GTA filed petition in Supreme Court against Bengal Govt for violating Agreement

Binay Tamang
Threatening to restart the statehood agitation, Gorkha Janmukti Morcha assistant secretary Binay Tamang yesterday said the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration has filed a petition in the Supreme Court against the West Bengal government for violating the GTA Memorandum of Agreement and Act. He said the petition was filed on May 13, 2016 and it is expected to be heard by the apex court on August 28 or 29.

“It must be remembered that the state government is one of the signatories to the GTA agreement and act. But it appears determined to kill the council by violating the agreement. We have made the central government a party too as it is also responsible for the smooth functioning of the GTA, which at present, is not the case,” the GJM assistant secretary said.

The petition in the Supreme Court has been filed by both the GTA and the GJM. Tamang has represented the GTA, while GJM general secretary Roshan Giri has stood on behalf of the party. The GJM leader claimed notices have already been sent to the state and Centre. “Since the petition has been filed against both the state and central governments, the very future and existence of the GTA remains in uncertainty. Amid such a situation, if we do not get justice we will restart the statehood agitation. In the eventuality of disturbances in the region, the state government will be solely responsible,” warned Tamang.

Later in the day, GJM president and GTA chief executive Bimal Gurung issued a similar threat. “Time has come for us to give a second thought to the GTA. Since it is being made toothless and functionless by the state government, we may not even hesitate to burn the GTA agreement and act and launch a fresh agitation for statehood,” he said.

This is not the first time that the GJM has gone on a confrontational
mode with the state government. The party had moved court when the latter unilaterally appointed the GTA principal secretary without consultation. Again in 2014, the GJM knocked the high court's doors and got a stay order against the North Bengal Development Department for floating tenders for construction of four roads under the GTA’s jurisdiction.

The GJM has also taken exception to the Mayel Lang Lepcha Development Board (MLLDB), the first community development board to be formed by chief minister Mamata Banerjee, for establishing an executive engineering cell and floating tenders. “The development boards have been formed under the Societies Act. It (MLLDB) has also set up an engineering cell and floated 20 tenders related to work on construction of a community hall, road, landslide protection and drinking water projects, among others,” Tamang said. “There is also the question of submission of income and professional tax and VAT by the contractors. Professional tax comes under the state act, but what about VAT and IT, both central government subjects?” asked the GJM assistant secretary.

Asserting the party was not against development, Tamang said the GTA should be taken into confidence to uphold the GTA agreement and act. “The state government does not cooperate with the GTA even though it is a signatory to the agreement and act. What if other development boards also form engineering cells, what will be the role of the GTA and its function then? This is nothing but a covert attempt by the state government to make the council non-existent,” alleged Tamang, who is also the GTA Sabhasad in charge of the information and cultural affairs department.(EOI)

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