Friday, April 22, 2011

Army chopper with 4 on board goes missing in North Sikkim

GANGTOK, 21 April: An army new helicopter has gone missing in North Sikkim and is feared to have crashed. Army sources have confirmed that the Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) of the Army Aviation Corps had taken off with a crew of four from a base in Siliguri and lost radio contact at around 11.30 a.m. while on a routine sortie over North Sikkim.
The fate of the helicopter and the crew remains uncertain and a search and rescue operation launched towards the Yumesamdong axis was hobbled by bad weather.
Sources inform that the last radio contact with the chopper was when it was in the Yumisamdong area which is under a fresh cover of snow is also thickly forested. This area is around 15 kilometers above Yumthang beyond Lachung in North Sikkim.

Rs. 21.4 crore of 25 crore financial package released to 3 PSUs being shut down

GANGTOK, 21 April: Out of the Rs. 25 crore sanctioned as a “financial package” for employees of the three Public Sector Undertakings - Sikkim Time Corporation Ltd., Sikkim Jewels and Sikkim Precision Industries Ltd - which are to be shut down, the Department of Industries & Commerce has already disbursed Rs. 21.4 crore to the PSUs. The 3 PSUs will be winded up on 30 April.
Confirming this, a senior official of the Department said, “SITCO has already started disbursing the financial package and the employees are satisfied with their share.”

Bhaichung’s United Sikkim to begin final round next Tuesday

GANGTOK: All India Football Federation (AIFF) has released the fixture of the final round of 2nd Division I-league to be played in Shillong, Meghalaya from 25 April to 14 May.
As per the fixture, Bhaichung's United Sikkim which made Sikkim proud by topping Group 'A' will play its first match on 26 April against Sporting Club De Goa, informs an SFA press release.
The top-2 teams of the 3 groups have qualified for the final round. Group 'A' matches were played in Guwahati from where United Sikkim and Southern Samity (Kolkata) qualified to play in the final round.
From Group 'B', Md. Sporting and Ar-Hima FC have moved to the final round. The group 'C' matches were played in Madurai from which Royal Wahingdoh and Vasco SC of Goa topped the group. Lajong FC and Sporting Club de Goa who were relegated from the first division of I-League in 2009-10 will also play the final round.

SIBLAC ‘dissatisfied’ with NCST Chairman’s statements

GANGTOK, 21 April: The Sikkim Bhutia Lepcha Apex Committee (SIBLAC) has expressed ‘dissatisfaction’ on comments made by Dr. Rameshwar Oraon, Chairman of the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) as reported in newspapers on Wednesday.
SIBLAC has questioned as to why the Chairman, “who holds such a responsible office”, said that he would recommend increase of Assembly strength to make seats for Limboo and Tamang communities in the Legislative  Assembly on the formula suggested by the Burman Roy Commission. This format has been objected to by SIBLAC which has demanded commensurate increase in BL seats in the event of any increase in Assembly strength.

Lethargy Will Need More Work to Shake Off

It takes more than candlelight vigils and placards to register the involvement required to address vexed issues. These are tools resorted to for minority expressions; for the margins to catch the mainstream’s attention. Regime changes effected by people’s collaborations across the world have been for democracy, a system already institutionalised in India, so system overhauls here have to be effected by the tools of democracy. Of course, protests and rallies are tools placed in the people’s hands by democracy, but these pale in comparison to the power of a vote. Candles and vigils might work in teasing the collective conscience, but cannot replace the verdict of adult franchise. If the power of deciding who makes policy, a power which citizens of our country enjoy every five years, cannot force a course correction on matters of collective concern [corruption being the flavour of distaste at present], then nothing will.

Dalapchand School felicitates choreographer

GANGTOK, 21 April: Sajan Basnet, a choreographer from Rongli who had helped the Upper Dalapchand Secondary School bag the third position in the interschool Folk Dance Competition at the recently concluded Lampokhari Tourist Festival at Aritar-Dalapchand was felicitated by Upper Dalapchand Secondary School staff on Wednesday.
At a small gathering in the school premises, Sajan Basnet was felicitated by the staff and feted with khadas and an appreciation certificate.

