New Delhi, 16 Jun (IPR): HON’BLE CHIEF MINISTER SHRI PREM SINGH TAMANG’S SPEECH AT THE 5TH EDITION OF NITI AAYOG MEETING CHAIRED BY HON’BLE PRIME MINISTER SHRI NARENDRA MODI ON JUNE 15TH:
Hon’ble and Respected Prime Minister
Hon’ble Union Ministers
Hon’ble Chief Ministers of various States
Hon’ble Vice Chairman and the Members of the NITI Aayog
Very distinguished officials
Ladies and Gentlemen
I bring warmest greetings from the people of Sikkim to all of you in this first meeting of the NITI Aayog after the formation of the new and second NDA Government led by the Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi.
Hon’ble Prime Minister Sir, we warmly congratulate you and the entire NDA team for this second inning and also for your very far reaching and visionary leadership in the country. Your political sagacity and depth and scale of new variety of governance are now globally recognised. Your farsighted stewardship of the NITI Aayog has started generating fruits of success and long term planning.
This very timely meeting of the NITI Aayog on so very critical issues of water, drought, agriculture and security are of tremendous importance to us in Sikkim. This also provides us with an opportunity to put forward our perspectives and needs before the NITI Aayog.
Besides being one of the major water towers in the Eastern Himalayas, Sikkim is endowed with two major river systems Teesta and Rangit. We get adequate rainfall. Even then we have faced situations of high drought, severe drinking water crisis, and bouts of water insecurity. It has adversely affected the entire agricultural heritage and related livelihood. Water pollution triggered by haphazard mushrooming of industrial units near the river beds, unplanned, unviable, hazardous and largely unsuccessful hydel power plants have created a huge imbalance in water availability and distribution.
Once we were the fresh water capital of the Eastern Himalayas. However due to the prolonged mis-governance, deep rooted corruption and leadership that tried to freely auction every natural resource of Sikkim in the last 25 years, we have reached a sorry and threatening state of affairs today. We consider all these to seriously impinge upon our national security. Our Government has a formidable challenge to correct these wrongs and provide a new direction.
All our four districts could be considered and incorporated in the aspirational districts programme. They have contrasting topographical features, common symptoms of laggardness and high potentials as growth centres. What is required is a well laid out long term plans, physical infrastructures and social amenities. The South district could focus on institutions, the west on tourism; north on centre of excellence for climate change studies and the east on floriculture, horticulture and light industries.
Hon’ble Prime Minister Sir, your imaginative interventions and honest and consistent efforts to reposition the North East Region of India in the last five years have brought a large number of international and multilateral institutions. These include the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, the UN agencies and even the JICA from Japan. We would really urge all these institutions to come to Sikkim and participate in our aspirational district programmes in a big way.
We are keen to play a pivotal role in understanding the impact of climate change on the Himalayan regions and put forward strategies to conserve the cultural, agricultural, biodiversity, water and other heritage.
Hon’ble Prime Minister Sir, your bold action and beyond the horizon thinking on India’s Act East Policy has highly inspired us to integrate the produces of the entire North East region for exports to South East and East Asia through the India-Myanmar-Thailand trilateral highway . These produce could be agricultural, floriculture, horticulture, bamboo, silk, and even services like education, health, music and tourism. In this respect, we sincerely urge the regional planning body like the North Eastern Council and the line Ministry of the Development of North Eastern Region to do a comprehensive project based planning.
In order to integrate the market and take full advantage of the India-ASEAN Free Trade agreement, we could even invite the investors from South East Asian Countries to the North East Region under the newly introduced North East Industrial Development Scheme 2018 (NEIDS) of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
Being a strategically located state- peace, harmony, stability and prosperity with equality are very crucial principles of our governance in Sikkim. Our Government considers the crucial issue of national security as of paramount importance and of top most priority.
We have increasingly felt the need of nurturing our young children in schools and adults in colleges and universities with sharp consciousness about the national security interests. Hon’ble Prime Minister Sir, to this effect, we are soon going to introduce courses and programmes in the curriculum in schools and higher education institutions.
The state of Sikkim, despite profuse funding from the Union Government, is in the dire situation of large scale debt and extensive liability. We have inherited a literally empty exchequer. We remain deeply shattered by the unexplainable and unjustifiable guarantee that the State Govt generously extended to the scores of failed hydel power projects and other ventures. At this juncture, Hon’ble Prime Minister Sir, we would like to humbly request the Government of India to kindly make two effective interventions.
Firstly, an independent national commission may be appointed to examine the entire mismanagement of funds and their leakages in the last 25 years.
And secondly, to make a onetime generous financial grant to the State to recover from all these debts, laggardness and inequities.
With this very hope of restoring confidence and justice only, the people of Sikkim have voted us to form the Government and also to be a partner in the National Democratic Alliance.
We assure the nation that Sikkim is going to demonstrate a great leap forward in course of next few years with the prudent use of all the resources at its command.
We once again express our warmest greetings.
Thank you Sir, for your patience
Jai Hind and Jai Sikkim