GORKHA ADIVASI POLITICAL SIGNIFICANCE: Bimal big money talk before next round – Morcha hopes for hefty hike in grant – goes with the expanded territory, but peanuts compared to the Sikkim annual budget and 63 years of Bengal mismanagement, neglect & corruption since Independence in 1947 ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH
BY VIVEK CHHETRI
Darjeeling, Oct. 7: Bimal Gurung today said he was looking for a “heavy amount” ranging from Rs 1,500 crore to 2,500 crore as financial package for the proposed interim set-up for the hills, vamping up the stakes before the next tripartite talks on Monday.
The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha chief said he was not looking at an amount like “Rs 22 crore”, using the DGHC grant figure to hint that the Centre should allot a more hefty amount for the new body. According to the DGHC Accord of 1988, the Bengal government pitched in an equal amount (of Rs 22 crore) under the head of “state matching grant”.
Apart from the central assistance and the matching state grant, the DGHC also used to receive funds for implementation of central schemes like Pradhan Mantri Sadak Yojana, Indira Awas Yojna, Sarva Siksha Abhiyan, etc. It was estimated that the annual budget for the council hovered around the Rs 170-200 crore mark.
“I have told the Centre that a lot of money is needed for development and they should give a heavy amount to the interim set-up. The interim set-up must be given anything between Rs 1,500 and 2,500 crore,” said Gurung at the Morcha’s third foundation day celebration at Chowrastha. Complete with paragliders and marching school bands, the show extended till after 4pm because of which the cultural programme to mark the opening of the tourist fest could not be held. However, the cultural programme for tourists will be held daily at the Mall or Chowrastha from 3pm to 6pm, starting tomorrow. The Morcha is one of the main organisers of the month-long fest to be held after four years.
Gurung’s big money talk is expected to give the hill people an idea of how powerful the set-up will be financially. If the Centre agrees to Gurung’s demand, the inflow of funds to the hills is likely to be unprecedented.
The Morcha leader, however, said he was not in a hurry to sign the agreement for the interim set-up. “I will make people read the document 10 times before it is finalised.” He hoped that the final agreement would be reached after one or two more rounds of political- level talks. The official-level talks on October 11 are expected to focus on issues like the composition of the interim set-up, it’s mode of selection and the transfer of the tauzi department, which keeps records of tea garden land.
Gurung, however, emphasised that the interim body should only have members nominated by the Morcha. “We are clear on this issue. We do not care if someone falls on the ground crying but the interim set-up should only have members nominated by the Morcha.”
The Centre and the state want the members to be elected either directly or indirectly through proportional representations on the number of seats a political party wins in the panchayat and municipality polls.
“We are not afraid of elections but since this arrangement is only for two years we are not interested in elections. We will go for elections only when there is a permanent solution to the problem,” said Gurung adding that he, or the central committee members of his party, would not be part of the interim body. “The interim set-up must be seen as a step towards fulfilling our 103-year-old dream (statehood).
“We have capable members who are part of our study forum and they will run the show. If I attach myself to the interim set-up, the demand for Gorkhaland will be diluted. I will carry on with the Gorkhaland agitation even after the interim set-up is formed.”
Gurung also tried to impress the crowd with the legislative powers that the new body would yield. “I have promised the casual workers that their jobs will be regularised and in the interim set-up we will have legislative powers. We can easily create jobs and I will ensure that their jobs are secure.” He said he had accepted the interim set-up “as a challenge” and to show how well it could be administered.
“Once the set-up is finalised, I can be free to pursue the Gorkhaland issue. At the moment we have to look into every aspect.”
Gurung added that the interim set-up would be answerable to the governor and would hence have a direct relation with the Centre. “We will have all the powers and we can also bring about a legislation and use GL (Gorkhaland) number plates,” he added. The party had earlier asked the hill people to replace WB (West Bengal) with GL (Gorkhaland) on the number plates on vehicles.
While Gurung welcomed Trinamul Congress chief Mamata Banerjee’s initiatives for Darjeeling, he underscored that the real dream of the hill people was Gorkhaland and not a “Switzerland created out of the hills”.
“Switzerland is not in India. We want Gorkhaland to be created within India,” he said. Mamata had during her tour of the hills at the end of last month said she would convert the region into Switzerland.
Celebration snub – till final capitulation ?!!
The Jalpaiguri district administration did not allow the Morcha to hoist a flag on a school ground in Jaigaon where a function had been organised by the All Transport Action Committee affiliated to the party.
Present for the foundation day celebration in Jaigaon were the president of the core committee of the Gorkha Janmukti Nari Morcha Asha Gurung, Kalchini MLA Wilson Champromary and Morcha study forum member P. Arjun.
SIKKIM NEWS: Sikkim Annual Plan budget at Rs 1175 cr
June 22, 2010 — himalNews
SIKKIM NEWS: Sikkim Annual Plan budget at Rs 1175 cr – while Darjeeling continues to languish under Bengal with 3 times the population and problems ?!!
FROM THE HINDU BUSINESS LINE
GANGTOK, Monday, June 21, 2010:Sikkim’s Annual Plan Budget for 2010-11 as allocated by the Planning Commission of Rs 1175 cr was announced on the opening day today of the four day Budget Session-2010 of the assembly.
This year’s plan budget was an increase of 12.4 per cent over the 2009-10 of Rs.1045 cr which also includes a special plan assistance of Rs. 200 cr in the form of grants for projects of special importance to the state.
The allocation includes an additional central assistance of Rs 301.10 cr earmarked for special projects approved by the Planning Commission.
Governor, B P Singh in his address to the house, said “The Planning Commission has noted with deep appreciation of achievements and progress made by my government and based on the good performance and governance and governance, the allocation has been de servingly rewarded.”