Archers string up for NE Games

GANGTOK: An 11-member archery team is all set to represent Sikkim at the upcoming North East Games scheduled to be held in Arunachal Pradesh from 25 April. The state archers will be taking part in the Indian Round and Recurve events in the championship. It is the first time that the state is participating in the Recurve event.
To encourage the team, Sikkim Archery Association [SAA] President, TT Bhutia, who is also the PHE Minister, and other executive members of the SAA met yesterday at Paljor Stadium.

Angaalo Yo Mayako becomes first Nepali movie to screen in a multiplex in India

SINGTAM: After a successful two-week run at Vajra Cinema Hall in Gangtok, Nepali feature film, Angaalo Yo Mayako, produced by Kishor Dungmali of Majhhitar, is ready for release at a multiplex. Mr. Dungmali informs that with AYMK’s release at Cinemax Sevin Plaza, Siliguri, on Friday, this Sikkim-made movie will become the first Nepali film to show at a multiplex in India.
Indian Idol Prashant Tamang, the lead actor of the movie, will also be present for the first show when AYMK debuts Nepali filmmaking to the multiplex circuit on Friday.

ABVP rallies against corruption

GANGTOK, 21 April: The Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad’s Sikkim unit took out a rally in Gangtok on Thursday against corruption today in support of the ongoing nationwide movement against corruption. The rally, which started from the Sikkim Government College gate, ended outside Chintan Bhawan at Namnang.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Policy ready to establish Sikkim as unique ecotourism destination: Minister

GANGTOK, 19 April: “The vision of the policy is to establish Sikkim as the ultimate and unique ecotourism destination offering joys and satisfaction to visitors and contributing to the local community prosperity,” highlighted Forest and Tourism Minister, Bhim Dhungel today.
The Minister was speaking at a workshop on the finalisation of the Sikkim State Ecotourism Policy organised by the Japan International Cooperation Agency [JICA] assisted Sikkim Biodiversity Conservation and Forest Management Project [SBFP] today at the Department’s conference hall. [turn to pg3 for detailed report on policy draft]
He added that the policy encourages a “mutually beneficial relationship” between the various government departments and civil society organizations like NGOs, local communities and academic institutions.
Mr Dhungel stated that the workshop has enhanced the general understanding of ecotourism by providing a localized definition of ecotourism with emphases on conservation of biodiversity resources and also providing benefits to local communities.

Workshop brings Sikkim closer to formulating Ecotourism Policy

GANGTOK, 19 April: The Sikkim State Ecotourism Policy will be finalized by end-June and submitted to the State government for approval and implementation. Even as that happens, the final draft of the policy will be posted on the Forest Department’s official website on 05 May for comments and suggestions from the people, which will be incorporated into the final document tabled with the government.
This was informed during a workshop on the finalisation of Sikkim State Ecotourism Policy organised by JICA assisted by Sikkim Biodiversity Conservation and Forest Management Project [SBFP] at the Forest Department conference hall on Tuesday.

Chairman, Commission for STs, assures to discuss LT seat issue with CM

GANGTOK, 19 April: “Till date, no proposals have reached the Commission office for its recommendation to reserve seats for Limboo and Tamang communities in the Sikkim Legislative Assembly,” informed Dr. Rameshwar Oraon, Chairman for National Commission for Scheduled Tribes.
Speaking to the media-persons, after a review meeting with the senior officials of the State Government including the Chief Secretary and Director General of Police, here at Tashiling Secretariat conference hall, Dr. Oraon said, “Though his Commission is an independent body, it works under the jurisdiction of the Constitution of India and as per the Constitution no new seats can be created till 2026.”
The Chairman is also new to the special arrangements in place in Sikkim.

New season of Nathula Trade to begin 02 May

GANGTOK, 19 April [IPR]: As per a communiqué received from Department of Commerce & Industries, the scheduled time period for the Indo-China Border Trade is 1st May and the closing date is 30th November annually. However, for the current year 1st May 2011 being Sunday a non trading day, the State Government has approved for the trade to resume from 2nd May 2011 i.e. Monday being a trading day.

