Friday, December 28, 2012

CM demands new national highway for Sikkim

Chief Minister Pawan Chamling at the National Development Council meeting in Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi.


GANGTOK, 27 Dec [IPR]: Chief Minister Pawan Chamling today requested the Union government to sanction a new National Highway from West Bengal to Sikkim to provide reliable physical connectivity to the state.
While speaking at the National Development Council meeting at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi today the Chief Minister demanded 120 km long new national highway from Sevoke in West Bengal to the state capital Gangtok to strengthen transport network to ensure balanced regional development of the state. He stated that the state is solely dependent on the national highway 31 A  and its state highways   to link growth centres  and social needs of the people and demanded the strengthening of  transport network to attract investment from big corporate houses, promote tourism and economic activities in the state.
He demanded the widening and improvement of the existing national highway and construction of a two-lane highway from the under construction Greenfield airport at Pakyong to Gangtok. He demanded central funding for constructing intermediate lane connectivity to all marketing centres and strengthening of major district roads in the state.
Mr Chamling said  that the state has 8000 MW hydro electric potential out of which 3774.50 MW potential will be harnessed during the 12 th five year plan and added that transmission network will be strengthened for evacuation of power to national grid and other regions of the country for sale of surplus electricity from the state .
The tourism and hospitality sector has emerged as the fastest growing  industry in the state and the  state aims to attract 50 lakh tourists annually by the year 2017 through well executed tourism strategy, better planning, aggressive publicity and strengthening of tourism infrastructure in the state, he said.
Mentioning that about seven lakh Indian and 21,000 international tourists visited the state in the year 2010, he said that the state will be developed as a leading domestic and international tourist destination by promoting eco tourism and village tourism during the 12 th five year plan. He added that religious and cultural  tourism  will  be  promoted in a big way in the state while new tourism infrastructure mega projects worth several hundred crores  like construction of  sky  walk at Bhaleydunga,   development of rope ways to the statue of Guru Padmasambhava ,  the sleeping Buddha Statue at Singik in North Sikkim will be commissioned  during the 12 th five year plan.
Construction of the statue of Lord Buddha at Ravangla in North Sikkim has been completed, he added.
The CM requested the union government to release the remaining fund of  Rs 720 crore out of the Prime Ministers package of Rs 1000 crore sanctioned as one time relief package for reconstruction and rehabilitation for earth quake victims. He said that the state has so far received Rs 280 crore and urged the centre to release the remaining assistance at the earliest.
Mr Chamling went on to state that the entire population of the state will be covered under the Chief Minister's Comprehensive Annual and Total Check-up (CATCH) programme by the year 2013 and added that so far 50% population of the state has already  been covered under the programme.
Construction of the 575-bedded multi-speciality hospital at Sichey has been completed and around Rs 735 crore will be spent on construction, furnishing and medical equipment of the hospital which is likely to be commissioned by the year 2014, he said. The government proposes to open a medical college in the hospital once the required infrastructure is created, he added.
Life expectancy ratio in the state has increased by over 3-5 years on average compared to 1994 while the state has achieved literacy rate of 82.2% and aims to achieve 100% literacy in the 12 th five year plan, he mentioned.
Speaking on the Chief Minister's meritorious scholarship launched in the state he said that the target to cover 1000 students under the programme has been fixed and added that so far 350 students are being provided free education in premier public schools under the programme. The state government is providing cash awards for toppers of the class XII and X CBSE examinations and is also sponsoring 146 young educated Sikkimese for undergoing extensive coaching for civil services examinations in top institutions of Delhi, Hyderabad and Tamil Nadu, he further informed.
On achieving the fully organic state status by 2015, the CM said that out of total cultivable area of 58168 hectares in the state , 8168 hectares has already been certified and remaining 50,000 hectares is being taken up in a phased manner under which as on today 39,000 hectares of land is under conversion and remaining 11,000 hectares  will be converted by the year 2015.
Mentioning that a total of 830 youth have been trained and engaged in organic activities in the state through livelihood schools, he requested for central assistance in the form of alternative inputs and resources for construction of rural compost and vermi compost units in the state to meet the growing demand for bio fertilizers and manure of organic farmers .
Mr Chamling informed that the state government has engaged Singapore based consultants to devise urban development plans and added that comprehensive mobility plans have been drawn for the state capital in which sectors such as water supply and sewerage have been included. He said that all bazaars in rural areas will be developed and beautified on the lines of MG Marg Gangtok and Central Park Namchi by providing modern amenities to discourage migration to urban areas.
While speaking on housing, the CM said that all kaccha houses in the state are being converted to earth quake resistant pucca houses under which till now 2000 new houses have been constructed with total cost of Rs 80 crore and added that 8300 new pucca houses will be constructed in the 12th plan period at an estimated cost of about Rs 332 crore.


“Strengthen civil society... to ensure steady development and prosperity”
“It is my privilege to place our views on behalf of the people of Sikkim even as we finalize perspective plans and programs for the next five years in this NDC Meet. My written speech already circulated may be taken as read.
Our vision is to achieve inclusive and comprehensive development during the 12th Plan based on three important premises. The first is to sustain and further consolidate on our growth momentum attained so far in all sectors. Second, is to introduce more innovative development programs based on our natural resources in promoting sectors under hydro-power, organic farming, eco-friendly and responsible tourism, horticulture and floriculture. And third is to build productive and socially responsible human capital by imparting best education and skills training.
The last 18 years have witnessed visible transformation in the quality of life and human development index of our people through sustained inclusive growth.
Our range of development strategies have worked. We have maintained peace for our citizens in a border State, achieved great economic momentum, higher growth rate, remarkable progress in education and universal healthcare for our people. Our social safety nets including food security are unsurpassed.
The social fabric of our people have been further strengthened putting the women empowerment on fast track. Recent successful Panchayat Elections bear testimony to this. Fifty percent seats and positions reserved for them have been filled up by women candidates. Substantial fall in poverty is being witnessed in our State. A major thrust in promoting livelihoods and skills amongst our young population is bearing fruit. Our forest cover has increased by several percentage points.
You are all aware that role of geography helps or aggravates, as the case may be, the comparative destiny of Himalayan Mountain States. Ours is a landlocked economy where the cream of development is ploughed back to mainland States. All construction materials and much of food commodities are imported to the mountain States. In addition, we have to take care of many externalities in our development strides arising out of inherent deficits. The psychological pressure of living in a border is another dimension which always looms largest.
We are, therefore, of the firm view that development of border region and states should be taken up as national projects, giving them priority and preference that they deserve. In view, thereof, I would like to flag the following issues before this august forum.
Need for flexibility of norms under centrally sponsored schemes under central sector schemes. It may be mentioned that some schemes are funded on 50:50 or 75:25 basis. Due to lack of sound resource base, we find it difficult to meet state’s share rendering many schemes ineffective;
The NEC and NLCPR funding should be more liberal to special category States with timely release of the requisite resources;
The projects and schemes under SPA/ACA of the State Government may be considered and sanctioned early along with timely release of resources so that the projects are not delayed on the ground;
Border Area Development Fund may be increased suitably.
Connectivity is one of the biggest development challenges. We are totally dependent on the National Highway 31A. We need to strengthen transportation networks in order to interlink growth centres, promote tourism and support economic and social needs of the people. The September 2011 earthquake showed how vulnerable we are to natural calamity and the regular monsoon onslaught greatly hampers our development initiatives including infrastructure building. The Central Government needs to display urgency in speedy completion of widening and improvement works on the existing National Highway and for construction of a two-lane alternate highway connecting Gangtok from Sevoke in West Bengal. A two-lane road from the upcoming Greenfield airport at Pakyong to Gangtok is also required including intermediate lane connectivity to all the marketing centres and also strengthening of major district roads.
Change in market dynamics and infusion of modern technology including social networking has led to altered social behaviour. This resets priorities and values among the younger generation. Greater emphasis on social capital formation from the traditional perspective, promoting cooperative social relationship, bond of trust, honesty and reciprocity will further strengthen civil society.
This will create level playing fields, appropriate opportunities and diversification of economic activities among young population.
If I am permitted to make a suggestion, I would strongly make a plea for those bureaucrats and political leaders excelling in their respective duties towards public service and nation building, to be recognized and felicitated to boost their morale and confidence, together with other achievers in different fields.
Development only in material sense tends to upset social equity leading to social dysfunction like anti-social tendencies among people. We belong to ancient land nurtured by civilizational values. We believe in mutual co-existence and where our dharma gurus have left behind enduring ideals for peaceful living. We have been taught that where motherhood is worshipped, there is godliness inferring safety and security of our women folks and weaker sections of people as being our sacred responsibility.
We need to create a strong base to strengthen civil society, peaceful law and order environment, political stability and good governance to ensure steady development and prosperity. Towards these goals, the Government of Sikkim has steadfastly worked ever since with good results. I assure this august forum that we are committed to efficient governance, a high growth regime to achieve self-reliance.
Finally, I take this opportunity to congratulate the Hon’ble Prime Minister, the Planning Commission and all the central ministries for completing the 12th Plan Document which, I am sure, will take the country to the next level of progress and prosperity.
Thank you
Jai Hind”

CM and Governor’s greetings

GANGTOK, 27 Dec: On the occasion of Teyongsi Sirijunga Sawan Tongnam, the Governor of Sikkim extends his warm greetings and best wishes to the people of Sikkim as per a press release from the PRO to the Governor.
The Governor’s message reads, “My greetings to the people of Sikkim and the Sikkimese Limboo community in particular on the auspicious occasion of Teyongsi Sirijunga Sawan Tongnam.
On this joyous occasion let us all rededicate ourselves towards strengthening the bonds of peace, unity, brotherhood and love amongst all sentient beings.”
The Governor has also extended his warm greetings and best wishes to the people of Sikkim on the occasion of the New Year.
He has said, “On the joyous occasion of advent of the New Year 2013, I extend my heartiest greetings and good wishes to the people of Sikkim. Let the New Year bring happiness, prosperity, peace and brotherhood among different communities of people.”
Extending his greetings on the occasion of Tamu Lhochar, the Governor said, “On this auspicious occasion, I extend my heartiest greetings to the people of Sikkim and to the Sikkimese Gurung community in particular.
May this joyous occasion reinforce the bonds of brotherhood, love and harmony amongst all sections of our society.”
The Chief Minister Pawan Chamling and Smt Tika Maya Chamling have also extended their warm greetings and best wishes to the people of Sikkim on the auspicious occasion of Teyongsi Sirijunga Sawan Tongnam.

