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30 Jan 2017

Development board barb at GTA

RAJEEV RAVIDAS, TT, Kalimpong, Jan. 29: The hill development boards have said the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha-run GTA should not come in the way of the projects taken up by the state-funded bodies whose scope was widened by the chief minister recently.
The comments came few days after Morcha president Bimal Gurung threatened to seek legal recourse to stop developmental work carried out by the boards.
Speaking to The Telegraph, senior representatives of some hill boards said the work they have taken up was meant to benefit the poorest of the poor and there was no reason to oppose it.
A member of the Mangar development board said: "I see the boards as a fine example of how effective decentralisation can be at the grassroots level. The boards have been able to take development to the poorest of the poor in the villages."
He said they believe that the Morcha-run GTA should concentrate on its own work.
"Speaking about our board, I can say with utmost honesty that whatever development work we have taken up so far and will take up in future is and will be for the benefit of the poor," he said.
The Mangar board was formed in December 2015.
Last week, Gurung had said that he would file cases against "each and every project" that the 15 hill development boards would take up as execution of those plans would mean intrusion into the jurisdiction of the GTA. "We cannot allow the state government to interfere in the functioning of the GTA. Are development boards bigger than the GTA?" Gurung had said on January 25.
Gurung's threat against the boards came after the state decided to give the hill bodies the mandate to carry out development works, like supply of drinking water and construction of community halls and museums - projects that were previously undertaken by the GTA. Earlier, the boards' work was largely confined to building houses for the communities they represented.
A senior representative of the Damai board, which was formed last year, said: "We seek no controversy or fight and our only endeavour is to work for the larger benefit of our community that has been deprived for long." He added: "It is most unfortunate that a leader who claims to work for the good of the larger Gorkha community has problems with the work we are doing. As the chief of the GTA, let him carry out bigger projects for all of us."
A Morcha representative said: "We stand by what our party chief said. We essentially oppose the works taken up by the boards at the behest of the state government, which violates the letter and spirit of the GTA agreement and Act.

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