Saturday, March 19, 2011

When even one brings joy

Tomorrow, 20 March, is World Sparrow Day. A few days old House Sparrow chick perched on an iron angle at the photographer’s rooftop garden in Tadong, Gangtok. Its roosting place is in the same home. The House Sparrow is disappearing in other parts of the world, and every new arrival is a cause for celebration. For more details, readers can log on to
[photographs and caption: Ongden Lepcha, Range Officer]

India’s first Moss Garden developed at Rumtek

GANGTOK, 18 March: India’s first Moss Garden has been developed at the Jawaharlal Nehru Botanical Garden at Rumtek by the Forest, Environment and Wildlife Management Department.
PCCF-cum-Secretary, ST Lachungpa, and Additional PCCF-cum-Project Director [Japanese International Co-operation Agency], Anil Mainra, along with a JICA team visited the garden and inspected the moss garden recently. The Jawaharlal Nehru Botanical Garden was inaugurated in 1987.
A press release of the Forest Department informs that the DFO [Environment and Pollution Control Division], Abhay Bhaskar, with the help of Robert Phompey from the United Kingdom, developed this special section at the garden.

Foresters organise prayers at Enchey for Japan

GANGTOK, 19 March: The Forest, Environment and Wildlife Management Department, in a move to display its solidarity towards the people of Japan, organized prayers and the lighting of 1,000 butter lamps at Enchey Monastery here last evening. The prayers were attended by the Forest Minister Bhim Dhungel, Secretaries of various government departments, staff of the Forest Department as well as all project staff of the Japan International Cooperation Agency [JICA]-assisted Sikkim Biodiversity Conservation and Forest Management Project [SBFP].

HRDD bungles again, miscalculates salary arrear dues for section of teacher

GANGTOK: The Human Resource Development Department has done it again- made an embarrassing blunder. It is now official that the Department miscalculated salary arrears for a section of teachers posted in East Sikkim and disbursed excess amounts following the 4th Pay Commission salary hike. It has now issued notices to these teachers directing them to reimburse the excess amount.
This could not be good news for a Department , which, for the last few months, has been consistently beset by controversies ranging from question papers leakage, to involvement of teachers in rigging a scholarship attempt to delays in the supply of the school textbooks.

31 school teams sign up for Jaago Re Soccer Stars’ Gangtok leg

GANGTOK, 18 March: Former international, Jamshed Nassirri, will kick-off the Gangtok debut of the Arsenal Tata Tea “Jaago Re Soccer Stars Season 4” at TNA Ground on Saturday at 9 a.m., an SFA press release informs. 31 school teams have signed up for the Gangtok leg of the event, it is informed.
The Jaago-Re Soccer Stars, a national tournament from Tata Tea in association with Arsenal FC, is now in its fourth edition and coming to Sikkim for the first time. Matches will be played out over two days, 19 and 20 March and the tournament is being organised by High Life Management under the guidance of the Sikkim Football Association.

Rotarians donate for Japan’s recovery

GANGTOK: The Rotary Club of Gangtok, South, at its weekly meeting [held on 16 March], passed a resolution expressing deep sorrow on the loss of thousands of lives, displacement of millions and destruction of property of unaccountable magnitude in the current natural disaster in Japan, informs a press release.
The meeting resolved to provide financial assistance for rehabilitation efforts in Japan. Some members contributed amounts equivalent to one hundred dollars, the release informs. The contributions collected will be sent to the Rotary Foundation which has already set up a separate fund, “Rotary Japan Pacific Islands 2011 Disaster Recovery Fund” for this purpose. This Fund will be utilized exclusively for recovery efforts in Japan and not for immediate relief measures, adds the release.

Tourism Deptt to remain firm on action against paragliding trespass by US nationals currently under police custody

GANGTOK: The Department of Tourism has resolved to take a firm stand on the arrest of two US nationals who were taken into custody by Sikkim Police at Uttarey on the border with Nepal in West Sikkim on 15 March for having entered into the country without any relevant papers. Sikkim shares a 103 km long border with Nepal.
The two US nationals, Eric Reed [45] and Brad Sanders [35], both of whom are professional para-gliders of repute, had paraglided into Sikkim from Nepal on 14 March and were arrested by the police when they could not provide any relevant documents like Inner Line Permits allowing them to be in Sikkim. Because they came over from the West Sikkim border, they have obviously not been stamped into India either.