SDM inspects Dikchu Hydel Project site

DIKCHU, 27 Dec:  Following public complaints against excessive blasting at the 96 MW Dikchu Hydel Project work site here which was damaging houses and private land holdings, SDM Gangtok, Dr AB Karki, inspected the affected area on 26 and 27 December. The Dikchu HEP is being developed by Sneha Kinetic Power Project Ltd
The inspection team also had BB Gurung [Panchayat President], representatives from SKPPL headed by TR Sharma, Sr. Manager HR and other officials, affected people and area youth.
The affected people here had complained that the project developer had not undertaken any protective measures for the houses and lands despite engaging in heavy blasting.  
The SDM inspected all the affected houses which have developed several major and minor cracks due to the blasting works which has also damaged private land holdings at Lower Rakdong, a village situated directly above the project site.
Inspection was also carried out at Chipley Khola area, 12th Mile, Sokpay, Raidang and Dikchu the affected villages which fall under Lower Rakdong ward in East Sikkim.
The SDM directed the project developer to immediately set up protective walls along the entire slide zone before the onset of monsoons so that no further damage is incurred. He further directed the project developer not to dump excavated soil on the slopes.
The project developer has agreed to construct protective walls in the slide zone within two months and an RCC protective wall from Dikchu Bridge to the crusher plant on the left bank of the river.
Apart from this, the affected people also requested for other contract works to be awarded to the affected people whose houses have been damaged and other transport work also to be given to them.
The SDM, while speaking to NOW! later, informed that the administration will also conduct a joint survey engaging the project developer and the state government in order to access the damages.

SI’s complete training at NEPA Shillong, join duty in Gangtok

GANGTOK, 27 Dec: The latest batch of 29 Sub Inspectors [SIs] have completed their 11-month training at the North Eastern Police Academy [NEPA] in Shillong and joined the Police Head Quarters here at Gangtok on 26 December. They will be joining duties in their respective places of posting within a few days.
The new posting system for probationary Sub Inspectors is divided into two categories for the purpose of posting in the Police Stations/ Investigation units and Armed Police for a period of six months in each by rotation from next year 2013 onwards, which will help them gain exposure and make them understand both the units properly.
The Sub Inspectors’ being posted at the Police Stations for six month terms are Madhav Chettri, Tara Sharma, Karma Tenzing Bhutia, Jigme Wanchuk Bhutia, Manoj Kumar Chettri, Vijay Basnett, Tashi Wangdi Bhutia, Yogesh Chettri, Hissey Doma Lepcha, Sonam Topgay Bhutia, Chandra Prasad Sharma, Niraj Khatiwara, Thinley Gyatso Rai, Shanta Bahadur Gurung and Anupa Gurung. After the completion of the six-month term they will again be sent to 2nd, 3rd Indian Reserve Battalion and Sikkim Armed Police.
In the second group are Abishek Dahal, Vicky Sundas, Jigmi Wanchuk Bhutia, Ashish Bhujel, Ugen Tshering Bhutia, Thinley Rapden Bhutia, Umesh Pradhan, Sher Bahadur Manger, Roshan Gurung, Rajiv Ramudamu, Sarad Subba, Leewang Hang Subba, Karma Tshering Tamang, and Dil Prasad Limboo who have to go to the Reserve line for the period of six months and after that to the Police stations.
It was also informed that on completion of one year attachment and probation period further transfers will be made and during the period of postings the branch head will closely observe the performances of the PSIs and will send individual performance reports on completion of each attachment.

Sikkim bodybuilders bag 4 medals at zonal tourney

GANGTOK, 27 Dec: The team of six bodybuilders from Sikkim who participated in the Eastern India Body Building Championship (EIBBC)-2012 held at Bagnan, Howrah in West Bengal on 23 and 24 December has done the state proud by bringing back a haul of four medals from the prestigious tourney.
The Sikkim contingent comprised of the present Mr. Sikkim, Arun Gurung (60 kgs) who won silver in his weight category at the EIBBC, four-time Mr. Sikkim, Suresh Chettri (65kgs) won bronze, former two-time Mr. Sikkim, Pema D Bhutia (80 kgs) brought back home another bronze and Norbu Tshering Bhutia (70 kgs) won silver.
The other two members, Sonam Dadul Bhutia (80 kgs) and Subash Thapa (70 kgs) however went into the final rounds but failed to impress the judges. The winners were awarded medals, certificates and cash prizes.
It may be informed that this was for the first time that Sikkim State Body Building Association (SSBBA) had sent this many body-builders who are considered the cream of body building in Sikkim since the contingent also has the present Mr. Sikkim along with two others who have won the prestigious title in previous years.
The competition is considered one of the biggest bodybuilding platforms in the region and brings a good opportunity for the boys from Sikkim who have proved themselves and in the process have got noticed for the Mr. India title scheduled for later next year.
The EIBBC with its venue at Bagnan Boys High School was organized by Bagnan Baghanjatin Bayamagar, approved by the Howrah district physical culture and fitness association recognized by Eastern India Body Building & Fitness Association (EIBBFA) under the auspices of West Bengal State Body Building Association (WBSSBA) affiliated to the Indian Body Building and Fitness Federation (IBBFF).
It may be informed that the six bodybuilders were shortlisted from 30 competitors from 18 bodybuilding and fitness gyms from all over the state. The trials were held on 03 December that was judged by SSBBA general secretary, Anil Raj Rai and other senior members from the association.
The six-member contingent that represented the state at the EIBBC will now have another six bodybuilders who will be screened at a trial that will be held at Central Body Building & Fitness Gym at Development Area today. Tomorrow the 12-member Sikkim contingent will leave for Darjeeling where they will participate at the 3rd Mr. Himalaya Body Building Competition slated for 28 December.
The state contingent will be led by team manager, IB Gurung who is also the state chief coach, joint secretary of SSBBA and national judge for the Indian Body Building Association (IBBF).
“We have done well at the zonal level and with confidence at its highest amongst the participants, we expect to see more medals from this event as well. I am confident that our team will flex it out at the Gorkha Rangamancha and make Sikkim proud once again,” stated IB Gurung.

