Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) President Bimal Gurung while making a public address indicated a waver of the electricity and other state government tax arrears. He however stated that the hills would pay the State taxes and electricity bills from August 1, 2011.
Addressing a large gathering on the occasion of Martyr’s Day commemorations at the Gymkhana Club, Darjeeling, Gurung stated “We thank all who cooperated with us to make our non cooperation movement a success. Even if we are hanged we will not pay our arrears. The GJM will take responsibility for this. However from August 1, we have to pay the electricity charges and State taxes. After August 1 we wont be liable for your non payment. We have asked you to pay.”
The GJM spearheading an agitation for a separate state for the Gorkhas had given a call for a non cooperation movement in 2008. They had asked all hill residents to abstain from paying electricity, telephone bills along with State Government taxes since April 2008.
At present the electricity arrears stand to the tune of Rs. 70 Crores; Sales Tax, Vat along with penalty at around Rs. 22 Crores; Land Tax Rs. 3 Crores and Vehicular Tax at Rs. 7 Crores approximately.
Gurung also talked of a major makeover in the Hills. “We will change the face of Darjeeling, Kurseong, Kalimpong and Mirik in the next 2 years. However the first six months (transition phase) is very important. Either there will be an unimaginable spurt of development or there will be bloodshed” said Gurung.
Gurung was implying at the widespread resent that his makeover plans could cause. “The towns are in utter chaos. We will have to bring order. All have to cooperate to transform the Hills into Switzerland. Many illegal shops, hawkers would be removed. We will compensate them adequately” stated Gurung.
The plans include parking lots at Red Cross, Meat market, DRC Godown, DSP Office area and PWD area below Darjeeling Government College. There will be hi tech parking facilities where parking charges will have to be paid.
“We will try to make the town as traffic free as possible so that the tourists and local residents alike can move about freely. ” stated Gurung.
Gurung talked of utilizing DGHC funds till the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) is formed. Immediately Rs. 3 Crore each has to be sanctioned for Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong. We will start the beautification work at Mirik lake immediately” stated Gurung.
The GJM President announced that a master plan has already been drawn up by a famous architect from Delhi. “We will sincerely work to transform Darjeeling into Switzerland but the Government has to ensure steady flow of funds.” remarked Gurung.
“We will also build shopping malls and markets. Renowned Contarctors will be brought in from Kolkata and Delhi. We want good work. We will not tolerate below standard construction which we have been witnessing in the past in Hills where local contractors after paying a lot of bribes indulge in low quality work” alleged Gurung.
While Gurung in Darjeeling town was talking of a probable “bloodshed” in the next six months, the Communist Party of Revolutionary Marxist (CPRM) had organized a blood donation camp in Kalimpong. “This blood donation camp in symbolic. With this donation of blood we are heralding in our agitation from Gorkhaland rejecting the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration” stated CPRM Spokesperson Govind Chettri.