CM hails amendment to Sikkim Anti Drugs Act as historic

Gangtok, 20 Sept (IPR): The Second Supplementary Demands for Grants for the year 2018-19 was passed by the House today in the concluding day of the two-day Session of the Sikkim Legislative Assembly. Chief Minister Pawan Chamling, also the Minister-In-Charge of Finance Revenue & Expenditure Department had moved for consideration and passing of the Demands for Grants.

Subsequently, the Sikkim Appropriation Bill, Bill No. 22 of 2018 was also passed by the House.

The Separate Audit Report on the Accounts of Sikkim State Electricity Regulatory Commission for the year ended 31 March, 2017 was tabled on the floor of the House by the Chief Minister, also the Minister-in-Charge of Finance, Revenue and Expenditure Department.

Likewise, the Annual Report of Rural Management & Development Department, Government of Sikkim for 2017-18, and Report titled ‘Four Years of Empowerment’ of Ministry of Power and New & Renewable Energy, Government of India were presented in the House by the Speaker.

Earlier during the Legislative Business, the House passed the Sikkim Anti Drugs (Amendment) Bill, Bill No.20 of 2018 introduced yesterday on the floor of the House by Minister-in-Charge of Health Care, Human Services & Family Welfare Department, AK Ghatani. MLAs KN Lepcha and RN Chamling participated in the discussions.

The House also passed the Wildlife (Protection) Act (Amendment) Bill, Bill No. 21 of 2018 introduced on the floor of the House by Minister-in-Charge of Forest, Environment & Wildlife Management Department, Tshering Wangdi Lepcha. MLAs, KN Lepcha and RN Chamling participated in the discussions.

Similarly, the House also passed the Sikkim Regulation of Transfer of Land (Amendment) Bill, Bill No. 23 of 2018 introduced by Chief Minister also the Minister-in-Charge of Land Revenue & Disaster Management Department, Pawan Chamling. MLA, KN Lepcha participated in the discussion.

Similarly, the House also passed the Sikkim Goods and Services Tax (Amendment) Bill, Bill No. 24 of 2018 introduced by Chief Minister also the Minister-in-Charge of Finance, Revenue & Expenditure Department, Pawan Chamling.

Uniformly, the House also passed the Sikkim Lokayukta (Amendment) Bill, Bill No. 25 of 2018 introduced by Minister-in-Charge of Law, Legal, Legislative & Parliamentary Affairs Department, RB Subba. MLAs, KN Lepcha and Sonam Lama participated in the discussions.

During the Question Hour, Chief Minister, Pawan Chamling, also the Minister-in-Charge, Land Revenue and Disaster Management Department, while replying to a question raised by MLA, RN Chamling informed that to know the total number of people having less than 3 acres land and 10 acres land in Sikkim will take time and it is in process. Sikkim generates approximately Rs.22.60 Lakh Land Revenue every year.

Minister-in-Charge, Roads and Bridges Department, GM Gurung, while replying to a question raised by MLA, Kunga Nima Lepcha informed that the carpeting work has been tendered and shall be issued by the end of rainy season and will be executed in upcoming dry season. The tender cost of the project is 75, 02,601.00 and the contractor for the project is Bikram Lama. He also added that the department is not giving the Middle Syari road connectivity a step motherly treatment as the department is very much concerned about the hardships faced by the local people due to the damages caused by landslide at Zymping ward. To address such problems, the Government has already sanctioned the restoration work. Tendering process has been completed and work will take place during working season after issuance of work order to the contractor. He also informed about the last carpeting/resurfacing of Ranipool/Nandok road which was executed during the period 2009 to 2013 under the Government Contractor named Jogen Mukhia. The unprecedented rainfall in last few years has caused immense damage to road from LLHP to Nandok. This road has very few numbers of natural jhora to divert the water collected from side rain. During rainy season, even minor slips block the drain and water tends to flow over the carpeted surface. Prolonged water flow over carpeted area affects existing surface and more deteriorated state. During the CM’s visit in July, emergency surface repairing was done departmentally to provide immediate relief. Now, a proposal has been prepared for strengthening of road surface by using much thicker section of bituminous course to improve the carrying capacity of the road, it is under active consideration.

