DC, West holds co-ord meet with Primary School heads under HRDD

Gyalshing, 31 July (IPR): A co-ordination meeting of Primary School heads from various schools under HRDD with District Collector, West, Mr. Karma R. Bonpo, was held at the conference hall of the Zilla Panchayat Bhawan today.

Addressing the school heads, the DC stated that the main motive of the meeting was to improve the learning outcomes in all government schools of the district. In order to achieve that aim, a detailed blueprint needs to be put in place and the meeting was being organized to brainstorm towards that purpose.

The DC stated that in order to drive quality education the effort and initiatives of the schools heads and teachers was most important.

While school heads are at the forefront of this mission, he urged all the school heads to immerse themselves wholeheartedly for this noble mission.

Stating that teachers are the nation builders, quality education can only be delivered with the effective participation of the school teachers. The key ingredient to delivery of quality education is quality teachers for which the emphasis would on the training and skilling of teachers.

In order to improve the skill set of the teachers, a detailed training plan needs to be worked out. He stated a committee of motivated and dedicated teachers would be formed to drive this initiative.

The DC added that schools heads should take up leadership role and motivate their teachers to work on the delivery of quality education. He urged all school heads to sensitize their teachers on learning outcomes of students, generate lesson plan and monitor the progress of each and every student. He also urged every school head to work independently and innovate in their schools. He urged the school heads to identify quality teachers and make them subject experts so that responsibility of each subject is fixed.

The DC further stated that he would be providing Rs 5000 to each school to take up innovative academic activities in primary schools. Each primary school will be equipped with a well stocked library and the books for the library will be purchased as per the requirement of the teachers. Digital education such as Disney BYJUs, Khan learning would be piloted in schools with good internet connectivity.

An interactive session was also held where school heads shared their experiences and innovative initiatives. All the school heads were motivated to take forward the mission of quality education and stated that regular sensitization and leadership program should be held at the block and cluster level.

The meeting also had the presence of Mrs. T. Eden Bhutia (Additional Director, HRDD), Mr. P.L. Subba (Deputy Director, HRDD) and Mr. Raju Bhandari (AD Gey/BAC, HRDD).

Third day of Budget Session 2019-20

Gangtok, 31 July (IPR): The third day of Budget Session 2019-20 of Sikkim Legislative Assembly began with the question hour.

Minister-in-Charge of Tourism and Civil Aviation Department, Mr. B.S. Pant, while replying to a question raised by MLA, Ms. Sunita Gajmer, regarding a detailed list of funds received by the State on Swadesh Darshan Scheme said that under the Swadesh Darshan Scheme-1 in the year 2015-16, the approval amount was Rs. 98.04 Crore, the amount released by the Ministry so far is Rs. 78.44 Crore and the expenditure till date is Rs. 75.95 Crore.

The Minister further informed that fund approved for the Swadesh Darshan Scheme-2 in the year 2016-17 was Rs. 95.32 Crore, the amount released by the Ministry so far is Rs. 73.21 Crore and the expenditure till date is Rs. 36.96 Crore. The funds received under this scheme have been utilized and are being used in many projects and location.

The reports of utilization certificate submitted to the centre and to be submitted under Swadesh Darshan Scheme 1 are 92.55 cr and 5.49 cr, respectively. Other reports to be submitted to the centre are revised DPR, Completion Certificate, as built drawing, work order, final bill, date of completion & handing over to the department by the contractor, impact on employment generation, operation and management plan, and under Swadesh Darshan Scheme 2 are Rs. 44.63 Crore and Rs.50.69 Crore, respectively.

Under the Swadesh Darshan Yojana as per the guidelines of the Ministry of Tourism of the Government of India, the amount cannot be used in other activities and the funds received under this scheme from the year 2014 have not been used in any other works.

The percentage of funds under the Swadesh Darshan Scheme 1 is 6.0% and Swadesh Darshan Scheme 2 is 6.25% which includes Consultant Fees, Miscellaneous Fees as well as others that have been taken out of construction. The centre has not asked for any other report under this scheme, he stated.

