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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Accord or discord?..... Day after, GJM says Gorkhaland demand still on agenda..... Tauzi dept to be shifted to new Hills body..... Tea estates in a fix over land lease impasse..... Siliguri people unhappy over Darjeeling accord.... Uphill task ahead for Gorkha Administration...... Darjeeling deal: A model for others? ... Gorkhaland back on Gurung lips

KalimNews: NH31A along the Teesta Bridge is closed for a day or two. According to reports received NH31A near Likhubhir is totally damaged and it may need 48 hours for repairment and restoration. All vehicles are requested to take the alternative routes to avoid Likhubir. 
Accord or discord?
''The GTA has more powers than its predecessor.''
Deccan Herald, Wednesday 20 July 2011: The political history of India’s Gorkha community has reached a momentous milestone. The signing of a tripartite agreement between the Centre, the West Bengal government and the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha on Monday provides for the setting up of a new, autonomous hill council, the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA). This will give the Gorkhas greater autonomy to run their own affairs. The GTA has more powers than its predecessor, the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council which was formed in the late 1980s when a powerful agitation for a separate Gorkhaland raged in the hills.
It is in response to that revived agitation that the government decided to set up a GTA with enhanced powers.
The agreement is under fire from those who believe it concedes too much and others angry that it gives too little. The former group is led by the Left Front, whose misgivings are over the government conceding the nomenclature ‘Gorkhaland’. This, they insist, will encourage the Gorkhas to press for a Gorkha homeland. The GTA is a step away from Gorkhaland’s secession, the Left argues. On the other hand, the hardliners among the Gorkha community, including the Jana Jagaran and the Jana Chetana, will settle for nothing less than a separate state carved out of West Bengal. The GJM has said that if Telengana is granted statehood, it will press for statehood too.
Whether or not the agreement will bring peace in North Bengal or fan the flames of agitation and unrest depends on how the Centre, the state government and Gorkha politicians act to implement the agreement. Chief minister Mamata Banerjee has taken a giant risk in conceding the Gorkhaland council. She must follow this up to ensure that development in the Hills will give locals a vested interest in remaining part of West Bengal. If she neglects the Hills as did her predecessors or falls prey to regional politics, she could see her gamble fail within months.
As for Gorkha politicians, the agreement presents them with an opportunity to bring peace and development to their people. If they fail to grasp it, they run the risk of being marginalised by hardliners who are looking for a chance to stoke discontent and to return to armed struggle. They must not be allowed to succeed. This region and especially the Siliguri Corridor have immense strategic importance for India’s security and territorial integrity. Delhi must ensure that unrest and rebellion do not return to North Bengal.
Day after, GJM says Gorkhaland demand still on agenda
Subrata Nagchoudhury, IE, Jul 20 2011, Sukna, Siliguri:A day after signing the tripartite agreement, Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) president Bimal Gurung addressed a public meeting at Sukna on Tuesday where he assured the hill people that his party had not dropped its demand for a separate Gorkhaland state.
Gurung also sought to allay the fears of a section of Gorkhas over the uncertainty on the inclusion of Dooars and Terai region in the new Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA).
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had said on Monday that “Bengal will not be divided”. Gurung on Tuesday said her statement was “made out of political compulsions”. Many in the hills said Tuesday’s public rally was the beginning of a new phase of movement for separate statehood.
“When children cry, mothers tries to appease them by saying so many things. It was such a statement, and nothing much should be read into it. Politics was being played over the agreement at home and Mamata Banerjee had to keep that in mind while making the statement,” said Gurung.
He also said the new boundary demarcation would soon start in the Dooars and Terai, where the GJM had demanded a total of 196 and 199 mouzas respectively. He directed all Gorkhas to put up GJM flags atop their houses before the survey begins. “All Gorkha homes should have this identity mark,” he said.
The GJM leadership had to hurriedly convene the meeting at Sukna on Tuesday, at the same venue where the tripartite agreement was signed on Monday, as a large section of the hill people were unhappy and complained they were kept in the dark about the details of the agreement.
Gurung said it was only on the assurance that Dooars and Terai region would be included in the GTA that the GJM signed the agreement. He said the CM had admitted that “injustice has been done to the Gorkhas”, Gurung said Banerjee had assured justice. “Her words are honest and sincere,” he said.
