Bimal Gurung-led Gorkha Territorial Administration (GTA) is all set to increase the lease rent of the tea gardens falling under its jurisdiction in the hills of Darjeeling,Kalimpong and Kurseong. There are about 74 tea gardens in the Darjeeling hills.
The reason cited by the GJM leaders,who swept the recent polls to form the GTA,is the acute financial crunch.
We need a huge sum of money to start development works in the hills. The local civic body is facing acute fund crunch. So we have to start imposing taxes,which will not affect the locals, said a senior GJM leader.
The plan to increase the lease rent of tea gardens,however,could not be implemented till the state government transfer the power of Land and Land Revenue Department to the GTA.
We need the Land and Land Revenue Department to be transferred to the GTA. All the departments are likely to be transferred to the GTA by August 31, said a GTA executive member.
Earlier,the GTA had proposed to levy Rs 10 from each tourist for every night stay in Darjeeling,saying the money collected would be used to protect the environment and help improve sanitation facilities in the hill station.
The sanitation tax will help us to collect Rs 10-20 crore every year as more tourists are expected to visit Darjeeling in the improved situation, a GJM leader said.
The proposal,however,has not gone down well with the Darjeeling Hoteliers Association,which has more than 200 hotels registered with it. Sameer Singhal,secretary of the association,said: We will hold a meeting with the GTA next week over the Rs 10 levy. We are yet to be sure how the levy will be collected.