Similarly, Minister-in-Charge of Health Care, Human Services and Family Welfare Department, Dr. M.K. Sharma replied to the question raised by MLA Soreng Chakhung constituency, Mr. Aditya Golay Tamang, regarding the present state and condition of Super Speciality Hospital at Sochaygang. He stated that for the hospital at Sochaygang, initial number of beds planned were 575 beds. The initial estimated cost of the project was Rs. 400 crores as framed by Buildings &Housing Department. The amount put to tender was Rs. 400 Crore. The amount of work order was Rs. 372.80 Crore.

The total amount the department spent on purchase of medicines and essential drugs annually from 2009-10 to 2018-19 including all schemes of Central and State Government is Rs. 12019.80 lakhs.

He also said that the hospital was started before its time, so it is not in proper order; many engineering works are pending which needs to be completed and the condition needs to be improved as soon as possible. He assured that the present government is looking forward to fulfill the needs.

Replying to a question put forward by MLA, Mr. Bishnu Kumar Sharma, Minister-in-Charge of Animal Husbandry Department, Mr. L.N. Sharma, informed the House that the department has distributed 824 number of milch cows in the last five years. He shared that according to the Estimate Survey Report carried out regularly by the department under Integrated Sample Survey Scheme for Estimation of Milk, Meat and Egg, data revealed that milk production in the State has increased significantly in the last five years. The State annual milk production has reached 61.244 thousand tons from 49.990 ton in year 2014-15. The State is producing 1.68 lakhs litres of milk per day; thus, milk production has increased by 18.37 percent with annual growth rate of 3.67 percent. The Minister also provided the district-wise breakup of the milch cattle distribution in the last five years.

On a supplementary question by MLA, Mr. Bishnu Kumar Sharma, Minister for Animal Husbandry, Mr. L.N. Sharma, informed that the government is taking concrete steps to ensure that farmers get the best price for their produce.

Replying to a question put forth by MLA, Ms. Sunita Gajmer, Minister for Sports & Youth Affairs Department, Mr. Kunga Nima Lepcha, informed the House that the work of up-gradation of the playground was initiated by the Buildings and Housing Department, and the work has not yet been handed over to Sports & Youth Affairs Department, nor any intimation has been received regarding present position of work.

He added that the Sports & Youth Affairs Department has not made any expenditure with regard to the above said work. The Minister added that till 2018-19, the State Government could not make the provision for the up gradation of Jorethang playground work. However, during the current financial year, the present Government has proposed to make a provision of required budget to complete the work.

In response to a question put forth by MLA, Mr. Bishnu Kumar Sharma, Minister for IPR and Printing Departments, Mr. L.N. Sharma, informed the House that the Department of Information & Public Relations has published a total of 52 books on former Chief Minister Mr. Pawan Chamling from the year 1999 to 2019. The Minister placed the list of the books in the House.

The Minister further informed that the department has incurred a total expenditure of Rs. 7,58,94,283/- (Rupees Seven Crores Fifty-Eight Lakhs Ninety Four Thousand Two Hundred and Eighty Three) for publication of these books (serial number 1 to 45) from 1999 to 2019. He also informed that the department still has an outstanding liability of Rs. 1,25,76,000/- (Rupees One Crore Twenty-Five Lakhs Seventy-Six Thousand) for the books from serial number 46 to 52.

On a supplementary question put forth by MLA, Mr. Bishnu Kumar Sharma, the Minister replied that the books were published by the Information & Public Relations Department on the direction of the former Chief Minister Mr. Pawan Chamling.

In reply to a question by MLA, Ms. Sunita Gajmer, Minister-in-Charge of Energy & Power Department, Mr. M.N. Sherpa, informed the House that the total fund allocated to Sikkim for ‘Deendayal Upadhyay Gram Jyoti Yojana’ from 2014 onwards was Rs. 26.07 Crore. The Minister also gave a detailed account of the works being implemented by the Government under the Scheme throughout the State. He also laid down the details of fund utilized along with the utilization certificates.