Gurung’s deputy Roshan Giri also explained the tripartite agreement at length to the people in an apparent bid to convince them that it was not a compromise on their Gorkhaland demand.
“Bimal Gurung did not sign the agreement because he wants to take forward the agitation for a separate state of Gorkhaland and launch a full-fledged movement soon,” said Giri, who signed the tripartite agreement on Monday.
Tauzi dept to be shifted to new Hills body
Deep Gazmer, TNN , Jun 19, 2011: DARJEELING: The first hurdle towards achieving a solution to the Hills problems has been negotiated with the state government and the Tea Board agreeing to the transfer of the Tauzi department - the body that is in charge of leasing out land owned by the state government including Tea Estate land , renewal of lease, receiving annual rent - to a new body, envisaged by West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee .
State land reform commissioner R D Meena held a meeting with Tea Board officials, district administration and Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) representatives, to discuss the Tauzi issue in Darjeeling on Saturday.
After the meeting, Meena said that the discussion had been positive and he would submit a report to the state government within a fortnight. "Well, the meeting was positive. I will submit my report to the state government within two weeks," said Meena at the Circuit House.
Sources said all parties in the meeting agreed to the suggestion of transferring the Tauzi department to a new body to govern the Hills as part of the solution finding process. "No one put up any objection. After deliberation it was agreed that the Tauzi department would be transferred," said a source.
The consent of the Darjeeling district administration and the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) on the issue was never a factor, but, a lot hinged on the Tea Board agreeing to the transfer of its subject to a new body. "After all the Tauzi section is just another department of the state government. If the state government agrees then other stakeholders will automatically give their consent," said a source. Though, the Tea Board gave its nod on Saturday, it will only submit it in writing on Monday.
The transfer of the Tauzi department formed one of the seven demands put forward to the Bengal CM by the GJM earlier this month.
However, the change of guard for the Tauzi department and inclusion of new territories of Terai and Dooars in the new body remain to be a crucial issue. In order to address this issue, two separate committees have been formed to verify the ground realities. "A committee headed by the home joint secretary, including the DGHC administrator, Darjeeling district magistrate and a GJM representative has been formed to deal with the Tauzi transfer issue," said a government official. The other demands included providing legislative powers and transfer of reserved forest to the new authority, regularization of DGHC casual workers, providing sectoral status to the non SC communities and increasing the blocks and sub-divisions.
Secretary of the Darjeeling Tea Association Sandeep Mukhrjee said, "It is a laudable proposition for it offers a new window of opportunity for the tea industry."

Tea estates in a fix over land lease impasse
Aparajita Gupta, TNN, Jul 20, 2011,.KOLKATA: Uncertainty is looming over the fate of 30-odd tea gardens in North Bengal where the land lease were not renewed for long. Also, there are gardens where the leases would lapse soon.
The tauzi department, which is the repository of land records and collects rent from them, would now function under the newly formed Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA). But garden owners have not received any kind of intimation from the government about which department to approach for lease renewal. Hence, the confusion prevails.
Harka Bahadur Chhetri, one of the members of the five-member administrative body of GTA, said the gardens where land lease are expiring soon should wait till GTA is formed with elected members, which would take at least another six months.
"We have around three gardens where the land lease renewal is due for the last five years. There are so many other gardens also, which are waiting for lease renewal.
Let the new body come into existence, let us see what happens," Arun N Singh, managing director and chief executive officer, Goodricke Group said. Goodricke has six gardens in Darjeeling and in 2010 the production was 700 tonnes.
The leases of these gardens are pending as the owners are unwilling to pay a one-time salami (a kind of payment) of Rs 15,000 per hectare, he said. "There are serious issues with salami. This Rs 15,000 per hectare has to be brought down," Singh said.
Chhetri added that they have still not taken a call on the land lease renewal pending issue.
"Once the GTA is formed, there will be a board of administration. If the matter is put on table we can sit and discuss. As far as the other gardens are concerned, where land lease will expire soon, they need to hold on till GTA is formed," he said.