So Much for Hospitality


An interesting case has come up in West Sikkim where two US nationals have been taken into custody for having paraglided into Sikkim from Nepal without the necessary paperwork. The case remains under investigation, but what has come out thus far suggests that the professional paragliders were here on the invitation of event-organisers based in Sikkim. In these days of Wiki-leaks which have unveiled Central Ministers as tattlers to American foreign service officials, it is obvious that the duo currently in a remote West Sikkim police lock-up, did not come here on an espionage mission. The rules and laws which control visits to this tourist-destination-state are such that what is at worst a lapse in paperwork, is, for all practical reasons in the present case, a criminal offence. It is expected of the agencies tasked with responsibilities of national security [which can be the only reason why travel to Sikkim is restricted] to take up the case based on the evidence at hand and the circumstantial culpability of the two “illegal intruders”. What is, however, confounding is the combativeness with which the Tourism Department is tearing into this transgression.

Political rivalry turns violent in West Sikkim, 2 injured

GANGTOK, 19 March: In clash between supporters of ruling Sikkim Democratic Front and a group opposed to it has left wo persons grievously injured and a Minister’s vehicle damaged by an angry mob last evening at Singling block of Soreong-Chakung constituency in West Sikkim.
One Rajen Tamang of Singling and SDF youth convener of Soreng-Chakung constituency, Jiwan Gurung, were injured in the clash and a government vehicle [SK-02-0009] of the Roads & Bridges Minister, RB Subba, who also happens to be the area MLA, damaged, claim eyewitnesses.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Forest Deptt to light 1,000 butter lamps at Enchey Monastery in memory of tsunami victims in Japan

GANGTOK, 18 March: The Forest Department has arranged for 1,000 butter lamps to be lighted at the Enchey Monastery here in the memory of the victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. The butter lamps will be lit at a special function to be held at the monastery today at 4:30 p.m. The Forest Minister, Bhim Dhunget, is scheduled to attend the function.

USFC and DBFC warm up for I-League clashes

With the release of the fixture for the preliminary round of the 2nd Division I-League, the two Sikkim clubs - Denzong Boyz FC and United Sikkim FC – in the fray have begun opponent-specific training now that they know who they are pitted against.
As per the AIFF fixture, the United Sikkim FC has been placed in Group “A”, while the Denzong Boyz FC is in Group “B”.
The United Sikkim FC will play its preliminary matches in Guwahati against Langsing SC, Shillong on 27 March, Nisa, Manipur on 31 March, Southern Samiti, Kolkata on 2 April, Golden Threads on 4 April, Guwahati Town Club on 6 April and last match against Simla Youngs on 9 April.

Rs. 25 crores set aside to cover special financial package for employees of PSUs marked for winding up

GANGTOK, 17 March: April 30 will be the last “salaried working day” for the 280 employees at the three Public Sector Units - Sikkim Time Corporation, Sikkim Jewels Ltd. and Sikkim Precision Industries Ltd. - which the State Cabinet has approved for winding up. The State Government, it is learnt, has set aside Rs. 25 crores to cover the Special Financial Package to be offered to the employees of these units.
Out of the 280 employees, 107 belong to SITCO, 106 to Sikkim Jewels and 67 are employed with SPIL. These figures exclude the three Managing Directors, but include all Muster Roll employees.

175 voters from Khop protest shifting of names from voter list

NAMCHI: 175 voters of Khop ward under Rangang-Yangang constituency have expressed shocked and dissatisfaction on the shifting of their names to Barfung constituency without their knowledge.
Pointing out that it takes a very tedious and complicated process to shift names from the voter list even when specific requests are made, they wonder how the present movement happened without the conduction of a gram sabha or even informing the affected voters about it.

Find Time to Rethink Waste

Gangtok has for long been a tourist town unique for its general cleanliness. Being the capital of a State with not much experience in garbage management, this was an impressive achievement. But Gangtok has been going through a sustained population boom and the capital is now a contiguous stretch of buildings from Tashi View Point to Ranipool. Urban planning rambles lost between being woefully inadequate to blissfully absent, and the one eyesore where this is most noticeable is in the crumbling waste management system of the town. Garbage management here would have collapsed many years ago had an AusAid programme not salvaged and resuscitated civic organisation for a few years. The aid agency is no longer around and garbage management has been on rapid decline ever since.

Orchid Show begins with display of 500 varieties of hybrids

GANGTOK, 17 Mar: The Sikkim Flower Festival 2011 [“The Orchid Show”], organised by the Sikkim Flower Festival Committee [SFFC], was opened to the public today. The Orchid Show is being held at the Chogyal Palden Thondup Namgyal Memorial Park near the White Hall complex here at the Ridge.
Speaking to the media, Forest Secretary ST Lachungpa, who is also the Chairman, SFFC informed that this year there are more than 500 varieties of Cymbidium hybrid Orchids [compared to 20-30 varieties a few years back] in over 2000 pots on display. There are around 50 participants consisting of floriculturists and growers from Sikkim and some from Darjeeling with participation of more locals this year, he added. This year the judging was done on artistic arrangement, health of the plant, maximum number of varieties and number of new introductions, he further added.