During the Legislative Business, the Sikkim Motor Vehicle Taxation (Amendment) Bill, Bill No. 4 of 2019 was passed by the House. The Bill had been introduced by Minister-in-Charge of Transport Department, Government of Sikkim, Mr. Sanjit Kharel, on 29th of July, 2019.

The Statement of objects and reasons of the Bill states that in order to facilitate the general public of Sikkim, the State Government has deemed it expedient to bring about an amendment in the Sikkim Motor Vehicle Taxation Act, 1982 to introduce the online payment of taxes and a one time tax consisting of single / lump sum amount payable of the existing annual tax for 5 (five) years at a time for all category of vehicles. This amendment would spare the public from the trouble of coming to Motor Vehicle office every year. This would also reduce the workload of Motor Vehicle officers and mitigate the inconvenience caused by the annual collection of road tax.

The Amendment also provides flexible option of paying the tax for one (1) or more quarterly periods, or annually or on one-time tax @5 (five) times of the annual tax either directly at the regional transport office or through online payment. With this objective in view, the Bill has been framed.

The Financial Business saw discussion, voting and subsequent passing of Separate Demands for Grants of various government departments.

The House passed the Demands for Grants under the Charge of Minister for Tourism & Civil Aviation and Commerce & Industries Departments.

Likewise, the Demands for Grants under the charge of Minister of Human Resource Development, Law, Legal, Legislative & Parliamentary Affairs, Land Revenue & Disaster Management and Sports & Youth Affairs Departments were passed by the House.

The Demands for Grants under the charge of Minister for Urban Development & Housing and Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Departments were passed by the House.

On a question raised by MLA, Mr. Aditya Golay Tamang, Minister Mr. Arun Kumar Upreti informed that the Government has prioritized for development and upgradation of urban amenities like car parks etc of all urban towns and sub-towns of Sikkim.

The House also passed the Demands for Grants under the charge of Minister for Energy & Power and Labour Departments.

Likewise, the Demands for Grants under the charge of Minister for Forest, Environment and Wildlife Management, Mines, Minerals & Geology and Science & Technology Departments were also passed by the House.

In response to a question put forth by MLA, Mr. Aditya Golay Tamang, Minister for FE&WMD, Mr. Karma Loday Bhutia, stated that the department will put in place norms providing due relaxation for environmental clearances to carry out development works of the Government.

The Demands for Grants under the charge of Minister of Health Care, Human Services &Family Welfare and Social Justice, Empowerment & Welfare Departments were also passed by the House.

Replying to a question put forth by MLA, Mr. Aditya Golay Tamang, Minister-in-Charge of Health, Dr. M.K. Sharma, stated that the Government is committed to improve the health services in the State and all measures would be taken to ensure access to quality health care services for the people. He informed about the recent recruitment of staff nurses as well as the proposal to recruit doctors and paramedical staff to fill the manpower requirement in all hospitals and health centres throughout the State.

Likewise, the House passed the Demands for Grants under the charge of Minister of Food Security & Agriculture Development, Horticulture & Cash Crops Development, Animal Husbandry, Livestock, Fisheries & Veterinary Services, Information & Public Relations and Printing & Stationery Departments.

In his reply to a question put forward by MLA, Mr. Aditya Golay Tamang, Minister for Agriculture, Mr. L.N. Sharma, stated that the Government has laid high emphasis on providing adequate support to the farmers to increase their production. He added that the Government is devising means to enhance the minimum support price and provide marketing support to the farmers. He outlined the roadmap of the State Government designed for progress of the farmers in the state of Sikkim. He stressed to shift the working mechanism from file to field and added that the newly formed government has geared up to address the existing challenges, constraints and limitations of the farmers.

He also underlined challenges for marketing of their productions and highlighted on the need to formulate a plan to ensure minimum support price to the farmers. He also briefed on his visit to the governmental farms and infrastructures of the concerned departments and further stressed to address the various requirements of the farmers as per their demands.