Traditional Knowledge tips for biodiversity and herbarium preparation

GANGTOK, 27 Dec: A Training Workshop was organized by The Mountain Institute India [TMI] on “Field based biodiversity assessment, documentation of Traditional Knowledge associated to Biodiversity and Herbarium Preparation methods” during 22-24 December 2012.
A press release informs that the trainees were young Research Scholars of Sikkim, traditional practitioners and healers, and Biodiversity Management Committee members of Pendam and Lingee-Payong. The training was one of the major components of the project funded by Department of Biotechnology, Government of India.
The primary objective of the workshop was to provide in-house and field based training on scientific methodology of biodiversity assessment, and herbarium preparation. The training was also provided on documentation of Genetic Resources (GRs) and associated Traditional Knowledge (TK).
The resource persons for the training included Dr. Ghanashyam Sharma [TMI India], Dr. Tika Sharma [expert on medicinal plants], Dr. Bhoj K. Acharya [Sikkim Government College] and Dr. Shiva K. Sharma [Department of Science and Technology, Government of Sikkim].
The release mentions that this training was the first of its kind where traditional practitioners and healers, Biodiversity Management Committee members learnt scientific methodologies from the research scholars. On the first day Dr. Ghanashyam Sharma informed the participants on the training components and objectives and emphasized on the importance of the documentation of biological diversity and GRs and Benefit Sharing of GRs through ABS process.
Dr. Bhoj K. Acharya, an expert on birds and butterflies in the region, in his presentation informed the participants on the diversity of flora and fauna, biodiversity and genetic resources and the related Traditional Knowledge in the Eastern Himalayas. He highlighted on the issue of endemism and species extinction of bio-diverse flora and fauna in different altitudinal ecosystems.
Further, he discussed the problem of poaching and subsequent illegal trade of wild flora and fauna derivatives, which he said was posing a big threat to some endangered and vulnerable species of high altitude birds and wildlife. He cited examples such as Satyr Tragopan (Tragopan satyra), Blood Pheasant (Ithaginis Cruentus), Himalayan Monal, Red Panda (Ailurus fulgens), Musk Deer (Moschus Chrysogaster), Snow Leopard (Uncia uncia), and Himalayan Black Bear (Selenarctus thibetanus), etc. which are under great threat.
He also trained the participants on the identification of venomous and non-venomous snakes and explained the first aid required during snake bites. He added that snakes are critical components of the ecosystem and these creatures should be conserved.
However, Dr. Acharya, expressed his concern over the lack of research and documentation of insect diversity in the Sikkim Himalayas. He further stressed on the need to quantify the population of vulnerable and endangered species of flora and fauna found in the region through survey and/or research.
Speaking on the different tools and techniques used in research, he added that the survey techniques adopted for the purpose should be species-friendly. In addition, he briefed the participants on the different cultural and traditional uses of bio-resources, especially in the rural areas, which has been playing a major role in the conservation/preservation of those resources.
Further, he briefed the participants on several regulatory provisions for the protection and conservation of wild flora and fauna species such as Wildlife protection Act 1972, Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960, CITES (Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species, Indian Biological Diversity Act 2002 and Biological Diversity Rules 2004.
Dr Shiva K. Sharma in his address reiterated that Genetic Resources and the associated Traditional Knowledge are time-tested and have evolved since centuries. He perceived the need to document the plant species diversity. Urging the participants to encourage the local experts of Traditional Knowledge or TK-holders towards documentation, he went on to explain the documentation process to the participants. Dr. Shiva trained the participants on the field based biodiversity assessment methodologies using several scientific techniques.
Dr. Tika Sharma, one of the main resource persons for the training, in his address highlighted the need of commercialization of bio resources in Sikkim, as the state is far behind in comparison to other Indian states. Swertia chirayta, Aconitum sp., Nardotachys jatamansi, Picrorrhiza kurrowa and Gloriosa superba are the only medicinal plants/herbs commercialized till date in Sikkim, he acknowledged.
He stressed on the revival of the traditional herbal medicinal culture of the Sikkim Himalayas rather than depending entirely on allopathic medicines. Dr. Tika trained the participants on the field based herbarium collection methodologies. He also trained in-house herbarium preparation methods.
On 23 December, the participants were provided hands-on training at the Hanuman Tok area on herbarium preparation. The process of herbarium preparation was explained in full detail by the resource persons and demonstrated at the field.
On 24 December, in-house training on documentation of bio-resources and associated traditional knowledge was imparted to the participants. Finally, training certificates were handed over to all the participants of


It has been more than a week since the Delhi gangrape incident. The whole country is protesting and screaming capital punishment for the culprits. I am a silent protester sitting in one corner of this country called Bharat Mata where women are both worshiped and raped at men’s whims and fancies. And yes I am a woman!
The horrific incident has melted the hardest of hearts. But somewhere in my psyche, I have become a tad fatalist because I am a woman, an Indian woman, helpless and hapless. Suffering is my destiny and my fate. And I must live and die with it.
I find myself thinking about Amanat (the name given to the victim by one news channel) almost all the time. I get the shudders whenever I think of all the injury and violence that has been inflicted on her. I remember having raised a storm once when I cut my finger. I complained to my mother about the imaginary pain for almost a week. It was just a nick. And here we have a girl who was thrown out of a bus after being raped, brutalised and violated.
I really don’t know why this particular case has affected me so much. Everytime I get an update on her condition, my hatred towards men grows more intense. I find myself seething.  And I just can’t help it. Accepted, not all men are rapists. But are all men not obsessed with a woman’s body? Doesn’t a bikini-clad woman appeal more to men than a woman covered in a sari? But I must say that men, especially Indian men, are a highly evolved and intelligent species. They know how to distinguish between own and other’s property. I have never heard or seen a man leching at his own wife. But the same man will not miss a chance to cast a dirty glance at his friend’s wife! Long live the Indian man!
I just can’t come to terms with what the six men did to the girl. I can’t sleep in peace when I think of the agony and the trauma that Amanat is going through. I find myself mumbling a prayer for her in all my waking hours. Amanat is no longer a stranger to me. She has become a part of my life. I am concerned about her. I care about her well being the way I care for mine.
And why not? There is a battered Amanat in every Indian woman. All of us (women) have been victims (though I prefer to use the word survivors) of one form of molestation or the other, whether it is social, mental, emotional or physical. We have been stripped nude by the eyes of men (as one person rightly said on a television show) Dirty uncles have acted funny with us. Men have brushed up against us in public transport. Men eve tease us in public. We are every man’s fantasy. We are blamed when we give birth to a girl child. We are killed within a few days of marriage just because we did not bring enough cash and gold. Fathers and brothers and uncles and grandfathers rape us. Families sell us off because we are a burden. The system blames us for being provocative and inviting. Khaled Hosseini, the famed novelist has rightly said, “Like a compass needle that points north, a man’s accusing finger will always find a woman. Always” Period!
There can be no punishment on earth that can compensate the agony and hurt of a woman who has been gangraped, who has been groped all over by complete strangers, who has been beaten black and blue and who has to live with the scar, the horror and the trauma for the rest of her lives. I think India is the only country where men defile one Ganga and take a dip in the other! Har har Gangey!
Virginia Woolf was so very wrong when she said, “As a woman I have no country. As a woman I want no country. As a woman, my country is the whole world!
As a woman I have no country to call my own. No world to feel safe. I am just a woman, who is perpetually vulnerable, who is always a victim.
On the one hand we go gung ho about the ban on pre natal sex determination. But on the other hand, we kill our girl children from the moment they are born.
Oh Indian woman! Why are you killed before you are born and why do you have to die from the moment you are born?
[recvd on email]

Thursday, December 27, 2012

First REDRH house of South district inaugurated and handed over

GANGTOK, 26 Dec: The first house in the South district completed under the Reconstruction of Earthquake Damaged Rural Houses [REDRH] scheme was inaugurated at Tinik Chispoani under Jorethang Block on Christmas eve, 24 December. Tea Board chairman, Gagan Rai, inaugurated the REDRH house of beneficiary Anand Jogi. An official press communiqué informs that this is the first REDRH house in South Sikkim to be have been completed and handed over to the beneficiary.
Mr Rai was accompanied by ADC (Dev) Deepak Pradhan, BDO Jorethang Bhumika Pradhan, Panchayat members and officials from BAC, Jorethang and the general public. During the day the Chairman also inaugurated 7 new CMRHM (Chief Ministers Rural Housing Scheme) houses under Jorethang BAC and handed them over to the beneficiaries.
In his brief interaction with the crowd gathered during the function, the Mr Rai congratulated the BDO and the engineers and officers of the blocks for ensuring timely and speedy construction of the earthquake damaged houses. He stressed that this is a noble initiative wherein the government has undertaken reconstruction of all the houses damaged by the earthquake which shook Sikkim last year.
ADC (Dev) Deepak Pradhan expressed satisfaction on the progress of the works undertaken under REDRH and CMRHM as well under Jorethang BAC. He assured the BDO and her team of all technical and administrative support from the District for completion of the REDRH houses. He also stressed on the timely completion while ensuring adherence to quality construction and technical specification of the houses undertaken under REDRH. He appreciated the fact that Jorethang BAC was the last to start the work due to some technical problems but the first to complete the work.
The BDO Jorethang thanked all the engineers and staff for their effort in ensuring timely completion of the house. She expressed sincere gratitude to the state government for providing all the necessary help and support to the block regarding the programme.
She added that the programme was a joint effort of all and the cooperation of each and every member involved in the project was responsible for ensuring the timely completion of the houses and further expressed confidence of timely completion of all the houses taken up in the first phase, the release mentions.
REDRH (Reconstruction of Earthquake Damaged Rural Houses) is a Rs 391 crore project as part of the special package of the PM for the reconstruction of 7,972 houses damaged in the earthquake at a unit cost of Rs 4.89 lakh each. Out of the 911 houses sanctioned in South District, the BDO Jorethang informed that 101 houses have been allotted to beneficiaries in Jorethang block.
The REDRH house construction is undertaken in five stages namely ground leveling of the site, plinth level complete, roof level complete, house complete and handing over the house to the beneficiaries. The reconstruction module follows strict technical specifications and quality control laid by the Rural Management and Development to make the houses earthquake resistant.
The REDRH is a new and special programme in the state of Sikkim wherein the houses which were damaged by last year’s earthquake would be reconstructed with earthquake resistant features. The guidelines for the construction are on the lines of Chief Minister’s Rural Housing Mission (CMRHM). The construction of these houses is being implemented by the Block Administrative Center and continually monitored by the District Administration.