CCTVs begin jhora vigil

Freeze, you're on TV!
GANGTOK, 17 March:  In an attempt to discourage dumping of garbage in jhoras across the capital [a perennial problem], the Gangtok Municipal Corporation has installed CCTVs at relevant vantage points across town. Those caught in the act by these surveillance cameras, equipped with night vision, will be identified, publicly exposed and fined, it is informed. 
Speaking to NOW!, Gangtok Mayor, KN Topgay, informed that incriminating footage is proposed to be aired on Nayuma Cable TV which reaches every home in the capital which “will hopefully act as a deterrent". 

BSNL lets down North Sikkim users, again

MANGAN:  The BSNL network has blinked out, again, in North Sikkim and its users left complaining and cut out. With the BSNL broad-band and 3G  internet services also collapsing to erratic connectivity, the woes have multiplied for the users here.
The people here are now demanding that the State Government initiate necessary action immediately to ensure that BSNL looks out for North Sikkim’s connectivity woes better. This, they add, is not the first time that BSNL is letting down users here.

Assembly summoned for 23 March

GANGTOK, 18 March [IPR]: In exercise of the powers conferred by Article 174(i) of the Constitution of India, the Governor has summoned the Sikkim Legislative Assembly to meet on 23 March at 11 a.m. in the Sikkim Legislative Assembly.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Namchi prays for Japan

NAMCHI, 17 March: Youth of the Namchi bazaar area organised a candlelight vigil yesterday at Central Park here to convey condolences for the catastrophe in Japan and pray for the victims of the earthquake and tsunami there. The initiative was joined by shopkeepers, hoteliers and people from the surrounding areas. The gathering also observed a minute’s silence to pray for the lives lost over the past week in Japan. Ondgen Bhutia, one of the organisers, said that there was a need for the whole world to come forward help restore Japan.

Buddha Relics to be opened for public audience on Saturday

GANGTOK, 17 March: Timed to coincide with the annual Bhum-chu ceremony at nearby Tashiding Monastery, the Sakyamuni Project Committee developing the Tathagatha Preserve [as the Buddha Park project in Rabongla, South Sikkim, has been renamed by the Dalai Lama], has announced plans to open the Buddha Relics (Ringsel) in its possession for public audience (Zekha) at the Rabong Karma Thekchenling Donkun Duppai Gatshal Monastery at the Mane Choekerling Complex there on 19 March from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Bhum-chu ceremony is scheduled to begin at midnight on the intervening night of 18 and 19 March and devotees expected to start leaving Tashiding [barely half an hour’s drive from Rabong] from early 19 March. The Zekha, hence, is perfectly timed for them.

AIFF releases fixture for second div I-League

GANGTOK: The All India Football Federation has released the fixture for the preliminary round of the 2nd Division I-League, which features two clubs from Sikkim – Denzong Boyz FC and United Sikkim FC - this season.
According to the AIFF fixture, group “A” matches will be played at Guwahati, Assam from 27 March to 09 April, while Group “B” matches will be played in Ranchi, Jharkhand, from 02 to 18 April and Group “C” matches are scheduled for Madurai from 31 March to 17 April.

Entries invited for Dr. Shova Thegim Memorial Award

GANGTOK: A meeting of the “Dr. Shova Kanti Thegim (Lepcha) Memorial Trust” was convened on 11 March at the Trust’s office in PNG Road to discuss and initiate the process for the Dr. Shova Kanti Thegim (Lepcha) Memorial award-2011.

Rates to hire cultural troupes from Deptt notified

GANGTOK: Henceforth, to hire a troupe from Cultural Affairs & Heritage Department to perform a 45-minute cultural show [in Gangtok] will cost Rs. 5,000. A gazette Notification [No. 07/CA&HD] pertaining to this was issued by the Department on 19 February. The notification was in partial modification of the Notification No. 76 dated 30.08.2001 of the Department.
The Notification further directs that for a show outside Gangtok [organizers will need provide meals, lodging and transportation for the team] will cost Rs. 5,000 per show.
It has been further notified that Yak and Singhi costumes will not be given out on hire.
The hiring rates of other accessories owned by the Department have been fixed as follows:
Mattresses- Rs. 40 each per day, Blanket- Rs. 20 each per day, Pillow with cover- Rs.    20 each per day, Bed Sheet- Rs. 20 each per day, Costumes- Rs. 30 per set per day, Ornaments- Rs. 100 per set per day and Instrument- Rs 50 per day.

