I attended the concluding day of the two-day session of Sikkim Legislative today.
The House passed the Bills introduced yesterday.
Speaking on the Sikkim Regulation of Transfer of Land (Amendment) Bill, I said that the amendment would though bring an immediate relief to the people, it will not be beneficial in the long run. The State Government had brought about the legislation for restricting the sale of land within the people of same communities with the view to protect the land of people belonging to all communities. We did not want any of our people to be landless or ‘sukumbasis’. Unfortunately, most people failed to see this way , mainly because of some section of people misguiding them. Our civil society could have played a role in educating the people on this matter, which could have been an ideal situation in a democratic set up. But sadly that did not happen. It shows that our civil society is still not ready to take its responsibility. It also shows that our people think about the present only without looking into the future. Conversely, I started receiving many requests for relaxation for cases pending due to the enforcement of the rule. Since it was a public will, we thought it pertinent to amend the Rule.
In my valedictory remarks, I reiterated that the Sherpa community enjoys the right of reservation in Legislative Assembly under BL category along with all rights and privileges of Scheduled Tribes (ST) as guaranteed under SC/ST Order of 1978. But they cannot claim for the same land protection rights guaranteed to the BL community under Revenue Order No.1 of 1917, which is an Old Law. It also must be emphasised that Old Laws are protected under Article 371F (k) of the Constitution and any amendment or tinkering to this Old Law would tantamount to its dilution, which will mean that the very Laws we hold sacrosanct will lose its sanctity, and would ultimately lead to doing away with them for good. Therefore, Revenue Order No.1 and SC/ST Order, 1978 can under no circumstances be clubbed together but can be seen only in isolation.
Our Government has never allowed dilution of any of the Old Laws and we will never allow that to happen in future also. Our endeavour is to protect and secure the rights and privileges of everyone in the State and we stand firm on this view.
On the Sikkim Anti-Drugs (Amendment) Bill, I called it a historic legislation. This is our effort to bring drug abusers, who are often shunned by the society into the mainstream. By decriminalising drug users, we want them to come to the forefront without the fear of being stigmatised and receive the required treatment. We will view drug abuse as any disease or an ailment that needs medical attention. It will be the drug peddlers/sellers/suppliers, who would be dealt with stringent punishment including minimum of three years of rigorous punishment and Rs one lakh as fine.
Our decision to decriminalise drug abuse has been lauded not only in the Country but also abroad. I hope this rule will help in saving the lives of many of our youngsters who have become the victim of drug addiction, and also go a long way in making Sikkim a drug-free State.
The other Bill passed today was the Wildlife (Protection) Act (Amendment) Bill. I mentioned that Sikkim is the first State in the Country and the world to have a Wildlife Protection Act. Our Government is based on the principle of non-violence and protection of the environment and all beings. Our policies like organic farming (non-violent form of agriculture), ban on killing of wildlife to name a few, speak for itself. However, there were lots of public complaints regarding damages caused to their crops and livestock by the wild animals. We had to take a decision in favour of our farmers who toil hard for a good harvest. So we decided to amend the Act for allowing people to chase/drive away wild animals that come to their land holdings.
The Supplementary Demands for Grants sanctioned will be utilized for public-centric works. Besides, funds have been allocated for the recently announced Students’ Welfare Board and Senior Citizens’ Welfare Board.
We have already sanctioned 1200 km of roads and it will provide even the remotest village in Sikkim road connectivity. Our State already has the highest density of road in the Country and this addition will further increase it. I agree that our roads are not in the best of conditions. But we must accept the fact that Sikkim is prone to natural calamities with roads being the greatest casualties. During monsoons, like presently, we hear about a lot of road blockages. This is the time when the concerned authorities have to be on guard and their only priority should be to re-open the blocked roads at the shortest possible time so that the public are not inconvenienced in any way.
All demands submitted during the 32- day tour with regard to construction of jhoras, protective wall, water supply, religious institutions of all faiths, crematorium sheds, community playgrounds, school buildings, etc will be sanctioned. I called upon all concerned authorities to ensure quality control and timely completion in execution of these works.
I recorded my disappointment at the slow implementation of REDRH scheme. It is disheartening that even after seven years of the disastrous earthquake, construction of some of the damaged houses are yet to be completed. The concerned department has to immediately see that it is completed on priority.
I also placed on record in the House my heartfelt gratitude to Hon’ble Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi ji for graciously agreeing to inaugurate the Pakyong Airport on 23rd September,2018 inspite of his busy schedule. I, on behalf of the people of Sikkim extend him a hearty welcome to Sikkim.
In conclusion, I thanked the Hon’ble Speaker and all those who were responsible in conducting the session successfully.