Budget for the fiscal year 2021-2022 to the august house of Sikkim Legislative Assembly.
The entire world including India has been enduring the second wave of the deadly Covid-19 pandemic. Numerous people became victims of this fatal pandemic which has affected the economy and societies worldwide. Currently, related diseases like ‘black fungus’ have instilled fear among the people. Despite our comprehensive effort to minimise human casualties, we are deeply hurt by the deaths of our citizens due to COVID-19 in Sikkim. Maximum number of people we lost had combrodities and we extend our prayers to all our Mountain deities, Goddesses and Gods to guide the departed souls and provide strength to the bereaved families to gradually overcome their tragic loss.
It has been a formidable challenge for the scientific community, medical practitioners, the entire health system and also the entire governance framework to deal with this pandemic. It has created layers of borders, fears, doubts and concern at all levels
Fortunately, we now have vaccines that can protect us from the virus. These vaccines are wonders in terms of their life-saving powers which have been created by our scientific and medical communities in record time. I convey my heartfelt thanks to the scientists and agencies for their timely and all-encompassing humanitarian contribution. India as a whole has suffered immensely
The lockdowns brought a new set of unimaginable difficulties and adversely affected every segment of our economy and geographies. Our Hon’ble Prime Minister and his team have been striving to minimize the number of deaths and also its impacts. We could see a range of measures last year including Atmanirbhar Bharat after the first round of pandemic in March-June 2020. We are keenly looking forward to substantive measures in the next few months to overcome the adversity resulting from the second round of pandemic.
We fully support the Hon’ble Prime Minister and the central government in the endeavour to stop the COVID-19 pandemic and overcome its damaging impact. We would like to sincerely thank the Hon’ble Prime Minister and each member of his team for all the support extended to the people of Sikkim in this time of global crisis.
We understand how challenging and difficult it must have been for the government to limit the effects of the pandemic. The people of Sikkim appreciate and thank the Hon’ble Prime Minister and the Government of India for all the consistently caring support.
Hon’ble Speaker sir,
We are aware of the impact of this deadly pandemic on our people, societies, communities and also economy and livelihood. Not even a year had passed since we took over the governance when we were hit by the pandemic. Our Government was voted to power only 9 months back in May 2019. We were working to manage the inherited staggering debt burden to the tune of over Rs 20,000 crore and an empty exchequer from the previous Government. We were trying to rebuild and instil confidence in institutions that lay neglected and standards and systems that remained destroyed. The entire spectrum of government employees had been thoroughly demoralized and nepotism was at its highest point, depriving the youths of various opportunities. Unfortunately amidst all these, we were abruptly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
We quickly realized that despite 25 years of remaining in power the previous government in Sikkim did not even provide the significant primary amenities in the health systems and the state health infrastructure was in total disarray. I must personally admit that had it not been for the support of my very committed legislators and minister colleagues, officials, doctors, nurses, health workers, police personnel, community organizations, civil society members and the media it would have been very difficult for us to tackle this pandemic. Being located within the boundaries of the international borders, national security is our prime consideration and had to deal with the pandemic with a unique approach.
Despite serious financial constraints and severe geographical handicaps and also suddenness of the spread of pandemic across the world and in India, the State Government has been able to put together a considerable level of physical infrastructures and facilities to deal with the COVID-19.
Hon’ble Speaker Sir,
Lockdown has been a significant means to stop the spread of this pandemic. However, lockdown set off demands and supply shocks both within sectors and in its connected activities. Further, the supply and value chains remain adversely affected. Our quick estimates show that in the first set of lock-down during March-May 2020 the projected shortfall in Gross State Domestic Value Added (GSVA) was to the extent of Rs 2066 crore and Gross State Domestic Product was at around Rs 2200 crore. The maximum brunt of loss of Rs 966 crore fell on the services sector including tourism and the minimum on the agriculture sector (Rs 212 Crore).
The lockdown is being observed during the second wave of pandemic during the peak summer tourism season. It has affected the entire mechanism of tourism activities travel agency, transport, hotel & restaurants, homestays, adventure service providers, tourist markets, individual service providers such as guides, photographers, food and agriculture. There is an immeasurable adverse impact on a range of ancillary activities that emanate from forward and backward linkages of the tourism industry in the State like hawkers, markets, food producers, privately hired services, labourers and many others. These services could never be monetised as they are scattered and to a large extent unorganised.
