Gangtok, 28 Feb (IPR): Hon’ble Minister of Finance and Corporate Affairs, Government of India, Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman attended the credit outreach programme organised by National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) and Banks in Sikkim here at Chintan Bhawan today.
The Union Finance Minister was accompanied by State Chief Minister Shri Prem Singh Tamang, Secretary, Department of Financial Services, GoI, Dr Vivek Joshi, Chief Secretary, GoS, Shri V.B. Pathak, and Chairman, NABARD, Shri Shaji K.V. The function was also joined by Secretary, Ministry of DoNER, Shri Lok Ranjan, from Guwahati via video conferencing.
The programme was attended by Speaker, SLA, Shri Arun K. Upreti, Deputy Speaker, Shri Sangay Lepcha, State Cabinet Ministers, MP Lok Sabha, Shri Indra Hang Subba, Chairpersons and Advisors to the Government of Sikkim, MLAs, officials from NABARD & other Banks, HoDs and officials from various departments and representatives from NGOs, KVKs, among others.
Addressing the gathering, Union Finance Minister, Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman expressed immense pleasure over the flourishing of progressive yet sustainable growth witnessed in various sectors in the State in its unique demeanour and added that these characteristics still remain understated despite the efficacy.
She applauded how the State has risen beyond its attraction to trigger tourism and stepped into the world of enterprise development, with some of its organic products from the remotest of its places finding their mark even in today’s global market. The ready-for-market products with high standards displayed at the stalls at MG Marg reflect the grit and resilience of the local producers of the State, she added.
The Union Finance Minister said that institutions like NABARD are agents of change and are doing exceptional work in reaching the government schemes to far-flung areas of Sikkim, including the cluster of villages in the Sikkim-Nepal border and encouraging small entrepreneurs. For NABARD to come this far and understand the communities of such places and enterprise them speaks about how every institution under the Government of India, guided by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has been realising the ‘Sabka Sath Sabka Vikas’ policy in the country, she stated.
Highlighting various key aspects of the Union Budget 2023-24, the Union Finance Minister said that the government is focused on making cooperatives the pivot of development of the rural economy and added that the Cooperatives Ministry is looking into setting up a national cooperative database which will help in better implementation of national policy on cooperatives. She further informed that the government is also planning to set up a massive decentralised storage capacity tailored to the requirements of local cooperatives. She added that small and marginal farmers would benefit greatly from this year’s Union Budget.
The Union Finance Minister emphasised the impressive and substantial women’s participation in the economy of the State and added that the Union Budget this year will provide professional help to Self Help Groups to brand and market their goods professionally and achieve standard quality measures, which is of great importance.
She also spoke about the PM-VIKAS scheme of the UB-FY 23-24, designed to allow craftspeople and artists to enhance the calibre and reach of their goods.
Stressing the importance of the Vibrant Villages programme, the Union Finance Minister said that the government aims to develop essential infrastructure along border villages so that there are no migrations due to a lack of basic facilities. She informed that the Union Ministers have been instructed to regularly visit the border villages to ensure all government schemes are attaining saturation in those areas.
Addressing the gathering, Chief Minister Shri Prem Singh Tamang extended gratitude to the Union Finance Minister for choosing the Himalayan State of Sikkim for the Post Budget interaction and added that the Union Budget FY23-24 has been a forward-looking budget and will consolidate the finances and accelerate inclusive economic growth in Sikkim.
The Chief Minister also expressed gratitude to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Union Finance Minister for allocating resources under the new initiative of PMDevINE, which has led to the successful completion of the Dhapper-Bhaleydhunga Passenger Ropeway. He informed that the tourist potential of the ropeway could be significantly enhanced by some supportive addition in the form of a skywalk on the hills and thanked the Union Finance Minister for considering the support request in this regard.
The Chief Minister said that although the economic structure of Sikkim is significantly different from other States in the country, the State has made efforts to accelerate growth and the living conditions of its people and has attempted to keep its policies corresponding with the approach of the Union. He thanked the Union government for fully supporting the policy initiatives of the State.
Secretary, DoNER, Shri Lok Ranjan, congratulated the State government on the successful completion and inauguration of the ambitious Bhaleydhunga ropeway project among the developmental projects. He called the event momentous for the Ministry of DoNER as this project is the first amongst the PMDeVINE to reach the conclusive stage and has resulted from close coordination and guidance from the Central and the State level, truly in the spirit of Gatishakti. He further expressed the commitment of the Ministry as well as the NE States to work for achieving the vision of comprehensive and inclusive development of the region.
Secretary, DFS, GoI, Dr. Vivek Joshi, briefed about the focal points of the credit outreach programme and how the SLVCs and lead banks can provide technical as well as managerial assistance to the entrepreneurs in the State.
