Thursday, January 19, 2012

CM to chair meeting to nominate Rajya Sabha candidate on Thursday

GANGTOK, 18 Jan: The Chief Minister, Pawan Chamling today arrived at Rangpo at around 5 pm after almost a month long sojourn. He was received by a huge crowd comprising SDF party supporters and officials. Also present was Area MLA and Industries Minister, Neeru Sewa. Arriving at the Rangpo tourist lodge, there were khadas from various sections of the society including the business community for the CM; the CM had a brief halt at the Rangpo tourist lodge before taking off for Gangtok.
The most immediate activity for the Chief Minister and the SDF party is the upcoming legislator’s meeting scheduled for tomorrow. SDF party sources informed that the legislator’s meeting has been scheduled in time with the arrival of the party president and CM and it is during this meeting that the party candidate or nominee for the lone Rajya Sabha seat will be finalized and declared. SDF party sources stated that it is likely that the name of the Rajya Sabha candidate, once finalized, will be released to the press tomorrow itself. The last date of filing nominations for the lone RS seat is 20 January.

Tea seller murdered at Jorethang Bazaar

JORETHANG, 18 Jan: The most awaited extravaganza of Jorethang, South Sikkim in the very beginning of this year has been marred with the murder of one 36 year-old tea seller last evening.
Illegal activities and minor crimes have always found their way during the Jorethang Maghey Mela but this time it has resulted in the loss of one life. Last evening one of the locals noticed a man lying behind Zyka hotel at Jorethang Bazaar and informed the police. However, when the police reached the spot the man had already bled to death as he had been attacked with a sharp weapon on the left side of his chest and also on his stomach.
The victim was later identified as 36-year-old C Charandas of Chayanpara, Siliguri, a tea seller by profession who was here at the mela to earn some money. The police suspect loot to be the cause behind the murder.
The body of the victim was taken to Namchi District Hospital for autopsy while the police have registered a case of murder against unknown persons under section 302 of IPC at Jorethang PS and investigation has begun. No arrest has been made so far in this connection and at present the police are interrogating persons with previous criminal records.

3.4 magnitude tremor felt in the capital

GANGTOK, 18 Jan: A strong tremor that lasted just a few seconds was felt in the capital this evening at around 7:43 PM. The tremor was also felt by people in North Sikkim, it is learnt.
As per the India Meteorological Department website, the slight intensity earthquake of 3.4 Richter scale had its epicenter at Lat. 27.3°N Long. 88.5°E.

Six Sikkim paddlers to represent state in the Senior Nationals

GANGTOK, 18 Jan: A six-member team of Sikkim Table Tennis Association [STTA] is all set to represent Sikkim in the Senior National Tournament scheduled to be held at Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh from 23 to 29 January. The tournament is being organized by the Lucknow Table Tennis Organization.
STTA has shortlisted Karun Chettri, Manoj Sharma, Ujjwal Rai, Kalzang Bhutia, Anita Rai and Mandira Gurung to represent the state in a selection camp held here at Paljor Stadium indoor gymnasium hall today. The team accompanied by Tshering Topgay as team manager will be leaving on Friday.
The names of the state team members were announced during a STTA press conference this afternoon, which was addressed by vice-president, Uday Pradhan, joint secretary, Tshering Topgay, general secretary, Karma Bhutia and publicity secretary, Zigmee Shenga and state coach, Norden Bhutia.
General Secretary, Mr Bhutia stated that the STTA has been providing full support to the players in all aspects to encourage players to perform well in the tournament. He also stated that the credit for the good performance of the players goes to the coach, who has been training them every day. He stated that participation in such tournaments is very important to increase the ranking and also its certificate helps the paddlers to get admission in the best colleges in the future.
Coach, Mr Bhutia further added that the players have been given an opportunity, so they should make good use of it and it offers big exposure for the junior players.
Team Manager, Mr Bhutia stated that the tournament will be tough for the state team as it is also a selection trial for the Indian team. He informed that at present Sikkim stands on the third position in the whole North-East region. He informed that apart from Ujjwal Rai, who is from North Sikkim, rest of the team members are from East Sikkim.

Editorial: More Suicides...