An example of the effects of lockdown in the tourism sector is the steep fall in electricity consumption by hotels. A sample collected by the Power Department shows that even relatively smaller hotels recorded a sharp fall in the electricity consumption to the extent of 64560 units in April 2020 as compared to April 2019. This caused a tariff loss of almost Rs 3 lakh in just one month from one single hotel. Apart from scores of home-stays, guest houses, rest houses and restaurants, more than 1,100 hotels are providing direct employment to over 10,000 persons.
In the Distilleries sub-sector alone we witnessed losses despite demand-pull. Out of the total liquor and beer production in the State, about 40% is consumed locally and 60% is exported to the neighbouring States. The liquor production loss during the April-May lockdown as compared to the production figures of 2019 was 67,120 cases and that of beer was 4.36 lakh cases.
There have been hefty losses on state revenues in terms of both excise duty and education cess. As compared to March-May 2019, the excise duty contribution to the States exchequer decreased by Rs 16.58 crore during March-May 2020 and the education cess by Rs 74.08 lakh during March-May 2020.
The agriculture supply chains including production units, transporters, vegetable vendors, florists and packaging industries have been disrupted. Farmers income sharply eroded and their livelihood remains damaged. The pandemic has triggered three-way pressure on the employment sector; i) displaced a large number of skilled and unskilled people and white and blue-collar jobs from various occupations like tourism, transport, industries, self-employed market-based businesses; ii) brought back a large number of Sikkimese working outside the state in the form of reverse migration and iii) all the newer activities including constructions, civic services, manufacturing centres are not likely to happen for many months to come.
Economic Revival Committee Report
Perhaps, Sikkim became the first state to appoint a high-level committee to study the economic and other impacts of the pandemic and suggested means and measures revive and restore the damages to the economy of Sikkim following the strict lockdown measures. The ERC headed by Hon’ble Member of Legislative Assembly Shri Sonam Tshering Venchungpa submitted a comprehensive report after undertaking massive consultations with all the stakeholding agencies, institutions, people and professionals. While we were preparing to implement some of the key recommendations both in the short and the long run, our State like other parts of the country has been now suddenly hit by the dreaded second wave of Covid-19 pandemic. This has triggered a new set of lockdown schedules and measures thereby further hampering the economic recovery and reconstruction process. This even delayed the budget presentation which had been scheduled for March 2021.
Nevertheless, we are determined to minimise the adverse impact, provide maximum possible relief to all the stakeholders and people in general. We are consistently making major strategies to revive and rebuild our economy. In fact, the economy had already started showing signs of recovery during the short period of August 2020 to March 2021.
Hon’ble Speaker Sir
I am delighted to place the ERC report before the Hon’ble Members of the august Legislative Assembly of Sikkim. We shall be very pleased to receive your comments and suggestions on the implementation aspects of the recommendations that are feasible and doable given the present financial health of our economy. Before dealing with the budgetary planning and provisions for the coming year, let me on behalf of the entire august House thank the people of Sikkim, frontline warriors, doctors, nurses, officials, police personnel, home guards, safakarmacharis, Dhobi, Medical attendant and all supporting staffs, volunteers, civil society organisation, political workers, media, farmers, daily wage workers, drivers, businessmen, tourism industry stakeholders and all others for their patience, forbearance, cooperation and support during both waves of the pandemic in Sikkim. We deeply value your contribution and once again salute you for your service to the State and the Nation.
Our Hon’ble Governor Shri Ganga Prasad has been an extraordinary source of encouragement, moral support and guiding light during these tough and burdensome time.
Hon’ble Sir, Sikkim and its people will always remember and love you for your dedication and commitment.
Let me share two pleasant news that brought relief, pride, respect and recognition to Sikkim during these hard and unpleasant days. Daughter of Sikkim, Mrs Manita Pradhan from Soreng, West Sikkim reached the summit of Mount Everest on 1st June 2021. This single act of hers brought a smile and recognition to Sikkim. Our warmest congratulations and acclaim for her accomplishment.
Similarly, our versatile and widely respected sports person Shri Tarundeep Rai has been selected to represent India in the Olympics being held in Japan. Our very warm wishes for his success and we pray that he accomplishes more milestones and bring laurels to Sikkim and our nation India again.
