Shattering popular belief that electricity arrears of the Darjeeling Hills would be waved off; reply by the West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company Ltd. (WBSEDCL) to a query under the Right to Information Act 2005, clearly states that no such decision has been taken by either the State Government or the WBSEDCL.
The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) on an agitation path for a separate state had clamped an embargo on the payment of electricity, telephone bills along with other State Government taxes since April 2008 in the Darjeeling Hills. However the embargo had been lifted from August 1, 2011.
The electricity arrears in the Darjeeling Hills stand to the tune of Rupees 72 Crores. “I had read in an English daily that the arrears would be waved off. Others told me that the news was wrong. To clarify my doubts, I had written to the WBSEDCL under the RTI” stated Prabin Gurung of Government Ipecac Plantation, Rongo, Darjeeling talking to HT.
In reply to the query, N Sadhukhan, Senior Manager, WBSEDCL in a letter (Memo No. GM/HRD/TRG/RTI/S-601 dated 10-12-11) wrote “ No such decision have been taken by the State Government /WBSEDCL for waiver of outstanding dues of the consumers of hilly areas of Darjeeling district.”
Despite raining sops in the Hills during her recent visits to Darjeeling, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee steered clear on this issue, not making any commitments or announcements regarding any waiver of arrears.
Meanwhile a State Government inter departmental review meeting for the formation of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) took place on Tuesday at the Writers Building, Kolkata.
On the "Gorkhaland" front, the Gorkha Janmukti Yuva Morcha (GJYM- Youth wing of the GJM) has launched a signature campaign in support of Gorkhaland. “Our local units have initiated the drive all over the Hills and plains. The signature sheets will be compiled on January 20 and sent to the Indian President and Prime Minister “ stated Priyavardhan Rai, General Secretary, GJYM.