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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Corporation tag for Hills civic body

Ajanta Chakraborty, TNN | Dec 25, 2012: KOLKATA: Darjeeling Municipality is set to get a shot in the arm soon as the Mamata Banerjeegovernment is considering its upgrade into a full-fledged corporation. While, the Queen of Hills may get a mayor, the 162-year-old municipality will get a new status if everything goes according to plans.

The Mamata Banerjee government is considering upgradation of the Darjeeling municipality into a full-fledged corporation. So, the services dispensed from the unique heritage structure (constructed in 1850) are all set to get the much-needed boost.

Following the recommendation of the West Bengal Assembly Standing Committee, the state government wants to add a renewed vigour to the civic services of the Hills, which is attracting thousands of tourists now that peace has returned. But according to the West Bengal Municipal Corporation Act, 2007, a locality must have at least 5 lakh people with a density of 3,000 per square kilometre to be declared a corporation.

According to provisional figures for the 2011 census, the population of Darjeeling is a little over 1.2 lakh and the population density 16,206 per square km. The government will make a special case because of Darjeeling's topography which has scattered the population.

This apart, the Gorkha Janmukti Morch (GJM), which has won uncontested elections to Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong municipalities, too, has asked the state government for the "corporation" status for the municipality as that on the same lines as the Kolkata Municipal Corporation Act. For, a corporation status

would mean more funds for the civic body which is starved of funds.

Former municipal affairs minister Asok Bhattacharya recalled that the West Bengal Municipal Corporation Act was amended in 2006 to make provisions for the formation of the corporation in the Hills. "Six years ago, we had made certain exceptions in the law to pave the way for the upgrade. The legal provisions were made, but couldn't be executed because of resistance from the Hills body," he said.

Bhattacharya added, "Since the amendment has already been done, all the new board needs to do is pass a resolution and submit it to the state government. When a municipality is upgraded, it increases the status of the town that it is in charge of and creates more funds options. It also gains some administrative powers and the rights to make laws required to provide services to the area concerned."

The West Bengal Municipal Corporation Act was amended in 2007, incorporating a special provision in Chapter II, clause 3 (iii), that empowers the government to notify separate set of norms for the Hills. Similar provision was made in the West Bengal Municipal Act that governs the formation of municipalities.

The corporation status for Darjeeling municipality which was found in 1850 was first proposed a decade ago by the erstwhile Left Front government. But the proposal was shot down by the then Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council chairperson Subhas Ghisingh, who apparently didn't want a mayor in the Hills lest his powers were usurped. His resistance had also sparked a rebellion within his party in 2001.

On February 2, 2000, A K Dutta, secretary of municipal affairs department wrote (memo no 87/MA/)/C-4/1A-1/2000) that the state government was considering the proposal and a bill would be introduced soon. But the decision was deferred as the corporation issue took the Hills by storm and D K Pradhan, who was then the GNLF chairperson in the Darjeeling municipality and the brain behind the demand, was forced to resign from his civic post and eventually from the party. Apparently, Ghisingh didn't want Darjeeling to get a mayor lest his own powers be usurped.

However, a senior official of the state municipal affairs department said, "Darjeeling is a tourist hotspot as well as India's gateway, thanks to its proximity to Nepal and Bhutan. Now that peace has been established in the Hills and tourists are flocking like never before, the need of the hour is to provide better civic infrastructure."

Saturday, October 22, 2011


बिजनबारीको झोलुङ्गे पुल चुडीएर भत्किन्दा ८ जनाको घट्ना स्थलमानै मृत्यु
भएको छ भने ५० भन्दा अधिक घाइते भएका छन् । घटना स्थलमा गोजमुमो प्रमूख
बिमल गुरूङ पुगेका छन् भने भोलि ममता ब्यानर्जी आउने सम्भावना रहेको छ।
उक्त पुल सन् १९७२ मा निर्माण भएको थियो। पुल चुडीएको कारण पारी पट्टीको
ठाउँहरु संग सम्पर्क बिच्छिन्न बनेको छ। आज गोजमुमोको सांसकृतिक
कार्यक्रमको अन्तिम दिन रहेको थियो । कार्य क्रममा उदय, मनिला सोताङले
आफनो प्रतुति गर्ने भइको थियो । यसको साथै रोधीघरको कार्यक्रम पनि हुने
भएको थियो । कार्यक्रमा शुरु हुन अघि पुल चुडीएर मानिसहरुको मृत्यु भएको

Monday, June 28, 2010

Adivasi bank on autonomy bargain…..Morcha to tribal this is the last offer

TT, Siliguri, June 27: The state leadership of the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad will use autonomy as guaranteed under the Sixth Schedule as a bargaining plank in its talks at Writers’ Buildings on June 30.

The talks, the tribal outfit said, would be a reminder to the state government that the Parishad demand could foil the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha’s ploy to include the Terai and the Dooars in the state that it wants.

“Autonomy for the Terai and the Dooars will be the main agenda of our meeting with the government at Writers’ Buildings on June 30. We will point out how the delay by the state in granting the autonomy has prompted the Morcha to demand the inclusion of the region in its proposed state,” Parishad state general secretary Tezkumar Toppo said over the phone from Calcutta.

