Saturday, September 27, 2014

Politics heats up over Organic Sikkim aspirations

Gangtok: Sikkim Krantikari Morcha’s Dr. Mechung Bhutia had been going at the State Government, questioning its commitment to organic farming ever since he was elected MLA. Now, the SKM has found an ally in the Dhananjaya Kumar Singh, the chief of the Kisan Morcha, a frontal organisation of the BJP. Reportedly here on a “fact-finding” mission to evaluate the organic Sikkim mission, Mr. Singh joined the state-unit of the BJP in submitting a memorandum to the Governor and demanding the Chief Minister Pawan Chamling be dismissed from office for having misled the Prime Minister into believing that Sikkim was already an organic state. The response, both from the ruling party and the State Government, has been strong and quick as well, with the clarification that Sikkim has never claimed to already being an Organic State and that it was in the process of becoming one. A rejoinder issued today by the Sikkim Organic Mission of the Agriculture Department says this about the news reports on the SKM-BJP allegations: “The article only succeeded in exposing the ignorance of what has been happening with regard to Sikkim becoming an Organic State”.
The BJP Kisan Morcha chief is reported to have “apprised the Governor of the plight of farmers and rural people who were forced to implement the whims of Chief Minister Chamling, without any benefits or subsidies”. He further informed the Governor that many farmers were “openly” using chemical pesticides and artificial soil enhancers to ensure a yield that could support the farmers’ basic needs.
The Sikkim Organic Mission has countered such claims by contending that there has been “no significant reduction in yield.
The SOM communiqué informs that Sikkim aims to become Organic only December 2015 and that about 32% of the total agricultural land has already been certified as Organic and that by year-end, another 30% will be so certified.
It also refutes allegations that Sikkim has been enjoying “large funds” in the name of organic farming. “Neither the State Government nor the Departments have availed such large funds in the name of organic farming as claimed…” the rejoinder states.
The clarifications have however been dismissed by the SKM, which, in a press release issued today, sees these as “tactical policy of deceit and beguilement”. It reiterates that the party was not against Organic farming, but opposed to false claims.
“SKM party is of the strong opinion that the present SDF govt. has thoroughly misled the people of Sikkim and the nation as well regarding the organic farming in Sikkim by providing false information,” it claims.
The SDF party too has rubbished the Sikkim-BJP claims, arguing that the Kisan Morcha chief and Opposition MLAs are clearly not aware organic farming and its certification procedures or even the Sikkim Organic Mission because of which they were making such ill-informed allegations.
The press communiqué from Sikkim Organic Mission states, “It is for everyone to understand that Sikkim Organic Mission is a combined effect and effort of all the people of Sikkim – Government, farmers, various stakeholder institutions, market forces etc and that all those involved have to give concerted support so as to take Sikkim to a stage where it can swiftly move to occupy prominent space in Indian agriculture”.

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