Today’s edition carries news of two suicides reported in the preceding 24 hours. In separate incidents, two youth in their thirties joined the list of lives lost to suicide in Sikkim. Two more casualties to a continuing concern explain the return to this theme in this section yet again. Rarely does a newspaper hit the stands in Sikkim without news of a suicide reported from somewhere in Sikkim. Given the lack of public response, whether by way of outcry or introduction of NGOs dedicated to arresting suicides, one is almost convinced that a public domain fatigue has set in due to suicide reportage over-kill. But that cannot be, because fatigue sets in only after exertion, and nothing significant has been attempted by the society, its organisations or the government for anyone to have tired and given up. Meanwhile, the trend of suicides continues to grow worrying. From teenagers to senior citizens to youth at career-making ages to housewives who have only barely begun a life of domesticity... too many cases of ‘unnatural deaths’ [“UD” as all suicides are included first in police records] are getting recorded without anyone, anywhere doing anything about it.
Already, the time to express concern or bill general awareness programmes is past. What is required is a concerted investigation into why so many people are ending their own lives. The State needs counselling that percolates deeper, reaches more people than can be collected for official functions. Get real, how many people with suicidal tendencies can one find in an ‘awareness session-cum-workshop’ on suicides which prioritises the VIP list of chief guests and hangers-ons over effective communication? And no, worries and setbacks alone are never enough reasons for people to kill themselves; suicides result mostly from ignored psychiatric ailments. A jobless person will more easily turn to crime or even substance abuse than end his/ her own life. There is also no time left to engage in a political relay of allegations and counter-allegations on why so many suicides take place in Sikkim and what is causing it. For the record, none of the statements on suicides coming from the politically inclined reflects any iota of sensitivity or genuine concern.
The need of the hour is to get more experts, groom more counsellors, involve more genuine NGOs and sensitize the panchayats. Then Sikkim will be seen as going somewhere with its attempts to curtail this social malaise.

State Junior Boys football team to participate at the 48th Junior Nationals

GANGTOK, 18 Jan: The Sikkim Football Association (SFA) has sent a 24-member Junior Boys Football team to participate in the 48th Junior National Football Championship for Dr. B.C. Roy Memorial Trophy 2012 to be held at Cuttack, Orissa from 19 Jan 2012.
The tournament is being organised by the All India Football Federation. In the preliminary round, Sikkim has been placed in cluster "A" along with Chhattisgarh, Gujarat and Jammu & Kashmir. While Sikkim will play their first match on 19 Jan against J & K, their second match is against Chhattisgarh on 21 Jan and their third match is on 23 Jan against Gujarat, informs an SFA release.
A 15-day coaching camp for the championship was conducted at Paljor Stadium, Gangtok. The team will be led by Manager, Norbu Sherpa and its captain Kinthup Ongpo Lachungpa.
The team comprises of Gyurmit Gyatso, Kumar Chhetri, Dawa Lhendup Sherpa, Nikhil Raj Rai, Sonam Tshering Bhutia, Naresh Chhetri, Roshan Pradhan, Chandra Tamang, Pema Tamang, Chewang Zangpo, Bijay Mukhia, Jorthing Lepcha, Kinthup Ongpo Lachungpa, Amos Thapa, Nabin Gurung, Bikash Pradhan, Sunny Rai, Ram Chhetri, Suman Rai, Bikram Lohar, Sujit Rawat and Anup Rai.
While releasing the final list of players to the media at Paljor Stadium, Gangtok today, Mr Menla Ethenpa, General Secretary, SFA said that he is grateful to Nima Thendup and his colleagues for imparting coaching to these boys before leaving for the tournament, the release informs. He said that SFA has high expectations from these boys to perform well in the tournament.
President, SFA, BK Roka has also extended his good wishes to the team, the release adds.

High meat yielding breed of goats distributed in South Sikkim

NAMCHI, 18 Jan: The Animal Husbandry Department distributed 120 goats to 30 farmers of Temi-Namphing and Namthang-Rateypani here at the Namchi Veterinary ground under the scheme of High Meat Yielding Goat Distribution programme today.
A total of 15 beneficiaries were selected from each constituency and provided with 4 female goats of high yielding breed. Namchi Municipal Council Chairman, BT Tamang, present as the chief guest of the programme, expressed that although the government has launched many programmes and schemes for farmers, they have not been able to take full advantage due to lack of awareness. He congratulated all the beneficiaries and urged them to utilize the benefit provided to generate income in the future.
Director AH, LF &VS, Tika Lucksom in his address informed that the total requirement of cheval (mutton) meat in our state is around 5663 metric tonnes but our production is only 901 metric tonnes which means that there is huge potential for goat rearing in our state. Stating that the government has initiated many schemes through the AH, LF &VS Department, the Director expressed his dissatisfaction over the farmers not being able to take full advantage of these schemes.
He further informed that during his visits to different villages he found that the high yielding cows provided to the farmers along with other schemes had been carelessly misused by the farmers. The schemes introduced by the government are for uplifting farmers but they take it as a one time benefit which fails the whole scheme and programme of the government, he added.
He further urged all farmers to cooperate with the government and make proper use of the scheme.
JD South, Dr. DK Pradhan delivering his welcome address informed that they had brought these high yielding breed of goats from different parts of West Bengal at the cost of Rs 9000 each and require proper care for deriving long term benefits.
A short training programme for the beneficiaries was also conducted by Deputy Director, Karfectar Dr. Tilak Sunar.

