The Sikkim Organic Mission, conceptualized by the Hon’ble Chief Minister way back in 2003, is no stranger to the rest of India. Millions of Indian viewers were introduced to this ingenious flagship project of Government of Sikkim through ‘Satyamev Jayate’, a popular talk show hosted by Aamir Khan in 2012. The Mission of Sikkim remains a talking point in a world increasingly concerned about the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers in agricultural products. The mission wants to convert Sikkim into a totally Organic State by 2015 whereby any agriculture produce from the State is grown using organic fertilizers and is healthy for consumption. Cuba would always been known as the first in the world to have adopted such large-scale organic farming. However, Cuba resorted to such farming practices as a compulsion due to longstanding trade embargo with other nations. Sikkim voluntarily adopted to go organic under the guidance of the Hon’ble Chief Minister. The State, thus, remains a foremost democratic model in the world on organic farming. The process for bringing the total cultivatable land of 58,168 hectares under organic farming commenced at ground levels from 2010. Agencies accredited by Agriculture and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority are certifying the organic process in Sikkim in three phases. Organic produce of Sikkim, mostly vegetables, would not only fetch more value for the Sikkimese farmers but also offers multiple benefits to the State. The Organic status is going to supplement the ecotourism of Sikkim, another visionary initiative of the Hon’ble Chief Minister. Tourism stakeholders of Sikkim are convinced that Organic Mission when connected with ecotourism would be a double attraction for tourists particularly at homestays. Visitors can enjoy the natural beauty of Sikkim but also gain health benefits by consuming organic products. Thus, the value of Sikkim ecotourism is bound to enhance. The Government of Sikkim stepped into Organic Mission process from 2003, the year when it stopped imports of chemical fertilizers in the State. Since then the cultivatable land in Sikkim are practically organic and also farmers of Sikkim are traditional users of organic manure. Sikkim Organic retail stores have been started by the Government of Sikkim in New Delhi and plans are underway to open more in major cities of India to market the organic products of Sikkim.
A visionary environment conservation initiative of the Hon'ble Chief Minister of Sikkim, the State Green Mission completed its 9th year in Sikkim in June, 2014. Its concept and holistic aims makes Sikkim the undisputed leader in green measures all over the country. Saplings of fruit bearing tree species and ornamental flowering species numbering in lakhs have been planted across the State. The mission engages every Sikkimese in avenue plantation and beautification of all vacant and waste lands asserting the international recognition of Sikkim as an incomparable Green State. Just before the onset of monsoons, people from all walks of life gather and undertake plantation drives. From policy makers to students, NGOs to individuals, the old and the young participate enthusiastically in the State Green Mission. Avenue plantation, under the State Green Mission, not only protects roads from slides but also helps in maintaining an aesthetic beauty for the travelers. The people-oriented mission lasting for a fortnight has been a resounding success every year and from 2013 onwards is celebrated as 'Paryavaran Mahatsov' as announced by the Hon'ble Chief Minister. The festival is observed from June 15 to 30 every year. Awareness on environment protection accompanies each plantation drive. In the first 'Paryavaran Mahatsov', around 2.6 lakh saplings of various tree species were planted across Sikkim. The survival rate is between 70 and 80 percent. The saplings were provided by the Forest department which is the nodal Department for the Mahatsov. The Green drive depends for its success on public participation. The Hon'ble Chief Minister believes that there is no better fencing than social fencing. The mission greatly supplements the image of Sikkim as an ultimate ecotourism destination not only in India but the world over. The State Green Mission, a first in the nation, has become an integral part of the people of Sikkim. This is an initiative exclusively meant to maintain the green cover and cleanliness across the State through people's participation which has been extensive and overwhelming. Consequently, Sikkim's forest cover has increased by over 3.53% from 44.06% in 1995 to 47.59% in 2009. Sikkim is being consistently rated as the Greenest State in the country on the basis of year-round assessment by reputed centres of Excellence and environmental bodies as "most sustainable".
Yet another path-breaking green initiative of the Hon’ble Chief Minister, ‘Ten Minutes to Earth’ remains unmatched in the world. Six lakh saplings of trees and flowering species are planted within 10 minutes across Sikkim every monsoon since 2009! This will help in sequestering of 1400 tons of carbon dioxide annually! In the inaugural year on July 15, thousands of Sikkimese people stopped all their activities and waited for the clock to tick 10.30 am. As the clock announced the moment, people pledged themselves to Mother Earth for 10 minutes and undertook the planting drive creating a new world record. The idea was to plant population equivalent to the population in Sikkim. One Person, One Tree, One Time. Though the timings and day vary, Sikkimese people under the dynamic leadership of the Hon’ble Chief Minister devote their time to plant saplings every July 15 during the ‘Ten Minutes to Earth’ programme. The initiative is a people’s programme and is in the highest tradition of Indian civilization values. Various experts have suggested replication of ‘Ten Minutes to Earth’ programme of Sikkim at national and global levels. Over the years, people of Sikkim have given a social attachment to the ‘Ten Minutes to Earth’ programme. Villagers undertake planting drives to celebrate a happy occasion or to dedicate saplings in memory of a deceased fellow villager. Such stories have been an integral part of the environmentally conscious Sikkimese people. The Forest department provides free saplings to other departments, Central agencies, organizations and individuals for undertaking the planting drive. Focus is given on indigenous plants like rhododendrons and local trees like Chaap, Cherry, Guava and Pompsey. The department also gives attention on maintaining the saplings planted annually. In urban areas where spaces are limited for people to plant trees, ornamental flowers and shrubs like Azlia are provided so they are planted in pots. The ‘Ten Minutes to Earth’ programme truly demonstrates why the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Sikkim is the ‘Greenest Chief Minister’ in the nation.
Yet another path-breaking green initiative of the Hon’ble Chief Minister, ‘Ten Minutes to Earth’ remains unmatched in the world. Six lakh saplings of trees and flowering species are planted within 10 minutes across Sikkim every monsoon since 2009! This will help in sequestering of 1400 tons of carbon dioxide annually! Among some very imaginative developmental strategies, the Siddeshwara Dham at Solophok in South Sikkim is an iconic pilgrimage tourism initiative of the Hon’ble Chief Minister. The Union government endorsed this project with a National tourism award under the ‘Most Unique and Innovative’ category to Government of Sikkim in 2012. Conceptualized by the Hon’ble Chief Minister, the Siddeshwara Dham is popularly known as Chaar Dham as it is ornamented by exact replicas of four Dhaams, Badrinath, Dwarka, Jagannath Puri and Rameshwaram, of the country. This concept of four Dhams within the same premises is found nowhere in the world. The project spread over 29.9 hectares was executed by Rural Management & Development Department. Located in the hill top of Solophok, Siddeshwara Dhaam recreates the spiritual landscape of India at one place as it offers to the devotees an imposing 108 feet statue of Lord Shiva encircled by a dozen Jyotirlingas and replicas of the four Dhams of the country. Chardham is also unique in another way. To honor a local belief, it has a life size statue of Lord Kirateshwar which is not found anywhere else in the world. Legend has it that Lord Shiva manifested himself in Sikkim as Lord Kirateshwar - a hunter of Wild Boar. One now does not need to travel the length and breadth of country for months to complete their ‘Chaar Dham’ pilgrimage. The Siddeshwara Dhaam is the new pilgrimage destination for hundreds of pilgrims who can fulfill their lifelong spiritual dreams within a couple of hours. Sri Jagadguru Sankaracharya Swami Swarupananda consecrated the pilgrimage centre on November 8, 2011. Hon’ble President of India Pranab Mukherjee dedicated to the nation the ‘Siddeshvara Dhaam’ when he visited Sikkim in April, 2013. The Hon’ble Chief Minister believes that Siddeshwara Dham would spiritually benefit the people and bless the peacefulness of Sikkim. The ‘Siddeshwara Dham’ augments the religious appeal of Sikkim known for its monasteries dotting the entire State. Thousands of tourists and local people are visit the Dham every year.