While replying to the questions put forth by MLA, Kunga Nima Lepcha, Minister-in-Charge of Tourism and Aviation Department, Ugen. T. Gyatso informed about the total number of Domestic and Foreign tourist in Sikkim during 2017-18 such as; Domestic Tourists, 2017 – 13, 75,854, Domestic Tourists, 2018 – 10, 64,042. Foreign Tourists, 2017 – 49,111, Foreign Tourists, 2018 – 32,717.

Also, he informed about the total revenue earned during Financial Year 2017-18 and 2018 – 19 (first quarter) as Rs. 5, 13, 95,818 and 1, 84, 47, 926 respectively. The revenue earned is deposited in the State exchequer under the relevant Heads of Account.

He also informed about the 81,828 Inner Line Permits which has been issued since January, 2017 to June 2018. And the popular destinations visited on ILP are Gangtok, Rumtek and Tsomgo in East Sikkim, Phodong and Yumthang in North Sikkim, Namchi and Ravangla in South Sikkim and Pelling, Yuksom, Tashiding and Zongri in West Sikkim.

Chief Minister, also the Leader of the House, Pawan Chamling in his valedictory address said that the decisions taken in the two-day Session were directed to safeguard the present and the future of the Sikkimese people. He reiterated that the five Amendment Bills passed by the House are people-centric, and will have positive impact on their lives.

Speaking on the Sikkim Anti Drugs (Amendment) Bill, Bill No. 20 of 2018, the Chief Minister stated that it was a historic amendment and will be a matter of wide discussion and praise throughout the country and the world. He reiterated that the Amendment Bill decriminalizes drug abuse and encourages drug addicts to seek medical treatment. He said that the earlier Amendment treated drug addicts as criminals liable to punishment, so they would not share their addiction. Thus, societal and other fears kept them from seeking help and they continued to discreetly abuse contraband substances. With this landmark Amendment, that will completely change and more people will acknowledge their addiction and will seek medical help. This will thus help in curbing drug addiction in our society, stated the Chief Minister.

“We have given drug addicts an encouragement to seek treatment and join the mainstream of the society. This is an initiative of the State Government worth emulating by other States and countries,” he stated. He added that the other objective of this Amendment Bill is to build an opinion among all stakeholders about the challenge of addiction in society and the way to make Sikkim a drug addiction-free State. Drug peddlers, on the other hand, would be liable to severest punishment which can go upto minimum one year imprisonment and fine of over one lakh rupees, he added.

Speaking on the Wildlife (Protection) Act (Amendment) Bill, Bill No. 21 of 2018, Chief Minister, Pawan Chamling stated that Sikkim is a unique model of humans coexisting in harmony with the environment. However, the menace of wild animals on private agricultural holdings posed a threat to human sustenance, and the Government was compelled to come out with the Amendment Bill. He reiterated that the Bill passed by the House today would give respite to the farming community of Sikkim. He urged the people to use their responsible minds to deal with any situation of wild life menace and use permissible objects or weapons to chase the animals. The Chief Minister also stated that Sikkim is the first State in the world to pass the Wildlife (Protection) Act, which prevents killing of wild animals.

On the Sikkim Goods and Services Tax (Amendment) Bill, Bill No. 24 of 2018, the Chief Minister said that the Bill would help improvise and simplify the Tax for the benefit of all stakeholders.

The Chief Minister stated that the Second Supplementary Demands for Grants for the financial year 2018-19 passed by the House today would fulfil the present demands and priorities of the people of Sikkim. He added that the sanctioned amount should be utilized to fulfil the basic minimum needs of the people as well as provide them with all the facilities. He stated that most of the need-based demands of the people from the recent thirty-two day tour of the Chief Minister were sanctioned and accommodated in the Budget.