Deliver Within 100 Days For the Sake of Sukkumbasis

The Land Bank scheme of the State Government is a well intentioned and reasonably well implemented. If there is anything holding back the programme, it is bureaucratic disinterest, because funds have been lavishly earmarked and when it comes to providing for the still landless Sikkimese, plots can always be arranged. Launched in 1997, the Land Bank scheme has thus far distributed land, at least 1,000 sq. ft. [upgraded to 2,000 sq ft in 2008-09], to 1,318 people. Listed in the tasks spelled out by the Chief Minister’s Office for Government departments to deliver within 100 days, is the direction to the Land Revenue Department to implement the scheme “vigorously”. The Department is to evaluate the scheme and submit “innovative ideas” to get it back on even keel. The directions also include reminders on how the beneficiaries are to be identified and land transferred to them. Thirteen years since the programme was implemented, one would have expected the officers to know how to implement it, but they have obviously slipped and that is the whole idea behind setting up specific tasks for departments to deliver within 100 days – remind them of their basic responsibilities.

NEC Sports Initiative launched

Minister of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), Bijoy Krishna Handique, as Chairman of North East Council (NEC), has approved cash awards to the sportspersons from the North Eastern Region who excel in international and national sports. This is part of a new programme launched by him, the “NEC Sports Initiative”.
The cash awards are: For Olympic Games - Rs.40 lakh, Rs.20 lakh and Rs. 10 lakh for Gold, Silver and Bronze Medal winners respectively; For Asian/ Commonwealth Games - Rs.10 lacs, Rs.5 lacs and Rs.3 lacs for Gold, Silver and Bronze Medal winners respectively; For National Games - Rs.3 lacs, Rs.2 lacs and Rs.1 lac for Gold, Silver and Bronze Medal Winners respectively, a DoNER press communiqué informs.
This benefit is in addition to the existing ones that are extended by the Ministry of Sports and Youth Welfare so that talented persons from this region get further motivated to perform well in the sports arena, the release adds. This benefit will also be extended to those sportspersons from the region who excelled in the games held in 2010-11 as well.

ABVP announces rally against corruption

GANGTOK, 19 April: The Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad’s Sikkim-unit has announced plans to organize a rally against corruption on 21 April in support of the ongoing nationwide movement against corruption.
The rally will begin from the Sikkim Government College gate and march up to Chintan Bhawan at 1 p.m, informs a press release issued by the ABVP joint organizing secretary, Sikkim & Darjeeling, DC Upadhyay. ABVP has invited all “conscious citizens” to join the rally.

Tasks and responsibilities spelled out, now to await performance

GANGTOK: As part of its tasks for the 100 day countdown which began yesterday, the Health Department is required to initiate and formalize all requirement to ensure that the 575-bedded hospital coming up in Gangtok is completed in time and that all specialists are contacted to submit their requirements so that the construction is in keeping with their requirements. Work in this direction should start immediately and that training of doctors undertaken with an eye on the position of manpower.
This is included in the 109-page document listing out specific tasks for 30 Departments to complete within 100 days [by 15 July, 2011]. The document was released by the Chief Minister at an interactive meeting yesterday.
Similarly, the Labour department has to prioritise local interest in all private firms and institutions and depute its inspectors to keep watch against violation of labour norms in these enterprises. Further, warehouses of all manufacturing units should be established in Sikkim and not outside since the state government loses out on revenue through VAT when warehousing moves out. Enforcement of labour Compensation Act and direct employment of locals in executive posts on the basis of qualification should also be enforced, the Department has been reminded.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Sikkim figures among best performing States in Panchayati Raj, again

GANGTOK: Sikkim has yet again been selected as the third-best performing State in the country for progress recorded by Panchayati Raj here for the year 2010-11, informs a Press release received from the Rural Management & Development Department.
Among the North-East States, Sikkim has emerged as the top Panchayati Raj State, the release adds.
The State will receive a cash incentive award of Rs. 1 crore for this achievement. Further, Mellidara Paiyong Gram Panchayat, South Sikkim, a consistent performer in PRI achievements, has been awarded the “Rashtriya Gaurav Gram Sabha Puraskar - 2011” for “convening and conducting regular and vibrant meetings of the Gram Sabhas”. This award carried a cash component of Rs. 10 lakhs, the release adds.
The Minister and Secretary, Rural Management & Development Department, along with the Sabhapati of Mellidara Paiyong Gram Panchayat will receive these awards from the Prime Minister of India during a special conference scheduled to be held at Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi for 24 April, the National Panchayat Day.

