07 Mar, Gangtok (IPR) : The second day of the Seventh Session (Budget Session 2018-19) of Ninth Sikkim Legislative Assembly began with the Question Hour.
On the questions raised by Member of the House Shri R.N. Chamling regarding Rashtriya Uchchattar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA), the Minister for Human Resource Development Department Shri R.B.Subba informed the House about the details of the fund received by the Rashtriya Uchchattar Shiksha Abhiyan till date, and also the different components of RUSA such as Preparatory Work, Infrastructure Development Grant, Equity Initiative, Vocationalization of Higher Education and Establishment of Sikkim Institute of Science & Technology at Chisopani.
The Minister for Social Justice, Empowerment and Welfare Smt. Tulshi Devi Rai in her reply to questions put forth by Member Shri Kunga Nima Lepcha regarding the Old Age Pension Scheme said that it is one of the sub-schemes of National Social Assistance Programme of the Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India and is applicable to Below Poverty Line Household who has meager or no regular means of subsistence from his\ her own source of income or through financial support from family members or other sources.
On the questions raised by Hon’ble Member of the House Shri R.N. Chamling regarding the issue of reemployment and service extension by the State Government, the Chief Minister and the Leader of the House Shri Pawan Chamling maintained that it is the prerogative of the Government to take such decisions on larger public interest. The Chief Minister, also the Minister-In-Charge of DOPART, read out the names of all the Government employees who are presently on reemployment and service extension.
He further added that Service extension and re-employment to any Government employee is given in consideration of the requirement of services as per the provisions under rule 100 and rule 102 of the Sikkim Government Service Rules, 1974.
In his reply on the discussion on Motion of Thanks to the Governor’s address, Chief Minister and Leader of the House Shri Pawan Chamling stated that all the key initiatives of the Government have been highlighted by the Governor in his address on the opening day of the Budget Session. He profusely thanked the Governor for extensively outlining the major initiatives of the Government.
In response to the discussion on Motion of Thanks to the Governor’s address, by MLA Ms Chandra Maya Subba, the leader of the House welcomed the suggestions put forth by her especially with regard to Organic Mission and youth empowerment. He thanked the MLA for her positive exhortations on the positive impact of Organic Farming and schemes to make the youth self reliant. He referred to her comments about the Kisan Pension schemes and reiterated that the Government is committed to offer all possible support to the farmers of the State. He called for involvement of youth in the second phase of organic mission to make the most of the opportunities. He also thanked the MLA for her comments on the new initiative of the Government to introduce the Gallantry Awards for army officers and jawans for their service.
The Chief Minister also announced in the floor of the House that the wives of martyred soldiers would be offered employment in the State Government.
The Chief Minister also stressed on the Government’s executive decision to ban import of perishable vegetables from outside the State after 31st March, 2018. The Leader of the House called for participation and support from all quarters to sustain the noble initiative of the State Government.
Speaking on the Health initiatives of the State Government, the Chief Minister reiterated that the Government’s focus has been on qualitative service. He stated that there should be no compromise on health care delivery at any stage. He also mentioned about some of the upcoming health infrastructures in the State.
The Leader of the House also read out a report published in a Journal of the Indian Council of Medical Research and PHFI, New Delhi, based on which the life expectancy of the people of Sikkim has increased by ten years. This he said was a matter of great pride and accomplishment for the State and reflects the outcome of holistic development in the State.
Replying to a question put forth by MLA Shri Sonam Lama with regard to the pending demand of the State to bring His Holiness 17th Karmapa Ugyen Thinley Dorje to Sikkim, the Leader of the House informed that the State Government under his own leadership has submitted numerous representations to the Central Government seeking for its consent to allow the HH Karmapa to visit Sikkim. He said that he has personally led delegations on several occasions comprising of Ministers and MLAs to the highest authority at the Central Government and corresponded through letters for the central Government’s intervention in the matter. He expressed hope that the Government of India will give its kind consent at the earliest.
