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GTA threatens to move court against Gautam Deb's NBDD office in hills

Gautam Deb
The Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) has opposed the formation of a branch of the North Bengal Development Department (NBDD) in the Hills, alleging interference and threatened to go to the court.
Trinamool Congress minister from Siliguri Gautam Deb inaugurated a branch office of the NBDD in Kurseong sub-division on Monday. The office is located in a single room in the ground floor of the Circuit House located at Giddeypahar, three kms from the town.
GTA Sabhasad from Giddeypahar and an executive member Anit Thapa said: “We object to the establishment of the branch office of the NBDD in Kurseong. This is against the spirit of the 2011 GTA tripartite agreement that was also signed by the state and Centre. The GTA was formed for developing the Hills”.
The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) run GTA in the past too had confronted the NBDD and even knocked the high court doors, alleging interference in issues relating to the council body. “We will take legal help against the NBDD policy,” Thapa said.

There is already a stay order issued by the high court against the NBDD floating tenders for construction of roads under the RIDF scheme in areas falling under
the jurisdiction of the council.
According to the Sabhasad, the GTA is not against development. But it was opposed to the NBDD superseding the council’s autonomy. “The Bengal chief minister herself in her recent visit to the hills had said that the state government would work together to develop the hills. The NBDD led by Deb however is taking unilateral decisions which is creating misunderstanding between the GTA and the state government,” said Thapa.
The NBDD ministere is already in a soup with the Bengal Chief Minister clipping his wings after the recent civic poll debacle in Siliguri. Minister of state for housing Arup Biswas has been given joint charge with Deb to look after the party’s activity in the hills.
Deb however said the branch office was opened in Kurseong at the request of the three Hills MLAs. “The MLAs were the ones to rake up the issue of a branch office of the NBDD in the hills. We started the initiative only after that. They had contested that Darjeeling Hills was part of North Bengal,” he said. The NBDD used to implement development work in the Hills through the
Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) when it was in operation.
Kalimpong MLA Harka Bahadur Chhetri when asked about Deb’s claim said
it was taken in different context. “In 2013 and 2014 we did not get any allotment or schemes from the NBDD unlike in 2012 when we received
nearly Rs.22 crore. So in the Assembly we had argued that not allotting anything for Darjeeling would mean Darjeeling was not part of north Bengal. We only wanted the Darjeeling hills to be reflected in the NBDD budget,” he explained.
Chhetri was of the opinion that the NBDD was good for development of the hills but the opening of a branch office smacked of a political strategy. “I think the NBDD will benefit the hills but the GTA should have been consulted which has not been the case. There is definitely a political motive behind opening a branch in the hills,” he alleged.
The MLA said that the minister had sought a proposal and granted an amount of Rs.7 crore under the RIDF scheme which could not be implemented because of the high court stay order.(EOIC)

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