Sikkim: Bhaichung Bhutia joins SDF; apologises for promoting SKM in 2019

Gangtok: Sikkim football icon-turned-politician Bhaichung Bhutia slammed Chief Minister Prem Singh Golay for delaying ‘initial information’ on the Lhonak Lake Glacial Lake Outburst on October 3 night. 

Bhutia, who represents his own Hamro Sikkim Party which merged with the Sikkim Democratic Front party, was speaking at a press conference on Monday. 

Bhutia, in his address at the Press Club of Sikkim in Gangtok, stated, “It was Sikkim CM’s single-handed fault that made this calamity such a big one. He has gone on to blame the dam without investigation. Right now he is saying he wants a CBI investigation, but why do you want to do that when you claim you have already got the report.”

Bhutia countered the Sikkim Chief Minister on the timing of GLOF and information disseminated to the public. “Even after the disaster happened, the first information was given by ITBP Jawans 8 kilometres away that at 10:30 pm on October 3, the flooding had begun. They had informed their headquarters (near Chungthang). The information was then forwarded to the authorities including the Chief Minister’s office. The Chief Minister was given information at 10:40 pm, which he admitted in the press conference (days later). Later in the next press conference, he claimed that he received information at 11:40 p.m. Meaning, despite receiving information at 10:40 p.m. he has not acted on it. He was busy doing his Janta Darbar till 11:30 pm in Mangan in North Sikkim, he has admitted to that.” 

Bhutia further claimed, “When there is a natural disaster, a calamity happening how does CM continue doing Janta Darbar and having a dinner party? Your first reaction is to stop the public meeting, start rescuing the public and share information on the disaster. In the era of the internet, it just takes ten minutes to pass information and rescue everyone. But he has been incompetent, irresponsible and has not taken any action. This has led to a huge disaster for Sikkim and the country with many innocent lives being lost because of the irresponsible manner he handled the entire flooding.”

Bhutia also slated Golay for saying that the dam in Chungthang was substandard with no research or investigation. “He claimed that the construction of the dam was bad. Where and what investigation he did? Which engineer told him? Why do you want to do politics during such a time when everyone is suffering? It was time for everyone to get together, but he tried to take a cheap mileage out of the flood victims, which was so wrong. It was a time when everyone had to come together and carry out rescue and relief operations. But he went to get cheap publicity and political mileage.” 

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Bhutia claimed that the statement of CM Golay has been changing every day. “Since Sikkim Krantikari Morcha formed the government, there have been numerous warnings from the government of India, the National Disaster Management Authority, from scientists to international researchers, they have warned year after year that Lhonak Lake is in danger and it is going to burst.” 

Bhutia highlighted, “Even the government of India had sanctioned Rs. 20.24 crore to ensure the disaster doesn’t happen. Despite that, the SKM Government and Golay have done nothing”.

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