Our Top Priority: Health and related Amenities
Before coming into power and after assuming office, our Government’s single most focus has been on the health sector. The devastating pandemic has only reconfirmed our belief and commitment and redoubled our firm resolve to provide the best possible health amenities in Sikkim. We were efficient in handling the first wave of the pandemic and the situation was brought under control after adopting several measures. Currently, we are still tackling the 2nd wave of this pandemic.
Our primary objective of controlling and minimizing the adverse impact of the pandemic is accompanied by our determination to provide health facilities right at the doorsteps of both rural and urban areas. That is why we are for the first time consciously decentralising the health facilities to serve the distantly located communities at the fastest possible time limit.
We have already taken the following measures.
- i) Special facilities both in the government and the private hospitals for Covid-19 patients
- ii) Adequate supplies of crucial medicines and other amenities.
iii) A 50 bedded Covid dedicated Hospital is being established at Karfectar for the South and West District which will be operational soon. This is also done to deal with the possibility of 3rd wave of the pandemic.
- iv) Village Mobile Clinic Ambulances with a doctor and nurse and all the basic medical facilities. They go for a weekly visit to all the villages so that the villagers need not come to the district hospitals for smaller ailments.
- v) Establishment of Community Health Centre (CHC) at Soreng being undertaken.
- vi) So far 1,32,350 beneficiaries have received relief packages
- vi) COVID care kits are being distributed to people who require them and rations are being provided to the BPL families all over the state.
vii) Free vaccination for all age groups at government vaccination centres and PHSCs.
There were no oxygen plants in the entire Sikkim before 2019. Nevertheless, anticipating the problem of the requirement of oxygen during the Covid-19 pandemic, the State Government established a 500 ltr per minute PSA Plant at STNM Hospital which helped out in the 2nd wave in a big manner. In addition, the following provisions are being made to ensure adequate supply and easy access to oxygen.
At the request of the State Government, the Union Government promptly sanctioned an oxygen plant with a capacity of 1000 litres per minute, now installed at STNM hospital.
- a) Geyzing and Namchi hospitals now have oxygen plant with 200 litres per minute capacity.
- b) Singtam district has an oxygen plant with 200 litres per minute capacity given by the Union Government
- c) We have even provided Army Hospital with an oxygen plant of 500 litres per minute capacity.
- d) For both Namchi and Mangan hospitals we have submitted the feasibility reports to the Union Govt for the supply of oxygen plant with 500 litres per minute capacity.
- f) The State Government is also setting up an oxygen plant with 1000 litres per minute capacity at the Mining area at Rangpo.
MBBS Seat Agreement
We have now entered into an agreement with the Sikkim Manipal Institute of Medical Sciences for 50 fully free and 30 full payment MBBS seats in Gangtok. Under this, the Government of Sikkim will annually pay Rs 4 Crore and 50 lakhs. This way we shall be ensuring i) access to free medical education to the underprivileged segments of our society, ii) at home availability of 80 seats annually for the young aspirants of Sikkim till this arrangement between the Government and Manipal University lasts, iii) qualitative education at the doorstep for those who can afford to pay for their education.
Hon’ble Speaker Sir
Over the next few years, we shall both scale up the arrangements to more specialized courses and programmes and also in terms of the number of seats. The Government of Sikkim has simultaneously requested to the Union Government to enhance the medical student intake at Sikkim Manipal Institute of Medical Sciences. We are setting up a Monitoring Committee to facilitate this arrangement.
We are expecting that in the course of the next 10 years we shall be able to produce at least 480 capable doctors and progressively more as time goes by. They can be deployed anywhere in India and abroad including our neighbouring state of West Bengal and in the North East region. This will also assist our State’s effort to make Sikkim a major health tourism destination in the country.
Universal Covid – 19 Vaccination
We were developing our Covid-19 related vaccination policy, our Hon’ble Prime Minister announced a very encouraging and clear cut policy of providing free vaccination by the Union Government to all above 18 years of age. Because of the relatively modest population advantage, we aim to vaccinate the entire state population at the earliest.
Therefore, two free rounds of universal vaccination will be administered to all the permanent residents of Sikkim and people who are working/temporarily residing in Sikkim and their family members. We appeal to all the residents of Sikkim to remain calm, safe and healthy and wait for the universal vaccination programmes of the Government to reach your doorsteps and localities.
My heartfelt gratitude to the Government of India and the Hon’ble Prime Minister for initiating this programme.