After the Legislative Business, the House was adjourned by the Speaker till the 10:50 am of 1st August, 2019.

Inspector General (SSB, Fontier HQ Siliguri) calls on Hon’ble Chief Minister

Gangtok, 30 July (IPR): Inspector General, SSB, Frontier HQ Siliguri, Shri Shrikumar Bandopadhyay, accompanied by DIG, SHQ SSB, Gangtok, Shri B. K. Paul, called on Hon’ble Chief Minister Shri Prem Singh Tamang (Golay) today.

It was a courtesy call by the dignitaries who congratulated the HCM for the historical victory in the recent general election and briefed about the perspectives and accomplishments executed by the Army as the Frontier SSB in Sikkim.

It was also informed that various training programmes to the youth in addition to other social perceptions and activities like cleanliness, construction of sanitary toilets, aids to various needy institutions and aid to the society across the State are part of their programmes.

The HCM thanked them for coming all the way from Siliguri and expressed hope for mutual cooperation in future.

Second day of the Budget Session 2019-20

Gangtok, 30 July (IPR): The second day of the Budget Session 2019-20 started with the Obituary Reference on the passing away of late Mr. Sudarshan Agarwal, former Governor of Sikkim, and late Mr. Dongkupar Roy, former Speaker of Meghalaya. The Obituary Reference was participated by Hon’ble Speaker SLA, Mr. L.B. Das, and Hon’ble Chief Minister Mr. P.S. Tamang (Golay).

The Speaker, in his obituary reference, remembered Late Sudharshan Agarwal as a soft spoken, caring and compassionate personality with integrity and commitment to the highest standards of public service. He is an inspiration to all those who believed in moral authority of the common citizen. His sad demise is an irreparable loss to our country and the people of India, he added.

Late Sudharshan Agarwal was born on 19th June, 1931 in Ludhiana. He was a first class law graduate who joined the judicial service of Punjab and Delhi and served as the Judicial Officer till 1971. Post retirement he was appointed as a member of National Human Rights Commission and twice conducted the election of the President of the Republic of India in 1982 and 1992 as Chief Returning Officer.

Having been nominated by the President of India, Late Sudharshan Agarwal was sworn in as the 2nd Governor of the newly created state of Uttaranchal on 8th January 2003. He served as the Governor of Sikkim from 25.10.2007 to 08.07.2008.

He had addressed the August House during the Budget Session 2008-09 and some important legislation had been passed in this House which had received his assent. He passed away on 3rd July 2019 after battling a prolonged illness at New Delhi.

In his obituary reference of Late Donkupar Roy, former Speaker of Meghalaya, it was informed that he was born on 10th November, 1954. He won his first election as an independent candidate in 1987. Besides holding several political positions in his long political career, Late Donkupar Roy also served as the Chief Minister of Meghalaya from 19th March, 2008 to 19th March, 2009.

He was also a doctorate in economics from the North Eastern Hill University and under the Corrad Sanga Government, he was elected as the Speaker of the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly. He breathed his last on 28th July, 2019, at the age of 64 years.

Hon’ble Chief Minister Mr. P.S. Tamang (Golay), in his obituary reference on the passing away of Late Sudarshan Agarwal, expressed deep condolence and prayed for departed soul to rest in eternal peace. He mentioned that the Late Governor had accomplished various works pertaining to social, educational and religious development while serving the State of Sikkim from 19th August, 2007 to 8th August, 2008.

He had given admission to two meritorious daughters of Sikkim in his school under the annual programme of HRD Department. He always used to visit the school during his regional visit and extended notable contributions in the field of education within short span of time.

Later, he also established Him Jyoti Pathshala in Uttranchal during his tenure. Despite of his busy official business, Late Sudarshan Agarwal held responsibility of various posts including President of Delhi Gymkhana, member of Rotary club and also established State of Art, Voluntary Blood Bank in New Delhi.

The HCM in his obituary reference on the passing away of Late Donkupar Roy, former Speaker of Meghalaya, expressed his heartfelt condolence. He highlighted the achievements made by the former Speaker during his lifetime and hoped for strength to be imparted to the bereaved family during this time of immeasurable loss.

