Gangtok: Sikkim Democratic Front party continues to criticise the One Nation One Ration Card (ONORC) scheme, asking why Sikkim had to welcome the scheme for “mere 4000 plus Sikkimese migrant workers working in different states of the country.”
The SDF highlighted that as per the 2011 census, around 1.3 lakh migrant workers from other states work in Sikkim. The opposition party, which has been pressing on ONORC bringing a demographic change in the socio-economic and political scenario in Sikkim, assertively claimed, “What happens if these 2 lakh-odd migrant workers form the government have a majority in Sikkim?” asked the SDF.
Sikkim government has welcomed the ONORC scheme. Ever since the criticism against the scheme has grown in Sikkim despite Chief Minister Prem Singh Golay and his Sikkim Krantikari Morcha party defending the scheme ‘to not hamper 371F and local protection in Sikkim.’
SDF argued, “None of the rice sacks coming to Sikkim will be marked with 371F written on them.” The party’s spokesperson MK Subba on Sunday stated, “There have been 18 other schemes related to migrants and rations in Sikkim over the years. Ration distribution has been a prerogative of the state under the state laws with Certificate of Identification as one of the needed documents. In 1996, almost 8,000 migrant workers under Building and Housing were welcomed with cash incentive schemes and rations. Over the years, there have been 18 other schemes that ensure cash transfers for food subsidies for migrant workers which are welcomed under the National Food Security Act. These are functional schemes that never dampened 371F or domicile or Certificate of Identification in Sikkim. But with ONORC now, the right of the locals will be at par with those of the migrant workers as a section for ration distribution will now get an addition of under the ONORC scheme same as recognition of locals under Certificate of Identification.”
The SDF highlighted how cash incentives for food subsidies have been functional in union territories like Pondicherry and Chandigarh with open markets and that Sikkim could have also opted for something similar.
“Every state takes responsibility for its migrant workers. It is only Sikkim that is trying to be a safe haven for migrant workers from other states. Do not make Sikkim a migrant-occupied state. The SKM government has given a walkover on the ONORC when it could have opted for sending a proposal to the Centre that we will opt for cash incentives for food subsidy to the migrant workers instead of ONORC,” Subba added.
The SDF questioned why the ONORC was not brought as a bill in the Assembly and discussed. “Our 371F, our Certificate of Identification and even the Sikkim Subject are useless now, they have been submerged now,” the SDF added.
SDF also batted for ex gratia to 380-odd COVID victims in the state, demanding Rs 10 lakh each for the victims. It also raised concerns for frontline workers who lost their lives to COVID, demanding Rs 1 crore compensation along with scholarships for COVID orphans.
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