He commended the excellent and pioneering initiatives taken by the government in making the state one of the most progressive in the country. – PTI
70 join ABGL in Kalimpong – what a spin, more like 4 rejected and that too for anti-party activities & attempts at corruption, who is Dawa Sherpa fooling but himself, a disgrace to Mrs Bharati Tamang, but part of the sad Bengal political culture of ruse & misinformation ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Kalimpong, Oct. 7: The ABGL continues to get a fillip in its mass base in the Kalimpong subdivision with 70 youths joining the party at Pedong yesterday.
All the new entrants to the ABGL were with the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha earlier.
“We were very active supporters of the Morcha since its inception as we had entertained the dream of Gorkhaland. Now the situation has changed, and we feel that we were only being used (by the Morcha),” said Uttam Bardewa, a local youth.
Bardewa and his friends were welcomed to the party by working president Dawa Sherpa and two top leaders in the subdivision, Tshering Sherpa and K. Subba, who had left the GNLF and joined the ABGL last month.
“We welcome our new friends and will be holding discussions with them. In a democracy, anybody can eat food, wear clothes and join the party of his choice. However, it is sad people here are being stopped from exercising their democratic rights,” Dawa Sherpa said in an oblique reference to the Morcha.
Sherpa said his party had been working on its own towards realising the goal of a separate state. “Gorkhaland, not an interim arrangement, is the one and only dream of the people in the hills We will work towards the goal without inconveniencing the people here and by planning Delhi-centric programmes,” he said.
Pedong is 22km from Kalimpong.
On September 19, about 30 youths had joined the ABGL in Kalimpong. Before that, the party had got a big boost when more than 500 people, mostly associated with the Morcha, had joined the organisation at Nimbong and Borbot villages.
“The people are joining us spontaneously. Many people in the urban areas have also approached us and expressed their intention to join the party,” said Pratap Khati, a central committee member of the ABGL.
The ABGL has been carrying out an exercise to strengthen its base at all levels in the subdivision. Only last month, the Kalimpong branches of the party and its youth wing were revamped with new office-bearers.
Signs for safe traffic – Balurghat roads glow – making Bengal’s pothole problems more visible ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Balurghat, Oct. 7: The Balurghat municipality has gifted the residents modern traffic tools that have given a new look to the town before the puja with roadside signs and markers glowing in the dark.
From now on, apart from home guards and traffic signals, pedestrians and vehicles will be regulated by raised pavement markers, central line markers, stop lines, zebra crossings and caution boards. The civic body has spent Rs 40 lakh to improve the traffic control system in the town.
Civic chairperson Sucheta Biswas said the new traffic aids had been put in place with financial help from the state transport department. “Traffic control is the main problem in our town as the main roads are wide. There were also frequent accidents and traffic snarls. So, there was a long-standing demand to improve the traffic control system here.”
Accordingly, the municipality had sent a comprehensive report to the state government on the traffic problems in town about a year ago. The chairperson said the project had been sanctioned at the end of July and the municipality had received Rs 8 lakh from the transport department. The total project cost was around Rs 40 lakh and the rest of the funds will follow, she said.
To begin with, the traffic control tools have been set up on PWD Road and Municipality Road. “The raised pavement markers, zebra crossings and lane markers were installed on stretches from the district magistrate’s office to Dunlop More,” said Biswas.
The municipality has also set up traffic kiosks at 19 points and the caution boards are being put up in 16 places. “The new look will raise the status of the town and police will be able to control traffic more easily with the new road tools,” said Biswas.
Although the residents welcomed the new look, they pointed out that the municipality needs a lot to do to make the surroundings more beautiful. “It is true that the town is wearing a new look, but the civic body should clear roadsides of encroachments. Shopowners keep their merchandise on the footpath, reducing the space meant for pedestrians,” said Dilip Saha, who stays at Thana More.
WHILE BELOW THE PLAINS OF DISTRICT DARJEELING IN BENGAL
Scan on long voters’ lists – CPM loading the dice and fixing the election fight to come – a cultural trait ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Malda, Oct. 7: The Election Commission of India has sought a report from 14 district magistrates in Bengal on the “abnormal” rise in the number of voters in 41 Assembly constituencies, including 11 in north Bengal.
The commission has instructed the district magistrates to order on-the-spot investigation by officials not below the rank of subdivisional officer to find out why these constituencies had recorded an eight per cent increase in the number of voters.
The commission also noted that the names of only a few people had been struck off electoral lists in some Assembly segments.
The commission considers increase in the number of voters in an Assembly constituency by more than eight per cent as abnormal.
Of the 11 constituencies in north Bengal, eight are in Malda and one each in North and South Dinajpurs and Darjeeling, according to a communication sent by the commission to the district election office in Malda. While voters have increased by 9.79 per cent in Goalpokhor in North Dinajpur during the revision of electoral lists, the figures are 9.12 and 9.01 for Manikchak and Ratua, both in Malda, respectively. The revision of the electoral rolls was carried out in July and August.
The poll panel has taken note of the 9.47 per cent increase in the number of voters in Phansidewa in Darjeeling district where only 14 names have been deleted from the electoral list. The commission has questioned this low rate of exclusion, when at least 1,000 to 2,000 names are removed from the lists on an average because of deaths and change in addresses.
An election official here said discrepancies could have crept into the records during the revision.
“We will re-examine all the applications and objections submitted to us during the revision. Antecedents of voters, particularly those living in the border areas, will also be checked again,” said the official.
Another official said there could be valid reasons for large additions to the voters’ lists. “The number of voters in these Assembly segments have gone up possibly because more and more people have got themselves enrolled for the first time so that they can exercise their franchise in the Assembly polls next year,” he said.