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‘Chamling doing politics over coronavirus’

Thursday, Mar 26, 2020 12:00 [IST]

Last Update: Thursday, Mar 26, 2020 06:20 [IST]

‘Chamling doing politics over coronavirus’

We acted much earlier to prevent COVID-19 entry to Sikkim: Khaling

BIJOY GURUNG

GANGTOK: SKM spokesperson Jacob Khaling, also the political secretary to the Chief Minister, has countered that former Chief Minister and SDF president Pawan Chamling was trying to play politics and get ‘cheap publicity’ over coronavirus preventive measures in Sikkim.

Chamling had yesterday accused the SKM government of being medically unprepared to tackle coronavirus in the State and claimed that he was prevented from speaking on the vital public issue at the Assembly.

EARLY ACTION BY SIKKIM GOVT

Countering the allegations, the SKM spokesperson gave a live Facebook address on Wednesday afternoon wherein he stated that Chamling, despite the present emergency situation, ‘tried to play politics to gain cheap publicity’. He then listed a series of steps taken by the SKM government since January 27 to prevent coronavirus entry into Sikkim. He maintained that the SKM government acted much earlier and as a result, the State so far has zero positive coronavirus cases.

Khaling pointed out that the State government started screening of the arrivals at Rangpo and Melli checkposts from as early as January 27 when the coronavirus cases rose alarmingly in China. When the coronavirus cases started emerging in India initially, the alert Sikkim government issued a notification on March 5 banning the entry of all foreign nationals and on March 17, we stopped the entry of domestic tourists as a preventive measure against coronavirus, he said.

“The Chief Minister is personally monitoring the preventive measures being taken. Sikkim government had started its preventive measures much earlier. Because we acted early, there is no positive case of coronavirus. There is no need to do politics,” said Khaling. He said it was unfortunate that Chamling chose to do politics at this hour.

‘CHAMLING DOING POLITICS OF LIES’

“Yesterday (at the Assembly), it was unfortunate that Chamling tried to gain political mileage in these difficult times,” said the SKM spokesperson. He maintained that it was Chamling who is doing politics of lie.

Regarding the claim of Chamling that he was not allowed to speak, the SKM spokesperson mentioned that the Speaker had allocated 10 minutes to each member during the discussions on the bills tabled and two minutes to each member during the discussions on the budget. The time restriction was done because of coronavirus pandemic wherein many States have cancelled their Assembly sessions, he said. He added that the Budget Session for Sikkim was crucial and unavoidable since the State government needed to clear the fund allocations for wages and developmental works.

“Chamling did not speak during the discussions on bills wherein each member was granted 10 minutes. He chose to speak during the discussions on budget wherein only 2 minutes were allowed. He took that stage deliberately…he did not spoke on the budget and raised the coronavirus issue just to do politics. Despite this, the Speaker gave him more than 8 minutes to speak but he engaged in only a blame game and then left midway without the House ending,” said Khaling.

The SKM spokesperson maintained that the loan bequeathed to Sikkim by the previous SDF government of 25 years stand at Rs. 20,000 crore including liabilities. We have published this data in black and white, Chamling has to accept the truth, he said.

Regarding the statement of Chamling that the SKM government has allocated only a mere Rs. 25 crore for the unemployed youth to do business, Khaling said there is a difference between the budget sanctioned by the SKM government and the Rs. 107 crore sanctioned by the previous SDF government for the unemployed youth.

“The SDF government, during its 25 years, had no programmes for the unemployed youth of Sikkim. Only just before the 2019 election, the SDF government allocated Rs. 107 crore that too for an election purpose. The Rs. 107 crore is what the SDF government could give in 25 years whereas the SKM government sanctioned Rs. 25 crore in one year itself. Same or more funds will be allocated every year for the unemployed youth to take up entrepreneurship and in five years, the whole amount will be much more than Rs. 107 crore of the SDF government. Chamling did in 25 years, we did in 10 months, that is the difference,” said Khaling.

The SKM spokesperson maintained that the SKM is committed to its promise of delivering all its electoral promises including the Limboo-Tamang seats and tribal status for the left-out communities within the five years of its governance.

‘GOVT SERIOUSLY WORKING TO PREVENT COVID-19’

Khaling maintained that the SKM government is seriously working to prevent coronavirus effecting Sikkim. The Chief Minister cancelled the cabinet meeting today and no cabinet meetings would take place till the situation normalises, he said.

“We are in lockdown stage. We appeal people not to panic, there will be no shortage of essential commodities. The State government has stocked essential commodities for two months. Medicines, groceries, vegetable shops and other essential goods shops will remain open. We appeal people not to panic,” said Khaling.

The SKM spokesperson informed that six persons have been kept in observation at the district quarantine centres in West Sikkim while 250 more are in home quarantine in the district. In South, six are under observation and 486 are in home quarantine, he said.

The figure for East Sikkim was 59 persons under observation in the government-designated centres and 1,300 in home quarantine while there are zero persons under observation while 70 are in home quarantine in north district, informed Khaling.

There are no positive cases so far but these people have been kept in quarantine because they have returned home from affected countries and cities, said Khaling. He informed that the two floors of the new STNM hospital here have been designated as isolation centres with a total of 123 beds and 56 ventilators. In coming days, we will have 250 beds and we feel that the medical facilities are sufficient for now and we are prepared to face any situation, he said.

Sikkim at a Glance

  • Area: 7096 Sq Kms
  • Capital: Gangtok
  • Altitude: 5,840 ft
  • Population: 6.10 Lakhs
  • Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 to over 28,509 ft above sea level
  • Climate:
  • Summer: Min- 13°C - Max 21°C
  • Winter: Min- 0.48°C - Max 13°C
  • Rainfall: 325 cms per annum
  • Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi