Battling the Covid pandemic amidst major landslides and heavy rainfall, the ruling Sikkim state government of the Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM), which is led by Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang, is working on strategies to revive the economy and to get the state back on the track at the earliest. Amar Jyoti Borah writes
Sikkim Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang has come under attack from the opposition parties in the state, including the former chief minister of the state, Pawan Chamling. The opposition has stated that Chief Minister Tamang and his government has failed to handle the Covid situation in the state.
According to officials of the Sikkim government, the chief minister has chaired several meetings in the last month to work on ways to get the state and the state’s economy back on track.
As per available information, several drug manufacturing units in Sikkim have halted operations, while others are functioning at significantly reduced capacities after Covid-19 cases were detected at their facilities.
The Government is seriously concerned about the tourism industry and the tourism entrepreneurs in the state, as rural tourism in the primary source of livelihood for a major populace in the state.
“Apart from direct livelihood generation for the tourism entrepreneurs and the homestays, tourism also generates a huge amount of revenue for other people associated indirectly with the industry- including taxi drivers, hotel staff, restaurateurs and tour guides etc,” said an official of the state tourism department.
“There are more than 800 homestays across the state, and each of these households depends heavily on tourists to draw an income, but now all this is severely impacted,” said the official.
According to reports of the state government, Sikkim has incurred a loss of revenue of over Rs 94 crore in the tourism sector in the course of the series of lockdowns.
The state government tried to work out on the issue to provide support to the affected ones and some people were roped into the dairy business and wages from the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act.
Besides this, as a support to the affected, the state government has given every registered taxi driver Rs 5,000, as support to compensate the losses.
“The state government is working on a revival road map on the steps which could be taken post the Covid situation normalizes and is giving a lot of attention on tourism, which is a very strong asset of the state,” said the official of the tourism department.
Apart from the Covid Pandemic, the state is also facing problems due to landslides in the state, and this is causing a major setback to the state government.
“The Covid Pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns have hit the state badly and the supply chains have been broken, and to add to the problems- the landslides have affected the machinery and many settlements in the far-flung areas in the state has been severely affected,” said an official of the state government.
Meanwhile, both the state and the central government also ensured that the people living in far-flung areas and in remote settlements are not affected much due to the lockdown, and helicopters of the Indian Air Force airlifted essential items for people from two villages who were cut off due to landslides in the state
According to government reports, the IAF helicopters dropped essential supplies comprising 100 bags of rice weighing 50 quintals each, 550 litres of cooking oil, 1.5 quintals of salt, 100 packets of candles and matches and medicines.
“The Sikkim government is closely monitoring the situation regarding landslides in the state, and if the need arises will again request the IAF for the dropping of supplies. The state government is also coordinating with all the district administrations to ensure that all roads and highways are cleared,” said an official associated with the office of the Chief Minister.