CM attends first Governing Council Meeting of NITI AayogNew Delhi, 09 Feb [IPR]: Chief Minister Pawan Chamling attended the 1st Governing Council Meeting of NITI Aayog here on Sunday. The first meeting of the newly formed NITI Aayog was convened at the Prime Minister’s residence. Chief Ministers of all states are members of the Governing Council.
Dwelling on the objectives and day’s agenda, the Chief Minister made a detailed presentation highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of Himalayan States like Sikkim and offered some very crucial suggestions for smooth functioning of the newly formed body.
Expressing delight on being part of this initiative of NITI Aayog, Mr. Chamling said that the Aayog would bring about the much-needed new policy formulations, paradigm shift in official; legislative; financial systems in the governance of this Nation in a more meaningful manner.
While endorsing the objectives of NITI Aayog, the CM highlighted the difficulties of the resource-starved North Eastern states and said that the North Eastern states should continue to receive central financing arrangement of plan budget in the ratio of 90:10 basis and that major infrastructure projects be considered for 100 percent plan assistance.
The Chief Minister also talked about need for specific planning for the North Eastern States in view of the difficulties of topography surrounded by international sensitive border area, remoteness and resource crunch in the Region to facilitate judicious use of abundant natural resources like generating hydro power, promoting tourism growth, encouraging organic farming and apiculture to production of local handicrafts etc.
The Chief Minister further said that Khangchendzonga in Sikkim was the highest mountain peak in the country and underlined protection of the Himalayan Mountain States as very important since these are the water reservoirs for the entire Country. The Chief Minister submitted before that august gathering that the Aayog could support Himalayan States by evolving more scientific and holistic conservation measures to safeguard and further promote the Himalayan eco-system. He also called upon the Central Government for a separate compensatory requirement for the overall economic losses and restraint suffered by such states.
The Chief Minister also lauded the historic decision of Government of India in finalising arrangements for opening the second route of the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra for the Indian pilgrims. With the opening of Kailash Mansarovar Yatra through the Nathula corridor and Sikkim with Siddheswara Dham having the facilities of all four sacred Dhams in one place nowhere else to be found in the Country, needs to be promoted as Hindu Circuit Tourism now, the Chief Minister opined.
While appreciating the Prime Minister’s announcement to make Sikkim and the entire North East region as organic region, the Chief Minister also requested the NITI Aayog for evolving appropriate support mechanism in terms of funding for marketing and logistic support to Organic Farming.
The Chief Minister informed the gathering that the State Government in Sikkim would maintain a state-of-the-art Resource Centre to be the repository of research on good governance and best practices in sustainable and equitable development as well as help their dissemination to their stakeholders.
Stressing on social sectors like education and health, Mr. Chamling suggested to make them top priority of the Government and further suggested that education could be made free upto the college level in the entire Country with thrust on quality education from the primary level itself. Similar policy could be adopted to provide preventive and curative health services to the people of the country free of cost. The Chief Minister further suggested that the NITI Aayog could also consider evolving a comprehensive and enabling policy mechanism to ensure basic minimum needs to all people living in the Country.
On the sidelines of the significant meeting, the Chief Minister had a very detailed discussion with the Prime Minister and other Central and States leaders. He thanked the Prime Minister for opening alternate route to Kailash Mansarovar from Sikkim and requested for allotment of 20 acres land near Nathula for setting up of Acclimatization Centre for the pilgrims. The Prime Minister agreed to allot the land to the Government and assured of early resolution of the matter.
During the interactive session, the Chief Minister also invited the Union HRD Minister, Smriti Irani to visit Sikkim to which the Union Minister has agreed to visit Sikkim.
The Chief Minister also had one-to-one interaction with the Union Home Minister, Finance Minister, UDHD Minister and other Central Ministers.
The Chief Ministers of Punjab and Telangana have evinced their keen interest to visit Sikkim to study the many innovative development models undertaken by the Sikkim Government. The Chief Minister extended to them a very warm welcome to visit the State.
During his interaction with his Gujarat counterpart, the Chief Minister briefed her about the Organic Mission and the progress made by the Sikkim Government to make the state fully organic by December 2015. The Gujarat Government would be deputing Agriculture Officials of the State to visit Sikkim and study the development models of Sikkim including that of the Organic Mission. The Chief Minister has invited them and offered to provide all logistic support to facilitate the visit.