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Wednesday, Mar 25, 2020 13:00 [IST]

Last Update: Wednesday, Mar 25, 2020 07:07 [IST]


State equipped in all ways to handle coronavirus situation: CM

SE Report
GANGTOK: The State Budget for 2020-21, tabled by Chief Minister P.S. Golay on Monday, was passed by the Assembly on Tuesday, the final day of the two-day Budget Session. The seven bills introduced by minister concerned yesterday were also endorsed by the House, informs an IPR release.
Replying to the points raised by the members during the discussion on motion of thanks on the Governor’s address and Budget 2020-21, the Chief Minister said that the budget is Sikkim-centric, rural-centric and youth-centric. He added that the budget has laid special emphasis on youth-centric schemes, especially for the skilled youth in the form of Skilled Youth Startup Program for which Rs. 25 crore has been earmarked in the proposed budget. He said that capable and skilled youth will largely benefit from this scheme.
The Chief Minister mentioned about the recent initiative of the government to launch the ‘Sikkim Film Policy’ in the presence of renowned national and international filmmakers, producers and investors. He said that the film policy will enable national and international filmmakers to explore the scenic locations of Sikkim to shoot their films. He announced that the government has allocated a substantial budget for the purchase of film shooting equipment. He further said that the government will provide incentive to regional, local and large budget filmmakers from outside the State who shoot their films in Sikkim and use local artists and crew.
Responding to the question on COVID-19, Golay informed the House that Rs. 2.92 crore has been transferred to the Health department from the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund to deal with the current situation. Speaking about establishing a testing lab for coronavirus in Sikkim, the Chief Minister shared that he had a word with Union Health Minister Dr. Harshvardhan yesterday, who shared that it would take over two months for the testing paraphernalia to reach Sikkim.
The Chief Minister shared that an alternate arrangement was requested for, and the Union Health Minister has assured for a testing facility in Siliguri at the earliest possible.
Responding to points raised by MLA Pawan Chamling with regard to the State government’s preparedness for coronavirus, the Chief Minister said that the State is equipped in all ways to handle the current situation and any exigency thereof. He informed about the initiative of the government to fly back 58 students studying under the scholarship scheme in various parts of the country, and have them quarantined in SICUN complex, Assam Lingzey since yesterday. He further informed about the State government’s correspondence with the Union Home secretary yesterday with regard to 70 students studying in Tamil Nadu, with a request to keep them safe with requisite facility. He also shared that the Government of Sikkim is ready to share the economic burden with the State of Tamil Nadu to ensure that these students are lodged safely.
Golay further said that the government has been proactively ensuring thorough screening and scrutiny of anybody travelling into the State from the two border checkposts at Rangpo and Melli. He informed that manpower has been increased in these checkposts, and NGOs have been requested to lend their assistance.
Speaking about social welfare initiatives, the Chief Minister informed that from henceforth, old age pension for each age group will be enhanced by Rs. 500 and will be provided on a monthly basis. Likewise, he informed that any married woman who loses her husband and becomes a widow will be entitled to the widow pension, regardless of her age. In the event of her choosing to re-marry, she will automatically lose the entitlement for widow pension, he informed.
Underlining the special privilege envisaged for women, the Chief Minister informed the house that all enlisted women contractors will be exempted from TDR for any contract work up to an amount of Rs. 5 crore, and 50% exemption in TDR for any contract work between Rs. 5 crore to Rs. 10 crore. 
Golay also announced that from henceforth, registration for all power projects with a generation capacity below 5 Mw will be granted to interested youths of Sikkim who have the technical and financial capacity to run it.
Replying to a question about the status of allotment orders for CMRHM housing scheme issued during Janta Mela 2019, the Chief Minister stated that the government has not issued any directive to cancel the allotment orders. He, however, stated that the government will ensure that only genuine beneficiaries are entitled to any housing scheme. He said that upon verification, if anyone is found to have flouted the criteria for entitlement, the government will be compelled to cancel their order. He informed that the budget allocation for ‘Sikkim Garib Awas Yojana’ has been considerably enhanced. He also shared that the plinth area of each house has been enhanced to 678 sq ft. He reiterated that only genuine beneficiaries will be awarded a house under the scheme.
Replying to a question about the government’s stand on the Limboo-Tamang seat issue and the proposal for tribal status to the 11 left-out communities, the Chief Minister said that the State government is fully committed to resolve these two issues. He said that the government will organize a public debate and deliberation on the issue of Limboo-Tamang seat reservation, and the outcome of the debate will be submitted to the Government of India for consideration. About the tribal status demand for the 11 left-out communities, he said that the State government will initially request the Central government to grant ‘Economically Weaker Section’ status to the left-out communities, and subsequently pursue the demand for tribal status.
The Chief Minister further said the government will deliberate over the creation of an ‘MLA fund’ to empower them and facilitate development at the grassroots level. Responding to the question about inviting CBI into Sikkim, the Chief Minister said that the government is ready to invite the investigating authority. He said that the decision will be taken in its appropriate time.
Golay said that the Sikkim Panchayat (Amendment) Bill will abolish party-based system in Panchayati Raj Institutions and will usher in true democracy in grassroots governance.
Earlier, the session started with an obituary reference on the passing away of Late Pradeep Yonzon, former member of Sikkim Legislative Assembly.
Speaker L.B. Das read the obituary reference of Late Pradeep Yonzon and said his passing away was an irreparable loss to the State and community as a whole. He extended his deepest condolences to the bereaved family.
The House observed two-minute silence as a mark of respect to the departed soul, the IPR release mentions.

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