New Delhi, 12 Jun (IPR):
Chief Minister,Prem Singh Tamang (Golay) accompanied by RMDD Minister,Sonam Lama made a courtesy call on Prime Minister,NarendraModi on Tuesday and congratulated him for leading the BJP to a spectacular majority for second consecutive term. He submitted that this phenomenal victory is reflective of the unanimous endorsement of the people of India towards the Prime Minister’s far-sighted social-economic and political policies that was initiated and instituted in 2014.
The Chief Ministerupdated the Prime Minister on various pending issues of Sikkim and sought his intervention in ensuring their early resolution. He elaborated on Article 371F of the Constitution and said that Article 371F of the Constitution of India is the greatest gift to the Sikkimese people which needs to be preserved, protected and implemented, both in letter and spirit. He further expressed his confidence that Prime Minister,NarendraModi’ssecond term shall definitely ensure ways and means to further strengthen and stabilize this glaring feature of the Constitution which in turn is to strengthen our Constitutional frameworks.
He further made it clear that the political rights of the Sikkimese Limboo – Tamang tribes must be ensured at the earliest. He reiterated that despite the passing of so many years, Limboo and Tamang still remain deprived from accomplishing their political rights vis-à-vis- LimbooTamang seat reservation in the Sikkim Legislative Assembly.
Prime Minister Modi remarked that it was owing to the faulty and unstable stand of the hitherto State government that this long pending demand remained unsettled. He however assured to work on it in coordination with the new SKM government.
The Prime Minister was quick to respond positively on Chief Minister's presentation towards inclusion of the eleven left out communities of Sikkim namely, Rai, Gurung, Mangar, Bhujel, Sunwar-Mukhia, Thami, Yakha(Dewan), Khas, Newar, Jogi and Sanyasi in the list of Scheduled Tribes.
The Chief Minister has sought necessary amendments in the existing legislations to pave way for inclusion of these eleven left out communities in the list of Scheduled Tribes given Sikkim’s peculiar position in the country which is primarily governed by Article 371F.
The Prime Minister was most sympathetic on the Chief Minister’s elaboration on the State’s dwindling financial status which is virtually bankrupt and drowned in debt. He further informed the Prime Minister that the circumstances turned from bad to worse owing to the huge loans acquired by a large number of hydro power projects against the State’s guarantee from various financial institutions.
Interestingly, TeestaUrja Hydro Project obtained a loan of Rs 11,020 crore from a financial institution against State guarantee. Pertinent to mention here, some of these projects are already closed down for reasons best known to either such projects or the then Chief Minister,PawanChamling.
It is put on record here that as on 31 March, 2019, the loan of the Sikkim Government stands at whopping figure of Rs 8819. 10 crore while its Annual Budget is around Rs 7000 crore and debt burden of more than Rs 8000 crore.
In fact all this has now made it difficult to release funds to settle State government employees’ rightful dues as per the pay revision. Chief Minister,PSTamang accordingly proposed for a one-time grant of financial aid of Rs 4000 crore from the Government of India to bail itself out from this financial disarray.
The Prime Minister assured to help the State out of this massive fiscal deficit. He equally expressed his extreme surprise over the financial situation of Sikkim despite the Union having provided huge and uninterrupted budget allocation to the State over the years. He accordingly requested the Chief Minister to present an account of such misuse of funds.
The Chief Ministersubmitted that the State shall soon come up with a white paper on the existing financial status of the State and ways to rectify the same.
MrTamang expressed his gratitude to the Prime Minister on having accorded blanket permission to the 17th Karmapa OgyenTrinleyDorje to visit Sikkim anytime. The visiting delegation exchanged customary white scarfs, khada with the Prime Minister at his LokKalyan Marg residence in New Delhi.
Earlier in the day, the team met Defence Minister,Rajnath Singh and Union Minister of State (Independent charge) for Youth & Affairs, KirenRijiju.
The Chief Minister along with Minister Sonam Lama also called on the Union Minister of Tribal Affairs, ArjunMunda in New Delhi today.
MrTamang expressed his concern over two issues; Limboo and Tamang seat reservation in Sikkim Legislative Assembly and granting tribal status to all the eleven left out communities of Sikkim.
MrTamang and Mr Lama also called on Union Finance Minister, NirmalaSitharaman today and discussed the financial crisis that Sikkim is right now going through, and urged her to bail Government of Sikkim out of this mess and to meet Sikkim’s demands on account of payment of arrears for the State Government employees and pensioners in line with Pay committee recommendations.
The CM requested MsSitharaman to release the balance amount which Government of India was supposed to transfer on Finance Commission's recommendations, at the earliest and also to release Rs 300 crore for the purchase of equipments for the newly constructed STNM hospital.