Gangtok, 14 Aug:

Chief Minister Pawan Chamling has listed out a series of across-the-board increments in various social sector grants and payments made out by the State Government. These announcements make part of his Independence Day message. These “key announcements,” the CM details, are being “undertaken for accelerated development and progress of the State”.

Old Age Pension stands enhanced to Rs 2,000 per month for those aged 80 and above, Rs 1,500 for the 70-80 age-group and Rs 1,000 for those aged between 60-70.

The State Government has also sanctioned four Old Age Homes, one in each district, and the CM assured that the concerned Department “should ensure that a homely and friendly atmosphere is maintained with open spaces”.

Also on the anvil is a pension scheme for farmers. Krishi Pension is proposed to be introduced from the year 2018 onwards for farmers solely dependent on agriculture and aged 50 years and above.

The CM has further directed the respective Districts Collectors to prepare a list of ‘sukumbasis’ (landless Sikkimese) and identify unutilised government lands. This process is to be completed within three months. By 2018, all the identified ‘sukumbasis’ will be provided land for construction of houses, and their houses will be constructed by the Government, the CM has announced.

All Government buildings to be made disabled-friendly with provision for ramps to ensure convenient access, the CM has announced in his message. Also slated for a hike is the monthly pension for differently-abled persons who will now receive Rs 1,500.

Unmarried Pension is also proposed to be increased from the existing Rs 500 monthly grant to Rs 2,000. The CM also shared details of the “Proud Mother Scheme” under which a Rs 6,000 grant is offered after the first baby and Rs. 10,000 after the second baby.

The CM has also announced that the minimum daily wage for working class people will be enhanced to Rs 300 even as the adhoc salaries are ratified and made uniform. Under this, Medical Officers (doctors) and dentists on adhoc will receive Rs 25,000 per month, Post Graduate Teachers Rs 20,000 per month, Inspector/ JE/ Retainer/ GT Rs 15,000 per month, LDCs Rs 10,000 per month and peons Rs 8,000.

While on administrative matters, the CM also announced that the practice of frequent transfers of government employees on request will henceforth be stopped, requiring a minimum period of two years in one place of posting.

The government will also ensure posting of a DSP, ASP and SP in all district headquarters and a minimum of one lady Police Officer and some lady constables in all police stations.

Also assured is “uniform qualifying years” for promotion to next higher post for different cadres in the State.

The CM has also announced free education for Sikkimese students enrolled in ATTC, Bardang, and CCCT, Chisopani, and the establishment of a Horticulture College at Bermiok in South Sikkim.

Among the other announcements are construction of a Police Memorial at Aritar near Rhenock in East Sikkim, a helipad at Temi-Tarku which will also receive a “Tourism Peace Centre”, and the development of Lachen and Lachung as ‘Garden of Rhododendrons’.

The Government also plans to construct a Yoga Hall in each district and select schools from best performing institutions.

The CM concludes this section of his address with the appeal that public participation and involved be ensured in implementation of all government programmes with the State Government acting only as a facilitator.

Elsewhere in his message, the CM also informs that benefits worth Rs 700 crores were disbursed during the recent series of Janta Melas held across the State during which tokens for CMRHM, LPG connections, Community Development Fund, Land Bank Schemes, Homestays, Samajik Sewa Bhatta, milching cows, proud mother scheme, GCI sheets and other welfare schemes were handed over.