LP Tewari convicted in disproportionate assets case, sentenced to One year imprisonment

GANGTOK, 26 Dec: Former Secretary-cum-Chief Engineer Laxmi Prasad Tewari has been convicted by the Special Court on charges of accumulating assets disproportionate to his known sources of income. He has been sentenced to one year imprisonment and fined Rs.10,000; and in case of default in payment of fine, undergo six more months of simple imprisonment.
The designated Special Judge East and North under Prevention of Corruption Act 1988, Meenakshi Madan Rai, pronounced the judgment in an open court on 24 December convicting him under section 13(1)(e) of Prevention of Corruption Act 1988 corresponding to the section 5(1)(e) of P C Act 1947.
The former Power Secretary was later released on bail pending his appeal in the High Court.
The judgment records that that during the check period [from 01 April 1986 to 31 March 1997], Mr. Tewari acquired movable and immoveable assets worth Rs. 54,18,182 and an expenditure of Rs. 8,79,118. At the beginning of the check period, Mr. Tewari had assets worth of Rs. 1,13,152.
The court found him guilty of misusing his position and acquiring wealth to the tune of Rs. 21,78,875 disproportionate to his official sources of income.
The Special Judge, in her judgment, observed “… in the consideration of entire evidence and documents on record, the court has found that the prosecution has proved their case beyond the reasonable doubt against the accused person under the Prevention of Corruption Act 1988”.
Initially, the accused was not charged under the section 5(2) of the PC Act 1947 read with section 5(1)(e)  and after hearing the parties, the Court had amended the charges invoking section 216 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. During the course of the trial, the court examined 36 witnesses including the Investigating Officer and documents on record.
It may be mentioned here that Mr. Tewari was dismissed from office on 30 October 1998.

Fruit Flies killing oranges in Lum, Horticulture officials explain

MANGAN, 26 Dec:  The Horticulture Department North Sikkim has explained that Fruit Fly was behind the decline in orange production in Lum village of Dzongu. The Lum oranges, famed for being the sweetest grown in the state, have seen a nearly 70% fall in production this year.
Joint Secretary Tshering Pintso Bhutia, Horticulture Deptt North clarified that fruit drop is caused by the fruit fly which usually reproduces 200 times during its life cycle of 40 days.
Awareness cum training on control measures of fruit drop of orange crop was held here at Sanabung in Lower Dzongu, North Sikkim on 24 December by the Horticulture & Cash Crop Development Department North District in coordination with Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) and IPM Cell Gangtok.  The Deputy Director Horticulture North, SR Bhutia conducted the training focussing on the orange fruit drop of Lum.
During the technical session, the Deputy Director IPM, KK Pradhan imparted training on the cause of fruit drop due to physiological, pathological and entomological factors and also informed about proper treatment of saplings with the application of organic manure and other technical methods of farming.
An open discussion was held where the villagers requested for the provision of irrigation.
Project Coordinator, TT Bhutia informed about proper disposal of fruit drops after the application of prescribed medicines to control the spread of fruit fly.  He further stressed that fallen fruits should be collected within 48 hours and dumped in the tank provided by the KVK.
Likewise, Inspector Horticulture, Dup Tshering Kazi gave tips on the use of pheromone tray in orange tree for killing the fruit fly. Meanwhile, the Joint Director informed about the immediate provision of water pipe to the villagers.
Villagers from Lum, Sangtok, Tareng and Sagyong villages of Lower Dzongu along with the ward panchayat Sangtok ward Lhamzey Lepcha and ward panchayat Tareng attended the function.
The function ended with the vote of thanks delivered by ward Panchayat Lum, Tshering Gyatso Lepcha.

250 students begin winter coaching for Board exams in Namchi

NAMCHI, 26 Dec: MLA Namchi-Singithang, Binod Rai, visited the venue of the coaching centre of Winter Coaching-2012 under his constituency at Namchi Senior Secondary School on 24 December. This winter coaching is being organized constituency wise all over the State to provide free coaching for students appearing for class X and XII Board Examinations.
There is one centre in each constituency to provide coaching to students. This is an initiative of the Chief Minister for students mostly from rural areas and from families which cannot afford expensive tuitions within or outside the state, it was explained. The coaching has been arranged for the past three years funded by the Government of Sikkim through the Human Resource Development Department (HRDD).
Following the visit of the only winter coaching centre here at Namchi today, the area MLA, who is also a former student of the school, in his address, advised the students to take their studies seriously and also informed them about the facilities provided by the government in the education sector.
He highlighted the various facilities provided for the students and urged them to focus on their studies. Reminding the gathering of students of the commitment made by the Chief Minister he told them that providing better education to each one of them is the dream of the state government.
Joint Director, HRDD South, Bimla Rai, in her brief address highlighted the need of such coaching classes for students at the constituency level and informed that the government has provided this opportunity for the students so that they get polished following which they would be able to perform well in their forthcoming board examinations.
Adding that good and eligible teachers have been provided for this coaching, she took the opportunity to congratulate the state government for the recent Diamond State Award conferred to the state in different categories and in this context urged the students to do well in their life and be a good human resource for the state which in turn would help the state in achieving more such laurels.
The Principal of Government Senior Secondary School Namchi, BR Rai, who is also the Centre Superintendent of the coaching centre presented a brief report of the coaching class and said that no mathematics teacher has been appointed for the coaching and so far students have not shown any interest in this matter.
The Deputy Director HRDD South, DK Rai in his address highlighted on the aims and objectives of this winter coaching classes and the advantages it imparts academically to each and every student, he also encouraged the students to perform well in their studies. At present, in this winter coaching centre under Namchi- Singithang constituency which is being held at Namchi Senior Secondary School, students from 6 schools from in-and-around Namchi are attending the coaching classes namely Namchi Senior Secondary School, Namchi Girls’ Senior Secondary School, Maniram Secondary School, Rong Secondary School, Namchi New Secondary School and Sadam Senior Secondary School.
Altogether, 180 students of Class X and 70 students of Class XII from the above mentioned schools are attending this winter coaching, among which 3 are senior secondary schools. The coaching is being imparted by 13 teachers on subjects under arts, science and commerce streams. The coaching here started on 20 December and will continue till the end of January 2013 and will be held for 30 complete working days.
After the programme the area MLA Binod Rai had a brief interactive session with the teachers and the officials of HRDD South.

Jorethang gears up for Maghey Mela 2013

JORETHANG, 26 Dec: The final meeting for the celebration of Maghey Sakranti Mela 2013 in Jorethang was held today at the playground here.
Present as chief guest, Chief Whip Ugyen T Gyatso stressed on wide and thorough publicity of the event and called for proper planning and appropriate execution to make this Maghey Mela a grand success. The Chief Whip advised the main committee to devise a permanent funding pattern/ system for the mela celebration to avoid recurring hassles in future and asked one and all from all sections of the society to participate in this state level event.
The area MLA, Madan Cintury, in turn, informed that the mela would be held over three days from 14 to 16 January 2013. Highlighting on the programme of the mela, the area MLA informed that this time, venues for the various entertainment elements have been divided across the town and the river bank area. Mini bazaars and the traditional food stalls exhibition will be put up in the town area while all other fun, food, shopping and entertainment stalls will be placed at the river bank side, he added.
The mela will also include cultural and musical programmes, Mr Cintury informed, adding that Deep Raj Rai will perform on the opening night. He further informed that the Inter Constituency Rural Sports Festival Football Tournament will commence on 28 December.
Political Secretary to the Chief Minister, KN Rai addressing the gathering said that Jorethang Maghey Sakranti Mela is a state level event which highlights the various traditional and cultural aspects of the state in the process creating the identity of the state in the national and international maps. He stressed on focussing on making this mela a state tourism event.
Citing the example of the Pongal Festival in South India which has now become a huge tourist attraction there, and also bears resemblance to Maghey Mela, Mr Rai stressed that this mela which is a heritage festival should be connected with the tourism sector as all the characteristics of this festival make it suitable to become a typical tourism festival of the state.
He further said that this festival which commences in the beginning of a new year should be celebrated in such way to usher in positive energy and good vibes in the state and leave a good impact.
Tourism Minister Bhim Dhungel pointed out that a publicity campaign in advance would help in attracting tourists whether domestic or foreign. The Minister stressed that the Jorethang town should also prepare for adequate and suitable accommodation for tourists during such events. He assured complete cooperation and support from his department for the celebration of this mela.
UD & HD Minister, DB Thapa also assured cooperation and support from his department to the committee.
Earlier the gathering was welcomed by ADC (South), ST Tamang. Also present were Cabinet Ministers Neeru Sewa, TT Bhutia, NK Pradhan, Namchi Singhithang MLA Binod Rai, UDHD Secretary T Dorjee, SP South Manoj Tewari, DC West LP Chettri, HODs, official dignitaries, President and councilors of Jorethang Nagar Panchayat, members of Maghey Mela committee, members of NGOs and local gentry.

Man arrested for scalding wife with boiling water

GANGTOK, 26 Dec: A 36-year-old has been arrested on charges of having scalded his wife with boiling water. Ashok Rai of Gelling, under Nayabazaar police station, was arrested by the police and charged with causing hurt. His wife, injured in the assault, is undergoing treatment at the Namchi hospital.
The incident took place on 18 December but was reported to the police only on 23 December when the brother of the victim noticed the burn injuries. The accused is reported to have caused severe burn injuries by pouring hot water over the victim. The victim’s statement has also been recorded under section 32 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1892. The accused has been arrested and sent to judicial custody.

