Incentive to migrate to Sikkim is even greater with ONORC: Tseten Tashi

Saturday, Jul 31, 2021 08:00 [IST]

Last Update: Saturday, Jul 31, 2021 02:24 [IST]

Incentive to migrate to Sikkim is even greater with ONORC: Tseten Tashi

GANGTOK,: Former minister Tseten Tashi Bhutia has stated that with implementation of ‘One Nation, One Ration Card’ (ONORC) here, the “incentive to migrate to Sikkim is even greater” for non-locals. He added that as ONORC implementation has several critical issues unresolved, “Sikkim is heading into uncertain future”.
“With these critical issues unresolved, Sikkim is heading into uncertain future. In the Socio Economic Census 2006, the number of non-locals stood at 146564 or 25.20%. This number has substantially increased over the years, with the implementation of ONORC the incentive to migrate to Sikkim is even greater,” said Tseten Tashi in a press statement on Friday.
Chief Minister P.S. Golay had earlier this week launched the ONORC implementation in Sikkim.
Both the ruling SKM and its ally BJP have defended the ONORC as a welfare measure for migrant workers while maintaining that the Central flagship programme does not violate Article 371F of Sikkim.
In his statement, Tseten Tashi said the government chose to ignore questions raised on implication of ONORC on Sikkim’s special Constitutional provisions.
“The Central cadre bureaucrats advising the government have constantly ignored the dilution of Article 371F by extending Central programs and laws without even seeking exemption under the special protection given to Sikkim by the constitution. In the initial stage of discussion on the program, many States had protested against the implementation of this program but the State government did not even sought to seek exemption under Article 371F nor made any effort to seek clarifications.
In major amendments like the Citizenship Amendment Act, the Home minister has given assurance that this Act will not affect the special provision of Sikkim when he was approached for clarification but in regard to ONORC, no effort was made by the government,” said the former minister.
“The eagerness of the State government in launching schemes to please the central government without complete preparation is going to lead to future problems and failure of implementation. The allocation of the food grains to States will be dynamic, based on the lifting of food grains captured on a monthly basis across states. Especially, when a few members of a family that owns a ration card migrate for few months, reconciling the data at both locations would be a critical challenge. On the storage distribution front, Food Corporation of India (FCI) godowns have to operate in tandem, considering the needs arising in particular States,” said Tseten Tashi.
Tseten Tashi added that it is the prerogative of the party in power whether to accept and implement the Central laws in Sikkim as guaranteed by Article 371F.
He reiterated the assurance given by Union Home minister Amit Shah in the Parliament on December 11, 2019 that the Citizenship Amendment Act will not affect Sikkim because of its special Constitutional provision under Article 371F.
“So, the same logic and philosophy should prevail over all Central laws like ONORC before implementing in Sikkim. Therefore, the ball is in the court of the party in power who is running the show,” said Tseten Tashi.
The former minister also raised several ground-level issues in Sikkim while implementing ONORC.
“The very first aim of the programme is directed towards migrants and this data is absent with government of Sikkim, it is only recently started collecting the data. The department of Labour has not defined a timeline for finalizing the list of migrants. The absence of this data is a serious handicap in implementing ONORC since the government will not be able to quantify the requirement of food grains,” said Tseten Tashi.
“The PDS system, sans its digitalization, has several gaps. If on migration, a migrant changes his ration shop within a few months there may be a technical problem in updating the data again and again. It is known that the data management in Sikkim is not very robust and well managed and the constant updating required will need a well organized and supervised system if the program is to be succeeded,” he said.
“Sikkim also has the most different types of ration cards with different quota for each one. It must be specified now that migrants will only be allotted rations as per the Central government sanctioned and supported schemes and they will not be entailed any quota supported by the State,” said Tseten Tashi, also the SIBLAC convenor.

Sikkim at a Glance

  • Area: 7096 Sq Kms
  • Capital: Gangtok
  • Altitude: 5,840 ft
  • Population: 6.10 Lakhs
  • Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 to over 28,509 ft above sea level
  • Climate:
  • Summer: Min- 13°C - Max 21°C
  • Winter: Min- 0.48°C - Max 13°C
  • Rainfall: 325 cms per annum
  • Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi