The state government has assured to provide financial assistance to the cash strapped Garo Hills Autonomous District Council (GHADC), which is presently under pressure due to its inability to clear pending salaries of the employees for the past 34 months.
The assurance was made by the Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma to a delegation of the GHADC led by its chief executive member (CEM) Benedict Marak during a meeting held at the government secretariat here on Saturday.
This also came in the wake of the ongoing ‘stop work’ agitation by the aggrieved employees under the banner of the Non-Gazetted Employees’ Association.
The employees have decided not to accept the five-month salary offered release by the newly elected NPP-led executive committee.
Addressing media persons after the meeting, Conrad Sangma said, “We have decided that we will move forward in giving them financial support in whatever way possible. We will wait for the letter (from the GHADC) to make the necessary decision.”
He informed that the meeting also discussed the prevailing situation arising out of the stalemate between the EC and the employees due to non-payment of pending salaries.
“…we are updated about the overall situation there and we have realized that we have to move things forwards and certain commitments that are given by the GHADC to its employees (needs to be) fulfilled,” he added.
Referring to the demand that the state government should clear the pending salaries of the GHADC employees, the chief minister however reminded that the GHADC is an autonomous body and its entire working and finances are totally independent.
“So it is not linked directly to the state government. Therefore, the council will have to resolve these issues as we are there to support them,” he asserted.
Urging the agitating employees for their cooperation in resolving the present situation in the council, Conrad Sangma said there is need for work to continue and stopping officials from performing their duties will only derail the entire process to resolve the issue.
He also said that the constitution of a new executive committee is in fact a good opportunity to change things and find a solution to the present financial mess in the council.
“The new EC is working very hard to find a solution to this but if the support is not there, their staff doesn’t join work then how will the files, how will the paperwork move,” the chief minister asked.
The employees have also lodged an FIR against one of the GHADC officials for allegedly injuring some of the protesters with his moving vehicle during the protest on Thursday.
Asked on this, the chief minister however said that he is yet to get an official report from the Superintendent of Police, West Garo Hills.
“I was told about the whole misunderstanding that took place at the GHADC but I will not be able to completely certify this story that has come to me because I am yet to receive the official report from the SP Tura,” he said.
Stating that such incidents should be avoided, the chief minister said people can always air their grievances but one should not stop work from taking place.
“The employees should allow the new executive committee to work and bring the necessary changes. The council must work and it’s only by working we will be able to find a solution to this,” he said.
On the other hand, the chief minister said that if the employees continue to agitate and stop work then it would only indicate that there is a “different purpose” to it.
“(However) if this continues, then it indicates that there is a different purpose for stopping the work and trying to find out different reasons to stop this…there has to be a positive mindset in the whole thing,” he added.
Appealing the need to refrain from politicizing the issue, the chief minister said, “There should not be any kind of negative or any kind of politics involved. There is a need to come together and find a solution. I once again urge the employees to let us work together and find solutions.”