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GTA chief executive displeased with DM for undue interference

DARJEELING : Gorkhaland Territorial Administration chief executive Bimal Gurung expressed annoyance with the “unilateral” decisions being taken by the Darjeeling district magistrate in subject matters transferred to the council, asserting the latter would be held responsible for any strains in relations with the state government. Speaking on the sideline of a meeting with ad-hoc teachers in Darjeeling, Gurung said, “The DM is trying to create a wedge between the state government and the GTA. He is interfering in the functions of the GTA without informing us. We request him to stop this otherwise he will be held responsible if our ties with the state government sour.” Gurung’s annoyance stems following the recent raid by the District Consumer Protection Council headed by the DM on rations shops, the market and the fair price medicine shop at the district hospital. 

The DCPC was formed a few years ago under the Consumer Act. On November 28, it called a meeting of members comprising state government and GTA departments and NGOs. The members passed a resolution to conduct raids to check out possible irregularities and malpractices in ration shops, meat shops and the fair price medicine shop. Gurung threatened to take legal course if the district administration continues with its interference. “The GTA is an autonomous body and all its members are elected individuals. The DM must seek permission from the council if he deems it necessary to intervene in certain matters. However, we find the district magistrate continuing to dishonour the GTA agreement. Under such a scenario, we will be forced to take legal steps against the DM,” he warned. Pointing at one instance, the GTA chief executive said, “The Food and Supply department is a transferred subject. But of late, the DM has been harassing the department and interfering in its functions. On Tuesday, the district administration used officials of the food and supply department to conduct raids on ration shops. 

We were kept in the dark about the raid.” The GTA chief said he has already taken up the matter of transferred subjects with the chief minister who has directed the home secretary to visit the hills to sort out the issue. “I spoke with the CM on the transferred subjects during my visit to Kolkata a few days back. I spoke with the state home secretary today who has assured to talk to the chief secretary in this regard,” said Gurung. Responding to the allegation, DM Puneet Yadav said, “I joined a year back and since then there has been peace in the hills. We want the cordial relation to be maintained. As far as the allegation of interference is concerned, the DCPC is a statutory body and conducts activities independently. As its head, I did call a meeting of concerned departments and passed a resolution to conduct the raid. We have got positive response from the people as the raids are for their good.” 

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