Sikkim’s CM talks about development plans, issues, challenges at NITI Aayog meeting

New Delhi, August 8: Chief Minister of Sikkim Prem Singh Tamang attended the meeting of the Governing Council of NITI Aayog chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Rashtrapati Bhawan Cultural Centre in New Delhi.

The Chief Minister expressed his pleasure to be a part of the meeting and underlined some of the crucial issues faced by Sikkim. He stated that the meeting is held at an opportune time unfolding the vision of India @2047 coinciding with 100 years of India’s Independence and briefly underlined the state government’s focus on repositioning agriculture and rural societies, developing climate change resilience; diversifying development partners, reorienting the governance architecture, the scientific harnessing of rich biodiversity, restructuring the services sector; deepening the connectivity projects, and establishing mountain-specific institutions.

“Organic farming in a mountain state is a rare comparative advantage of Sikkim. We are capitalizing on what nature has endowed us and the agricultural heritage we have inherited. We would like to consolidate organic practices scientifically and in harmony with nature”, stated the Chief Minister.

He stated that the major challenge faced by Sikkim in terms of organic farming is to ensure a sufficient level of farm efficiency and productivity as many farmers are reluctant to adopt organic farming due to low yield.

The Chief Minister apprised about the government’s plan to further transform organic farming into a multimodal agriculture heritage that can serve as an instrument of food security, rural development, rural tourism, climate change resilience, and national and global replication initiative. “All these will deftly facilitate a steady rise in farmers’ income, and enhance the contribution agriculture sector to over 20 percent of the State’s GDP”, he added.

Furthermore, he informed the house about the Joint Venture with IFFCO in setting up an Integrated Processing Facility in the state for processing several products which will be functional towards the end of this year. He added that this will open the possibility of interconnecting with the value chains within India and South East Asian countries under the far-reaching ‘Act East Policy’, and the ‘Neighbourhood First’ initiatives of the Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi. Stating that these initiatives match with the Vision 2035 for North East Region prepared by NITI Aayog, the Chief Minister fervently proposed to set aside funds for establishing an export-oriented, industry-empowered Organic Food Park cum Free Trade Warehousing Zone (SEZ-FTWZ) in the State. He also underlined the significant agendas, including the establishment of a gene pool for organic farmers, improving digital connectivity and mountain port which will be highly beneficial for the state and the nation.

Speaking about the education sector, he briefly highlighted the undertakings of the state government, including the Fellowship programs, Bahini scheme, Gurukul, and more. He also added that the state government is fully prepared to implement all the policies and provisions as envisaged in the forward-looking New Education Policy 2020 of India.

The Chief Minister mentioned that the state government is building a Multimodal Corridor with a modern integrated check post between the State of Sikkim and Eastern Nepal through Chewa Bhanjyang, which has emerged as a crucial point of cultural, economic, social, tourism, and ecological exchanges. This would pave the way for Indian pilgrims to visit the famous religious centers like Pathivara in Nepal and various historic temples and monasteries on the Sikkimese side. In this regard, he requested the Prime Minister to declare the Chewa Bhanjyang Multimodal Corridor as a project of national importance which will be fully planned, designed, funded, built, and operated by the Union Government of India. He further elaborated by stating that the Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar mentioned the importance of this project to India and the North East Region Vision 2035 prepared by NITI Aayog also mentions the sub-regional connectivity as a pivot in India’s Act East Policy and added that the state government has already started building a two-lane highway from Uttarey to the vicinity of Chewa Bhanjyang.

The meeting witnessed the presence of Union Minister Amit Shah, Chief Ministers from all the states, and central and state government officials.

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