Police foil kidnapping bid, accused under custody

GANGTOK, 26 Dec: A kidnapping has been reported from Jorethang where a 5-year-old girl was kidnapped by a woman from her home. Quick action by the Jorethang police ensured that the child was located and returned to her guardians. The accused has been placed under arrest.
As per reports the accused has been identified as 27-year-old Aarti Subba of Daramdin. On the night of 21 December, she is reported to have approached the house of Phurba Tshering Tamang of Chisopani, Jorethang, seeking shelter for the night.
Phurba Tamang, who was not familiar with the woman, agreed and let her stay in his house for the night, police records suggest. The following morning on the pretext of buying toothpaste she went out and took the 5-year-old daughter of the house along with her. However, she did not return thereafter.
Later, Phurba Tamang approached the police who during their search operation traced the woman to Jorethang bazaar. The woman has been arrested and is being forwarded to judicial custody.

Pedestrian killed in bike accident

GANGTOK, 26 Dec: A pedestrian was killed after being hit by a motorbike here at Amdo Golai at around 10:30 AM on 24 December. The victim sustained grievous injuries and was immediately rushed to the Central Referral Hospital where he was admitted to the ICU. The victim succumbed to his injuries on Tuesday at around 9 AM. Sadar Police has arrested two accused and seized the motorcycle involved in the accident.

New political outfit - Sikkim Swatantra Manch - launched

GANGTOK, 24 Dec: With a little more than a year to go till the next Assembly Elections scheduled for 2014, political activity has begun surging in the in the State and in the latest development, a new political outfit - Sikkim Swatrantra Manch [SSM] - was formally announced on 24 December. Addressing a press conference, the promoters of the new outfit informed that the party was formed on 09 December and its working committee with Khem Adhikari as president constituted the same day. The party has announced its decision to contest the next Assembly elections.
Apart from Mr. Adhikari, the SSM working committee has Chakrabir Rai, BB Chettri, Sundar Pradhan, Sangita Lepcha and Shiva Kumar Subba as vice-presidents, Mahendra Sharma as general secretary, Teknath Sharma as publicity secretary and SK Chandak as treasurer.
Addressing the press conference, the SSM president said that the party feels that the younger generation is lacking dedicated leadership in the State, a vacuum which the SSM intends to fill.
General secretary, Mr Sharma read out the 14 initial agendas of the party. He mentioned that the party will not launch any personal attacks on other politicians and instead focus on providing “good programmes” for the people.
The party, with admitted Left leanings, will not merge with any national party and not accept any member with a history of alcoholism or drug addiction, Mr Sharma announced further, adding that only members below 40 years of age will be included in the working committee.
Among the promised the party plans to approach the people with is a provision for Rs 15 lakh loan free of interest for 5 years, 5 acres of land to the landless, mission against gambling and corruption etc.
The general secretary added that the party will begin interacting with the public from the second week of January onwards.
On the Sikkim-Darjeeling merger issue, he stated that the party was against it as Sikkim has its own identity and Darjeeling should continue with its Gorkhaland demand. He further opined that the recently formed Democratic Alliance of Sikkim [DAS] comprises of people who have failed to achieve anything in the past.
Opposition parties in the state are only after personal attacks but do not have any programmes for the people, he further contended.
Responding to media queries, Mr Sharma accepted that corruption was increasing in the state but at the same time advocated against allowing CBI into the state in view of the protection of Sikkim’s old laws. He argued that if CBI were to become a genuinely autonomous body, then the party would welcome it to the state but at present the party feels that the CBI has not been doing a fair job.

Sikkim Almanac for all, and some other thoughts…

KC PRADHAN, Sikkim Senior Citizens’ Society

We applaud the Department of Information and Public Relations for bringing out the Government of Sikkim Almanac consistently for several years with precise holiday information. As a New Year dawns, we crave for a copy or two as it is undoubtedly the most authentic Calendar in any household to refer to on all occasions. The irony however is that except for regular Government employees, it is well nigh impossible for the rest to lay hands on one and one has to run from pillar to post to get a copy. It is alright for the people with resources by way of their children being in Government service but for the Senior Citizens and for the general public at large it is a herculean task and several weeks pass by before they manage to get a copy.
My humble suggestion is that the Almanac be sold through Newspaper vendors or Book sellers throughout the State as a priced publication well before the Year commences. It is perfectly alight for the Vendors to charge certain extra for the service. It is holiday time, and school children sitting idle could also sell them house to house with at marked up price and earn some pocket money. It will be appreciated if some thought could be given on this trifle but important initiative.
Similar lines of action could perhaps be thought of selling all government notifications and publications brought out by various Departments. Perhaps one window sale under department of IPR, no matter which Department publishes the Notification could also be given a thought.
Another issue on similar lines there is that there is no Sikkim Map that presents an updated picture of Sikkim roads and basic infrastructure. The Kingdom of Sikkim Map brought out by Prof Karan in the 1960s by the University of Kentucky, USA, was the most authentic Map with correct spellings of places in Sikkim. A similar but updated map in due consultation with the Survey of India is urgently required especially since there has been a boom in tourism and ridiculous spellings for place names given by all and sundry should be strictly curbed. When the Kingdom of Sikkim Map referred to above was contemplated, a special committee was constituted to verify correct spellings of places. A similar action is called required as it is beyond the Survey of India to do so due to unfamiliarly and significance of names to the organization, besides many organizations like Roads and Buildings, RDD, Forests have put in a number of roads under various programmes which all need to be collated and reflected in an authentic map for the benefit of all.


This is with reference to the news report headlined, “High Court designates two as Senior Advocates”, published in Sikkim NOW! issue dated 07 Dec, 2012. The reference – “The full bench of the Sikkim High Court took the decision following drastic action initiated against two senior district judges in July earlier this year is to clear and streamline the functioning of the lower courts in Sikkim” - in the final paragraph of the news item is admittedly unrelated to the report in question and bears no relevance to it. As such, the error stands corrected with this clarification.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Sikkim adjudged Best Small State at IBN7’s Diamond State Awards

Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar presenting the Best Small State Award to Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Chamling in a function in New Delhi.

GANGTOK, 23 Dec [IPR]: Chief Minister Pawan Chamling received national news channel IBN7’s Best Small State award from Lok Sabha Speaker, Meira Kumar, at a glittering awards ceremony held in New Delhi which was attended by Chief Ministers of various states, Ministers of the states, Members of Parliament from both houses of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha and prominent politicians and bureaucrats and other eminent personalities yesterday. Goa and Uttarakhand were declared second and third runners-up in the Best Small States category.
In IBN7’s Diamond State Awards, Sikkim was declared as the best state in the country in the category of small states in overall achievements and the state was also declared best state in the country in citizen security, environment and water and sanitation categories.
Speaking on this occasion, the Chief Minister informed the gathering that Sikkim has also commissioned regular studies on glaciers in Sikkim Himalayas. “Eminent environmental scientists have found that glaciers are not receding in our Himalayas. The state has also instituted a Glacier and Climate Change Commission headed by eminent scientist of the country, Mr Hasnain”, said the CM.
He said that the people of the Sikkim breathe fresh air from clean environment and as a Himalayan State Sikkim has contributed substantially towards environment and water security for the entire region and the country through short-term and long-term conservation programs launched at the state level.
The state launched Harit Kranti Varsha in 1995-96 and has many on-going green programs including massive afforestation under Ten Minutes to Earth program, Green Mission, Smriti Van, blanket ban on grazing, ban on use of plastics, ban on killing of wild animals and introduction of Environmental Studies in schools which has resulted in increase in forest cover from 43% in 1994 to 46% at present, added the CM.
Mentioning that all development programs in the state centre around the eco-city concept to promote clean and green environment, he said that Sikkim was rated as the Greenest State through popular vote instituted by the prestigious Centre for Science and Environment, New Delhi in 1999.  Sikkim has been rated as the most sustainable under various parameters like reducing pressure on environment and responses to maintain the environment. The government has adopted a very scientific approach towards solid waste management, regulating water usage and discourages encroachment, he said.
The CM went on to state that the state has also been honoured with the first Nirmal Rajya award in December 2008 for achieving total sanitation coverage in Sikkim. In order to conserve water sources, the government has undertaken innovative programs like Dhara-Vikas to protect water springs and water sources.
While speaking on citizen security, he said that  Sikkim is the most peaceful state in the country as people live close to nature and the Sikkimese people are, by nature, peace loving and god-fearing. Over the last 20 years, the state has provided complete safety to its citizens and the sense of hatre as witnessed in other parts of the country is not prevalent in Sikkim.
He added that as a border state Sikkim is shouldering a very responsible task by remaining constant vigilance to see that unrest in the neighbouring states and countries do not spill over into the state.  However, he said that insecurity in terms of personal safety is acquiring a very dreadful dimension globally. The shooting incident in the US school and the recent incident in the capital city reflect urgency for further improving security and the apparatus available for weaker sections.
“We need to think very seriously about it. This concerns us too as women are not only home makers but leaders in their own right. Recently, we have concluded elections under the Panchayati Raj System in Sikkim. Fifty percent of seats were reserved for women and they have been elected to the post of Sabhapati, Adhayksha, Up-adhayakshya in Gram Panchayats and Zilla Panchayats. That means, we have effectively brought about positive change under what you call social engineering”, he stated.
On the health sector, the CM said that citizens of Sikkim have access to free health facilities. The government stresses on preventive measures and Sikkim was the first state in the country to provide free Hepatitis B vaccination for the infant population. Under the Chief Minister’s Comprehensive Annual and Total Check-up for Healthy Sikkim (CATCH) program, the health check-up for each citizen is undertaken annually at designated centres across the state.
“Launched on 26 August 2010, we have covered over 50 percent of our population under this program to compile the health profile of our citizens”, said Mr Chamling.
The multi-specialty 575-bedded Hospital is under construction in Gangtok, a state government plan to institute a Medical College in the premises to facilitate higher medical studies in Sikkim. He said that the overall life expectancy of the Sikkimese people has increased by over 3 years during the last eighteen years.
CB Karki [Minister Rural Management and Development Department], P D Rai [Lok Sabha M P], H Lachungpa [M P Rajya Sabha], P L Subba [M L A], K N Rai [Political Secretary to Chief Minister], R S Basnet [Principal Secretary to Chief Minister], Arvind Kumar [Principal Resident Commissioner], M L Nagar [Dy Residential Commissioner] and others were also present on the occasion.