The convener of the Parishad’s Terai-Dooars regional committee, John Barla, however, has not yet ruled out the possibility of sitting with the Morcha after the hill party sent a letter of invitation to the tribal body’s regional unit on June 3. The letter came after Morcha president Bimal Gurung re-christened Gorkhaland to Gorkha Adivasi Pradesh and announced it at a public meeting in Darjeeling on May 30.

However, the state committee is keeping up the pressure on its regional unit on the Morcha issue. “I have told the Dooars leaders to ask the Morcha what they want to discuss before sitting with them. We will discuss the matter in the state committee. In case we get the autonomy, there is no need for talks with the Morcha,” Toppo said.

At a meeting scheduled for tomorrow in Banarhat, the regional committee would discuss the Morcha’s offer, Barla said. He has written to the Morcha leadership last week expressing his willingness to talk. “I will brief the state leadership about tomorrow’s meeting after I reach Calcutta the next day to attend the June 30 talks. We cannot ignore the local sentiments involved,” Barla said.

Barla, who lives in Binnaguri, could not attend Saturday’s meeting in Calcutta because of the transport strike. “I have been briefed by the state leadership about yesterday’s meeting and the outcome will be discussed tomorrow,” he said.

The Parishad state leaders had met in Calcutta yesterday to chalk out their strategy for the June 30 talks. Apart from autonomy, the party will place the demands for a medical college, a Hindi-medium college, an alternative bridge on the Teesta at Sevoke among others before the state.

“A 15-member delegation that includes our representatives from the Dooars and the Terai will sit with the state chief secretary on June 30,” Toppo said.

Bimal Gurung addresses the gathering at Gymkhana Club. Picture by Suman Tamang

TT, Dar, 27 June, Darjeeling:Gorkha Janmukti Morcha president Bimal Gurung today said a final offer was being made to the tribals in the Terai-Dooars to join his outfit’s statehood movement .

The announcement comes a day before the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad’s Terai-Dooars coordination committee holds a meeting at Banarhat in Jalpaiguri district on the Morcha invitation that had first come on May 30.

“We had placed a proposal for the Gorkha Adivasi Pradesh state, keeping their interest in mind. The Adivasi community must understand the importance. This is the final offer we are making and if they still want to side with the Bengal government, we have nothing more to say,” Gurung said while addressing members of the Minority Front at the Darjeeling Gymkhana Hall today.

On May 30 at a public meeting, Gurung, to woo the tribals, had re-christened Gorkhaland, the state his party had been clamouring for, to Gorkha Adivasi Pradesh.

With the state government inviting the Parishad for talks in Calcutta on June 30, the Morcha leadership cannot rule out the possibility of the tribals negotiating with the Bengal government on autonomy for the Terai and the Dooars.

“The Morcha leadership is not ruling out the possibility of a non-response from the Adivasis. That is why Gurung is sending out a strong message to the tribals in the Terai and the Dooars, ahead of their meeting tomorrow,” an observer said.

The Morcha chief, while addressing the hill tribes and other communities that are a minority in the hills, stressed that the “Gorkha” (in Gorkha Adivasi Pradesh) represented every community residing in the region.

“We could have named it Nepali Pradesh but that would not have encompassed all the tribal communities. Moreover, if we had demanded a Nepali Pradesh, we would have been unnecessarily tagged with Nepal while our demand is all about Indian identity,” said Gurung.

The Morcha president also said he would convene a meeting with the representatives of the hill tribes soon to form a new forum. “Including the hill tribes in the minority forum does not sound good. We need to come up with a new name,” said Gurung.

He also alleged that the Bengal government had started dividing the people of the hills on “tribal” lines, refusing to elaborate more. Even though the Tamangs, Subbas and Limbus all consider themselves Gorkhas, they are tribes just like the Sherpas, Bhutias, Lepchas and the Yolmos.

The Morcha said it would not label any person a member of the rival camp merely because he or she had attended the funeral or the candle light rally after ABGL chief Madan Tamang’s murder on May 21.

“In our society everyone attends a funeral. People have attended his funeral and the candlelight rally on humanitarian grounds. After all, Madan Tamang was a great Gorkha leader. However, my reservations are against those handful who were trying to politicise the funeral and the candlelight rally,” said Gurung.

Daring the government to prove his involvement in Tamang’s murder, Gurung said: “I was in Kalimpong and Amar Lama, with whom I was very close, was with me. People should ask Amar Lama whether I could have done such a thing,” said Gurung adding that those guilty of the murder “even if they are from my party” should be punished immediately. Lama, the slain ABGL leader’s brother and a Morcha central committee member, had left the party after the murder.

The Morcha president also said if the state government wanted to disband the Gorkhaland Personnel, it should first give them government jobs. “I am giving them Rs 1,000 a month and helping the families of these boys and girls,” added Gurung, referring to the Morcha squad of lathi-wielding volunteers.

Before the start of the meeting, party general secretary Roshan Giri claimed that 48 families owing allegiance to the Communist Party of Revolutionary Marxists (CPRM) from Mundakhoti had joined the Morcha. The CPRM, which could not be contacted, is the largest party in the hills after the Morcha.

Sunday, February 28, 2010