He informed that 1200 km of road has been sanctioned, which when completed would mean 99% road connectivity in Sikkim. No village, block, or ward would be left out and Sikkim will have the highest road density in the country. The Chief Minister said that due to fragile geology leading to natural calamities, the condition of State and National highways remains an area of concern. He added that the concerned Department should immediately carry out repair and restoration work wherever necessary so that people do not suffer. He called for participation of engineers, contractors and the public to ensure that all ongoing works are qualitative and are completed within scheduled time.

The Chief Minister further stated that all protective works, drinking water schemes, electrification, jhora training, upgradation of transformers, demands for religious places, crematorium centres, community centres, community play grounds, repair of school buildings and other amenities have been sanctioned by the Government.

He further directed the concerned Department to complete the construction of all sanctioned houses under the Rural Housing Scheme, the REDRH Scheme, and complete the house up-gradation work on priority as well as to provide plot of land to the landless.

The Chief Minister directed the concerned Department to ensure that the State and National highways and tourism spots should have wayside amenities and washrooms for the convenience of tourists and visitors. All taxi parking places, plaza and stands, should also have washroom facilities, he stressed.

Further, all non-functional hostels in Senior Secondary Schools and Colleges and all vacant Government Quarters should be made functional immediately.

He also said that budget has been allocated for the recently announced Sikkim Students Welfare Board and Sikkim Senior Citizens’ Welfare Board as well as a Senior Citizen Bhawan.

The Chief Minister also announced that Disaster Management will be part of school curriculum from next academic session.

He said that people of Sikkim should take pride in the fact that it now has the highest literacy rate in the country with 96.72%, which is among the many ‘firsts’ it has achieved in several fields. Likewise, the development of Sikkim can be measured by its Happiness Index, which is the highest in the country, he stated. The increase in the life expectancy of the people of Sikkim by ten years is yet another indicator of development recorded by the State, he added.

“Sikkim is all set to have the Pakyong Greenfield Airport inaugurated by the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi on the 23rd of September. I thank the Prime Minister for taking out time from his busy schedule to visit Sikkim and welcome him on behalf of the people of Sikkim,” stated the Chief Minister.

The Airport has been built at an estimated cost of Rs 605.59 crore by the Airports Authority of India, he informed. Further, he informed that the State Government has provided land compensation to 164 people amounting to Rs 63.13 crore. Further, 257 people have claimed for compensation but the matter is sub-judice, he informed.

The CM, in his address, also mentioned some of the major infrastructures coming up such as the alternative national highway, railway project upto Rangpo, new Secretariat, Medical College & Multi Speciality Hospital, Chenrizig Singkham Riwo Potala, Sky Walk Project, Underground Road and City. He also touched upon some of the recent decisions of the Government such as ‘Job for Jobless’, and implementation of recommendations of the Pay Commission.

In conclusion, the Chief Minister called upon all the concerned to take collective responsibility and ownership to take Sikkim to greater heights of development. He said that the good work done by the Government in the last twenty-four years should be appreciated, and collective and coordinated efforts should be made to complete unfinished work.

“Determined leader, responsible administration and disciplined people are the three pillars or actors of true democracy,” he stated. He urged all to understand and imbibe these values.

The Chief Minister thanked the Speaker of SLA, KN Rai for the smooth conduct of the two-day session. He thanked the Deputy Speaker, Ministers and MLAs for their presence and participation in the debates and discussions during the Session. He also thanked the Secretary and officers of the Sikkim Legislative Assembly Secretariat, officers of the State Government and members of the press and media.

Speaker, KN Rai, in his valedictory address, thanked the Leader of the House, the Ministers, and MLAs for their participation. He expressed hope that the Supplementary Demands for Grants passed by the House would fulfil the aspirations of the people. He also thanked and congratulated the Members of the House for passing five important Amendment Bills. He extended his thanks to the Chief Secretary, Additional Chief Secretaries, DGP, Officers, Printing & Stationery Department, Police Department, IPR Department and Members of the media, and Secretary officers and staff of the Assembly Secretariat.

The House was adjourned Sine-Die by the Speaker.