CHAMLING ATTENDS NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT COUNCIL MEETING IN NEW DELHI
GANGTOK, 27 Dec [IPR]: Chief Minister Pawan Chamling today requested the Union government to sanction a new National Highway from West Bengal to Sikkim to provide reliable physical connectivity to the state.
While speaking at the National Development Council meeting at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi today the Chief Minister demanded 120 km long new national highway from Sevoke in West Bengal to the state capital Gangtok to strengthen transport network to ensure balanced regional development of the state. He stated that the state is solely dependent on the national highway 31 A and its state highways to link growth centres and social needs of the people and demanded the strengthening of transport network to attract investment from big corporate houses, promote tourism and economic activities in the state.
He demanded the widening and improvement of the existing national highway and construction of a two-lane highway from the under construction Greenfield airport at Pakyong to Gangtok. He demanded central funding for constructing intermediate lane connectivity to all marketing centres and strengthening of major district roads in the state.
Mr Chamling said that the state has 8000 MW hydro electric potential out of which 3774.50 MW potential will be harnessed during the 12 th five year plan and added that transmission network will be strengthened for evacuation of power to national grid and other regions of the country for sale of surplus electricity from the state .
The tourism and hospitality sector has emerged as the fastest growing industry in the state and the state aims to attract 50 lakh tourists annually by the year 2017 through well executed tourism strategy, better planning, aggressive publicity and strengthening of tourism infrastructure in the state, he said.
Mentioning that about seven lakh Indian and 21,000 international tourists visited the state in the year 2010, he said that the state will be developed as a leading domestic and international tourist destination by promoting eco tourism and village tourism during the 12 th five year plan. He added that religious and cultural tourism will be promoted in a big way in the state while new tourism infrastructure mega projects worth several hundred crores like construction of sky walk at Bhaleydunga, development of rope ways to the statue of Guru Padmasambhava , the sleeping Buddha Statue at Singik in North Sikkim will be commissioned during the 12 th five year plan.
Construction of the statue of Lord Buddha at Ravangla in North Sikkim has been completed, he added.
The CM requested the union government to release the remaining fund of Rs 720 crore out of the Prime Ministers package of Rs 1000 crore sanctioned as one time relief package for reconstruction and rehabilitation for earth quake victims. He said that the state has so far received Rs 280 crore and urged the centre to release the remaining assistance at the earliest.
Mr Chamling went on to state that the entire population of the state will be covered under the Chief Minister's Comprehensive Annual and Total Check-up (CATCH) programme by the year 2013 and added that so far 50% population of the state has already been covered under the programme.
Construction of the 575-bedded multi-speciality hospital at Sichey has been completed and around Rs 735 crore will be spent on construction, furnishing and medical equipment of the hospital which is likely to be commissioned by the year 2014, he said. The government proposes to open a medical college in the hospital once the required infrastructure is created, he added.
Life expectancy ratio in the state has increased by over 3-5 years on average compared to 1994 while the state has achieved literacy rate of 82.2% and aims to achieve 100% literacy in the 12 th five year plan, he mentioned.
Speaking on the Chief Minister's meritorious scholarship launched in the state he said that the target to cover 1000 students under the programme has been fixed and added that so far 350 students are being provided free education in premier public schools under the programme. The state government is providing cash awards for toppers of the class XII and X CBSE examinations and is also sponsoring 146 young educated Sikkimese for undergoing extensive coaching for civil services examinations in top institutions of Delhi, Hyderabad and Tamil Nadu, he further informed.
On achieving the fully organic state status by 2015, the CM said that out of total cultivable area of 58168 hectares in the state , 8168 hectares has already been certified and remaining 50,000 hectares is being taken up in a phased manner under which as on today 39,000 hectares of land is under conversion and remaining 11,000 hectares will be converted by the year 2015.
Mentioning that a total of 830 youth have been trained and engaged in organic activities in the state through livelihood schools, he requested for central assistance in the form of alternative inputs and resources for construction of rural compost and vermi compost units in the state to meet the growing demand for bio fertilizers and manure of organic farmers .
Mr Chamling informed that the state government has engaged Singapore based consultants to devise urban development plans and added that comprehensive mobility plans have been drawn for the state capital in which sectors such as water supply and sewerage have been included. He said that all bazaars in rural areas will be developed and beautified on the lines of MG Marg Gangtok and Central Park Namchi by providing modern amenities to discourage migration to urban areas.
While speaking on housing, the CM said that all kaccha houses in the state are being converted to earth quake resistant pucca houses under which till now 2000 new houses have been constructed with total cost of Rs 80 crore and added that 8300 new pucca houses will be constructed in the 12th plan period at an estimated cost of about Rs 332 crore.