The Chief Minister’s Rural Housing mission aims to make Sikkim the first Kutcha House-Free State in the country by 2013. The mission, popularly known as CMRHM, is one of flagship projects of the Government. It was launched on September 22, 2010 for eradicating poverty from Sikkim, a target which only the Government of Sikkim can convincingly dream and achieve among all States in the country. Under the CMRHM, a total of 6,000 Pakka houses for poor Sikkimese families of rural areas are being constructed. The Kutcha houses of the identified beneficiaries living in rural areas are converted into Pakka houses costing Rs. 3 lakhs each along with material support in 50 GCI sheets. The selection process starts from Ward Sabhas in villages from which the nominees are screened at all levels of governance. A beneficiary is at liberty to expand the permanent house beyond the stipulated size of 600 sq foot at his own costs. The completion time for house construction is six months after receiving the first installment of Rs. 50,000 and 50 GCI roof sheets. The remaining installments are provided within the six months time frame. The Rural Management and Development Department will be the nodal department for this Scheme. No contractors are being used to build the house and the housing grant is deposited in the bank account of the beneficiary. The department supervises the CMRHM unit constructions and also provides technical assistance. The house is constructed by the beneficiary himself or herself. Block Rural House Construction Committees (BRHCCs) constituted under the chairmanship of the concerned local area MLA are supervising the constructions. For special cases, the committees are also assisting those beneficiaries incapable of constructing their houses. Various existing schemes are dovetailed into the mission. Electrification of a CMRHM house is provided through Rajiv Gandhi Gramin Vidyutikaran Yojana while water supply is done through National Rural Drinking Water Program. Similarly, land development and protection work around the house sites are done through MGNREGA. The Forest Department is providing timber for the mission at subsidized rate or issues marking order for extraction of timber from standing trees at the beneficiary’s land.
In the educational and health sector, the Government of Sikkim has introduced a large number of incentives and some very innovative programmes with long term goals to shore up quality human capital in the state. Sikkim is the first State in the country to allocate 30 percent of its Annual Plan in education sector since 1994. With this vision of the Hon’ble Chief Minister for producing capable and skilled human resources from Sikkim, the Government of Sikkim has been investing 20 percent of the total Annual Outlay for the education sector since 1994. Perhaps no other State can make such huge investment for their students. We want to make Sikkim the best State in education and provide our children good education so they can live a quality life, says the Hon’ble Chief Minister. The result has been evident with the literacy rate 56 percent in 1993-94 swelling to over 82 percent at present. Recently from 2013-14, the Government of Sikkim has earmarked additional 10 percent of the Annual Outlay to sponsor Sikkimese youth for coaching in reputed institutes for IAS and allied services, banking, defense services, etc. This adds up another 10 percent meaning the Government of Sikkim has allotted 30 percent of its Annual Outlay in education sector alone. Sikkim is the first State to allocate such huge budgetary provisions in education sector. Among all States, Sikkim has one of the best teacher-student ratios which is 1:14. The Government of Sikkim is all geared up to make Sikkim a total literate State by 2015. Sikkim will then be the second fully literate State in the nation after Kerela.
India’s first cyber village, conceptualized by Hon’ble Chief Minister Shri Pawan Chamling, has been set up at Melli Dara Paiyong in South Sikkim. His Excellency Governor, Shriniwas Patil on October 2, 2013 launched the cyber village project implemented by Information Technology Department, Government of Sikkim. His Excellency The Governor congratulated Shri Chamling and his team for establishing the first cyber village in the country. The Hon’ble Chief Minister had during his 42-days ‘Sikkim Bhraman’ in 2011 had announced that the concept of cyber village would be introduced in Sikkim. The cyber village software at Melli Dara Paiyong Gram Panchayat Unit (GPU) is web-based and allows gathering of information from grassroots level using handheld devices and integrating it with the departmental database on a real time basis. Each of the six ward panchayat is provided with the handheld devices to collect and update data of the villagers. Each resident will have his or her exclusive digital profile in the handheld device. Data generated are used for multiple purposes including police verification and monitoring of benefits provided by the government to the villagers. The data are generated and verified by the concerned ward panchayat. SMS based services have been adopted in the project wherein a registered villager can benefit without being present in the offices physically. The software has been developed with active participation of members of Melli Dara Paiyong GPU. As per the project, the Information Technology Department will be providing computer literacy to the villagers of Melli Dara Paiyong. School going children will also be sensitized on cyber security.