Meanwhile, Darjeeling Tea Association chairman Sanjay Bansal said as the industry players yet to receive any order from the government, they would follow the old procedure of land lease renewal. Earlier land lease renewal happened through district magistrate then to the commissioner in Jalpaiguri and lastly to the land and land reforms department of the state government. "We have not received any official information yet," he added.
Bansal said lease of another 10-12 tea gardens would expire soon. There are around 80 gardens in the Hills and around 50,000 people are employed in it.
The total production of Darjeeling tea 7.76 million kgs, Terai was 144 million kgs and Dooars was 76 million kgs in 2010.
Siliguri people unhappy over Darjeeling accord

IANS, Siliguri, July 20 : The Darjeeling tripartite agreement has triggered a strong resentment among a large section of people of the plains here as they feel their interest has been betrayed for short-term gain by the new West Bengal government.
A tripartite agreement on the Darjeeling hills was signed Monday between the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM), and the West Bengal and central governments.
At the core of the agreement is the formation of a new autonomous, elected hill council - the Gorkha Territorial Administration (GTA) - which is armed with more powers compared to its predecessor Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) formed in the late 1980s. "(Chief Minister) Mamata Banerjee is only interested in appeasement of Gorkhas to show to all that she has solved the problem of the hills," said Nripen Saha, a small-time trader near New Jalpaiguri station. "She has given everything to the Gorkhas, what did we get? We got nothing," he added.
The resentment among plains people has also hit the popularity of the Trinamool Congress with many of its supporters turning away from the party over the creation of the GTA.
"Whatever Didi (Banerjee) may say, we won't allow a single inch of Siliguri to go under the jurisdiction of the GTA. We are very happy here," said Prabir Das, a former Trinamool Congress supporter who switched his allegiance to Amra Bangali, an outfit which claims to espouse the cause of Bengali speaking people. aid Amit Pal, a Trinamool worker who quit the party after the announcement that the GTA will be formed: "We are unhappy with Didi's decision."
"We were ardent Trinamool supporters. We loved Didi. But she did injustice to the people of Siliguri who whole-heartedly voted in favour of Trinamool in the last assembly elections," he added.
Banerjee had promised to solve the Darjeeling problem within three months of assuming power.
"In her stubbornness to solve the problem, she has inked the accord, selling off the future of the people of the plains to the Gorkhas," said Sagar Dey, who runs a hosiery shop.
While several people expressed their resentment over the GTA, there were also some who felt that the agreement was necessary for the return of peace to the troubled Darjeeling district.
"This accord will bring peace. We are fed up with blockades and shutdowns," said Niranjan Pal, a hawker near Siliguri station.

Uphill task ahead for Gorkha Administration
RANABIR RAY CHOUDHURY, TH Businessline,20 July: Last Monday's accord on the status of the Hills of West Bengal, signed at Pintail on the outskirts of Siliguri, has been described as a successful effort to “bring to fruition a tripartite agreement that promises a lasting solution to the Gorkhaland issue”. Admittedly, there is no doubt that an “effort” has been made by all the parties involved, namely, the Centre, the state of West Bengal and the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), to forge a settlement to the vexed issue. But more important is whether the accord will lead to a resumption of normal life for the average citizen in the Hills for an appreciable length of time, which would be the best indication that the ghost of the agitation begun by Subhas Ghisingh in the eighties has been laid to rest finally.
What, precisely, has the Pintail agreement achieved? Briefly, a proposed autonomous Gorkha Territorial Administration (GTA) has been agreed to which would devolve a great many administrative powers, including the raising of taxes (which covers tea gardens), to the local leadership which, at the moment, largely comprises the Bimal Gurung-led GJM. Quite clearly, what this means is that the Hills leadership will from now on be in charge of local affairs, which would cover, among other areas, health, education, tourism and municipal matters. This apart, the GTA would also be the recipient of the Rs 600-crore financial package which the Centre has promised to the Hills over the next three years for development work.