Preparations begin for Baisakhi Utsav

GANGTOK: The Nepali Sahitya Parishad, Sikkim, in a meeting held on 14 March at its headquarters here, decided to celebrate Baisakhi Utsav 2011 in grand manner this year on 14 and 15 April.
The meeting, chaired by IPR Minister CB Karki, constituted a Baisakhi Utsav committee comprising of Ministers Sonam Gyatso Lepcha, NK Pradhan, MLA Dorjee Namgyal Bhutia, Gangtok Mayor, KN Topgay, Deputy Mayor, Shakti Singh, T Lachungpa, DK Khati and DB Thatal as advisors.

Bhum-Chu at Tashiding Monastery

Tashiding Monastery in West Sikkim

Bhum-Chu is an auspicious event observed at Tashiding monastery every year with great faith and glory by devotees from all over the country, with this day eagerly anticipated by every Buddhist. From the 8th day, until the morning of the 15th of the first month of the Tibetan calendar, the Thugjaychenpo khorwaledol text is recited in the lead up to the distribution of the sacred water [this year, the occasion falls on the intervening night of 18 and 19 March, and the Puja, or sadhana, started 6 days ahead). During earlier times, these prayers generally started from the 1st day of the 1st month and continued till the 15th. On the morning of the 15th, the most auspicious event takes place when the sacred Bhum-pa [vase] is removed from its casket. This is witnessed only by aristocrats, officials and high lamas. As per tradition, only three cups of sacred water are taken out: one cup is for the royal family, one for the monks, and the third cup for the general masses gathered for the ceremony.

Bhum-chu from the midnight of March 18

The annual Bhum-chu ceremony will be held from the midnight of 18 March at the Tashiding Monastery in West Sikkim.
The State Ecclesiastical Department has invited all devotees and general public to attend the solemn occasion.
As per sacred Buddhist texts and historical accounts, Bhum-chu, the holy water ceremony prognosticates the future of the State in particular and the world in general.

Fiery Tuesday smokes 109 hectares of forest

GANGTOK: Around 109 hectares of forest land was affected by forest fires reported from across Sikkim yesterday as a rare weather condition of unusually low humidity, high ambient temperature and high velocity winds enveloped the State and triggered a rash of forest fires ranging from minor to some extremely serious outbreaks at 17 places across the four districts. Of course the possibility of some of these fires having sparked from intentional mischief or accident cannot be ruled out either.
As per Forest Department records, around 27 hectares of forest cover was affected in West district, 47 hectares in South, around 25 hectares in East district and 10 hectares in North Sikkim. All, on one single day.
More specifically, forest fires in West Sikkim have affected around 10 hectares at Zoom, around 5 hectares on the Tashiding Bhir, 10 hectares on Aspataley Bhir near Tharpu and around 2 hectares of the Naya Bazaar Reserve Forest.

Cabinet grants slew of approvals and sanctions

GANGTOK [IPR]: A Cabinet meeting was convened yesterday in the Cabinet Hall of Tashiling Secretariat, Gangtok and the following approvals and sanctions accorded:

Sikkim goes offline after fibre-optic cables are cut at Lava and Mirik

GANGTOK: Theft of fibre-optic cables, this time, the coordinated mischief and impact suggesting intentional harm, ensured that mobile phones and internet connectivity in Sikkim were severely affected all of Tuesday. It took extensive efforts at repairs to allow these communication necessities to begin hobbling back to normalcy today. [it happened last month as well, click here for details]
The BSNL telecommunication backbone, into which most service providers plug in, was disrupted across the State for nearly the whole day on Tuesday.

Rattled Yet?


Only earthquakes measuring higher than 3 on the Richter Scale rattle the surface strong enough to be noticed. Nowadays, with the phenomenal increase in vehicular traffic, and the continuing tendency of constructions to hug the roads, the earth’s tremors marginally higher than 3 get subsumed in the rattle and roll of vehicles sitting on idle in the serpentine traffic jams we now know as Gangtok traffic. It’s been a while since a jolt strong enough has arrived to remind Sikkim that it sits on an earthquake prone zone, it thus becomes necessary that the State observes events still unfolding in Japan to realise that when a bigger one arrives, it will catch Sikkim unawares, the slew of disaster awareness programmes notwithstanding. The Japan temblor, even though in a distant land, has captured the world’s attention with the scale of havoc it has delivered on a country long believed to have been earthquake resilient. It is not enough to catch the latest update on the situation there or participate in a candlelight homage for the thousands of lives lost and the millions rendered homeless; it is necessary for Sikkim to recognise that it is just as vulnerable to earthquakes and then begin adopting devices and lifestyles which will keep its people safer.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

SBJM and Sikkim Chamber of Commerce welcome proposed reforms in Trade License regime, suggest longer renewal terms

GANGTOK, 16 Mar: The Sikkim Bihari Jagran Manch [SBJM] has welcomed the proposal to extend the renewal period of Trade Licenses from one year to three years and thanked the Chief Minister, Pawan Chamling, and the Mayor and Deputy Mayor, Gangtok Municipal Corporation.
An SBJM press release informs that the GMC had earlier sought public opinion on the renewal period of trade licenses. The SBJM, on behalf of all its members, has requested the GMC to extend the duration of renewal of Trade Licenses to three or five years if possible.