The second day of the budget Session 2019-20 also witnessed several questions raised by the various MLAs in the House concerning Human Resource Development Department, Commerce and Industries, Tourism and Civil Aviation, Energy and Power, Labour and Mines and Geology Departments.

Minister for Human Resource & Development Department, Mr. Kunga Nima Lepcha, replying to a query raised by MLA, Mr. Bishnu Kumar Sharma, said that HRDD has taken out a total of 17 nos. of work since 2014. Out of 17 works sanctioned, 15 of the works are new construction works and only two of the works are repair and maintenance work, sanctioned under non-planned head of account.

Replying to the queries raised by MLA, Mr. Aditya Golay, Minister for Energy & Power Department, Mr. Mingma Norbu Sherpa, stated that during 2004-2009, the Energy & Power Department portfolio was held by Mr. Pawan Kumar Chamling, erstwhile Chief Minister of Sikkim.

Regarding the questions related to the power plant project, Mr. Sherpa said that 17 hydro electric plants totalling 4194 MW was allotted during 2004-2009 and Rs.4.19 crore up front revenue at the rate of Rs. 10,000 per MW was received by the government.

As on date, seven hydro electric plants have been completed and is operational. The targeted revenue from these projects was about Rs. 918.48 crore per annum considering the rate as Rs. 5 per unit. The annual revenue earned by the department from 2004 to 2018-19 from free power from the commissioned project excluding NHPC is Rs.447.51 crore.

Replying to the question raised by MLA, Ms. Sunita Gajmer, the Minister for Commerce & Industries, Mr. B.S. Pant, on the question pertaining to the department stated that the subject concerns to the State Pollution Control Board. However the concerned department has taken numerous steps in this regard.

Responding to the supplementary query raised by MLA, Ms. Sunita Gajmer, Mr. Pant said that till date, the department has closed down two pharmaceutical companies namely Pristine Life Sciences, Singtam, East Sikkim and Ideal Cure Pacheykhaney, East Sikkim while the centre has closed down Alembic Pharmaceutical, Samardung, South Sikkim.

Answering the questions put forth by MLA, Mr. B.K Sharma, Minister for Tourism & Civil Aviation, Mr. B.S. Pant, said that the department is aware of the fact that people residing in the periphery of the Greenfield Airport at Pakyong are affected and is providing steps for relief and rehabilitation process to the affected people. Surveys have been made to access the damage of 66 nos. of affected families.

Minister for Mines & Geology, Mr. Karma Loday, while replying to the query raised by MLA, Ms. Sunita Gajmer, said that as per the parcha/document, a total of 27.2520 hectares was under Sikkim Mining, Rangpo. A portion of land is allotted and transferred to various organizations and associations as well as government departments as per the approval of the government.

Responding to another query raised by MLA, Mr. Aditya Golay, the Minister for Labour Department, Mr. Mingma Norbu Sherpa, said that Cess collection under the provision of buildings and other Construction Workers Welfare Cess Act 1996 started in the state of Sikkim w.e.f. 06.09.2010.

Answering another question, Mr. Sherpa said that Sikkim Buildings and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board, an autonomous body constituted under the provision of the building and other construction (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act 1996 has notified 22 schemes vide Notification no. 06/DL dated 12.03.2015 for the welfare of workers registered under the BOCW Act 1996.

Replying to another query by MLA, Mr. Aditya Golay, Mr. Sherpa said that the Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act 1970 has not been enforced in the State of Sikkim.

However, under the provision, the Interstate Migrant (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act 1979, the Labour Department is empowered to issue license for employment of inter-state migrant workers directly to the companies or contractors if they employ 05 or more such workers under Section 8 of the above mentioned act for the execution of the particular given work.

During the zero hour, MLAs of the Sikkim Democratic Front Party, Mr. G.T Dhungel and Mr. Em Prasad Sharma, raised a query to the HCM, Mr. P.S Tamang (Golay), who is also the Minister-in-charge for Home Department as to whether the Sikkim-Darjeeling merger was a fact or just another political propaganda. This question was expunged by the SLA Speaker under Rule 325 of Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in SLA.

