Attended the State Level Panchayat & Organic Growers’ Sammelan held today at Saramsa Gardens, which was jointly organized by Food Security and Agriculture Development Department, Horticulture and Cash Crops Development and Rural Management and Development Department.
At the outset, I was happy to present the first ever ‘Kissan Pension’ to the farmers. This scheme is novel to Sikkim and nowhere to be found. The pension consists of Rs.1,000 per month to all farmers of the State abobe the age of 50 years and pro-actively engaged in the profession of agriculture. I hope it will be a source of encouragement to our farming community as well to the youth to take up farming as a profession.
Today’s meeting is of immense significance as the platform deliberated on numerous policy decisions taken by the State Government in crucial sectors like agriculture, horticulture, floriculture, power decentralization, including the role of Panchayats in raising awareness in effective implementation of organic farming practices. It is also aimed at instilling a sense of responsibility, ownership and duty in the Sikkimese people towards themselves, their society and the State at large – a primary requisite in a democratic set up. I am confident that the ‘Sammelan’ has fulfilled the purpose of giving a new direction, new hope and encouragement to the citizens of the State to disseminate the message of working hard and opt for agriculture as a profession.
I urged the gathering, consisting of elected representatives, Government officials, youth, party functionaries and the local gentry in identifying and harnessing the numerous benefits and opportunities brought about by the organic revolution in the State. I called upon everyone to learn from our past, analyze our present and work with innovative approach for a brighter future of the State and the people. It is the people’s dreams and visions that lead to a state/nation to develop and progress. We need to think and work hard in similar lines to those of the people of ancient Greece, France, USA, Singapore and Japan. The success of these countries lie in their thoughtful citizens, who think as to how their country should be and how they can make collective contributions for taking their nation to greater heights.
Our Government has given utmost importance to the welfare and wellbeing of the people. We have ensured equality in all spheres without discrimination based on caste, creed, gender, religion etc. Our policy of ‘inclusive politics’ has brought about all-round development in Sikkim. Peace, security and communal harmony have been well-maintained. The peace and security that every person in Sikkim enjoys is priceless and cannot be bought by any amount of wealth. Our people must appreciate this fact.
I urged the youth to avail of the Start-up scheme in which they can avail 35% subsidy from the State Government. If they wish to take up agro-based activities like poultry, dairy farming, homestay tourism etc, they can even get subsidy as close to 60 % in total with 25% subsidy from NABARD Bank.
Regarding our policy of ‘One Family, One Job’, I informed that in the first phase, 17,000 candidates will be appointed in various capacities on adhoc basis. If genuine candidates are left out, then they will be appointed in the next phase. On verification, if any candidate is found to have secured the job on false information, such appointments will be cancelled.
On the demands of regularization placed by adhoc Teachers, I reiterated the stand of the State Government, i.e. to fulfil the criteria laid down by the Government of India under RTE norms. Education being a Concurrent subject, the decision of the Centre overrides that of the State, and being educated citizens they should understand that the State Government cannot go beyond its jurisdiction. However, being mindful of the services rendered by these Teachers, I made the declaration that these adhoc Teachers will remain in service till they fufill the criteria for regularization. Also, if anyone of them wants to opt for jobs under Óne Family One Job’, provided they fulfil the criteria, they will be permitted to do so. Priority will also be given to them in case they sit for open competitive exams.
I assured the students that their demands would be fulfilled as far as possible. I advised them to study hard and take advantage of the facilities provided to them.
I categorically stated that the RC holders will be entitled for all rights at par with SSC/CoI holders in urban areas only. However, these rights will not be applicable in rural areas, which is as per the Old Laws.
I made the following announcements:-
1. To increase agricultural production, all unproductive lands should be made cultivable through agro-forestry. Forests, Agriculture and Horticulture Departments should come up with a policy within 15 days.
2. Two Organic Farming Assistants and one Marketing Assistants will be appointed for every GPU to oversee organic farming. This will be in addition to the existing Field Assistants, Inspectors and other Officers. The Farming Assistants and Marketing Assistants will make monthly field visits to every farming household and record details pertaining to the crops grown, total production, sale etc and also address grievances of the farmers.
3. The concerned departments will frame policies and work towards attaining self-sufficiency in dairy and vegetables by the year 2020.
4. Sikkim should become a producer state of organic seeds and seedlings to cash in the State being fully and the only organic state in the world. Our State can be a seed bank of all organic food grains and vegetables for sale to other parts of the world. This idea should reach our people, especially at the village level. The Panchayats should educate the people in this regard through Gram Sabhas. Forests, Agriculture, and Animal Husbandry Departments to come up with a policy on the subject within 15 days.
5. Forests Department should come up with a policy within 15 days wherein, all kinds of plant species found in the world, suitable to the climate and altitude of the State, should be grown in Sikkim. For eg there are more than 4,000 varieties of potatoes found all over the world. So we could grow all the varieties that are suitable to our land and climate. In the same way, we can go for planting different varieties of orchids, rhododendrons, etc.
6. A panel list of candidates will be maintained for all direct recruitments.
7. It is my earnest request/appeal to the Forest Department, right from the rank of Forest Guard to PCCF to ensure that all policies are implemented in letter and spirit. The policy of planting 20 saplings in lieu of a tree felled in any holding needs to be implemented properly and detailed records should be maintained.
8. Forest Department should record all the plants and animals found in Sikkim and maintain a data bank.
9. The SDF Party would reserve 5 seats for the Limboo and Tamang communities in the next Assembly elections even if the Central Government does not consider the pending demand.
In conclusion, I mentioned that the people of Sikkim would be entrusted with the onerous responsibility of choosing their Government in the next elections. They must remember that it is the people who need the Government for fulfilling their hopes and aspirations and for the State’s progress. Their objective should be to give Sikkim in safe hands for the State to prosper. To the Government employees, I stated that it is their choice to elect a Government and Chief Minister whom they wish to work under. The choice is entirely their’s.