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TURA |Dec 26, 2018:
The protests against the GHADC's decision to fell more than 800 mature trees from within its reserves gained momentum with the New Tura Development Forum (NTDF) questioning the motive of the Council.
Members of the NTDF recently met the secretary of the Garo Hills Autonomous District Council (GHADC) to express their resentment to the Council's move.
During the discussion, the NTDF also questioned the huge number of employees of the GHADC and the need for it.
Currently, the GHADC employs over 2000 people in various roles with a total of over Rs 4.5 crores required to meet the salary requirements.
Compared to the KHADC (which has a larger jurisdiction and resources but employs only about 800), it is about 3 times more. The sheer numbers has led to the GHADC facing a huge financial crisis with employees not being paid salaries for close to 17 months.
According to the secretary, the number of employees in GHADC was justified due to the fact that since the GHADC had more departments, more personnel are required.
The meeting with the secretary came about as the NTDF was unable to meet the CEM on Dec 20.
"The recruitment to the GHADC is random and excessive and has led to a huge financial burden. Are there 300% more posts in GHADC than in KHADC? We would be happy if the same was done to solve unemployment problems (as was stated).
However the responsibility of unemployment is not the GHADC's alone and is also for the state and nation. How will they be able to solve unemployment problems without being able to pay their employees," asked the secretary to the NTDF through a release.
The NTDF further sought the views of the people of the region on the matter on whether the employee count should not be placed under scrutiny.
On the matter of timber felling, the NTDF expressed its displeasure on the move arguing that it would put the entire reserve at the mercy of unscrupulous contractors.
"When we argued that not only mature trees but also others would be cut down, the secretary tried to assure us that only a few extra trees would be cut. This move will definitely impact the ecological balance of Garo Hills and unscrupulous contractors will ensure that the forests become barren. This is a huge concern and we totally oppose the move. We are not convinced with the statement of the secretary," added the release.
The attitude of the secretary in question has also come up for question after the NTDF members complained of reluctance of the officer to meet them.
"We did not expect such an experience and his behaviour is condemnable," they added.