Legislation to impose stringent punishment for peddlers: CM

Gangtok, 08 Aug:

Chief Minister Pawan Chamling made some key announcements today while addressing a gathering at Saramsa Garden in East Sikkim on the occasion ofthe Lepcha festival, Tendong Lho Rum Faat.

He announced that the State Government will frame laws that willserve longer jail term for drug traffickers.

While highlighting the increase in drug users in the State, he said that addiction will not be considered a crime but a disease so that the stigma attached to it can be removed.

Adding that movie star, Sanjay Dutt, is an inspiration when it comes to fighting addiction and emerging victorious, he stated that the State Government wants talks with the actor to be appointed as ambassador of drug free Sikkim.

He also announced waiver on interest to those who pay their loans under Chief Minister Self Employment Scheme to one payment within sixty days.

Countering criticism from the opposition on the ongoing flagship HPV vaccination drive for young girls,he said that over 150 countries have already administered the HPV vaccine. He urged people to avoid rumours and opt for the vaccine as it is based on an Australian model to make the society healthy.

Addressing the Lepcha community, he stated that Sikkim’s human history is intertwined with the history of Lepchas.

It has been the prime policy of the government to empower Lepchas not just materialistically but also intellectually, he said.

He highlighted that the government has been workingon a sustainable path towards the protection and advancement of the Lepcha community.

Declaration of Lepchas as a primitive tribe by the State Government for giving special protection was a tough decision but it was the iron will of his government that took such a decision in order to help them live with pride and lead the State in the future, he added.

Primitive Tribe Board that was formed by the government is also for the youth to be constructive, creative, innovative, competitive, empowered and capable, highlighted the CM.

He further appealed to Lepcha youth to avail all facilities provided by the government in education as those who use such benefits avail rich dividends.

Regarding the delay inthe Stairway to Heaven project at Daramdin in West Sikkim, the CM said that technical planning is very difficult in such projects which will be the first of its kind.He asked all to cooperate positively and work together for completion of the project.

Citing the example of 83-crore Mantam Bridge which will include bungee jumping, he said that he wants to bring opportunities to the Lepcha reserve of Dzongu and promote it as an indigenous world.He also informed that the Government is building a bridge over the river Rongyang which will connect Sakyong and Pentong.

The CM also stated that since there is high inflow of tourists [around 20 lakhs per year], the urban infrastructure is under increasing stress hence there is a need for more promotion of rural tourism and a need for villages to adapt to tourism and related professions like home stays to reap rich dividends.He said that sustainable tourism is the need of the hour.

He stated that inclusive politics and upliftment of all sections of Sikkimese society to the mainstream has been the hallmark of his government and he termed Sikkim as “an oasis of peace” amidst all the turmoil in the neighbourhood.

Citing the example of indigenous tribes in the US where reservation and facilities to them has meant more backwardness for the tribes, he said that too much of such a system can be harmful.

He further added that people have nowadays become counter-productive and urged all to be constructive in approach including criticism.

The CM requested citizens to avoid communalism and people with negative approach, and concentrate on taking ownership of the State for all round sustainable development of Sikkim.

Organising committee of the Tendong Lho Rum Faat celebrations, Ugen Bhutia, Dawcho Lepcha and Lobsang Chopel Lepcha, thanked the CM on behalf of all the members of the community for all round progress of Lepchas.