Equipment and Instruments
When we took over the governance, we found that even the basic instruments and equipment were not available at various district hospitals.
They would have remained badly exposed during the Covid 19 pandemic had our Government not speedily equip them in a much broader and deeper manner.
For the first time we now have the following :
- a) All the three district hospitals in Namchi, Geyzing and Gangtok have Dialysis facilities.
- b) All the district hospital now have well equipped Intensive Care Units (ICUs) including 78beds in STNM, 10 in Gayzing and 10 in Namchi. Besides super speciality outreach programme (ENT, Cardio, Neuro etc.) are also available now.
- c) Besides super-speciality, facilities such as ENT, Cardio and Neuro have started at STNM hospital. The super-speciality outreach programme is initiated at the districts level as well.
- d) A private ward in STNM hospital is also operational for the last two months and now it is open for the general public to avail of the facility.
- e) Many of the major operations are now being carried out in district hospitals
- f) We are taking the support of super-specialist doctors for various district hospitals and have recruited Medical officers and staff such as nurses, drivers, attendants, safaikarmacharis, Dhobi and other medical support staffs
- g) We have the Covid- 19 and other viral diseases labs at STNM hospital and other testing labs and machines in district hospitals.
Namchi Hospital Upscaling
Namchi Hospital was set up way back in 1975. However, despite funds and huge difficulties faced by the public, no honest effort was made to upgrade the facilities in this hospital during 1994-2019.
We have now started constructing a new 300-bed hospital which can be easily accessed by the inhabitants of South and West Sikkim. Salaries will be raised and extended and other attractive amenities will be provided to draw the services of super- specialist and specialist doctors to this hospital. We are sure, in course of the next few years, people will start enjoying the fruits of modern medicines and health amenities.
Sikkimese people from all corners have always felt the need of having cancer-related treatment at their doorstep. For decades together, they had to go the Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Bangalore for even basic cancer treatments. This harrowing experience of the Sikkimese cancer patient will soon come to an end. Firstly, we have started a Cancer Treatment Tertiary facility at STNM hospital in Gangtok. The Oncology Department now has radiation therapy Unit
We now have a Cardiac Sub-centre at Karfectar, Jorethang. Secondly, we are also establishing a full-fledged Cancer Hospital at Karfectar, Jorethang in the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model.
State of the Art Report in Health Sector
Given the primacy of the health sector and changing dynamics of its nature and newer variety of invasive diseases, our government will like to prepare a state of the art report on the health sector which will provide a comprehensive picture of where we stand in all spheres of public health. This report will also provide us with what needs to be done both in the short and long term and the possibilities of both human and material mobilisation. We shall grant an eminent public health-related institution in the country to prepare this comprehensive report.
Health Insurance to Government Employees
Our Government has largely streamlined the system of financial support provided to those who require it for medical purpose. It is now dispensed through the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund and managed more objectively so that all the people and families can comfortably make use of these funds for treatment outside the State. We plan to gradually cut down such supports as and when we develop and upscale our medical facilities within the state. Once established, these facilities could be freely accessed by all.
For the first time in Sikkim, our Government has introduced health insurance coverage under Su-Swastha Yojana to the regular/permanent government employees. Under this, each family of an employee will get cover insurance of Rs 10 lakh and Rs 20 lakh for critical cases like open-heart surgery, kidney transplant, liver transfer, etc, which could be availed in nearly 400 designated hospitals in the country as per their choice.
After we overcome the impact of pandemic triggered lockdown, we plan to extend such insurance coverage to MR, Adhoc, Contract and work charge employee of Sikkim society with the ultimate objective of providing universal health insurance coverage to all in the State.
Refocus on Tourism
As a livelihood, income and revenue-generating industry, refocusing on the tourism sector is our very major priority. Besides the lockdown impacts related to relief and reconstruction measure, we are undertaking few major projects.
1) Under Mega Home Stay project units numbering 1000 will be built by the Government. Each home will have three rooms and other amenities. In total 3000 rooms traditionally designed with local architectural structures will be laid out in the attractive locations of villages and will be run commercially by the villagers themselves.We have increasingly realized that the Homestay is a robust concept and everyone would like to go to a village or a remote area mingle with nature, live with the community and enjoy organic food. We also noted during the lockdowns a large number of people moved to villages and made use of these homestays.
These 3000 rooms even with an occupancy rate of 80% for 365 days, can generate more than Rs 175 crore per annum.
