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DGHC in death bed, regular job cry Workers bank on promise & new set-up

Posted by Ramesh Khati on August 13, 2009

Lal Kothi, the administrative headquarters of the DGHC

Lal Kothi, the administrative headquarters of the DGHC

Darjeeling, Aug. 12: Fearing an uncertain future, an organisation of nearly 8,000 contractual workers of the DGHC today reasserted their demand for permanent jobs. The revival of the demand comes a day after a decision was taken to scrap the council.

“It was made very clear yesterday that an alternative arrangement to the DGHC would be worked out. But we want permanent status at the earliest,” said Machendra Subba, the president of the Janmukti Asthahi Karmachari Sangathan, after iterating the demand for permanent status on behalf of the workers. He, however, refused to say much on the repealing of the DGHC Act.

In the absence of the DGHC, a permanent status would mean a shift to the new set-up or a transfer to other departments.

The decision to scrap the council along with plans to abandon the Sixth Schedule bill was taken during the tripartite talks in Delhi yesterday. The Morcha, which was a party to the talks with the state and central governments, has even agreed to the appointment of an interlocutor for the hills.

Union home secretary G.K. Pillai had said in Delhi yesterday that the alternative set-up to the DGHC would have to be worked out through a mutual agreement and consultation. There are indications that the Morcha could accept a three-tier panchayat system in place of the DGHC.

But party general secretary Roshan Giri had hinted that the future of the DGHC workers was the state’s responsibility. “It is up to the state government to work out an alternative arrangement,” he said yesterday. The Morcha had always been against the council and the Sixth Schedule status, an autonomous administrative status for tribal areas, as it felt they came in the way of Gorkhaland.

“The state government had earlier told us that the regularisation process would start within three months. The timeframe expires on September 9. If the process does not start by then, we will consult the Morcha leadership and start an agitation,” said Subba.

Apart from the regularisation of the jobs, the contractual workers have also demanded that their salaries be on a par with that of state government employees. At the moment, the workers get a consolidated salary ranging from Rs 2,000 to Rs 5,000 per month.

The ABGL, one of the oldest parties in the hills, maintained that it was not necessary to do away with the council right away. “If Gorkhaland is formed, the council will be automatically dissolved,” said Madan Tamang, the president of the ABGL.

Tamang said it was the responsibility of the state government to look after the DGHC contractual workers. “The workers are the government’s liability as it allowed Ghisingh to recruit them randomly during the 21 years that he was in power,” said Tamang.

Trying to put a pressure on the Morcha, Tamang said the party should refrain from contesting either the panchayat or the municipality elections. “Unless these elections are held in Gorkhaland, there is no question of accepting them as these systems are now within Bengal,” said Tamang.

A media release issued yesterday by the Union home ministry had read: “The government of India and the government of West Bengal proposed that as an interim measure and to restore the democratic process, the elections to the panchayat samitis, gram panchayats as well as municipalities be allowed to be held.”

The ABGL has, however, welcomed the decision to abandon the Sixth Schedule bill. “I had been maintaining that the bill was alive and I am vindicated now. It is a victory for the ABGL. However, unless we get a government notification we cannot say it is completely dead,” said Tamang.

Source:The Telegraph


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