The Non Gazetted Employees Association (NGEA) of the Garo Hills Autonomous District Council (GHADC) categorically denied being invited by the council’s Secretary for talks on finances.
The NGEA further rejected the clarification provided by the Secretary, Rikse Marak, that she provided during a meeting held at the Circuit House in Tura where various political parties, NGOs and some officers of the GHADC were present.
“We were never invited by the Secretary for the meeting, though we had unconfirmed news that a meeting was being held on January 7. She intentionally did not invite us as she knows that in our presence she would not be able to deliver her litany lies to the public,” said the NGEA through a press release.
Countering the claims of the Secretary that the GHADC only generates around Rs 1.7 crore per month as revenue, the NGEA claimed that the revenue collection was sufficient to pay the salaries of the employees.
“We are not asking for central or state funds to pay our salaries. We are demanding our salary from the revenue generated. The revenue generated is sufficient to pay the salaries. However, due to a lack of transparency and strict finance rules in the GHADC, funds are not properly utilized due to which the GHADC is not able to pay the employees,” said Senora Johny Arengh, the NGEA President.
The association claimed that the GHADC’s revenue collection was close to Rs 6-7 crore per month, citing April 2015 as an example. According to the NGEA, in April a total of Rs 7.40 crore was collected.
The Secretary had earlier stated that an amount of Rs 4 crores was required per month to clear the salaries.
“The DMR (Directorate of Mineral Resources) has been paying royalty to the GHADC to the tune of crores. In 2015-16, a total amount of Rs 44.94 crore was given. In 2017, the amount was Rs 11.07 crore, in 2018 it was Rs 11 crore, in 2019 the royalty share was Rs 15 crore. This is only from the DMR. Similar payments are made by the Transport and Forest Departments to the GHADC,” claimed the NGEA.
Further the NGEA also questioned the former Chief Executive Member, Denang T Sangma, who had apparently borrowed amounts of Rs 80 lakh and Rs 70 lakh from two businessmen to pay employee salaries.
“As per our information, this was not used to pay our salaries and even their payments had to be made from the GHADC treasury itself,” they added.
Questioning the seriousness of the Secretary in clearing their salaries, the NGEA asked why she was not pursuing the Rs 45 crore that is due to the GHADC from the state. They also expressed frustration that contractors’ bills were cleared even as workers went without their wages.
The employees also rubbished the Secretary’s claim that a single window system was set up to streamline and provide transparency when it comes to GHADC challans. The NGEA claimed that there is no software being used to carry out the single window’s functions.