It was a pleasure to attend the Panchayat Sammelan for rural and urban local bodies today at Manan Kendra, Gangtok. Since Panchayat elections are due shortly, I congratulated all the incumbent Panchayats for their services in the last five years and extended my best wishes to them.
Reminding the elected representatives of the crucial role played by them in a democratic set-up, I urged the rural and local body representatives to work with a sense of utmost responsibility, accountability and dedication for the welfare of the State and the people. The onus lies on them to spread awareness among the public on the importance of being self-sufficient and self-reliant, instead of just depending on grants from the Government. Sikkim has seen unprecedented development in the last two decades but this is not commensurate with a change in the mind-set of our people. Hence, the foremost task for all representatives-both rural and urban-should be in transforming the mind-set of the people, driving home the fact that the Government is a mere facilitator and the grants are just provided for immediate relief and fulfilment of basic needs only. The people should be made to realize that no profession is inferior and they should respect the concept of dignity of labour. People should be encouraged to practise age-old professions like farming, which is sadly being looked down upon by most of our youngsters. They should be spurred to take up traditional professions for qualitative development, coupled with modern development modules, thereby making our development principles a healthy mix of tradition and modernity.
As the first Organic State and the winner of recent One World Award, Sikkim has a huge responsibility in working towards a chemical-free and an organic world. Stressing on the importance of organic agriculture, I appealed to all the Panchayats to pro-actively engage themselves in creating awareness on the benefits of organic farming and in giving continuity to the fully organic status of Sikkim.
I also urged the Panchayats to disseminate information to the public regarding the Government policies on conservation and protection of environment. The policy of establishing ‘Smriti Vans’ should be continued with and given more emphasis. Likewise, people should be encouraged to follow our custom of forming ‘mith’ with trees. Our policy decision of planting of ten saplings in lieu of each tree felled in private holdings should also be followed strictly.
I directed the Horticulture Department to establish organic outlets in all the District headquarters and also purchase air-conditioned vehicles for ferrying organic produce from the farmers to these outlets for sale.
I made the following announcements:-
1. Nagar Panchayat Shree Award for ULBs with Rs 1 lakh and citation to be introduced.
2. Honorarium of Panchayats to be enhanced after Panchayat elections.
3. All Government infrastructures falling within different Panchayat GPUs to be placed under the control of respective Panchayats so that their up-keep and repairs are carried out properly.
4. No agricultural lands should allowed to be left fallow. Certificate to this effect to be made mandatory for availing any Government grant/benefit.