Morcha wants development boards should function under GTA

Roshan Giri morcha general secretary executive GTA member
The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha today said more boards could be formed for other hill communities, but all such bodies should function under the GTA.
The comment came a day after chief minister Mamata Banerjee announced a development board for the Bhutia community - the fourth such body to be formed by the state - and said that no more such bodies would be formed.
Asked about Mamata's announcement, Roshan Giri, the general secretary of the Morcha and an executive member of GTA, said: "We won't comment on the issue but would like to say that all such development boards should function under the GTA. There are some other communities dwelling in the hills for whom such development boards can be formed as it can help in conservation of their culture and in their socio-economic development. However, let us reiterate that all such boards should come under the GTA."
All development boards are under the state backward classes welfare department, while the GTA runs the hill administration.
This afternoon, Giri and few other Morcha leaders, led by party chief Bimal Gurung, reached Bagdogra airport from Darjeeling to take a flight to Delhi.
Gurung did not speak to reporters.
Yesterday, at a programme to launch the "Clean Darjeeling, Green Darjeeling" project at Chowrasta in Darjeeling, Mamata had announced the board for the Bhutias.
"A Bhutia development board will be formed. We will sanction a sum of Rs 5 crore for it. Now, we will not create more boards. How many boards can we have in the hills? We will tag various communities to different boards," Mamata had said.
The state has already created three other development boards for the Lepchas, Sherpas and Tamangs.
On February 6, 2013, the state cabinet cleared the formation of the Mayel Lyang Lepcha Development Board and before the Lok Sabha polls in 2014, the chief minister announced a board for Tamangs.
On January 23 this year, Mamata announced a Sherpa development board in Darjeeling.
The Morcha had protested the formation of such boards and soon after the January announcement, Giri had said: "This is a divide-and-rule policy. If a board is formed for the Sherpas, similar boards must be set up for all hill communities."
The chief minister's assertion that no other development boards would be formed comes at a time the Mangars, another hill community, are demanding a board.
"The Morcha leadership had alleged that the state was following a divide-and-rule-policy by creating such boards. It is significant that after the chief minister said there will be no more boards, Morcha leaders are advocating for boards for all other communities in the hills," said an observer.
Yesterday, Mamata had said 115 cases slapped on Morcha leaders and supporters for blocking roads before 2011 would be withdrawn."
Today, Giri told reporters: "We had a meeting (with the chief minister) yesterday. It was decided that 115 cases pending against Morcha supporters would be withdrawn."
Today, Morcha leaders Binay Tamang, P.T. Ola, Bikram Rai and Anit Thapa, along with Giri and Gurung, took a flight to Delhi. "From Delhi, we will visit Varanasi, Mirzapur (in Uttar Pradesh) and Vindhyavasini temple," Giri said.
GTA chief executive Gurung was supposed to leave for Delhi on August 24. But he stayed back in Darjeeling and attended yesterday's programme at Chowrasta.(TT)

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