Chakung tension boils over again

NAMCHI: The situation in Chakung turned tense today after a vehicle belonging Chakung panchayat president, Kiran Gurung, was vandalised this morning, evoking a strong response from his supporters who  effected a chakka-jam at Chakung demanding the arrest of the culprits. This situation held for around six hours and the situation normalised after the SDF youth convenor for Soreong-Chakung, Jeewan Gurung, named in the FIR as the prime accused, was taken into custody. The panchayat president, it may be informed here, was expelled from the SDF some time back and seen as belonging to the party dissidents now aligned with the disaffected SDF MLA, PS Tamang.
The situation in Chakung turned tense when a Taxi Mahindra Savari [SK-04-9012] belonging to the Panchayat President was stoned at around 9:30 a.m. Monday morning.

CM spells out tasks for Deptt’s to deliver within 100 days

GANGTOK: In a move obviously aimed at ensuring that the administration did not hide behind the excuse of “no specific directions”, Chief Minister Pawan Chamling Monday chaired a meeting “on tasks for each Department for 100 days” and released a 109-page document which spells out specific tasks for 30 Departments. The meeting was in follow-up to the CM’s declaration in his budget speech in which he directed Departments to get working on projects under them and have something concrete to show for their efforts within 100 days or risk having their budget redirected to the performing departments. Today, the task was spelled out and clear instructions passed for each department to institute a monitoring cell to keep tabs on all projects and tasks assigned to it and report to the Chief Minister’s Office on a regular basis. The 100-day deadline ends on 15 July, 2011.

Leverage GMC’s expanse, Make Space in Gangtok


There is exhibition [“Projecting Gangtok”] underway at the Star Cinema Hall in Gangtok detailing a slew of urban infrastructural facilities coming up in the capital. Given that the Gangtok is now a municipal corporation, it will attract substantial urban development funds and will have to provide urban facilities to its residents in a more organised and better coordinated manner. There can be no protest against more pedestrian paths and foot over-bridges, or for that matter more parking lots and improved marketing avenues for produce from rural Sikkim. If the finances allow, even the extravagance of a Fashion Street or a Gangtok Tower hugged by two red pandas and a revolving restaurant on top are fine. But when one looks at all the facilities being created in the capital, two things stick out as worries – one, almost all projects are huddled between MG Marg to Deorali, and two, there is nothing for the children.
Till a few years back, the urban spread of Gangtok was limited to the stretch from MG Marg to Deorali, but this has now expanded almost right down till Ranipool on one end and up to Bojoghari in the northern extremity. Traffic into and out of town is already jammed on most times and inserting more parking lots, office buildings and shopping complexes to this cluster will only create a series of bottlenecks which the present road, with no scope of expansion, will not be able to handle.

100 days to put ongoing projects on fast-track, realign priorities to ensure delivery

GANGTOK: A 109-page compilation of “Tasks” for 30 Departments to be completed within 100 days [by 15 July 2011] was released by Chief Minister Pawan Chamling at a special coordination meet held at Chintan Bhawan here on Monday.
The departments have been directed to accelerate implementation of projects and record all ongoing schemes along with their status and timeline of completion.
All the departments will also have to mandatorily set up monitoring cells which will report to the Chief Minister’s Office directly, with periodic updates and status reports on works being done by the respective departments. This cell has also been shouldered with the responsibility of documentation and recording all innovations being undertaken by their respective departments.

Hanuman Jayanti celebrated in Namchi

NAMCHI: Hanuman Jayanti was celebrated over two days at Marut Bhawan at Namchi bazaar starting with a ‘shova yatra’ wherein on Sunday morning which was joined by a large number of devotees participated. The ‘shova yatra’ started from the Hanuman Mandir and proceeded towards the District Administrative Centre, on to the Community Hall via Jorethang Road and back to the Hanuman Mandir.
This year, devotees carried around a ‘palki’ as part of the ‘shova yatra’.
The celebrations included a series of rituals and a 24-hour ‘Akhanda Kirtan’ which started at 3:20 p.m. yesterday and ended this afternoon with a bhajan by devotees. Ramayan Paath recitals were also held simultaneous to the bhajan.
The two-day celebration concluded with a hawan and prasad distribution today.
The celebration was organized by the Hanuman Jayanti Committee [Namchi] and sponsored by the devotees of Namchi.

