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Sikkim raises cap for co-operative contracts

Gangtok, Feb. 10: Chief minister Pawan Chamling today announced that the ceiling for construction projects allotted to government-registered co-operative societies had been raised from Rs 3 crore to Rs 5 crore.

According to a government notification issued in 2010, state works with a budget of up to Rs 3 crore could be given to only registered co-operative societies and not individuals.

“Our government has a plan to strengthen all co-operative societies in Sikkim. We are working aggressively to achieve the Co-operation Mission. The enhancement in the contract amount would encourage the co-operative societies,” Chamling said at a meet organised by the state co-operation department at Manan Kendra here today.

Co-operation Mission was an initiative taken up by the Sikkim government in 2010 to strengthen co-operatives in the state.

Since then, many co-operative societies have been formed across the state although government officials could not give the exact number.

Today’s announcement means any government construction work with a budget of up to Rs 5 crore can be given only to registered co-operatives. For projects above Rs 5 crore, tenders would be floated and any firm, including co-operatives, can take part in the bidding process.

A senior official of the Sikkim co-operation department said according to the March 2013 government data, there are 3,013 registered co-operatives in the state working in different fields like farming, banks, milk production, construction, poultry, livestock and other sectors, with 90,290 individual share holders.

Out of the total number, 2,300 co-operatives work in the field of construction alone and today’s announcement would benefit these units.

“The announcement made by the chief minister is for the co-operative societies which are involved in construction works, like school buildings, footpaths, roads or any government infrastructure,” said the official.

Every society registered with the government has a minimum of 10 members.

Officials said the state co-operation department would issue a notification soon, after which the new rule would be implemented.

The recently-formed Sikkim Krantikari Morcha has termed Chamling’s announcement an “election stunt”.

“This is nothing more than luring people in the name of contract. The chief minister should think of clearing the pending bills of the co-operative societies. We are definitely going to write a letter to the Election Commission of India about this,” said the spokesperson for the party M.N. Dahal.