Replying to the question put forth by MLA Shri Kunga Nima Lepcha regarding the anomaly in an official Government document where the Lepcha community has been indicated as a sub group of the Bhutia community, the Chief Minister expressed regret over the technical error in the document and clarified that the Lepchas are an exclusive community and should be indicated separately. The issue was also raised by MLA Shri K.S. Lepcha during the discussion on the Motion of Thanks on the Governor’s address.
Meanwhile, the Leader of the House welcomed the question by MLA Shri K.N. Lepcha regarding the rightful utilization of lands adjoining pharmaceutical companies and power projects in the State for the purpose of Organic agriculture.
Replying to a question by MLA Shri R.N. Chamling, Leader of the House clarified that toilets are being constructed with each new house, and existing toilets are being repaired as per the requirement. Hence, although it is true that the State has already achieved 100% Open defecation free status, the upgradation works have to be carried out to adjust with the developments.
Replying to a suggestion by MLA Shri R.N. Chamling regarding introduction of pension schemes for the unemployed youth, the Leader of the House said that though the suggestion was noble, yet it is better to offer employment opportunities to them and make them self reliant and job-providers. He urged the Members of the House, both the ruling and the opposition, to motivate the youth in their respective areas to avail of the unlimited opportunities in the field of entrepreneurship. He stated that the Government in its endeavor to encourage entrepreneurship is building upon the future of the youth of Sikkim and offer them vision and direction towards a meaningful life.
Responding to a question put forth by MLA Shri R.N. Chamling regarding anomaly in the identification of the line of descendents availing the benefit of Income tax exemption, the Leader of the House explained how the Government under his leadership continuously pursued with the leadership at the Central Government and finally achieved Income Tax exemption for the people of Sikkim. He stated that it was made possible only because of the arduous efforts and consistent follow-up by the State Government led by him. He called upon the Members of the House to shun traditional politics and not to create doubts in the minds of the people. “We should give a new dimension to our politics and make it science-based, innovative and constructive,” he stated.
The Leader of the House further added that democracy will be people-centric only if the civil society is strong, receptive, aware, and has a sense of ownership. If they are not strong enough to hold the Government accountable, the Government will turn a dictator, he stressed.
The Chief Minister informed the House that the Airport at Pakyong is now ready and will soon be operational. He expressed pleasure at the successful landing of the 19-seater Indian Air Force Dornier 228 Aircraft on 5thMarch, 2018 and informed that a 70-seater Spice Jet Aircraft is scheduled to land on the 10th of March, 2018, after which the Airport Authority of India will be in a position to decide on making the Airport operational for commercial flights. Initially, flights from Pakyong Airport will fly to Delhi, Kolkata and Guwahati, he informed. He further informed that it took nine years to complete the Airport, which was built at a cost of 605 Crores. The Airport has a runway length of 1700m and width of 33m, he informed.
The Chief Minister further informed that the State is in the process of getting its first railway line from Siliguri to Rangpo, which will be another milestone for the State.
In his concluding note, the Leader of the House expressed gratitude to the Governor of Sikkim for his address during the opening of the Budget Session on 6th March, 2018 and also thanked the Members of the House for participating and presenting fruitful suggestions on the Motion of Thanks on Governor’s address.
After the address by the Leader of the House, the Motion of Thanks on Governor’s address was passed by the House.
Earlier, during the Legislative Business, Shri. R.B. Subba, Minister-in-Charge of Human Resource & Development Department, Government of Sikkim introduced the Sikkim National Law University Bill, Bill No. 5 of 2018. The discussion and voting on the Bill will be taken up on 9th March, 2018.
During the Financial Business, the Deputy Speaker opened the House for the discussion on the General Budget for the financial year 2018-19 presented to the House by the Chief Minister, also the Minister—in-Charge of Finance, Revenue and Expenditure Department on 6th March, 2018. Since there was no discussion, the House was adjourned till 8th March, 2018.