Fire fighting skills reached to Loyola College and Namchi SSS

NAMCHI: The Loyola College of Education hosted a special demonstration of fire-fighting measures conducted by personnel from the Fire & Emergency Services, Namchi, on Saturday. The fire-fighters were accorded a warm welcome at the college and they then proceeded to brief the students and staff on how to handle fire emergency situations.
As per a press communiqué received from Binita Sharma of Loyola College, the main intention behind this demonstration was to acquaint the students on the operation of fire extinguishers.  During the demonstration, the fire-fighters highlighted the various kinds of fire emergencies which have become a matter of concern in the hills. The demonstration was done using two types of fire extinguishers.

Hanuman Jayanti at Hanuman Tok

Hanuman Jayati was celebrated today at the Hanuman Tok Mandir with Chief Minister Pawan Chamling and Mrs. Tika Maya Chamling offering prayers and performing aarati and participating in the havan held there for the peace and prosperity of the state.
Former MP and the national president of Bharatiya Gorkha Parisangh, DK Bhandari, also joined the prayer ceremonies at the temple.
Others present were the GOC, 17 Mountain Division, HRDD Minister, and the Gangtok Mayor and MLA.

GFPF: Sikkim’s, and supreme

GANGTOK: The Government Fruit Preservation Factory [GFPF] has recorded an 80% increase in turnover in 2010-11, raising Rs 2.81 crores against Rs 1.57 crores in the last financial year.
Speaking to media persons, the GFPF Managing Director, Karma Zimpa, shared that the factory is continuing with “best efforts” to become self-sustaining within the next one and a half years. The factory, established in the year 1956, and spread across a 4 acre campus near Singtam, has 90 workers employed with it.
The MD informs that at present, the factory is bringing out 42 products already popular across Sikkim and now also being sent to Delhi and other places in the country through SIMFED and TRIFED.

Force India to open F1 racing academy

BENGALURU, 18 April: Force India Formula One Team, India’s first and only F1 team, recently announced the launch of the Force India F1 Team Academy - an initiative aimed at identifying racing talent in India and providing vocational and academic training for young Indians aspiring to a serious professional career in motorsports. 

Construction worker commits suicide

GANGTOK, 18 April: A 27-year-old man committed suicide yesterday at a construction site at Ray Khola here.
The deceased, it is informed, was a resident of Jalpaiguri in West Bengal, presently working as a welder at a construction site at Ray Khola.
It is informed that on the night of 16 April, the deceased returned home drunk and following an argument with his wife, left the house.
The wife, it is informed, searched for him but could not trace him and it was only at around 6 a.m. the next morning that she found him having committed suicide in a storeroom.

One killed in Saffo road mishap

One person was killed when a bus engaged with a hydel project in North Sikkim met with an accident near Adit-V at Saffo in North Sikkim yesterday. It is informed that the bus was being driven by Mangal Bir Subba and had two occupants, of whom, Santosh Kumar Saha, succumbed to his injuries while being rushed to Mangan District Hospital. Other victims were forwarded to STNM Hospital for further treatment.

9 year old drowns in Rimbi khola

A 9-year-old girl of Lower Chumbung in west district drowned in river Rimbi yesterday.
It is informed that the girl had gone to collect fodder along with her friends and later her father was informed that she had been was swept away by River Rimbi. A search operation launched by the parents and villagers along the river led to the recovering of her dead body later in the day.

NHPC sponsors Chicken Pox vaccination for Makha School students

MANGAN: Ninety children below the age of 12 years studying at Makha Secondary School were administered chicken-pox vaccination on 16 April in an immunization programme organized by NHPC Teesta Stage-V Hydro-Electric Project at the school. The vaccination was administered by a paramedical team from NHPC Hospital, Balutar.