But, first, before the new mechanism can be operationalised, its territory must be clearly ascertained. Certainly, the issue has been discussed in detail among the principal players for some time, but an agreement still eludes them on the subject. A committee has been proposed which is expected to settle the differences among the signatories, but then, as is well-known, the practice of setting up of committees is very often resorted to as a filibustering tactic, especially in cases where it is commonly acknowledged that an agreement is quite impossible. Most people are aware of the problem, but the central issue is whether the young people of the Hills, as also the political activists there, will accept this “solution” to their demand for a separate state of Gorkhaland.
After all, as late as in February the GJM leaders made it abundantly clear that no talks with either the State authorities or the Centre were possible unless the agenda included the setting up of “Gorkhaland”. And the Pintail accord did not include anything specific on the subject apart from the weak reference that the GJM had agreed to the setting up of the GTA “while not dropping its demand for a separate state of Gorkhaland”. On the other hand, Ms Mamata Banerjee stated unequivocally, at Pintail itself, that “There will be no division of Bengal”, that “Darjeeling is not outside West Bengal”, and that “it is the heart of West Bengal”.
The question now is: how long will Bimal Gurung be able to hold on to his position as leader in Darjeeling? Every Indian would like Darjeeling to be made into another Switzerland? Only, the road ahead promises to be inordinately difficult.
(This article was published on July 20, 2011)
Darjeeling deal: A model for others?
Asian Age, (Editorial), Jul 20, 2011:An agreement was signed on Monday by the Centre, the West Bengal government and the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), bringing into existence the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA), which replaces the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC), set up 23 years ago. West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee is to be commended for showing the sagacity, within three months of assuming office, to grapple with a problem whose origins go back to the 1980s when Subhas Ghising, an ex-serviceman, created the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF)) and gave the call for a separate state for ethnic Nepali people. The proposed GTA, which will begin to function in six months, has been welcomed by the GJM. The signing ceremony, attended by the chief minister and Union home minister P. Chidambaram, at Pintail village near Siliguri, was given a joyous welcome by the Nepali-speaking people. But questions remain. The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has not concealed the fact that its demand for statehood remains on the agenda.
The outfit, which led the so-called Gorkhaland agitation in recent years, only sees the Pintail accord as a step in the right direction. Even the preamble to the text of the agreement notes: “After several rounds of tripartite meetings at the ministerial and official levels, the GJM, while not dropping their demand for Gorkhaland, has agreed to the setting up of an autonomous body.” This was not the case with the August 1988 agreement which set up the DGHC. The GNLF had then said the demand for a separate state was being dropped. The Bengali-speaking people in the Dooars (Jalpaiguri district), and the Terai (Siliguri area), as well as tribals have opposed the Pintail agreement, fearing it would effectively divide the state. The chief minister, however, categorically declared that there was no question of such a division. That is also the Centre’s view. But many do not accept this official view at face value. The Left parties, which had ruled the state for 34 years until just two months ago, also reject the accord, but their position might be politically coloured.
In principle, there is nothing wrong in splitting up a state, for no territory is envisaged to go out of India. But politics and administration are another matter. In general, creating new states has not meant greater welfare for their people, or more efficient and better governance. The contrary has more often been the case. Besides, replicating a whole new administration in a new state is known to entail a huge expense that does not bring commensurate benefits. In the end, the transformation often becomes a meaningless exercise as corruption emerges as the leitmotif of the action of elites in new states. Remember, it is factional politics that led to the GJM’s creation out of Ghising’s GNLF. In order to be successful, GJM chief Bimal Gurung (a former Ghising aide) revived the statehood demand. Even if he were to sincerely try to work the newly-formed GTA, a disgruntled group within his following can easily up the ante to outflank him. In any case, the statehood demand has not been abandoned. The Centre and the state government have to take this on board, and do their best to ensure that the GTA works so well that the people of Darjeeling would no longer press their demand for a separate state.
While creating new states can be problematic, the GTA model, combined with the development package for the Darjeeling area announced by the West Bengal chief minister, is an attractive enough proposal worth considering by lobbies rooting for a new Telangana or Vidarbha. In these areas, even the ethnic or linguistic factor does not exist, as in the case of Darjeeling.
Gorkhaland back on Gurung lips
TOI, SILIGURI: Gorkha Janmukti Morcha chief Bimal Gurung had some explaining to do on Tuesday to assure his supporters he had not given up the demand for a Gorkhaland state. Gurung went so far as to say that election to the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) would not be held unless additional areas in the Dooars and Terai were added.
