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Protests Against Baichung Bhutia For Opposing Hospital Construction On Playground

Football icon Bhutia objected to the state government’s decision of constructing a 300-bed hospital in Namchi, claiming that the construction would compromise the ‘veterinary ground’, considered the only playground in the district.

A group of women under the banner 'Dakshin Sikkim Nari Sangh' staged a protest on June 9, against football icon and working President of Hamaro Sikkim Party(HSP), Baichung Bhutia, for his remarks on the construction of a hospital on the land used as a playground by the public. Bhutia had recently objected to the state government's decision of constructing a 300-bed hospital in the district, claiming that the construction would compromise the 'veterinary ground', considered the only playground in Namchi, reported The Northeast Today.

The protests were held at Central Park in South Sikkim's Namchi district, with people burning Bhutia's effigy and raising placards to support the hospital construction and raised slogans- 'Baichung Murdabad'. The foundation stone of the hospital was laid on June 5 by Chief Minister Prem Singh Golay.

HSP President Dr Bina Basnett condemned the protests and accused the Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM) party of a cowardly move by bringing the women of the party to protest.

Bhutia's Stance

A day after the protests, Biachung, on Thursday, June 10, said the state government was trying to silence the voice of citizens and brought people from outside to create fear, EastMojo reported.

During a television interview on the upcoming EURO 2020 football tournament, Bhutia informed that the Chief Minister had sanctioned ₹80 crore for the project.

Even if ₹20 crore of the total money was utilised for existing hospitals, dispensaries and in increasing the healthcare staff, the state's condition in the pandemic would have been better.

"So many people would not have died of COVID. CM Golay is well-versed with the fact that 280 people died of the infection in Sikkim last year. Even now, the state reports the highest death rate in the country in terms of its population and percentage," the media quoted him as saying.

Bhutia said his party had written multiple times to the government for assigning an economic package for the people who have been impacted during the pandemic, including taxi drivers and farmers.

Bhutia said if ₹10 crore had sanctions for the same, it would have benefitted hundreds of vulnerable people and their families.

The football icon clarified he is not against the construction but suggested another location, preferable to Jorethang. "The CM said the hospital would cater to patients from South and West Sikkim districts. The location from Jorethang to Melli or Reshi, Nandu Gaon, Golitar, and Karfectar would be ideal both logistically and transportation-wise. It would be better for South and West Sikkim. Alongside, it would also be convenient for the people of Rangpo, Singtam in East Sikkim."

Biachung pointed out the people staging protests amid the curfew and urged the CM to initiate stringent action against them. He again requested not to go ahead with the hospital project in Namchi, the media reported.

Also Read: 'Over 100 Ventilators In Storage, While Thousands Of Patients Died': Madhya Pradesh HC To Govt

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Writer : Devyani Madaik
Editor : Sanal M Sudevan
Creatives : Devyani Madaik

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