NHPC constructs additional floor for Makha school

MANGAN: The NHPC [Teesta Stage-V hydel project] has sponsored the construction of an additional floor at the Makha Secondary School building in East Sikkim which was inaugurated on Saturday by the Chief Medical Officer, NHPC, Dr TKR Naga.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Mangan Senior Secondary School and TNA win at Late DB Memorial Interschool TT championship

GANGTOK, 17 April: The closing ceremony of the three-day long 4th Late DB Subba Memorial Inter-School Table Tennis Championship was held today at the Paljor Stadium indoor gymnasium.
Mangan Senior Secondary School took the top position in the inter-school [boys] followed by North Sikkim Academy, Mangan, as the runner-up team. In the girl’s category, Tashi Namgyal Academy emerged champions with Modern Secondary School in second place.
The finals of other individual events of the championship were also played today. There were more than 200 participants from different parts of the state in the championship, which was organised by the Sikkim Table Tennis Academy, Tadong, under the aegis of Sikkim Table Tennis Association [STTA].
Sikkim Veterans Table Tennis Association president, SB Subba, was the chief guest on the final day, accompanied by STTA president, CK Basnet and the Director of the academy, BB Subba.
The winners were awarded with medals, trophies and certificates.
This tournament has been organised every year since 2007 by Mr Subba in the memory of his father with the main objective to promote table tennis in the state and to provide a state-level platform to players from across the state.

PJ Lama felicitated for winning Sikkim its first national veteran's medal

GANGTOK: Veteran table tennis player of the state, PJ Lama, was jointly felicitated by the Sikkim Table Tennis Association [STTA] and Sikkim Veterans Table Tennis Association [SVTTA] at Paljor Stadium today.
An energetic veteran player, Ms Lama won a bronze medal in 60-plus women’s doubles category AT the 18th Veterans National TT Championship held at Talkatora indoor stadium in New Delhi in February earlier this year, bringing Sikkim its first medal in the veteran’s category at the national level.
While expressing her happiness, she mentioned that she will continue with her practice to encourage younger players to persevere even harder.

Domestic abuse ends in fatality

GANGTOK: 54-year-old Jailal Baitha, employed as a ‘dhobi’ with the Sikkim Armed Police, was taken into custody yesterday on charges of having battered his 33-year-old wife, Naina Kala Chettri, to death. The couple resided in Bojoghari above Gangtok and the incident transpired in their rented accommodation there.
“The accused beat up his wife on Friday night after which the victim went to sleep. The next day, the accused is said to have gone to his duty in the morning without informing his wife whom he thought was sleeping at the time. During investigation the accused revealed that when he returned from duty at around 3:30 pm on Saturday, he found his wife still sleeping. It is when he tried to wake her up that he realised that she was dead, having succumbed to injuries sustained in the previous night’s beating,” confirmed SP [East], Dr. MS Tuli.

Mahavir Jayanti in Gangtok

Shri Jain Swetamber Terapanth Sabha, Gangtok, organised a rally in Gangtok on Saturday to mark the observance of Mahavir Jayanti. The rally of about 65 ‘Jainis’, started from the SNT Gate, made its way to MG Marg and across to New Market via Tibet Road. The procession carried placards of featuring sayings by Mahavir and marched chanting prayers.

GFPF felicitates distributors for helping post record turnover

SINGTAM: The Government Fruit Preservation Factory [GFPF] honoured its distributors for having consistently supported the unit and for helping it increase its turnover in the financial year 2010-11. The factory has recorded a turnover of Rs 2.81 crores in 2010-11, which is around 80% higher than the last year’s turnover of Rs 1.57 crores.
At a special function held here to mark the occasion, the GFPF Managing Director, Karma Zimpa, felicitated GFPF’s nine distributors in Sikkim for supporting the factory through its difficult times.
On the occasion, the MD also handed over a laptop to the most prolific retailer, Swaminath Prasad, for recording the highest sales of Rs 53.04 lakhs in 2010-11. He had done business for GFPF to the tune of Rs 40.97 lakhs in the last financial year.