What pushed Gurung on the defensive was chief minister Mamata Banerjee's assertion before him and hundreds of Gorkhas on Monday that she would not allow Bengal to be divided. This created an impression that the Morcha was satisfied with the GTA and had dropped the statehood demand.
Gurung and senior party colleagues called a public meeting at Pintail Village — the same place where the tripartite agreement was signed on Monday — to calm their supporters. During the hour-long meeting, Gurung repeatedly emphasized that the "ultimate goal" (Gorkhaland) was yet to be achieved. "I have already said I will not be a part of the administrative arrangement (GTA). I am a political leader and I will be there to take the movement forward," he said. "We don't want elections to the GTA unless new mouzas from the Terai and Dooars are included in it. We accepted the GTA only after the state government gave us an assurance that these areas would be included after verification. Otherwise, we would never have given our consent."
Sensing the tension among Adivasis in the Dooars and Terai, who have resisted the GJM's attempts to include them in the proposed Gokhaland, Gurung sought to lure them with the promise of a share in the GTA. "Not only the Gorkhas, other communities in Terai and Dooars will also be an important part of the GTA," he said. "The Terai and the Dooars have struggled and bled along with the Hills. You must not have the wrong notion that you will not be included in GTA. Now, you must make all efforts to convince the high-powered committee (that will study the demand for more areas)."
New Gorkhaland body to be formed through direct election
TH, Kolkata: The Centre, the West Bengal government and the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) leadership have agreed to the formation of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA), an autonomous body, “keeping on record the demand of the GJM for a separate State of Gorkhaland.”
This is stated in the memorandum of agreement signed between the three parties on July 18 where it is acknowledged that the accord was arrived at “after several rounds of tripartite meetings at the Ministerial and at the official levels” and with the GJM agreeing to the setting up of the GTA, “while not dropping their demand for a separate State of Gorkhaland.”
The autonomous body will be formed “through direct election,” the agreement states.
While under the provisions of the Constitution “transfer of legislative powers to the new body is not possible, the power to frame rules and regulations under the State Acts, to control, regulate and administer the departments and offices and subjects transferred to the new body will be conferred upon the new body,” according to the agreement.
The GTA will comprise the sub-divisions of Darjeeling, Kalimpong with extended areas of Kurseong sub-division.
“In regard to transfer of additional areas of Siliguri, Terai and Doaors to the new body a high power committee will be formed, comprising four representatives of the GJM, three of the State government, the Director of Census Operations representing the government of India and the Chairman of the Committee to be appointed by the State government,” it states.
The Committee which will be expected to give its recommendations “within a short period, preferably within six months” of its constitution will look into the “question of identification of additional areas in Silguri, Terai and Doaors that may be transferred to the new body, having regard to their compactness, contiguity, homogeneity, ground level situation and other relevant factors.”
There will be a GTA Sabha to consist of 45 elected members and five members to be nominated by the Governor. The executive body shall consist of a chief executive who will nominate 14 members out of the elected or nominated members as executive members.
“The Centre and the State will provide all possible assistance to the GTA for the overall development of the region. The Centre will provide Rs. 200 crore per annum for three years for projects to develop the socio-economic infrastructure in the GTA over and above the normal plan assistance to West Bengal.”
A total of 59 subjects have been transferred to the GTA, according to the agreement. They include agriculture, information and cultural affairs, school, college and adult education, fisheries, food and civil supplies, transport and urban development.
A Historic Deal
TNN, Kolkata:West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee deserves full marks for bringing to fruition a tripartite agreement that promises a lasting solution to the Gorkhaland issue. That she has managed to do this within months of taking over at Writers' Buildings is even more creditable. The demand for a separate administrative entity for the Darjeeling hills has a long history. The violent agitation for statehood in the 1980s, under the leadership of the Gorkha National Liberation Front, had culminated in the formation of the semi-autonomous Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council. But starting in 2008, renewed demand for a separate Gorkhaland state by the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) meant the hill council couldn't continue in its given form and shape.
