Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Chamling on Tuesday said its people are like “unpaid soldiers” defending the motherland and hit out at the West Bengal government for their “suffering” due to the ongoing Gorkhaland agitation.
“Sikkim’s location states how strategic it is to the unity and integrity of the nation … Our people are like unpaid soldiers defending our motherland. Unbounded peace and harmony for people living in the border states are great assets for the nation,” he said unfurling the National Flag in Gangtok on the occasion of Independence Day. “… I am pleased to say that the state government of Sikkim and every Sikkimese citizen are solidly behind the central government to safeguard the integrity and sovereignty of our great nation,” he added.
Speaking on the ongoing Gorkhaland agitation, which has hit Sikkim, Chamling said it is common knowledge that the state has been suffering for the last 33 years due to it as Sikkim remains totally cut-off and isolated when bandhs are called by political parties in Bengal. “This is almost as a re-run to the past incidents. Sikkim has been mercilessly trapped between the renewed agitation demanding Gorkhaland in the Darjeeling, Doars and Siliguri region and the unrelenting West Bengal government insensitive to the plight and suffering being faced by Sikkim and its people,” Chamling said.
As a result Sikkimese people have been denied the right to free movement, safety and security, he claimed and added that the loss incurred by the state is more than Rs 60,000 crore. During last year 33 years of the Gorkhaland agitation over 5000 Sikkim registered vehicles have been damaged or torched and 50 people – drivers and passengers have lost their lives, he said.
Chamling made announcements like increasing the minimum daily wages for workers to Rs 300, construction of one old age home in each of the four districts, pension for farmers aged 50 years and above for those who are solely dependent on agriculture.
He said district collectors will make a list of ‘sukumbasis’ (people who do not have land in Sikkim) and by 2018 they will be provided land for construction of houses, which would be done by the government. He asked that unutilised government lands be identified and the report submitted to the government within 3 months for the purpose.
Lachung and Lachen in remote North Sikkim district would be developed as a garden of rhododendrons, all government buildings would be made disabled-friendly with provision for ramps and public participation and involvement would be ensured in the implementation of all government programmes.
“Now our goal is to become India’s first kutcha house free state by 2018, the first poverty free state, the first smart city state and the first carbon neutral state,” he added.