Chettri Bahun Parivarik Sudhar Samiti felicitates Dr Bishal Sharma

NAMCHI, 23 Dec: Dr. Bishal Sharma (Luitel) of Nandugaon, South Sikkim was felicitated today by Chettri Bahun Parivarik Sudhar Samiti, Namchi for cracking the AIIMS post graduate entrance in the 7th position. He was felicitated with a shawl and felicitation certificate in a formal programme organized by the Samiti here at one of the hotels in Namchi.
25-year-old Bishal completed his MBBS from the reputed JIPMER College in Pondicherry in January 2012. He was among the 1.5 lakh or so doctors who took the AIIMS Post Graduate Examination on 18 November 2012 and came seventh in the all-India entrance exam, considered by most to be the toughest entrance in the country. His achievement is definitely a first for Sikkim, and probably a first for the entire region, including the North East.
While addressing the occasion today Dr. Bishal said that, at first when he cracked CET Sikkim as a topper and with 88% in class 12 he thought that he was one of the brilliant students of the country but when he got into India’s number 3 Medical college, he found that most of his mates have come with 100% result.
At first he felt inferior but he converted it into hard work and as a result of the same, he is here today. Here he thanked Dr. Deokota of Namchi District Hospital for his suggestions due to which he decided to sit for AIIMS entrance and cracked it in the 7th position. He advised the upcoming students who are studying outside to take suggestions from their seniors.
He informed that at present he is pursuing his MD in Radio Diagnosis at AIIMS. He thanked the Samiti for the felicitation and urged them to carry on such programmes for other talents which according o him will encourage them to do more in their respective fields.
“Living in a small state, many of us feel inferior especially amongst students from outside the state but the fact is, we have equal IQ and knowledge like others from various parts of the country. The only thing needed is confidence and hard work”, said Bishal.
Earlier, Advocate Kumar Chettri while delivering the introductory speech said that Dr. Bishal has made the entire state proud with his achievement and has proved that at the national level that we are also equally talented and knowledgeable. He informed that Dr. Bishal was always a brilliant student who passed his 10th standard with 92.2% and 12th with 88%, and topped CET Sikkim 2006. And now cracking AIIMS entrance exam for PG in 7th rank, he has set an example for all students studying outside the state, he added.
Ganesh Chettri read out the felicitation letter while the chief advisor of the Samiti, PK Basnet handed over the felicitation letter to Dr. Bishal. President, Chettri Bahun Parivarik Sudhar Samiti, Nar Hari Chettri also addressed the programme.
The proud father and mother of Dr. Bishal Sharma were also present on the occasion and were also greeted with traditional khadas. Dr. D. Deokota of Namchi District Hospital along with the senior members of the Samiti also attended the function.

USFC trains hard under new coach

GANGTOK, 22 Dec: United Sikkim Football Club [USFC] players are sweating it out through rigorous training sessions with their new coach, Nathan Hall, here at its home ground Paljor Stadium. The club will take on ONGC Mumbai in its next away match on 28 December in Mumbai.
At present, in this season of the I-League, the home club is on the 12th position with 8 points, while ONGC Mumbai is on the last position [13th] in the I-League with just 7 points. The team will be leaving on 26 December for Mumbai.
Speaking to media persons during the training session at Paljor Stadium on Saturday, the coach expressed that he was satisfied and happy with the energy level and dedication of players towards the club. He mentioned that at present the team has been going through some hard training and fitness sessions and also working on other required areas.
On the upcoming match against the ONGC Mumbai, Mr Hall said that the match would be crucial for both the teams so the home club is looking forward to win points from this match.
“Those players who are training continuously and manage to impress with their performance will get a chance to be in the team. The present squad is good but is just lacking in terms of experience, being the youngest club in the I-League. I will do my best to take the team to the higher level”, said Mr Hall.
Senior manager, Arjun Rai mentioned that this match is a vital one for both the teams and added that the players are happy with the new coach and undergoing rigorous training sessions.
Speaking on the team’s performance so far in the I-League, he said that so far the home team has 5 draw matches so it was low on points. The team has been playing defensive matches so far in the I-League so the new coach is preparing the team to play a more attacking game in the remaining matches in the I-League, Mr Rai added.
The club plans to bring at least one striker and midfielder during the 2nd Window in January next year to further strengthen the team, he further informed.

Pre-Christmas Celebration at MG Marg

GANGTOK, 23 Dec: Members of the Christian community of Gangtok and surrounding areas came together for the Pre-Christmas Celebration 2012 here at MG Marg on Saturday evening. The celebration was organized by all local Churches of Gangtok under the aegis of the United Christian Welfare Society of Sikkim [USWSS].
During the celebration, Christmas carols were presented by the choirs of different churches, while songs and dances were also presented by local and guest artists and groups. Another highlight of the celebration was a skit ‘Crown of Throne’ by The Man Called Jesus [TMCJ] group from Nepal, which presented the events related to Jesus Christ’s life.
Finally, the stage was also shared by Gangtok-based Christian bands, Metanoia and Solemn Faith. A message of Christmas was shared by Rev Robin Chettri from Assembly of God Church.
In his address, Sikkim Legislative Assembly Speaker, KT Gyaltsen, who was present as the chief guest, wished everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Speaking on the occasion, he expressed that every religion gives out the message of love, peace and service to humanity. The present government is a secular government and the Chief Minister has been working equally for welfare and protection of every religion and community in the state, the Speaker added.

Editorial: Not Just Delhi’s, it’s the Nation’s Shame

The Delhi protest against the gang-rape which has left the entire nation shocked and disturbed has taken a life of its own. The anger among the protestors is genuine and the State’s response to the situation has been typically ignorant. The gang-rape, disturbing and heinous as it was, provided the trigger to unleash pent-up frustrations of the people. The insecurity that Delhi as a society leaves women living there with and the disinterest with which those responsible to keep citizens safe deliver on their responsibilities, is now manifesting in the anarchic situation prevailing on the streets there. The suspects in the gang-rape have been taken into custody and the victim is receiving arguably the best medical attention possible in the country, and yet the anger among the citizens has not subsided. One could explain the chaos at India Gate to the disorganised nature of the protest, but that would be only partly correct. As much as the protest is about the one incident of a brutal gang-rape that has been in the news the past week, it is also against the society’s general ambivalence when it comes to violence against women – physical, mental and through denial of opportunities – which allows such perversions as the Delhi Shame which has the entire nation in a roil. The demands seeking death for rapists are an emotional response to a dastardly deed, and surely, those facing down water cannons, lathi-charges and tear-gas shellings in Delhi know deep down that their protest cannot force such a legislation. It is thus the wrong strategy for the State to engage them in discussions on Constitutional matters or extend the token assurances of ensuring justice for the victim. The assurances being sought by the protestors, as should also be demanded by everyone in the country since New Delhi really belongs to the country and not just Delhites, are for a safer environment for women and girls studying and working in Delhi and a law and order infrastructure which not only brings perpetrators of violence against women to book, but also, through quicker response and better policing, prevents such crimes from transpiring. Effective punishment for violence against women should already have been in place and by now, the State machinery should have earned the trust of the people when it comes to ensuring justice for victims. Because the State has failed on both counts, the people are left with no recourse but to take to the streets. The Central and Delhi Governments, because both are involved when it comes to policing the National Capital Region of Delhi, need to present a detailed plan of action on how they intend to make Delhi safer for women. They have not done so thus far, but this is what the protestors at India Gate and across the country need to hear. A sizeable number of the protestors at India Gate must undoubtedly have suffered the societal blindsiding of attitudes which get emboldened on a daily basis to a level where the nation records nearly 25,000 rapes in a calendar year [2011]. And these are only the rapes which get reported to the police; and even then, the conviction rate stands at a dismal 24%. The figures reveal both, the societal indifference to security for women and the administration’s disinterest in securing justice for victims. The anger on the streets starts making more sense against this performance report and now that the nation’s attention has been ensured, it is time that the situation is addressed and redressed.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

