Salient points of tripartite agreement on Darjeeling

The following are the salient points of the 16 page tripartite Memorandum of Agreement on the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration signed by the Centre, the West Bengal government and the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha:

— The Government of India, the Government of West Bengal and the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, keeping on record the GJM demand for a separate state of Gorkhaland, agree to form an autonomous body -- the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration -- through direct elections.

— Although the GJM was keen that the elected House of the Territorial Administration be called ‘Assembly,’ the Centre and the State Government persuaded the outfit to settle for ’Sabha.’ (Both the governments wanted to avoid creating an impression that the new autonomous body was being granted symbol of statehood such as an Assembly.)

— The Morcha had demanded that the House be headed by a Speaker and Deputy Speaker. Instead, it has been decided that a chairman and deputy chairman will conduct the business of the House.

— As per the agreement, the GTA Sabha shall constitute of 45 elected members and five to be nominated by the Governor to give representations to Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Minority Communities.

— The MPs, MLAs and chairpersons of municipalities shall be ex-officio members of the GTA Sabha.

-- The term of the Sabha will be for five years.

— The Government of India and the Government of West Bengal will provide all assistance to the GTA for all-out development of the region.

— The Government of India will provide financial assistance of Rs 200 crore per annum for three years for projects to develop socio-economic infrastructure in the GTA over and above the normal plan assistance to the state of West Bengal.

— The GTA, once established, will take up the issues of grant of incentives, subsidies, waiver of taxes and tariff and other benefits as appropriate to the region’s backwardness.

— A three-tier panchayat will be constituted in GTA region.

— The GJM agrees to ensure that peace and normalcy will be nominated in the region.

— A review will be done by the state government of all the cases registered against persons involved in the GJM agitation.

— Steps will be taken in the light of the review not to proceed with the prosecution of all cases except those charged with murder.

— Release of persons in custody will follow the withdrawal of cases.

— The youth in the GTA region will be considered for recruitment in the Police, Army and the Para-Military forces subject to their suitability.

— Regarding the demand for granting Tribal Status to the Gorkhas except Scheduled Castes, the GJM or any organisation representing the Gorkhas will make an application to the Backward Classes Welfare Department of the state government.

— After examination by the department the matter will be referred to the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes.

— Recommendations already submitted to the National Commission will be followed up by the State Government.

— The Government of India will consider granting ST status to all Gorkhas except the Scheduled Castes.

— There will be 59 departments in the new arrangement.

— These include the Tauzi Department to look after the tea gardens, the department of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry, Information and Cultural Affairs, School Education, Land and Land Reforms, PHE, Urban Development and Municipal Affairs.

— The earlier DGHC had 32 departments.

— The list of 17 projects to be undertaken by the GTA includes establishment of multi-speciality hospitals, tourism and hospitality management institutes, colleges, college of nursing, a Gorkha House in New Delhi, institutes for research and development of Nepali language, food and agro-processing complexes and cold storages and development of IT industries.

— The list of 14 projects which the GTA can take up with approval of the Government of India and the Government of West Bengal include establishment of a Central Institute of Technology, a Central University, a National Institute of Technology including IT and Biotechnology and a tea auction centre.

— The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway will be revitalised for boosting the tourism sector.

— The trade route from Kalimpong to Tibet, via Jelep-La will be revived.

— An industrial zone will be created in an area of at least 1,000 acre in the plains under the proposed GTA area.

— With regard to the transfer of forests, including reserved forests, it was agreed that the State Government will make a reference to the Central government on the issue of Reserved Forests. However, all offices catering to unreserved forests under the jurisdiction of GTA would also be transferred to GTA.

— In regard to the regularisation of all ad-hoc, casual and daily wage workers of the DGHC, regularisation by way of outright absorption is not feasible due to current legal position as enunciated by the Supreme Court.

— However, those employees who have put in 10 years of continued service would be guided by the state Finance Department's order of April 23, 2010.

— After several rounds of tripartite meetings at the ministerial and officials' levels, the GJM, while not dropping their demand for a separate state of Gorkhaland, has agreed to the setting up of an autonomous body empowered with administrative, financial and executive powers.

— The GTA will be formed through direct elections. Its area shall comprise Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong.

— Both the Government of India and Government of West Bengal have repeatedly emphasised for keeping the region as an integral part of the state of West Bengal

— In regard to transfer of the additional areas of Siliguri, Terai and Dooars to the new body, a high-power committee will be formed.

— The Committee will submit its report preferably within six months of its constitution. Work for the committee will run parallel to the electoral process which will be based on the existing area delimitation.

— However, the empowering statute will have a provision to transfer of additional areas in Siliguri, Terai and Dooars that may be agreed upon, based on recommendation of the committee.

— The objective of the agreement is to establish an autonomous self-governing body to administer the region so that socio-economic infrastructural, educational, cultural and linguistic development is expedited and the ethnic ideas of the Gorkhas established.

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Printable version | Aug 5, 2021 2:22:30 AM |

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