80 % occupancy : 2400 x 365 days x Rs 2000 per room = Rs 175.20 crore per annum.
It can provide direct employment to 9600 persons (4 persons per room x 2400) and indirect employment (4 times the direct employment) to 38400 persons.
It will have a tremendous impact on all the forward and backward linkages like food production, dairy and other businesses and generate huge revenue for the State.
If need be we shall send the young entrepreneurs and other staff for training and capacity buildings in other places including Goa, Kerala and Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh or even Darjeeling.
Hon’ble Speaker Sir
Let me also mention several other projects that are being introduced to provide both diverse attractions to tourist and also facilitate their smooth flow. Foreigners Registration Office at Ramam, West Sikkim for the foreign tourist coming to West Sikkim from Darjeeling to avoid long-distance travel via Melli and Rangpo and Uttaray-Chiwabhanzyang-Taplezung Route is now operational.
The Union Government has been requested to start the commercial check post and economic activities in this route. The projects under construction are Herbal Medical and Spiritual Healing Tourism Complex at Nandugaon, South Sikkim; development of Mangarzong at Mangsari(Soreng, West Sikkim), development of Eco-tourism complex in the concept of Vrindavan (Dodak, West Sikkim), Nisani Kali Devi at Pandam East Sikkim.
Sikkim House, Navi Mumbai
It gives me pleasure to inform you that the Maharashtra government has approved our proposal to construct Sikkim House Navi Mumbai near the Tata Memorial Hospital which is one of the top hospitals in the country. Land measuring 4000 square meter which is almost 1 acre has been allotted for which Rs 11 crore 97 lakhs has already been paid and taken in possession. This will ease the financial burden on our people travelling to Mumbai for treatment and also assist them in other matters.
Repositioning Education Sector
Hon’ble Speaker Sir, the House would be delighted to know that to provide a boost and transform the higher education in our State we have decided to set up Subhash Chandra Bose Centre of Excellence at Chakhung in West Sikkim. We have already acquired a major portion of land, laid the foundation stone and set aside a bulk of funds for the construction of academic and other infrastructures. A comprehensive note on the Core Objectives and Governance Framework of this new institution has been prepared along with a draft blueprint of the campus layout.
It will engage the top class professionals, internationally experienced academics and recognised education administrators to first build the University and conduct and manage the programs.
Hon’ble Speaker Sir
Let me briefly mention why the need and relevance of this Centre of Excellence in Sikkim have arisen. The Eastern Himalayan region is one of the few global bio-diversity hotspots in the world. They remain scientifically understudied and largely unexplored. We could hardly capitalise on these magnificent resources as a source of knowledge, wisdom, technological innovations and as a commercial venture. The setting up of the Centre of Excellence in Sikkim thus emerges as the most timely venture at the most appropriate cultural- ecological and geo-political subregion.
The entire region has been dominated by people of all societal and ethnic variety with distinct anthropological traits and cultural characteristics. The rich and amazing traditional knowledge on indigenous medicine and community wisdom if scientifically harnessed could bring not only global commercial recognitions but would also inject new directions of sustainability ventures and discourses. Therefore, the role of the Centre of Excellence is so very critical in this respect.
This region also has the most celebrated pilgrimage and trade routes under the broad aegis of the Silk Route and tea-horse route and has remained the hub of meeting point for the two ancient civilisations of India and China. Therefore, the Centre of Excellence in Sikkim will be a par excellence institution of higher learning with local ethos, national goals and global orientation.
The Centre will offer very specialized, non-conventional and professional and interdisciplinary programmes for the local, national and global students. It will harness the most intrinsic talents of the youths and will generate the richest pool of human resources catering to local and global institutions. The Centre of Excellence would be a global attraction in fields like climate change and mountain areas studies and eco-tourism, sericulture, horticulture, floriculture and animal sciences.
It will promote research and repositioning the natural strengths of the Himalayas including in tea, cinchona, tourism, natural endowments, ethnobotany, folk medicines and faith healing, biodiversity, literary-cultural traditions. It will design and practice global standard classroom, teaching methods and research promotions. The entire Governance Framework of the proposed Centre of Excellence is envisaged in terms of three broad and prime categories viz., Physical Infrastructure Framework; Management Framework and Academic Framework.
We cherish the full support and good wishes of this august House and the people, in general, to accomplish this formidable task where we intend to launch the first programme with the founding batch of students in 2023.