AIFF releases fixture for second div I-League

GANGTOK, 16 Mar: The All India Football Federation has released the fixture for the preliminary round of the 2nd Division I-League, which features two clubs from Sikkim – Denzong Boyz FC and United Sikkim FC - this season.
According to the AIFF fixture, group “A” matches will be played at Guwahati, Assam from 27 March to 09 April, while Group “B” matches will be played in Ranchi, Jharkhand, from 02 to 18 April and Group “C” matches are scheduled for Madurai from 31 March to 17 April.

“Dr. Shova Kanti Thegim (Lepcha) Memorial Trust” initiates process for this year's award

GANGTOK, 16 Mar: A meeting of the “Dr. Shova Kanti Thegim (Lepcha) Memorial Trust” was convened on 11 March at the Trust’s office on PNG Road to discuss and initiate the process for this year’s award.
The meeting decided to consider only novels, stories/collection of short stories, poetry, criticism and plays in Nepali Language authored by all levels of writers from Sikkim (including permanent residents) and published during the period from 2007-09, informs a press release.

Temple inaugurated at Temi-Namphing

The Sri Siddhi Vinayak Mandir was inaugurated by the Temi-Namphing area MLA, BS Panth, on 14 March at the Temi Durga Shiva Mandir complex.
The temple has been constructed by TN Pradhan of Temi Bazaar in memory of his wife, late Sujata Pradhan, and his parents.
After the inauguration, the temple has been handed over to the Durga Shiva Mandir Committee.

State-level quiz competition amazes with aim to engage every college student!

Bearing the unique idea to involve every college student in a quiz competition, Q-You!, a quizzing entity of a Bangalore-based firm, 24-hours Inspired, has initiated, “A-Maze 2011”, an state-level intra and inter-college quiz competition in Sikkim.
In the written preliminary round of the intra-college quiz competition, every student of the college can take part with a partner with the top-four pairs short-listed for the final round and the top-pair receiving the chance to represent their respective college in the inter-college round.
The event, which is also supported by the Sikkim Youth Welfare Association, started from Himalayan Pharmacy College at Majhitar on 12 March and has already covered Harkamaya College, Damber Singh Collage, Institute of Hotel Management and Sikkim University.
The organisers have targeted a total of 14 colleges, of which they have already received confirmation from 10 colleges.
The semi-finals and finals of the inter-college quiz competition will be held on 26 March at the Sikkim Government College auditorium here.
Chief Learning Officer, 24-Hours Inspired, Diwakar Basnet, explains that quizzing is a medium of passing knowledge, insisting that this process “should be democratic by providing equal chance to every student.”
He added that only “intelligent students” received a chance to take part in quiz competitions, leaving the rest nearly 95% of the students ignored.
“So we have decided to involve each and every students in the quiz competition to encourage them by providing such platform,” he said.
It is informed that 24-Hours Inspired was started by Mr. Basnet, who hails from Namcheybong, in June last year and has already conducted quiz competitions in various college festivals in Bangalore, Delhi, Mangalore and Goa.
Mr. Basnet informs that this is the first endeavour of the company in Sikkim and assures they will continue their engagement here.
President SYWA, Robin Rai, mentioned that being a very important event related to the education sector, his association has come forward to support it.
He stated that the state government has been doing its best to bring quality education in the state and it is the responsibility of every organisation and people to give their contribution to support the government movement.

A new section 'Face in the Crowd' has been added

'Face in the Crowd' is an attempt to bring 'familiar faces' around town and what they are all about to our readers.

Pratima Gurung selected to coach Indian women’s junior team for world championship

Pratima Gurung [pic above] from Sikkim has been selected to coach the Indian junior women’s team for the upcoming 1st World Junior Women Boxing Championship to be held in Antalya, Turkey from 25 to 29 April.
She has become the first lady coach from Sikkim to coach the national team.
Ms Gurung was selected by the Indian Boxing Federation from a final shortlist of 6 coaches from different parts of the country who had attended the India junior women coaching camp at Visakhapatnam.
She will be accompanying the chief coach of the team, IV Rao to the championship.