New format cheques to become mandatory with New Year


GANGTOK, 21 Dec: Checking your respective bank cheque status has become mandatory following an RBI directive since only those cheques issued in the new format with uniform features will be honoured from 01 January, 2013 onwards. Make sure you add one more point to your ‘list of things to do’ before the New Year.
The Reserve Bank of India has directed all banks in the country to issue cheques with uniform features conforming to the Cheque Truncation System (CTS) 2010 standard from the existing Magnetic ink Character Recognition (MCR) by the end of this month.
“The homogeneity in security features act as deterrent against frauds, and the fixed field placement specifications facilitate straight-through-processing at the drawee bank’s end through the use of optical or image character recognition technology as per the latest notification,” explained an RBI official while speaking to NOW! today.
It may be mentioned that adherence to CTS-2010 standards has inherent advantages as the security features in cheque forms help the presenting banks to identify the genuineness of the drawee banks' instruments while handling them in the image based scenario.
It was further stated that this move of issuing new cheques instead of the ones currently in circulation is basically to ensure the time-bound migration to CTS-2010 standard cheque formats (new format cheques) and all banks throughout the country have been advised to arrange only "multi-city or payable at par CTS-2010 standard cheques” starting this January.
“This new format of cheques will also speed-up the entire cheque clearance process since everything will be done online. The risk factor of cheques getting misplaced or lost will also be done over with. In cities like Mumbai there are an estimated 7 lakh cheques that are circulated every-day, so you can imagine the load and pressure. The new system that is image based will make transactions even safer,” stated the RBI official.
At present, all banks, (26 banks having cheque clearance services in Sikkim) are in the process of arranging to withdraw the non-CTS-2010 standard cheques in circulation before 31 December, 2012 by creating awareness among customers through SMS alerts, letters, display boards in branches/ ATMs, log-on message in internet banking, notification on the web-site etc," informed the RBI official.
The introduction of new cheque standards 'CTS 2010' was warranted on account of several developments in the cheque clearing namely growing use of multi-city and payable-at-par cheques at any branch of a bank, increasing popularity of speed clearing for local processing of outstation cheques and implementation of grid based CTS for image-based cheque processing etc.
“If you haven't received the new form of cheque books already, speak to your bank as early as you can. Banks could adopt two methods to replace the old cheques. One is to send new cheque books by registered post and ask users to cancel the old ones. Customers may be asked to show proof of the same to the bank. They may also ask customers to surrender the older ones. Or, the customers can visit the bank branch themselves to surrender the old cheques and receive the CTS-compliant ones," stated the RBI officer. Also, banks will not charge any fee for replacing the old cheque leaves.
The new system will more importantly eliminate physical movement of cheques for clearing. Instead, only their electronic images, along with key information, will be captured and transmitted. It will make the clearing process more efficient, secure and quicker; but for that, you must switch to new cheques with prescribed standard features before 31 December, it was informed.
Bank account holders can continue to use their old format cheques for another three months as the Reserve Bank of India has extended the deadline for banks to issue new format cheques with uniform security features till March next year.
However, it was also informed that the RBI is taking into consideration representations from various sectors including banks, and it has been decided to extend the time up to March 31, 2013 for small banks like those in Sikkim to ensure withdrawal of non-CTS 2010 Standard cheques and replace them with CTS-2010 Standard cheques. It was also mentioned that by the prescribed time, all the banks in Sikkim would also have the new machine installed, only after which the process will be totally usable.
While most of the banks in Sikkim have confirmed that they are issuing only multi-city or payable at par CTS-2010 standard cheques at present, representations have been received from various stakeholders requesting an extension beyond 31 December, he stated.
It may also be informed that Magnetic ink character recognition, or MICR, is a character recognition technology used primarily by the banking industry to facilitate the processing and clearance of cheques and other documents. The MICR encoding, called the MICR line, is located at the bottom of a cheque or other voucher and typically includes the document type indicator, bank code, bank account number, cheque number and the amount, plus some control indicator.
The technology allows MICR readers to scan and read the information directly into a data collection device. Unlike barcodes or similar technologies, MICR characters can be easily read by all. The MICR E-13B font has been adopted as the international standard in ISO 1004:1995.
It may be informed that till now cheques were being processed manually using either the Sort-A-Matic or Top Tab Key method. The processing and clearance of cheques is very time consuming along with the significant cost involved in cheque clearance and bank operations.
As the number of cheques for clearances increased immensely, a replacement was sought for automating the process. Standards have now been developed to ensure uniformity in financial institutions. The Stanford Research Institute and General Electric Computer Laboratory had developed the first automated system to process cheques using MICR.

Sikkim set to sparkle at IBN7’s Diamond State Awards today

GANGTOK, 21 Dec: Chief Minister Pawan Chamling who has been camping in New Delhi for the past several weeks is expected to attend the Diamond State Awards ceremony of news channel IBN7 in New Delhi on Saturday. Sikkim, sources inform, is slated to do well at this ranking of the states undertaken jointly by IBN7 and news weekly, Outlook. The State could be up for as many as four awards in various categories and is in strong contention for the best performing small state in the country which is an award under the special category.
The awards have not been announced yet and will be declared at the Grand Finale of the award ceremony to be held in New Delhi on 22 Dec at The Taj Palace Hotel.
The various categories in which big and small states will be awarded include Education, Healthcare, Employment, Environment, Womens’ Empowerment, Core Infrastructure, Water & Sanitation, Poverty Reduction and Citizen Security.
The Diamond State Awards runs with the tagline, “Honoring the exemplary contribution of the Indian States towards building a better nation”, and the organizers introduce the fourth edition of awards thus: “India remains a work in progress. But if the 21st century India has managed to grow in stature in the eyes of the world, it’s on the back of the human and social development efforts by its various states. To recognize India’s best states and acknowledge their contribution, IBN7, in partnership with Outlook, is back with the fourth edition of the Diamond States Awards. These awards judge the states on parameters beyond economic growth.”
The selection process, the organizers assure, “is a credible, multi-pronged approach involving secondary data from authentic sources and primary data from a nationwide research exercise conducted by IPSOS, the Research Partner for the awards. KPMG, the independent Knowledge Partner, manages the process, methodology and the data for arriving at the best states across various categories of the awards.” The winner states are finalised based on the parameters set by the IBN Editorial Board, Outlook Editorial Board and the jury consisting of eminent citizens from various walks of life. This year, the Jury is chaired by former RBI Governor Dr. Bimal Jalan, it is informed.
Speaking about the initiative, Rajdeep Sardesai, Editor-in-Chief, CNN-IBN, IBN7 & IBN-Lokmat, said, “The award is a progressive indicator to recognize and acknowledge the efforts made by the different states to achieve a common goal, to see India shine and to inspire other states to join and help in the rise and development of our country.”
Meanwhile, there are other programmes too scheduled for the Chief Minister.
On 27 December, the CM will be inaugurating the curtain raiser for the International Flower Festival to be held next year in Sikkim. This curtain raiser will be held at the Old Sikkim House, New Delhi.
Then, on 28 December, he is scheduled to attend the National Development Council meeting in New Delhi. The meeting, which is normally held once a year is held under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister. The Council is composed of the Prime Minister of India, the Chief Minister of States and Members of the Planning Commission. Secretary of the Planning Commission is Secretary of the Council as well. The NDC meets to discuss and decide upon important questions of social and economic policy affecting national development,
The Chief Minister is expected to return to Sikkim on 29 December.

Rolu picnic anniversary celebrated sans Golay

NAMCHI, 21 Dec: The 4th anniversary of the infamous Rolu Picnic was observed today here at Rolu, South Sikkim. Like the past two years, this year too, the dissident SDF MLA, PS Tamang [Golay] did not attend the celebrations but some of his close aides were present.
Golay supporters from different parts of the state attended the celebration, which, as per the organizers, was a purely non-political gathering. Although the picnic aspect lent a non-political colour to the event, the songs played during the occasion were composed by the Golay camp and the supporters also chanted slogans of ‘Parivartan’ while a band, also named ‘Parivartan’, entertained the gathering with live music.
Despite the organisers’ assertion that the event was a non-political one, political stirrings around this year’s Rolu picnic could not be ignored. Rumours of Mr. Tamang launching his political outfit on the occasion were in circulation, but those expecting such an announcement left disappointed as the dissident MLA failed to even make an appearance today.
While talking to media persons here at Rolu, former MLA and a close aide of Mr. Tamang, Bhojraj Rai, said that the new political party will be launched between 10 to 18 January next year and will not be registered in the name of Mr. Tamang. In fact he hinted that the party may be registered in his name.
On being asked whether the dissident MLA will resign from the SDF to officially become an Opposition leader, Mr. Rai said that due to “some technical reasons” Mr Tamang will not be resigning from his post as Upper Burtuk MLA.
He further stressed that the Rolu picnic was never a political stage. “It is a kind of gathering to enjoy the season and has been developed as a platform to take some time off from busy schedules and to relax”, he said.
Mr. Rai also informed that the name of the new political party and the party symbol are yet to be decided but will be finalized before 10 January 2013. The announcement of the new party will be made either in West or in South Sikkim at a formal programme and after its formation a huge public meeting might be organised at Jorethang, he added.
On Mr. Tamang’s claim of a number of sitting MLAs willing to join the new party after it is formed, Mr Rai reaffirmed that this was true and further claimed that some senior SDF leaders have already expressed their support to their ‘movement’.
Welcoming the formation of the Democratic Alliance of Sikkim [DAS], he stated that the decision to work with DAS would be made on a later date. Mr Rai further said that there is high possibility of mid-term assembly elections in the state.
On the party symbol, he mentioned that the candle is only one of the options suggested and they would accept whatever decision the Election Commission of India takes.