Sikkim State University
The august members of the House and the public, in general, are aware that among the many vote-catching machines and projects initiated by the SDF Government in the last few years of its 25 years long rule in Sikkim was the Sikkim State University.
The casualness and narrow-mindedness with which this university was initiated hurt the sentiment of the entire Sikkimese people, especially, aspirants of higher education. When this college was initiated no plan was made, no project document existed and no budgetary provisions were made. Even the crucial requirement of land and buildings and other basic amenities were ignored. The entire University was housed in one room in the Nar Bahadur Bhandari Degree College in Tadong. It appointed the Vice-Chancellor who started two courses including in the Nepali language.
Hon’ble Speaker Sir
We were shocked to see the condition of the University when we took over the governance of Sikkim in May 2019. However, given our Government’s policy of providing quality higher education within the state for all the Sikkimese, we immediately acquired 18 acres of land which was given to ICFAI at Temi Tarku and have offered another set of land to ICFAI University at Lyndhok. We are now building the basic infrastructure for Sikkim State University. To start with, given other constraints, we are initiating only the language and literature programs in this University. We will have Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Limbu and other languages including foreign which were already introduced as courses up to PhD level by the Central University of Sikkim during 2009-2012. Further, we have started the extended campus program of Central University at NB Bhandari Degree College, Kamrang College, Namchi and Geyzing College for the Post-Graduate courses in Science, arts and Commerce with 25 seats in each college.
Sikkim University and National Institute of Technology
There was a well-established pattern of casualness, irresponsibility and detachment in the SDF Government’s attitude to higher education in Sikkim. The central University of Sikkim despite paying a compensation of Rs 15 crore in 2007-08, was given land after full five years in 2013. By that time the University had surrendered a huge amount of money that was meant for construction etc., There are also discrepancies in the compensation packages as highlighted in various Audit reports produced by the CAG.
So is the story of the prestigious National Institute of Technology (NIT) which was hosted in a temporary camp at Rabongla for full 11 years and never had a permanent campus. As students protested and faculties left, it created a bad reputation for Sikkim across the nation.
The moment our government took over we have given 100 acres of land to NIT at Khamdong and the Institute is already on the verge of massive forward movement.
Let me also mention that a large number of families from which the last Government had acquired land for various purposes were not paid the promised compensation. By making payment of more than Rs. 83 Cr. compensation to these landowners of various departments, we have at least made them legally and financially comfortable.
Second Phase Construction in Geyzing Government College
Equally frustrating was how the Geyzing Government College was initiated in 2009 and was kept hanging for 10 years. There was no plan, no project and no budget for this College. In the very beginning, our records show that the Central University of Sikkim insisted that all these basic facilities will be made available to the hapless students before the academic affiliation. However, the SDF Government out of sheer ignorance affiliated the college with a private university. This was for the first time in the education history of modern India, a government college was illegally affiliated with a private university.
Though the Central University of Sikkim provided affiliation at a later stage, nothing happened to its physical infrastructure. Students were discriminated against as other colleges in Namchi, Rhenock and Gangtok had at least the basic infrastructures.
The moment our Government took over, we set aside the funds and started constructing the buildings. The august House would be delighted to know that we have now started the second phase of infrastructure building.
We urge all the students, faculty members, staff and parents to remain calm and supportive so that we could deliver the best possible infrastructure to Gyalshing Degree College and also drastically improve the teaching-learning and other delivery processes.
We all realize how seriously pandemic related lockdown has affected our educational institutions. It’s almost been a year now, most of the educational institutions in Sikkim have not been able to conduct face to face classes and other programmes. Our Government has now provided some friendly and alternative virtual mode and digital platforms for teaching and learning.
We also started a virtual teacher training programme to impart modern teaching techniques through digital platforms. The department has received more than 4000 application for the training from the teaching community which is a positive sign in a short period of our announcement. This training will help them to enhance their capabilities and make them more efficient in their profession.
Scholarships and Fellowships
Besides the already implemented Nar Bahadur Bhandari fellowships for the Masters and PhD programmes in universities abroad, we are further expanding the spectrum of scholarships to promote merit-based scholarships for higher learning.
