Met Shri Binay Tamang, GTA Chairman at Mintokgang.
Following in the lines of my meeting with Ms Mamata Banerjee, Hon’ble Chief Minister of West Bengal earlier, we decided to bury the past and give a new beginning to our relationship by giving full support and co-operation to each other for the progress and prosperity of Sikkim and the Darjeeling Hills. As immediate neighbours with similar customs, traditions, language etc, it is imperative that we live in harmony with each other as fellow Indians. We decided to work collectively on various matters for the welfare of the people of Sikkim and the Darjeeling Hills. Welcoming the decision of Shri Binay Tamang that there would be no more political disturbance in the Hills in future, I suggested that they should bring in the ‘revolution of development’ instead of resorting to violence and bandhs, which will only result in destruction. Additionally, I reiterated our stand that the Government of Sikkim will never meddle in the affairs of West Bengal and Darjeeling Hills.
Following are some of the highlights of our discussion:-
1. I raised the subject of security and safety of NH10 which is essential for the well-being of Sikkim and the Sikkimese people. I am pleased to share that Shri Binay Tamang gave the assurance to keep it free from encumbrances in future. His suggestion of establishing a helpline for NH10 is also well taken. Similarly, assurance was also given for the safety of Sikkimese students studying in various educational institutions in the Hills.
2. Sikkim and the Darjeeling Hills will take up certain issues jointly with the Central Government, such as tribal status for eleven left out communities, overhead stations for the upcoming railway line, and construction of towers of hydel projects without taking the consent of the State Government or GTA, as the case may be.
3. Consensus to be arrived at regarding reciprocal transport arrangement (plying of taxis) through Secretary level dialogue. Similarly, Government of Sikkim and GTA authorities should discuss and deliberate upon creation of a tourist circuit comprising Sikkim and the Darjeeling Hills.
4. Surveillance on both sides to be strengthened so no untoward incidents take place. Special attention should be given to border areas like Sombaria, Daramdin, Rhenock through which chemical fertilizers are being smuggled into Sikkim.
5. Government of Sikkim and GTA authorities to work out measures for construction and upgradation of roads and bridges in some areas.
6. Grant-in-aid to be provided by Government of Sikkim to Bhutia Busty Monastery and Mahakal Temple at Darjeeling as done in the past.