The new tripartite agreement between the West Bengal government, the Centre and the GJM is a happy middle path that seeks to satisfy all stakeholders. The proposed autonomous Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) stops short of statehood but shall benefit from significant devolution of powers. The new pact transfers sectors such as health, education, tourism, agriculture and municipal affairs to the direct management of the GTA. The Rs 600 crore financial package promised by the Centre over the next three years should provide the autonomous body with substantial funds to ensure development in the Darjeeling hills.
However, the devil could lie in the details. A committee is to be set up to look into the territorial composition of the GTA. There are reports that the GJM wants 398 mouzas in the Terai and the Dooars to be included within the jurisdiction of the new administrative body. Whatever is done, the rights of Bengalis and Adivasis need to be protected. Non-Gorkha organisations in north Bengal have already called for bandhs to protest the tripartite deal. Efforts need to be made to allay their apprehensions. Devolution of powers to local administrative bodies can only succeed on the strength of an inclusive agenda.
Having said that, the new deal serves as a template for other regions of the country where identity politics and lack of quality governance have given rise to demands for separate states. Whether Telangana or Vidarbha, carving out smaller states from existing ones is no guarantee of development. The thrust needs to be on administration and policy implementation. Devolution of powers supplemented by good governance is the key to mitigating local grievances and eschewing parochialism. For the sake of the Darjeeling hills, it is hoped that the GTA now shuns competitive politics and focusses on developing the region.
Darjeeling is smiling once again
Shikha Mukerjee, The Pioneer: The Gorkhaland Territorial Administration accord is likely to revive peace and bring about good governance in the region. But beyond the hill sub-divisions, indigenous populations fear that the deal, which recognises the ethnic claims of the GJM to more Gorkha-majority territories, might usurp their own claims in the foothills, Dooars and Terai region
Neville Chamberlain is remembered for his singularly inappropriate assessment of the Munich Agreement of September 30, 1938 that it had achieved “peace for our times” since on October 1, Germany began the occupation of Sudetenland and a year later World War II was in full swing. It seems as though the Union Minister for Home Affairs P Chidambaram and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee are precariously poised and could be proved wrong that the tripartite Gorkhaland Territorial Administration accord is an unbreachable bulwark against the division of West Bengal.
Contradicting the unity principle, it is clear from the statements of Gorkha Janamukti Morcha boss Bimal Gurung and his colleagues that the pact is without prejudice and so in no way compromises their claim to and demand for a separate state of Gorkhaland. The pact will achieve, seemingly temporarily, a return of an administration under the GTA, which will have 59 departments and money to spend. It will restart the development process. The as yet undisclosed terms of the accord may give a fuller account of the price at which the Centre and the State Government have bought peace and normalcy in the hill areas of Darjeeling that has been captive to the dictates of the autocratic Gurung for the past three years. In other words, the pact will last as long as GJM feels it serves as a means of rebuilding its crumbling popularity in the hills, fed up with bandhs and no business.
Mr Gurung was not a signatory to the pact. Instead, his deputy Roshan Giri signed on behalf of GJM. Asked why this was so, GJM leaders were coy about the tactical reasons for the substitution. By getting somebody else to sign, Mr Gurung has obviously given himself the freedom to revive the Gorkhaland demand whenever it suits him politically. By signing the deal within eight weeks of assuming office, Ms Mamata Banerjee has lived up to her promise that the “mess” created by the CPI(M)-led Left Front required little effort but a lot of good will to get sorted out. The Congress at the Centre has one positive achievement to show even as the turmoil over Telangana intensifies. In other words, all three parties to the pact have gained separately even if collectively the benefit to the people in the hills, the Dooars and Terai as well as the rest of West Bengal is uncertain.
It was striking that the euphoria over the deal was limited to the boundary marked by the hill subdivisions; beyond that in the Dooars and the Terai including Siliguri, there was anxiety and foreboding reflected in the almost total bandh. The rejection of the pact and its implications was obvious. The reason is that under the terms of the agreement, already announced by Ms Banerjee in Kolkata weeks before the formal sign off, a census of the populations of the Dooars and Terai will be done to determine areas of Gorkha majority. Ethnic identity will determine the addition of more territory to the newly formed Gorkhaland Territorial Administration.