We have decided to extend Chief Ministers Merit Scholarship to 55 students (five from Dzongu constituency) to study both in the well-known schools and colleges within and outside Sikkim. The previous government only provided these facilities up to 12th standard but we have decided to extend it till the college level. The extension of these scholarships to the college level will inspire our young students to go for competitive higher programmes in various disciplines in other well-known universities in India and abroad.
More Space for Private Universities
Educational institutions not only impart quality education but also become major sources of ideas, technology, knowledge, innovations, revenue, employment and tourism and recognition. We shall have students from all over the country and abroad coming to Sikkim for education degrees and research. This will also assist in promoting tourism and make Sikkim a tourism destination that will be known to people outside. This is what exactly happened in nearby Darjeeling when educational institutions and the tea industry brought so much global recognition.
Keeping this in mind we are allowing some select qualitative institutions to open their educational ventures in Sikkim. We shall in the process also have private universities coming up in other districts like
- i) Sikkim International University, Sribadam (West Sikkim).
- ii) Sikkim Medhavi Skill University, Bermiok (West Sikkim)
iii) Sikkim Alpine University, Kamrang (South Sikkim)
We already have four other private universities including Sikkim Professional University, SRM University, ICFAI University and Manipal University. The Sikkim Higher Education Commission (SHEC) will monitor and regulate the activities of the private universities in Sikkim.
Sikkim Higher Education Commission (SHEC)
The Government of Sikkim has set up Sikkim Higher Education Commission (SHEC) mainly to implement various goals of New Education Policy 2021. This Commission headed by the Chief Minister of State also has eminent academics and educationist as members.
The New Education Policy is a comprehensive document that relates to all levels of education, teachers quality and training, mode of teaching, credits and evaluation system, research and innovations, private and public institutions and also resources and funding.
This is for the first time such a Commission has been set up which will also for the first time draw the education policy in the State of Sikkim.
We acknowledge the dropout rates in schools in Sikkim which was never addressed by the previous government of 25 years. As we deliberated on this issue, we found out that the primary reason behind this was the long distance between the villages and the schools.
To encourage our students, we will be constructing one model school in all four districts and will also target to construct 100 more schools including primary, junior high schools till secondary level in place of the old schools. The schools will have better infrastructures, digital classroom facilities and laboratories. We also plan to construct auditorium halls wherever necessary.
Many stadiums and major playgrounds which remained half-constructed for many years are now being completed. For instance, the much-publicized Bhaichung Stadium at Namchi remained under dilapidated condition for the full last 9 years. We have given it a fully operational shape and shall soon dedicate it to the sports-loving Sikkimese people.
Our Government is also upgrading the playgrounds of numerous schools across Sikkim. Many of them remained in poor conditions for years depriving our school children of the basic right and facility during their foundation years.
Agriculture and Allied Activities.
Besides the traditional interventions in various aspects of agriculture and allied activities, our government is very keenly promoting and establishing value and supply chains in each of our major agriculture commodity.
We have already extended incentives to dairy farmers and have seen a progressive increase in milk production in the state. We now have to make interventions on animal health, herd composition, feed and fodders, technological improvement on artificial insemination, embryo transfer and cross-breeding and also on foot and oral vaccinations. We also have to technologically monitor the health of each mulching animal and are now devising better means of marketing milk and producing more diverse varieties of milk-based products.
Hon’ble Speaker Sir
In order to provide farmers with higher income from off-farm activities, we have started making some innovative interventions. For instance, knowing piggery and its products has a huge domestic and national market, we are encouraging our young farmers to upgrade the scale of pig farming.
Any farmer with at least three pigs can get a Rs 5000 incentive for each pig as soon as the gross weight of a pig reaches 50 kgs. We are seeing some encouraging results from the pig entrepreneurs in the State. Insurance cover will be provided to the pig farmers of up to Rs. 500 per pig that reaches 50 kgs of weight. Similar kind of scaling up incentives are being extended to fish, turmeric, amlisho, cardamom, orange and buckwheat farmers.
Krishi Credit of Rs. 3 lakhs is also being provided without any mortgage.
Value Chain Connections
Sikkim would endeavour to be a core partner in the Trans-border Value Chain in organic farming, tourism, horticulture, floriculture, mineral and forest resources, tea, bamboo and pharmaceutical to fully harness the advantages of the India-ASEAN Free Trade, SAARC Free Trade and BIMSTEC market based and other bilateral and regional agreements. This will add a new dimension to trade and investment cooperation in the Act East Policy and trade preferences would become a catalytic aid.