Gangtokians take to commenting via sticky notes

GANGTOK: “Hope its not gonna be cramped up. Why not promote and develop a new area and avoid traffic jams,” expresses a post-it stuck to the exhibit at the ‘Projecting Gangtok’ exhibition on the ‘Fashion Street’ project proposed for Deorali.
Gangtokians, offered a platform to voice their opinion on infrastructural projects lined up for the capital town, are expressing themselves with welcome gusto. This exhibits of proposed infrastructure projects are now framed by pieces of coloured paper with comments both positive and negative. The exhibition, “Projecting Gangtok”, underway at the Star cinema hall has the “Architects of Sikkim” as curators and showcases, in extensive detail, the various works in progress around town.

Make PDS More Public Spirited

The Public Distribution System across the country is compromised by corruption, so it hardly comes as a surprise that its delivery in Sikkim is cramped as well, choked as much by muddled data as by the departmental indolence that has come to define how matters of food and civil supplies are administered in the State.
While no one minds if benefits are extended to a wider section of the society than would otherwise qualify, monitoring, essential in every aspect of delivery nowadays, becomes impossible when it becomes difficult to sift those genuinely in need of aid and subsidies from those who are already flush with surplus. Fixing accountability for oversights is already compromised in Sikkim by its small size, and rendered impossible by the adulteration that has become the ration card regime in Sikkim making identification of instances of genuine beneficiaries being denied, impossible. Sample this for example: As of March 2010, the Food & Civil Supplies Department was [at least on paper] extending BPL benefits to 70,851 families even though it has officially projected the BPL figures at 43,428 families [or 41% of the population as worked out by the Planning Commission of India in the year 2000].

Workshop announced to review and adopt State Ecotourism Policy

GANGTOK, 17 April [IPR]: The Department of Forests, Environment and Wildlife Management has announced plans to organize a workshop on 19 April, Tuesday, at the Forest annex here to “review and adopt” a new State policy for Ecotourism before the final document is approved by the State government for implementation.
The drafting of the policy document has been undertaken by a 14-member committee headed by Forest Minister Bhim Dhungel who also holds the tourism portfolio. The committee obtained inputs on the first draft policy through public consultation in all the four districts in October 2010 along with inputs from the stakeholders.
The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) supported the developing of the policy by providing the services of a Japanese consultant, Kazuishi Watabe, and will contribute to the development of the ecotourism sector in Sikkim through the Rs 330 crore Sikkim Biodiversity Conservation and Forest Management Project which is being implemented in Sikkim by the Forest Department.

Starved for some competence at Food & Civil Supplies Department

GANGTOK: The Performance Review of the management of the Public Distribution System by the Food & Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Department records that the Department has done a “commendable job” in catering to the 70,851 below poverty line beneficiaries and 4,30,547 APL beneficiaries in Sikkim. The performance review audit included in the Report of Comptroller and Auditor General of India [for Sikkim for the year ended 31 March 2010], however, then proceeds to tear into the incompetence which marks the Department and holds back the schemes from delivering on their full potential. Since Sikkim is a food-deficit State, it depends heavily on the universally accepted as inefficient FCI and maintains no buffer stock, making the absence of competence in the Food & Civil Supplies Department even more potentially damaging.
The public distribution system has been created to ensure food security and since subsidised foodgrains are also released through it, the need for this list to be authentic is important. The Department admitted way back in 2008 that the BPL list had deficiencies, but has done nothing to correct it. Some 70,851 families were receiving PDS benefits under different BPL schemes in Sikkim and the Department continues to hold on to it despite another agency of the Government having projected the number of BPL families at 21,618 [way back in 2006].

Reaching Barsey, through Rain and Hail

WITH A YEAR having passed since the ‘green caps’ took over Singba [in North Sikkim] with the then acting Governor, MK Narayan, inaugurating the International Rhododendron Festival, time has come for its concluding phase. Well, what would have been a more apt spot than the Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary as the venue for a send off to the yearlong IRF in Sikkim?
A walk from Hilley to Barsey on 12 April thus began high on energy and riding on expectations, only to be dulled by the persistent rain which inundated the entire hike. On Ram Nawami, Barsey remained soaked with thunder showers and intermittent hailstones. The recently widened trekker’s trail connecting Hilley to Barsey was worst for the rain, with the rushing water bringing down fresh mud to layer the cemented trail. Progress was sluggish.