Kolkata: Ending the Darjeeling impasse, which was in limbo for nearly 15 years, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banejee on Tuesday said the issue has been settled. However, the GJM declined to comment on whether there was any decision on its original demand for a Gorkhaland state.

Calling the day as historic, ‘Didi’ said that the Darjeeling row, which has been lingering for a long period is settled. “I have informed Union Home Minister P Chidambaram,” Banerjee informed the reporters at the Writers' Buildings.

On being asked about the 'magic formula' that ended the stalemate, Banerjee said that development is the key to the agreement’s success.

She also said that she has asked Chief Secretary Samar Ghosh to discuss the issue with the Centre so that the agreement can be formalised at Darjeeling where she would also be present.

To the question regarding the announcement of a financial package to Darjeeling, she retorted, “Shall I attend a wedding without a gift? I love the people of Darjeeling.”

Notably, the West Bengal CM had promised to resolve the Darjeeling crisis within three months of her coming to power in the state.

Confirming Mamata’s announcement later, GJM General Secretary Roshan Giri told reporters that transfer of 'tauji' or the right over tea gardens and resolution of the problem of casual employees of the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) were reached at the meeting.

However, he declined to comment when asked about the GJM's original demand for Gorkhaland.

New Committee for Darjeeling issue

The West Bengal government has decided to form a high power committee to look into the workings of the Darjeeling issue. The decision was announced by Chief Secretary Samar Ghosh after having a formal round of talks with the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) representatives at Writers’ Buildings.
Ghosh said that a consensus has been reached for forming a new committee, which will be formed through elections and will look after the administrative and monetary issues but will not have the right to form laws.

“For the same necessary amendment will be proposed in the next session of the Assembly,” he said.

The Chief Secretary said that a 11-member high-power committee would be constituted in two weeks with three members each from the GJM and four members from hilly areas besides a chairman which would submit its report within six months.

He also said that emphasis will be laid on development, which has lagged behind due to the controversy.

According to the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) Act, an administrative board will be constituted, which will include District Magistrate MK Gandhi too.

About the temporary employees of the DGHC who had completed 10 years of service, he said they would be allowed to work till they complete 60 years of their service. Discussions were also taken regarding the rehabilitation of the committee.

Notably, DGHC was constituted by the former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, West Bengal’s ex-Chief Minister Jyoti Basu and Gorkhaland National Liberation Front (GNLF) head Subhash Ghisingh.

About 'tauji', which deals with tea garden and is now under the control of the collectorate, Ghosh said a decision was reached for formation of a committee with members from the Tea Board, Ministry of Commerce and GJM representatives.

JPN/Bureau