SKM Sarkar completely mishandled Covid pandemic: Bhaichung

Monday, Aug 02, 2021 08:30 [IST]

Last Update: Monday, Aug 02, 2021 02:48 [IST]

SKM Sarkar completely mishandled Covid pandemic: Bhaichung

BIJOY GURUNG

GANGTOK,: Hamro Sikkim Party (HSP) acting president Bhaichung Bhutia on Sunday alleged that the SKM government has “completely failed” to handle the Covid pandemic second wave. He urged the P.S. Golay-led party to take corrective measures in remaining two-and-half years of his government to justify the ‘Parivartan’ opportunity given by the people of Sikkim.
Addressing his first press conference after SKM government took charge in 2019, Bhaichung said HSP remained dormant till now so as to give the new SKM government ample time to work on its promises.
“Any new government needs some time to deliver its promises and the SKM government was also hampered by the Covid pandemic. Hence, we supported them and did not want to disturb the new government. However, somewhere down the line, there is a frustration among the people on how SKM has mishandled the pandemic. The pandemic and lockdown adversely impacted the livelihood and economic conditions of the people but the SKM government has not formed any roadmap to address these issues,” said Bhaichung.
“The SKM government has completely mishandled the Covid situation. They never ask or listen to suggestions from opposition parties, ex-bureaucrats and NGOs. The SKM government has become arrogant. If we make suggestions, they resort to burning of effigies,’ said Bhaichung referring to the Namchi incident where a group of women had burned his effigy over the new Namchi hospital project issue.
The HSP president mentioned that Sikkim government had done well in the first Covid wave last year which was also appreciated by national media.
“Now the same media is reporting on how badly the Sikkim government has handled the second Covid wave. Around 208 deaths and thousands of Covid cases in last four months clearly shows how the government has completely failed. I am not saying anything against the health workers; it is the leadership which has failed by not adequately investing in the health sector. Their decisions are more politically driven like containment of entire village so that other political parties and NGOs are prevented from helping such villages,” said Bhaichung.
Bhaichung added that HSP president Dr. Bina Basnett and Dr. Mechung Bhutia had to face hurdles from SKM workers while trying to serve Covid patients in rural areas. In west district, the SKM workers even said they only want a ‘Choko Doctor’ but the SKM has to understand that people are now looking for a ‘Choko Neta’, he said.
Bhaichung reiterated his stand that the new Namchi hospital project should be put on hold for now and the funds be used to strengthen the existing health infrastructure to meet the onging Covid second wave.
“My concerns on the Rs. 580 crore revised Namchi hospital project are on timing and location. The SKM government revised the project to Rs. 580 crore and as per the Chief Minister, Rs. 80 crore has already been paid to the contractor. Is this the best time to take up this project which will take at least 4-5 years to complete? The fund could have been used to immediately strengthen the existing hospitals and PHCs. We had 208 deaths and thousands of positive cases in four months of Covid pandemic which shows that there is an urgent need to invest in health sector presently,” said the HSP acting president.
Bhaichung demanded the SKM government to share how much it has invested in health sector to fight the Covid pandemic and how much Covid funds have been sent by the Centre.
Regarding the hospital’s location, the HSP acting president said Karfectar near Jorethang would have been the convenient location for the people of both south and west districts. Namchi is not the best location for people of remote corners of West Sikkim, he said. He requested the SKM government to reconsider its decision and shift the hospital project to a convenient location that meets the requirement of both south and west districts.
The HSP acting president also highlighted the promises made by the SKM in its election manifesto. “Many promises have been made by the SKM in its manifesto. We understand that some cannot be fulfilled in a short period of time and also due to pandemic. However, there are some promises that the SKM could have worked on during initial years of their government,” he said.
As an example, Bhaichung said the SKM government had promised to do away the Land Transfer Act 2005 and to protect Revenue Order No. 1. Instead of fulfilling that, the SKM government itself is violating Revenue Order No. 1, he said.
“SKM had promised to deliver Limboo-Tamang reservation in the Assembly in whatever way possible. We have a Tamang Chief Minister and a Limboo MP. We are hopeful that they will give justice to the Limboo-Tamang communities with seat reservation,” said Bhaichung.
“There are still two and half years left, I request the SKM government to fulfil their promises made to the people who accepted the Parivartan call and gave an opportunity to them. We will meet the Governor on the present issues. We will also reach out to other political parties and seek how we can work together on protecting the interests of Sikkim,” said the HSP acting president.

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