Bush-fire alarms keep Gangtok Fire Station busy

GANGTOK, 16 March: The Gangtok Fire Station has been keeping busy for the past few days putting out a rash of forest fires. Due to the reasonably dry spell compounded by clearing of fields for maize [in which the weeds are usually burned out], the Gangtok Fire Station has been receiving reports of many bush-fires from different parts across the district.

Textbooks supplier runs into trouble after running late on delivery


Government schools are now more than a month into a new academic session [they reopened on 07 Feb 2011] and the supply of textbooks late by a fortnight from the final deadline of 03 March. The supplier, who had reportedly fibbed excuses blaming the printers to demanding increase in rates to even flaunting his “connections”. The Department was frustrated, and even as it contemplated action against the supplier, final motivation came from the public tongue-lashing served up by Chief Minister Pawan Chamling yesterday, pulling up the supplier for the inexcusable delay in delivering the text books.
Once again, it took an initiative by the Chief Minister to ensure concrete results, and the Human Resource Development Department was in a flurry of activity today, hammering out a notice to the truant supplier and even contemplating black-listing him from future printing jobs.

Delhi High Court dismisses BJP petition accusing CM of dual citizenship

GANGTOK, 16 March: The dual citizenship allegations filed against Chief Minister Pawan Chamling by BJP Sikkim-unit president, Padam Bahadur Chettri and Padam Pd. Sharma, in the Delhi High Court was dismissed yesterday, informs an SDF press release.

Major fire breaks out at Sokpay reserve forest

DIKCHU, 16 March: A major forest fire is reported to have broken out in the Sokpay forest reserve above Lingee in South Sikkim last morning [pic above].
The spot falls on the border of North and South districts. A North District Forest team, led by Range Officer (Territorial), TW Lachungpa, visited the North jurisdiction at Lum and Lingtyang forests along with the ward panchayat, Tshering Gyatso Lepcha to undertake precautionary measures as the villages of Lum, Lingtyang and Podom of Lower Dzongu could come under risk if the fire enters the North district.
Mr. Lachungpa, while speaking to NOW!, informed that the Ramphok Khola, which falls between these two districts, should work as  fire-break and prevent the fire from entering the North district.

Denzong Boyz and United Sikkim carry Sikkim’s soccer ambitions into 2nd Div I-League

GANGTOK, 16 Mar: Expectations are riding high on Sikkim’s performance in the latest season of the second division I-League. Its presence is also more substantial this year with not only two clubs [against last year’s single club] making it to the grade, but also the fact that Bhaichung Bhutia and Renedy Singh will be playing for Sikkim clubs alongside a smart array of imported players. In fact, local interest in the teams has peaked to a level with enquiries already coming in on match fixtures and venues. If all goes well, Sikkim will explode stronger into the football scene before the season closes.
Making to the second division I-League for the second consecutive year is Denzong Boy’s Football Club [DBFC], joined this season by Bhaichung Bhutia’s United Sikkim Football Club [USFC] which makes its debut in the league this year.

Indigenous Theatre Festival to visit Gangtok

The two-day IGNCA, Indigenous Theatre Festival and  
Workshop of North East India will be held on 19 and 20 March at the College auditorium, Sikkim Government College, informs an official press release.
The festival is being organized by Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, New Delhi and (NER Centre of IGNCA, Guwahati) Srimati Sankaradeva Kalakshetra, Guwahati in association with the Cultural Affairs and Heritage Department, Government of Sikkim.
Theatre plays from Nagaland and Meghalaya will be staged at the festival, informs the release.

Sikkim’s Tibetans want Dalai Lama to reconsider

A NOW! file foto of the Dalai Lama speaking to Tibetans at Tsuklakhang, Gangtok


GANGTOK, 15 March: The formal proposal of the Dalai Lama to retire as the political head of the state and the decision of the Tibetan Cabinet to accept his resignation to retire as the political head of the exiled Tibetan government has raised a stir of reactions from the Tibetan community in Sikkim. Joining Tibetans across the world, Tibetans here have beseeched the Dalai Lama to reconsider, pleading that they do not know how and do not want to continue without their Kundun as their religious and titular head.
Emotional outcry from various sections, including the Tibetan Settlement, Gangtok [earlier known as the Tibetan Welfare Office], the Tibetan Youth Club and the Tibetan Women’s Association started coming in soon after the Tibetan Cabinet today accepted the Dalai Lama’s decision.

Hoax SMS flashing radiation alert circulates in Sikkim as well

GANGTOK, 16 Mar: “BBC Flash news: Japan Government confirms radiation leak at Fukushima nuclear plants. Asian countries should take necessary precautions. If rain comes, remain indoors first 24 hours. Close doors and windows. Swab neck skin with betadine where thyroid area is, radiation hits thyroid first. Take extra precautions. Radiation may hit Philippine at around 4 pm today. Pls forward this msg to as many as possible” – reads the hoax text message that has been going around since the day before.

Educators being empowered with ICT tools to teach better

GANGTOK, 16 March: The existing approach of “Chalk and Talk” in the education system will be phased out by 2015, with ICT Tools becoming teaching tools as the State government pursues its vision to make Sikkim a 100 percent literate state with its schools dispensing quality education. The focus is on development of infrastructure, teacher- training programmes, and now introduction of new methods of ‘improvised quality education” in all government schools.
The Human Resource Development Department, considering this very important dissemination of ‘quality education’, has, in collaboration with IGNOU and Intel, launched a new programme called “Empowering Educators to Innovate” which is basically using Information, Communication and Technology as a ‘tool’ to first educate the principals and teachers on ‘intricate’ subjects such as mathematics and science using ICT tools.

Sikkim Prays for Japan

GANGTOK, 16 March: It was more touching moment for Tatsuki Shirai to join the candlelight vigil ‘Sikkim prays for Japan’ initiated by the Press Club of Sikkim to express solidarity towards tsunami victims in Japan last evening at Titanic Park.
Tatasuki is from Japan and presently enrolled at the Sikkim Government College under the Sikkim University.
Members from different organizations and local gentry of the capital joined the vigil.

Confront Violence

Little over a week ago, a youth in his early twenties was shot outside a local discotheque by a person old enough to be his father. The violence was triggered by a minor altercation inside the disco. The victim survived the gunshot through sheer luck. The intent to kill in the finger which pulled the trigger is obvious from the fact that the youth was shot in the neck at point-blank range. News of the incident shocked Sikkim, as it rightly should, because it brought the society face to face with a new kind violence– a violence which was alien to Sikkim in its bloodlust. Violence is not new to any society, and fights and fisticuffs are not rare in the State either. The nature of violence in the past was mostly of the kind which lashed in the heat of the moment, and while the rare case ended in an accidental fatality, these mostly closed with bruises, sprains and the occasional broken bone. Most of the times, these were closed with a “compromise”. In the latest instance, the use of a gun and the intent to kill has added a new, very worrying dimension in the absence of matching incitement.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The weather in Gangtok

Windy, very windy...

Deptt to go by merit list to fill vacancies in CM’s Special Merit Scholarship Scheme

GANGTOK, 15 Mar: Two students, next in line in the merit list [who secured the 25th and 26th positions] of the screening test will be replacing vacancies created in the Chief Minister’s Merit Scholarship scheme. This, following the uncovering of a fraud played out by the headmaster of Suntaley Junior High School and two other teachers who forged documents to enable their wards to sit for the screening test and get sponsored to reputed schools. [click here, here and here for background details]
Director, HRDD, CS Rao, while speaking to NOW! today, informed that the two students who secured the 25th and 26th ranks in the screening test will be joining Tashi Namgyal Academy and Pineridge School in Himachal Pradesh now.

Panchayats and professors from Rajasthan visit Melli-Dara Paiyong GPU

GANGTOK, 15 March: A 14-member team consisting of Presidents of District, Block and Gram along with professors of Indira Gandhi Panchayati Raj and Gramin Vikas Sansthan of Rajasthan visited the Village Administrative Centre of 22-Melli Dara Paiyong Gram Panchayat Unit yesterday.
The delegates were here to understand the Panchayati Raj System of Sikkim and the role played by Panchayats in various developmental activities, informs a press release. In an interactive meeting, President, Melli Dara Paiyong GPU, Ganesh K. Rai, gave a presentation on the activities of the unit.
The delegates appreciated the initiatives taken by the GPU and also enquired about the activities undertaken by Self Help Groups under the Sampoorna Gramin Swarojgar Yojna (SGSY), informs the release. The visit was coordinated by Assistant Director, Sikkim Institute of Rural Development, Chandra Kala Rai.

Another month and Paljor Stadium with flaunt a smart astroturf

GANGTOK, 14 March: Around 70% of the work to lay artificial turf at Paljor Stadium has been completed and the work expected to be completed by mid-April. The laying of Field Turf Outdoor Series of 65 mm thickness has been underway since 01 January at a sanctioned project cost Rs 3.77 crores.
Speaking to NOW! some days back, the Secretary, Sports & Youth Affairs, Karma P Bhutia, mentioned that the work has been underway on a war-footing and was on schedule.

Short-sighted planning and poor monitoring riles affected villagers

SPECIAL FOCUS: The PMGSY Road Trouble at Lower Parbing

GANGTOK, 14 Mar: Lack of proper planning by the concerned officials is the main shortcoming leading to the problems being suffered due to the Lower Barbing PMGSY road construction project. The under construction road from Ranka Rai Gaon to Rey Khola Swimming Pool area has become a hazard for the villagers as they are witnessing irreparable loss to their properties. The contractor assigned the job is also suffering problems because the villagers there are threatening to stop the work if the destruction continues.
The problem surfaced in the first week of February when phase-II of the construction started. It was Namgyal Bhutia, a resident, who first noticed that the alignment of the road was not following the original survey which had been endorsed by all villagers. [for background details, click here, here and here]

"Jaago Re Soccer Stars Season 4" to debut in Sikkim

GANGTOK, 14 MARCH: ‘Arsenal Tata Tea Jaago Re Soccer Stars’, the national tournament from Tata Tea in association with Arsenal FC, UK, will be coming to Gangtok for the first time in its fourth edition with the zonal round to be held at the Tashi Namgyal Academy ground,  on  19 and 20 March, informs a press release.

New Post added to Urban Woes

New post added to the Urban Woes section. Click here

Women’s empowerment has powered Sikkim’s development: CM

GANGTOK, 14 Mar: “To move forward, first accept your responsibilities and then learn from history so that your future is bright because the misfortunes of history should not repeat and only you can ensure that by becoming more responsible citizens,” said Chief Minister Pawan Chamling. He was speaking at the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association [CPA] Centennial Celebration observed on the theme, ‘Women as agents of change’ organized by the Sikkim Legislative Assembly Secretariat [CPA Sikkim Branch] at Chintan Bhawan today.

Rael Chu bridge strengthening work cuts off Chungthang

MANGAN, 15 March: The road from Mangan to Chungthang will remain closed to traffic till 20 March in view of the strengthening of the Rechu (Rel khola) Iron Bridge connecting the two towns, informed BRO officials posted in the area.
The strengthening of the Rechu bridge in North Sikkim which is around 20 kms from Mangan towards Chungthang by the BRO and Army Engineering division started on 12 March. The iron bridge which had become weak and was posing problems for heavy vehicles will be further widened, it is informed.
As there is no alternative route the BRO has urged people of Chungthang, Lachen, Lachung and Saffo to cooperate for the future benefit of all.   Meanwhile, commuters are plying through transshipment at this spot.

27 year old arrested on charges of sexual assault of minor

GANGTOK, 14 March: A 27 year-old man was arrested by Namchi police late last night on charges of having sexually assaulted a 14 year old minor. The accused, one Suraj Rai, a resident of Darjeeling, was living in Ghurbisey near the south district headquarter town. He is alleged to have lured the minor to the nearby forested area and sexually molested her at around 3:30 p.m. yesterday.
As per police records, the girl’s mother has informed that the child was on her way to a friend’s house when the incident transpired. It was only later in the night, at around 8 p.m., that the victim told her mother about the incident after which she filed a complaint with the police.
The accused is reported to have absconded from the area after the incident but was later arrested by the Namchi police and a case registered against him. He is presently in police custody and the case under investigation. The victim has also been sent for medical examination to the district hospital and the examination report is awaited, it is learnt.

Finally, some reprieve after a fortnight of uncertainty

Meg Bahadur Rai clambers up to the road alignment where a departmental enquiry team
had arrived to investigate losses suffered by him due to road excavation work

GANGTOK, 14 Mar: After close to a month of uncertainty, finally, on 09 March, 55-year-old Meg Bahadur Rai of Lower Barbing saw officials from Rural Management & Development Department and District Administrative Centre [East] along with the contractor arriving at his doorsteps to enquire after the loss caused to his property by the ongoing construction of a PMGSY road above his house. [click here and here for background details]
It was on 15 February that Mr. Rai, an MDR TB patient, had written to the area MLA, Menlom Lepcha, requesting an enquiry into the damages caused to his property by the construction of a PMGSY road from Ranka Rai Gaon to Rey Khola. The same day, the area MLA forwarded the letter to the District Collectorate [East] with directions for immediate action. Acting immediately, the SDM [Gangtok], Dr. AB Karki, served a notice to the Chief Engineer, RMDD directing him to submit detailed enquiry report within 10 days.

Instigating Disaffection

A contractor undertaking a rural development work, when confronted by an agitated set of villagers protesting the destruction of three homes by irresponsible road-cutting works recently, enquired, “Who is instigating you?” Not how badly the homes had been impacted or how severely the families affected, but who was inciting the people into speaking out! This attitude, as common among government servants as those earning from ‘development’, underlines the disconnect between policy-framing and delivery in Sikkim. Admittedly, this pernicious demeanour is not unique to Sikkim, but its universality should not be a reason to allow it to pervade.