CM reconstitutes GTA, appoints Binoy Tamang chairperson
Kolkata: In a significant move that may impact the ongoing agitation in the Darjeeling hills, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday reconstituted an eight-member Board of Administrators to run the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) and appointed rebel Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) leader Binoy Tamang its chairperson.
The GTA is the regional autonomous body set up as a result of a tripartite agreement between the Centre, the state and the GJM in 2011. GJM president Bimal Gurung was elected as the chief executive of the body in 2012, but he and other office bearers of the GTA resigned on June 23, 2017 when the agitation for the separate Gorkhaland State gained ground in the Hills.
Binay Tamang has been made the Chairman and Anit Thapa is the Vice Chairman of the newly set up board with six more members from the Hills itself. Mann Ghising, MLA Amar Singh Rai, Anu Chettri, Jayatur Khatun, LB Rai, Sanchabir Subba are the six other members of the board.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday said: "Today we have taken an important decision… Enjoying the power of the said section 65B of the GTA Act of 2011 an eight member Board of Administrators has been set up so that development work in the Hills can be carried out properly."
The section 65B of the GTA Act states "all the powers, duties and functions of the GTA Sabha and the Executive Sabha shall be exercised, discharged and performed by such Sabha or authorities or such person or persons as may be appointed by the government in this behalf."
Stressing on the need of a body to execute the development work, she maintained: "Notification in this regard will be issued today and they will take up the responsibility immediately to start working (run GTA) as early as possible… Since our government believes in a democratic way of functioning, it has been decided to keep representatives from Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Kurseong and Mirik in the Board of Administrators."
She further explained: "In the previous elected board, the post that headed the body was called chief executive. Here, there is a slight change as there will be a chairman along with a Vice Chairman and six members in the eight-member board. Members of the Board of Administrators will be enjoying the same powers as enjoyed by the members of the previous elected body of the GTA," she said adding that IAS officer Barun Roy was appointed as the administrator to run GTA after the elected members had resigned. But many a times it was found that the work of GTA is not taking place properly as it was in the hand of only a government officer. Moreover, with more members in the new board, the WBCS and other officials can take more responsibility to execute the development works properly.
When asked for how long the board will continue to run the GTA, the Chief Minister said: "They can work till the election takes place. Who will have objection if they can work properly in implementing the development projects. It (setting up of board of administrators) has been done as the situation is not favourable (in the Hills) for elections. We want the election to take place as early as possible. There will be an elected body as soon as there will be a favourable situation in the Hills to hold elections."
She further said: "Someone many dislike it personally. But we haven't asked anyone to resign (from GTA). They did it of their own."
On Roshan Giri, general secretary of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha's visit to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Banerjee said: "As far as I know, a look-out notice has been issued against him. It is not right. The post of Home Minister is a constitutional one. I can say that I would not have done this."