Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council - MoS

(Signed on 22 August 1988)

The Memorandum of Settlement laying down the salient features of the Hill Council states: "In the overall national interest and in response to Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi's call, the GNLF agreed to drop the demand for a separate State of Gorkhaland. For the social, economic, educational and cultural advancement of the people residing in the Hill areas of Darjeeling district, it was agreed to have an autonomous Hill Council to be set up under a State Act".

The salient features of the Hill Council would be as follows:

(i) The name of the Council will be DARJEELING GORKHA HILL COUNCIL
(ii) The Council will cover the three hill sub-divisions of Darjeeling district, namely, Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong, plus the Mouzas of Lohagarh Tea Garden, Lohagarh Forest, Rangmohan, Barachenga, Panighatta, Choto Adalpur, Paharu, Sukna Forest, Sukna Part-I, Pantapati Forest-I, Mahanadi Forest, Champasari Forest and Salbari Chatt Part II within Siliguri subdivision.
(iii) The State Government agrees to lease to the Council after it is formed, or acquire for it the use of such land as may be required and necessary for administrative and developmental purposes, anywhere in the State and in particular in or around 'Darjeeling More' in Siliguri subdivision.
(iv) The Council shall exercise general powers of supervision over Panchayat Samities, Gram Panchayats and Municipalities falling within the area of the Council's jurisdiction.
(v) The General Council will have a total of 42 Members out of which 28 will be elected and the rest nominated by the State Government.
(vi) There will be an Executive Council and the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the General Council will be ex-officio members of the Executive Council with the Chairman of the General Council functioning as the Chief Executive Councillor. The Chief Executive Councillor will nominate 5 members to the Executive Council from out of the elected members of the Council and the State Government will nominate 2 members of the Council and the State Government will nominate 2 members to the Executive Council from out of the non-official nominated members of the General Council.
(vii) The Chairman of the General Council-cum-Chief Executive Councillor will have the ex-officio status and privileges of a Minister in the Council of Ministers in the State.
(viii) The Bill for setting up the Hill Council will be introduced and passed in a special session of the State Legislature which has been summoned. The election to the Hill Council will be held by the 15th December 1988.

Executive Powers of the Council

The Executive Powers of the Council will cover the following subjects, subject to the provisions of the Central and State Laws:
(i) The allotment, occupation or use, or setting apart, of land other than any land which is a reserved forest, for the purpose of agriculture or grazing, or for residential or other non-agriculatural purposes, or for any other purpose likely to promote the interest of the inhabitants of any village, locality or town;
(ii) The management of any forest, not being a reserved forest;
(iii) The use of any canal or watercourse for the purpose of agriculture;
(iv) Agriculture;
(v) Public health and sanitation, hospitals and dispensaries;
(vi) Tourism;
(vii) Vocational training;
(viii) Public works - Development and planning;
(ix) Construction and maintenance of all roads except national highways and state highways;
(x) Transport and development of transport;
(xi) Management of burials and burial grounds, cremation and cremation grounds;
(xii) Preservation, protection and improvement of livestock and prevention of animal diseass, veterinary training and practice.

Restoration of Normalcy

Review of pending criminal cases: It is agreed that a review will be done by the State Government of all the cases registered under various laws against persons involved in the GNLF agitation. Action will be taken, in the light of the review, not to proceed with prosecution in all cases except those charged with murder. Release of persons in custody will follow the withdrawal of cases. This review will be completed within 15 days of signing of this agreement.
Action against Government servants: The State Government agreed to withdraw all cases of disciplinary action taken against employees in the context of the agitation. There would be no victimisation of Government servants.
The GNLF agrees to issue a call to its cadre for the surrender of all unauthorised arms to the district administration. It will be made clear in the call that such surrenders made voluntarily within the prescribed date will not attract any prosecution.