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.