Chairman NABARD, Shri Shaji K.V., also addressed the programme, highlighting various schemes under NABARD.
At the onset, the Union Finance Minister virtually inaugurated the Eco-friendly Passenger Ropeway (Cable Car) from Dhapper to Bhaleydhunga in South Sikkim.
The Eco-friendly Passenger Ropeway (Cable Car) connecting Dhapper at Upper Yangang to Bhaleydhunga in South Sikkim is an ambitious project undertaken by the State government to provide accessibility to the renowned Bhaleydhunga cliff and open this hidden dreamland to the public and tourists with the aim to promote nature and eco-tourism in the State of Sikkim.
The 3.5-km-long passenger ropeway is a state-of-art project constructed with the technology, materials and expertise of M/S POMA Ropeways of France. The systems offer comfort and safety and are regarded as the gold standard in ropeway construction and management.
The Bhaleydhunga Ropeway is the longest and highest ropeway in the State and boasts a maximum speed of 6 m/s with a swift travel time of only 13 mins to reach the Bhaleydhunga top that compensates for a six-hour-long demanding trek.
The project is a preferred ecologically sustainable alternative in place of conventional roads in difficult hilly terrains to improve connectivity and convenience for commuters besides promoting tourism. It shall help augment the burgeoning tourism industry in Sikkim, bringing economic benefits not just to established hospitality businesses but also to all stakeholders and entrepreneurs.
Subsequently, the Union Finance Minister also virtually laid the foundation stone for the Mini Secretariat and Niyukti Bhawan at Lumsey in Gangtok.
With the aim to ease traffic congestion in Gangtok and to accommodate several offices under one composite space, the State Government has envisioned a project to construct a mini-secretariat and Nyiyukti Bhawan at Lumsey to relocate some of the Head offices to the periphery of Gangtok.
The Buildings and Housing Department, Government of Sikkim, will implement the project at a cost of Rs. 295 Crores and is slated to be completed within 36 months. The project will be built on Government Land measuring 2.12 Acres at Lumsay, Tadong, under the Gangtok district.
The Mini Secretariat project envisioned by the State Government will be yet another leap in infrastructural development and urban planning, and this will ease the traffic burden from the main town of Gangtok. Consolidation of designated office spaces for various Departments, Commissions and Boards will mean further strengthening of the administration and better and faster delivery of service.
On the occasion, sanction letters and cheques of developmental projects under NABARD for the State and credit facility by Banks were handed over to the beneficiaries under various schemes through the hands of the Union Minister.
Sanction letters amounting to Rs. 7.24 crores of various programmes implemented by NABARD were distributed to nine projects, namely,
1. Grant support of Rs. 234 lakhs to the State Bank of India for setting up six centres of Financial Literacy (CFLs)
2. Ceremonial launch of Chuba Off-farm Producers’ Organisation (OFPO)
3. Grant Assistance of Rs. 115 lakhs for the development of Ungthuckchum Yergay Springshed, Mangan district
4. Grant assistance of Rs. 92.16 lakhs for the development of fruit orchards (Wadis) in Sopakha panchayat of Gyalshing district under the Tribal Development Fund project
5. Assistance of Rs. 49.50 lakhs to Sikkim State Cooperative Bank (SISCO) under the Primary Agriculture Cooperative Society as Multi-Service Centre (MSC) scheme
6. Grant assistance of Rs. 34.00 lakhs to SISCO Bank for setting up of banking kiosks at Dairy Cooperative Societies
7. Grant assistance of Rs. 9.95 lakhs to Sikkim University
8. Grant assistance of Rs. 6.41 lakhs to SHGs for livelihood enterprise development programmes (for SHGs under LEDP) for training on soap making
9. (A) Grant assistance of Rs. 5 lakhs for setting up a veterinary centre with a zoonotic lab at Yuksom, Gyalshing district
(B) Grant assistance of Rs. 1.00 lakh to SHGs (for MEDP projects) for training for home nursing/general duty assistants
(C) Grant assistance of Rs. 0.97 lakhs to SHGs for training on pickle making.
Thereafter, various banks’ cheques were handed over to ten beneficiaries selected under schemes such as MUDRA, Stand Up India and KCC, among others.
Similarly, two booklets published by NABARD, namely ‘ Booklet on NABARD’S Special Development Plan for Aspirational District and ‘Booklet on Millets’, were also released through the hands of the Union Finance Minister.
Earlier, the welcome address was delivered by the Chief Secretary, Government of Sikkim, Shri V.B. Pathak.
CGM (FI), SBI Bank, Shri Janmejoy Mohanty, proposed the vote of thanks.