Dirty Angels ride up to help 8-year-old suffering from haemophilia

GANGTOK, 21 Dec: Dirty Angels Motor Cycle Club [DAMCC] of Gangtok has extended financial support to an 8-year-old suffering from a blood deficiency disease and undergoing treatment at the Central Referral Hospital, 5th Mile, Tadong.
The father of the child, Bhim Bahadur Rai had made a public appeal seeking financial support for his son’s treatment.
Mr Rai’s family hails from Khamdong Ben in East Sikkim and the child was suffering from Haemophilia, a blood deficiency disease. STMN hospital referred the case to CRH after detecting bleeding in the brain due to haemophilia. The child has been undergoing treatment since 10 December.
Doctors at Manipal Hospital while speaking to NOW!, informed that the 8-year-old boy was in a serious condition and the first line of treatment was given immediately when his blood platelet count (Factor 8) was recorded below 10 percent. The platelet count has since increased to 76 percent. The bleeding was stopped by giving him cryoprecipitate [a frozen blood product prepared from plasma] and is now stable.
The treatment of this disease is very expensive, since the medicine is not available in Sikkim or Siliguri. The Haemophilia Society in Siliguri has to order the medicine from New Delhi which costs around Rs 8,000 per 250 ml and Mr Rai’s family could not afford such high costs.
Doctors in Manipal have said that it is a life long treatment and the boy would need the medicines throughout his life.
DAMCC president, Tshering Wangchuk Lepcha told reporters that they came to know of the boy from the local cable television and have come forward to support him for his initial treatment. Members of the club managed to collect Rs. 30,000 and handed over the amount to Mr Rai and appealed to other social and individual organisations to come forward to save the young child’s life.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Terminated BSNL workers get their jobs back

GANGTOK, 20 Dec: All the twenty-two Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited [BSNL] employees engaged as casual and contract workers, whose services had been terminated recently, will be joining work and their still awaited wages for two months disbursed “as soon as possible”, assured BSNL, Sikkim, General Manager Arvind Bajaj, while speaking to the press in his office here today.
This announcement came after the protesting employees finally managed to meet the GM today. Mr. Bajaj had been on leave for the past week and joined office only today. The protesting employees, who have been making rounds of the GM’s office for the past several days, managed to finally meet him today, and as expected, a heated exchange of words followed.
Casual and contract workers from all over the state had ‘gheraoed’ and sat on a dharna at the office of the GM at Baluwakhani this morning seeking direct answers regarding what they see as their ‘illegal’ termination from duty and their pending wages.
At present, a total of 22 employees, who had been with BSNL had their services terminated since 15 November without prior intimation or a formal notice. The workers were waiting for the GM with whom they wanted to speak directly regarding the matter since he had been allegedly ignoring the pleas of the workers for over a month.
The demands of the employees were that all the terminated employees be reinstated and be employed either under contractual basis or regularization keeping in view their service record and the tenure of their service. The employees had demanded ‘Job security’ and want BSNL to ensure that all guidelines as prescribed by the GoI related to pay scale and other benefits for casual and contractual workers be followed without ‘monopolizing’ the administrative structure.


Joining the nationwide strike, all banks, including their ATMs in the state, remained closed today. All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA), All India Bank Officers Association (AIBOA) and Bank Employees’ Federation of India (BEFI) had called for the strike to oppose the government’s move to introduce changes in banking laws and amendment to the Banking Regulation Act.
Seven lakh employees from various banks of the nation went on strike today after a conciliatory meeting of the Indian Banks' Association with the chief labour commissioner failed to arrive at a solution.
The unions are protesting against the amendments to the Banking Regulation Act, 1949, which are aimed at handing over Indian private sector banking to multinational banks and increasing presence of Indian corporate and foreign direct investment in public sector banks. They are contesting that the amendment to the banking laws will dilute the interest of public sector banks.
All banks, other than the State bank of India, will remain closed to transactions. The unions of SBI staff, including the National Confederation of Bank Employees and SBI Officers Association, are not joining the strike.

Sikkim bodybuilders to participate in 10th Eastern India Body Building Championship

GANGTOK, 20 Dec: For the first time, a team of six bodybuilders from Sikkim will be participating in the Eastern India Body Building Championship (EIBBC)-2012 scheduled to be held at Bagnan, Howrah in West Bengal on 23 and 24 December.
The EIBBC with its venue at Bagnan Boys High School is being organized by Bagnan Baghanjatin Bayamagar, approved by the Howrah district physical culture and fitness association recognized by Eastern India Body Building & Fitness Association (EIBBFA) under the auspices of West Bengal State Body Building Association (WBSSBA) affiliated to the Indian Body Building and Fitness Federation (IBBFF).
The competition is considered one of the biggest bodybuilding platforms in the region and brings a good opportunity for the boys from Sikkim to prove themselves and in the process be noticed for the Mr. India title scheduled for later next year.
This is the first time that Sikkim State Body Building Association (SSBBA) is sending this many body-builders who are considered the cream of body building in Sikkim since the contingent also has the present Mr. Sikkim along with two others who have won the prestigious title in previous years.
The six bodybuilders have been shortlisted from 30 competitors from 18 bodybuilding and fitness gyms from all over the state. The trials were held on 03 December that was judged by SSBBA general secretary, Anil Raj Rai and other senior members from the association.
The Sikkim contingent comprises of the present Mr. Sikkim, Arun Gurung (60 kgs), four time Mr. Sikkim, Suresh Chettri (65kgs), former two-time Mr. Sikkim, Pema D Bhutia (80 kgs), Norbu Tshering Bhutia (70 kgs), Sonam Dadul Bhutia (80 kgs) and Subash Thapa (70 kgs).
The team is leaving for Kolkata tomorrow and is being led by team manager, IB Gurung who is also the state chief coach, joint secretary of SSBBA and national judge for the Indian Body Building Association (IBBF).

Collaborative effort required to arrest Orange Fruit Drop

KC PRADHAN, a Concerned  Horticulturist

I read the editorial in NOW! [“Missing Bees”] on the decline in all major cash crops of the State with concern. It was horrifying to see the colossal amount of orange fruit drop in Dzongu as telecast in local cable news a few days back. Lum in Dzongu was considered a highly prized citrus growing belt immune to any serious diseases. This plight might be rampant elsewhere in the state as well.
Though the concerned Department might be already on the job, nevertheless, it is good for the people at large to know and to launch a massive campaign – rather a Panchayat-wise effort - to collate information on one hand and cultivators’ perception on the other without trying to influence information. This should help people at large invest in a brainstorming session in which both, the scientists assigned to the job and progressive growers, can have interactive sessions with a view to come out with a methodology in the best manner possible from the information gathered. Bhutan faces a similar situation and serious research is being carried out there with the help of outside expertise. The situation is too huge for the department officials alone to tackle and people’s participation is urgently required. The fallen fruits should be collected on a daily basis and maggots destroyed before they pupate underground to emerge as Fruit Flies in more damaging proportions. The whole cycle being less than 40 days, it is advisable to take it as an emergency campaign. Though it is the tail end, nevertheless it is worth a try wherever the situation still demands it.
The usual procedure as narrated in literature is to collect the fallen fruits and bury them in four feet deep trenches. The fruits collected in thick plastic bags, the tops tied and exposed to a full blast of the Sun has proven effective in destroying the maggots. It is also advisable for farmers to know the lifecycle of the Fly (Dacus dorsalis) so that they can devise their own methods to contain it. It is learnt an “adult fly punctures the ripening fruits by penetrating its needlelike ovipositor and laying eggs just inside the inner rind of the fruit. Larva on hatching feeds on the pulp inside. Fungal and bacterial infection takes place through the puncture hole due to which rottening of fruit occurs. The fruit ultimately drops down. This usually occurs when the fruits start ripening as the yellow colour attracts the Flies.
The female inserts 2-15 eggs into the rind of the ripening fruit, and around 200 eggs are laid in a month’s period which hatch in about 2-3 days during summer and 10 days in winter. The maggots take 16-29 days to attain full growth in the pulp and then undergo pupation 3-7 inches deep in the soil. The adults emerge after 4-14 days depending upon the climatic conditions”.
Such being the lifecycle of the Fruit Fly, unless it is systematically destroyed on a routine basis, soon it spell the end of Sikkim orange (mandarin) as it happened with Sikkim Apples with scab-disease some thirty years back.
Since an Organic Pesticide and Fertilizers manufacturing unit has been established in the State, it would also be well advised to put them on the job and to see how efficient it is. In most Citrus growing countries it is regular practice to spray chemicals to destroy the flies. But since Sikkim has gone Organic, it is vital that some effective organic pesticides are lined up well in time and importantly it is well publicized besides made easily available.
The efficacy of fruit traps that were supplied is also good to know along with farmers’ perception. ICAR and Krishi Kendras should also be roped in to contain this emerging menace that is being observed in Citrus. It is also important to understand and study the situation in citrus orchards outside the State.
Large Cardamom and Apples, as mentioned in the Editorial, are other areas that demand equally urgent attention. Before such a meet is held it is important to understand the exact state of affairs on the field, the various programmes already in action both by the Department and the Central Govt. agencies based in the State, the synthesis of which, have to be combined with the stakeholders with a view to come up with a well conceived and unanimously accepted and endorsed line of action. This participatory approach alone is the answer to these rather vexing problems.