The MLAs also made a petition for a separate seating arrangement for them, away from the SDF party bench. They stated that they were elected by the people and hence keeping their welfare and rights in mind, they chose to attend the Assembly Session, which has been boycotted by the other members of the SDF party. Their petition was accepted by the Speaker. Keeping in mind the Provision of Article 194 of the Constitution of India, the MLAs were provided with separate seats.

Thereafter, during the Legislative Business, the Sikkim Court Fees and Stamps on Documents (Amendment) Bill No. 5 of 2019 which was introduced by the HCM, Mr. P.S. Tamang (Golay), who is also the Minister for Finance, Revenue and Expenditure Department, on the first day of the session was adopted and passed by the house.

The Statements of Objects and Reasons of the Sikkim Court Fees and Stamps on Documents (Amendment) Bill No. 5 of 2019 states that the State Government has deemed it expedient to amend rule(7) of the Sikkim Court Fees and Document Rules, 1928 and insertion of new rules (7) (a) with a view to introduce e-payment for collection of court fees.

In his reply on the Motion of Thanks to the Hon’ble Governor’s address, the HCM stated that all the key initiatives of the Government have been highlighted by the Governor in his address on the opening day of the Budget. He profusely thanked the Governor for the address put forth in the House.

In his discussion on Motion of Thanks on the Governor’s address, the HCM said that the government would work for the progress of the State and would strive to take the State to new heights. He congratulated the Prime Minister for sweeping win at the recently held General Elections and stated that if the nation is in safe hands then the State too flourishes and remains safe.

He thanked the two members of the opposition party namely Mr. G.T. Dhungel and Mr. Em Prasad Sharma for their presence in the House today and said that as members of the Legislative Assembly we should uphold the wishes of the common Sikkimese people and take part whether it is in the ruling or in the Opposition.

He also recounted how they had participated in the democratic process when the Sikkimese people had put them in the opposition after the 2014 General Assembly and stated that they had always fought for the rights of the Sikkimese people.

Applauding the Governor’s address and his stress on the various sectors of the State, the HCM said that they wholeheartedly support the common goal. He said that the State government has put education as a top priority since the future of the youths depends on it for nurturing their growth and skills thereby helping them to secure employment. Efforts of the State government is towards the holistic development of students and provide greater impetus to quality education, he said.

Stating that health sector is also of paramount importance, the HCM welcomed the suggestions of the Governor and said that the hospital at Sochakgang would be fully equipped so that it can provide better health facilities to the poorest of the poor in the State.

The Governor had also put a lot of impetus on the ‘Green Industry’ and the hazards that pollution etc put on the natural beauty of the state. The HCM said that the State government would make sure that they adhere to the guidelines of substantial reduction in emissions, etc.

Talking about the high priority that the State government has placed for the welfare of the farmers, the HCM said that the government is implementing several farmer’s welfare schemes to revitalize agriculture sector and to improve their economic conditions. He said that the government would put appropriate policy measures so that agriculture gets a boost in the State.

In his concluding note, the HCM expressed gratitude to the Governor for his address during the opening of the Budget Session on 29th July, 2019.

Hon’ble Speaker Mr. L.B. Das, announced the voting on the Motion of Thanks on the Governor’s address which was passed by the House.

Thereafter, during the Financial Business, the Speaker stated that General discussion on the Budget for the financial year 2019-20 presented in the House by the HCM who is also the Minister in charge for Finance, Revenue and Expenditure Department, Government of Sikkim on the first day of the Budget session was open for discussion. Since there was no discussion on the subject, the Speaker said that this matter would be taken up later.

During the Government Business, the HCM presented the White Paper on Expenditure Commitments, Borrowings and Revenue Potential (Volume I & II) to the house on the first day of the Budget Session. He said that it was the duty and the responsibility of the government to provide information to the general public through the White Paper.

