOIC)

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