A delegation of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) met the West Bengal parliamentary affairs minister and requested him to defer the tabling of Gorkhaland Territorial Administration Bill 2011 in the state Assembly, scheduled for September 2.
Since October 2007, the Darjeeling hills have been witnessing agitation for a separate statehood led by the GJM. The economical backbone of this region - tourism and the tea industry has felt the brunt of the political turmoil, leaving the hill economy in shambles.
Several rounds of talks between the centre, state and the GJM were finally paved way for the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the centre, state and the GJM for the formation of an autonomous body named the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) on July 18, 2011.
“After careful scrutiny of the Draft copy of the Bill we feel that the spirit of the Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) is missing in the bill. There are at least 24 grey areas that need to be addressed before the tabling of the Bill. However the Minister advised us to hand in the list of the grey areas to the chief secretary. The Minister claimed that in the past also there have been instances of Bills being tabled along with amendments,” said Harka Bahadur Chettri, spokesperson of GJM.
The GJM will be handing over the list to the state chief secretary, on Thursday. Pointing out some of the grey areas Chettri stated that regarding the transferred subjects to the GTA the MOA has clearly talked of financial, administrative and executive powers whereas the Bill talks of only executive powers.
On the composition front the MoA had stated that the Chief Executive would nominate 14 members whereas the Bills states that 12 members would be nominated by the chief executive and 2 by the Governor.
“Usually a Corum of a house is reached by one-third members. Usually it would require 17 members to reach a Corum of the 50 membered GTA Sabha, whereas the Bill talks of 26 members to reach a Corum. In the case of the 15 membered Executive Body the usual number should be 5, whereas the Bill talks of 9 to reach the Corum,” Chettri added.
The MoA had stated that the GTA would have the power to create posts and also appoint whereas the Bill talks of only appointment and no creation of posts.
“The preamble of the MOA had stated that the GTA would be formed for the overall socio-economic development, cultural development and for establishing the identity of the Gorkhas whereas the Bill has omitted the identity part,” the GJM spokesperson added.