The majoritarian claims of ethnicity have superseded or usurped the claims of indigenous populations, namely the 56 or so tribal groups that live in the hills, Dooars and Terai. The fall out is the articulation of resentment by the Adivasi Vikash Parishad and smaller organisations of other tribal groups. As populations served by the Integrated Tribal Development Programme the adivasis have reasons to question a disposal of their territory to placate the aspirations of Gorkha lebensraum.
It has been argued that the successive accords signed on the disposal of the hill subdivisions have ended the greatly resented domination of the hill peoples by plainsmen; the nagging issue of other ethnic groups has never been dealt with satisfactorily. Earlier accords including the first in 1988 did not prove to be contentious because the only tribal populations affected were the dwindling numbers of original inhabitants of the hills, namely Lepchas, Bhutias and others. This new deal provides for the inclusion of areas of the Dooars and Terai based on the ethnic claims of the GJM.
The combination of Gorkhaland and Territory and Administration is the new regime’s formula for concluding the peace deal. By January 2011 and after 11 rounds of talks a compromise on including Gorkhaland in the title of the new entity had already been worked out. Territory in the title complicates the matter, given that territory is a necessary attribute of a State. The deal, therefore, tacitly recognises the claims for a separate Gorkhaland. Had the Centre agreed to the creation of a local police force under the supervision and control of the GTA, which it thankfully did not, then the difference between a State and the new entity would have been negligible. By insisting on disbanding the vigilante Gorkhaland personnel, the Union Government may have won a technical point, but it will not end the tension over the future of the trained recruits of GJM’s policing force. As Nepal grapples with the problems of the Maoist militias, there is no room to be sanguine that local youth with ambitions will submissively await recruitment to the State police and the Army.
On balance, the tripartite agreement formalises the authority of the GJM over the hill subdivisions and recognises the ethnic claims of the Gorkhas to more territory. It decentralises power to the GTA and enables funds to flow from the Centre and the State to the new administration. Development henceforward will be measured in how quickly Darjeeling begins to be recast as Switzerland, in fulfilment of Ms Banerjee’s dreams for the rejuvenation and parivartan of West Bengal. Development will henceforward be measured by the number of multi-storied car parking lots that come up in Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong to accommodate the carbon spewing automobiles that choke roads within the towns and across the hills.
The accord is a fresh chapter in the three decade-old friction between the hills and the rest of West Bengal. Despite the success claims of the new State Government, the Centre and Mr Gurung, till the difficult issue of territorial claims in the Dooars and the Terai is resolved, peace cannot be said to have returned.
Reorganisation of states must be final, holistic
The New Indian Express Last Updated : 20 Jul 2011:The tripartite Gorkhaland accord between the Centre, government of West Bengal and the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha may bring peace to Darjeeling for the time being, but it has left the votaries of a separate state as well as those opposed to it fretting and fuming. The central and the state governments have expressed hope that the return of peace will usher a new era of development for the region. How long does this peace last and what are the social contours of the development that follows remains to be seen. The move, however, smacks of an unfortunate tendency on the part of India’s ruling establishment to take decisions relating to the governance of this vast country on a piecemeal basis whenever it is confronted with a crisis.
The UPA’s continued vacillation on the Telangana issue provides an example of this cynical attitude which puts the political expediency of the ruling party above national interests. The Congress and the BJP have endorsed the demand and the UPA government had even announced in 2009 that the process of creation of Telangana would start. Instead of moving in that direction, it appointed another committee and, after receiving its report, entered into endless talks to build an elusive consensus.
The fear that conceding Telangana statehood may open the Pandora’s Box may or may not be real. But the time for procrastination is over. After the reorganisation of states in 1956, there has been no comprehensive initiative to redraw the boundaries within India. The carving out of Gujarat from Bombay in 1960, the trifurcation of erstwhile Punjab in 1966 and the creation of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Uttarakhand in 2002 merely amounted to patch work solutions when push came to shove. It is time the government settled the issue by appointing another states reorganisation commission. We need smaller, more effective states to govern a country of India’s size. But this should be done on the grounds of administrative imperatives and not tenuous proclivities of self-seeking politicians. This should be done with a finality that would discourage fissiparous forces for all time to come.

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