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.