The HCM said that the total outstanding loan when they took over the previous government and that as of 31st March, 2019 stands at Rs. 16,207.94 crore. He elaborated that the loan if calculated per person of the population of Sikkim amounts to Rs. 2,45,000 each.

The HCM also gave a brief overview of the State’s situation when the previous government took over. He said that the loan of the State government during 31st March, 1994 was Rs. 214.93 crore making loan per person at Rs. 4,797 only.

The HCM also said that bill pending liabilities of all the departments stand at Rs. 5604.75 Crore.

Speaking on the rumours of the Sikkim-Darjeeling merger, the HCM clarified that Sikkim was protected under the 371(F) of the Constitution and that the government would uphold and protect it until the very end. He also reassured that the government would never lie or betray the faith that the people of Sikkim have placed in him and his government. He reminded the people that the merger wasn’t something that happens instantly and that the article protects the people and safeguards their rights.

Awareness programme on Scholarship Schemes organised by SJE&WD in Namchi

Namchi, 30 July (IPR): A daylong awareness programme on Scholarship Schemes organised by Social Justice, Empowerment and Welfare Department (SJE&WD), Government of Sikkim was held at the conference hall of South District Zilla Panchayat Bhawan in Namchi today.

The programme had the attendance of District Collector, South, Shri Ragul K., in the company of Additional Secretary, SJE&WD, Smt. Benu Gurung, Senior Welfare Officer, Smt. Meena Rai, SWO, Shri Nakul Rawat, and Deputy Director, Shri. Tshering Dorjee Bhutia.

The programme also had the presence of school heads, teachers and officers from various line departments.

Resource person for the programme, Additional Secretary, Smt. Benu Gurung, in her address laid down the objective of the awareness programme which was to inform and detail out the scholarship schemes that provides suitable financial assistance to students from various categories in order to enable them to pursue their education without any financial hurdles.

The Additional Secretary, in her address, spoke in detail about scholarships namely Post Matric scholarship for ST, SC and Central OBC students, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Post Matric Scholarship for EBC (State OBC) students, Pre Matric Scholarship for ST, SC, OBC and Minority students, Post Matric scholarship for Minority students, Merit-cum-means based scholarship for Minority Students, National Fellowship and Scholarship for Higher Education for ST students, Pre Matric and Post Matric Scholarship for students with disabilities and Scholarship for students with disabilities.

She further apprised the school heads about the criteria of both online and offline form application alongside laying down the eligibility to avail the scholarships under the department.

Furthermore, she enlightened the participants about portals www.sikkim.gov.in and www.scholarship.gov.in. respectively through which students who belong to SC and OBC category (Class I to X) can get themselves registered. She also discussed group wise fee and maintenance allowance under post matric scholarship schemes.

In the same manner, she brought to light that so far only one disabled student has availed the pre-matric scholarship in South district while the applications for availing other scholarships by students under various categories has also been abysmal.

Smt. Gurung in her address prompted the school heads and the officials of the Department of HRD, South to disseminate robust awareness to the genuine students in order to aid them through the scholarships provided by SJE&WD. She sought cooperation from the District Administration for helping the department to gain momentum in widening the scholarship knowledge amongst widespread student groups.

District Collector (South), Shri. Ragul K., also addressed the gathering wherein he lauded the initiative of the officials of SJE&WD in organizing programmes of such prime importance which benefits the minority, disabled and ST, Central OBC and EBC students. He spelled out the significance of Aadhar linking to bank account as a key criteria for students to avail financial welfare of the scholarships provided by SJE&WD.

He also revealed that South district will strongly advocate the outreach of the scholarships by organizing a block level awareness camp through Welfare Division (South) office in the days to come. He called upon the school administration under the district to lend all aid and possible assistance in order to ensure scholarships to the students provided by the State and Central Government.

During the course of the programme, Senior Welfare Officer, Smt. Meena Rai, and SWO, Shri Nakul Rawat, also addressed the gathering.

Later, an interactive session between the resource person and the participants of the programme was also held.