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The ruling Sikkim Democratic Front has made an electoral promise to implement the...
provision for Universal Basic Income or UBI. It is the first regional party to...
make such a promise in the poll season. Sitting SDF Lok Sabha MP and...
spokesperson of the party PD Rai says, if implemented it would be a game-changer...
for the people of Sikkim.
Universal Basic Income means universal, which means that...
everybody in the state, whoever's a citizen of the state, will be...
able to access that. Second, it's an income so we're...
not saying it's a grant. It is something which would, for at least...
young people, that will be very empowering because they would be able to...
leverage this income. For older people, it would be part of a package for...
medical expenses and so on and so forth.
So, that is why we have thought about doing this over, you know...
we'll take a three year period to set it up and also to have discussions...
with stakeholders and others. It would include really at the...
gram panchayat level and so on and so forth so that everybody's on board. I...
mean it's not about squandering away wealth, it is about utilising wealth...
ensuring that there is equitable distribution and to in...
some ways look at the prosperity angle and give young people a new way of
thinking about their future.
He says the surplus revenue earned by...
the state mainly from its hydro-electric projects would be utilised to create a...
corpus to implement Universal Basic Income.
Today, we have an installed...
capacity, and running, about 2,200 megawatts. We would be...
attaining a maximum, I think, of about three and a half thousand megawatts.
Hamro Sikkim Party of Bhaichung Bhutia has also now promised to bring UBI to the...
people if elected to power. Though Sikkim's hydro-electric projects are less
controversial than those in Arunachal Pradesh, the state does have its share of...
public grievance over building of dams, particularly from the affected community, the Lepchas.
As far as Sikkim's context is concerned, the..
issues, at the end-of-day, you have to deliver to the people. How we you going...
to deliver that basic income? The government plan would be
to generate some kind of resource from the hydroelectric power projects or
maybe from organic farming or likewise. But, as we see today itself, it has got a...
problem. Government has planned 28 hydel projects in Sikkim. Now,
if you see it as of today, say even if you take the example of Teesta Stage III which is...
the largest hydel project, 1,200 megawatt, but it's not able to function
at optimum level because the government and developers have failed to provide proper
transmission line to evacuate the power. Due to this, every day the government of Sikkim...
is losing Rs 5 Crore. If you have already lost 5 Cr for the last 2 years,
we are not very optimistic that the basic fund for this scheme would be available
for the next 10-15 years. Another thing is, of course, per se...
it looks good. The government of Sikkim has given jobs to around 20,000 people,
new people. One family one job, and then a lot of of...
unemployable people are given some kind of job in terms of ad-hoc or muster roll but...
now it itself is a huge financial burden. So, if you consider it as...
income for the people, it is fine but otherwise, I think the largest chunk of our revenue...
from salaries.
The concept of actually having a national policy of...
having to tap into dams has come in because of the huge power needs of the
country. Obviously, the state of Sikkim being placed very well in terms of
endowment for hydropower did experience the same kind of push from the
Government of India as well and I think we moved into hydropower from that point
of view. Now, there are the naysayers as is with every other
process and anywhere in the world but Sikkim has managed the Teesta as well as...
the Rangit hydropower projects with minimal problems, especially to people...
who are living in that particular area and there has been a lot of...
compensation that has been given. All the environmental impact assessments etc...
or the kind of, you know, getting the consent of the people - all that has...
been done but there are definitely small groups of people who have been opposed...
to a lot of the dams. Now, we have frozen, in fact there used to be a far greater...
number of, I think, projects but we actually dwindled it down to now I think...
there will be something in the order of about less than twenty.
Sikkim is going to both assembly and parliamentary elections simultaneously...
on April 11, and as you've seen in this episode of Sadak se Sansad, the ruling SDF...
has promised to bring Universal Basic Income to the people of Sikkim if they...
come to power. So, what they are basically talking about is also the surplus...
amount that their state is earning through hydropower projects like this...
one that you see just below here. It's going to give the, you know they're...
going to pass that benefit to these people of the state, to the stakeholders...
in a bhagidari fashion, but when we talk to people on the ground they're very...
excited about the idea as such but then they also raised certain concerns...
Most people don't want to come in front of the camera but what they say is that...
their basic concerns are also that a lot of cultivable land has gone into...
the construction of these dams and the mainstay of the rural economy...
in Sikkim is cardamom cultivation and this is also mainly practiced by the...
Lepchas. The area that we are in here is the Lepcha area. Their...
main concern is that cultivable land has gone. They have got compensation and...
many of them have actually finished the money that they got from the government...
but they have not been able to transfer themselves to...
another means of livelihood. So, that is a basic concern that we see on the ground
and the other thing is also that lot of people have also given land to the Army
installations, besides the dam, so the the voice from the ground
that we hear is also about naming certain places which are...
removing the traditional names and renaming certain places as per...
you know the army norms and giving new names to the...
areas. So, that is something that local people seem to be not very happy about.
As a concept, the UBI system, if it comes into Sikkim, is a good concept,
people say, but then they also want these concerns to be addressed by the
government.
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Universal Basic Income in Sikkim: Cautious Excitement #LokSabhaElections2019

37 Folder Collection
王惟惟 published on April 29, 2019
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