Two suicides

GANGTOK, 18 Jan: Two cases of Unnatural Death [UD] have been reported from Temi and Rongli police stations on 17 January.
According to a written report filed by Kamal Singh Tamang of Todhay Bermiok stating that his younger brother aged 33 years had gone to the jungle to collect fodder for cattle at around 11 a.m. but when he did not return till 12 in the noon a search was conducted and his body was found hanging from a tree in the nearby field.
While a written FIR filed by Madan Tamang of Bowchen in East Sikkim stated that on 16 January at around 4 p.m. his brother-in-law had gone out of the house and did not return. The complainant and his sister Sunita Tamang enquired about him but were not able to trace him.
In the morning of 17 January, he was found to have committed suicideby hanging in his own cardamom field at Kyonshing Bowchen.

Two arrested in Jorethang

GANGTOK, 18 Jan: Two persons were arrested by the Jorethang police for being in possession of contraband substances.
Acting on information from sources, Buddha Rai [28], resident of Majigaon, Jorethang was arrested by Jorethang police and was found to be in possession of 62 loose capsules of Spasmo Proxyvon, while Adarsh Gurung [21], resident of Chisopani, South Sikkim found loitering around at the football playground at Jorethang was also arrested. The police recovered six files [133 capsules] of Spasmo Proxyvon from Gurung.
Both have been arrested by the Jorethang police and booked under section 9/14 of Sikkim Anti-Drugs Act.

Labour Deptt conducts workshop on BOC Workers Acts

GANGTOK, 18 Jan: The Labour Department organized a seminar /workshop at the work site under Lanco InfoTech at Singtam, Sirwani today. The main aim of the programme was to educate the workers regarding their rights, duties and benefits under the various labour laws, informs a press release.
The programme was attended by, Dy Commissioner, Labour Department, DS Kunwar, Labour Inspector, Tashi Pintso Mapen, the Project head and other officers of the project.
The Dy. Commisioner highlighted and also directed the principal employers and contractors regarding deduction of 1% cess from the total estimated cost of construction as per section 3 of the Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation) of Employment and Conditions of Service Act, 1996 and BOC Workers Welfare Cess Act 1996 and under the directives of the Supreme Court of India, the release mentions. He informed that such kind of programmes will also be held in other districts for the registered workers.
The chief guest, member of Sikkim Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board, Hari Chettri, stressed on registration of workers under the Act and appealed to the workers to come forward and learn about their rights.
Under the provisions of the Act, the Labour Department distributed one woollen blanket and a hot case each to the 269 registered workers in the programme, the release adds.

State-level workshop on Dhara Vikash Programme held

GANGTOK, 18 Jan: The state-level workshop on ‘Experience Sharing on Local Water Governance and Dhara Vikash Programme’ was held here at Janta Bhawan today. In the workshop, the officials and representatives from The Mountain Institute-India [TMI-India] and Rural Management & Development Department [RMDD] shared their experiences and achievements so far in their water related projects at different parts of the state.  They also spoke on local water governance, challenges and future strategies to address various issues and problems.
The workshop was organized by TMI-India in collaboration with RMDD and was funded by Arghyam.
RMDD Minister, CB Karki, present as the chief guest at the programme, stated that water scarcity has become an important issue for the whole world and that even the Chief Minister has given priority to water and food security in the state. He directed the concerned department to work in this regard to prepare the state to face future challenges.
Mr Karki informed that RMDD has been working for water and environment security across the state and has been working to revive and preserve water resources in the state. He stated that everyone has to work together in the Dhara Vikash programme, lake development and preservation initiatives.
He also added that the department issues guidelines to work on these initiatives and that people should participate fully for the preservation and development of water sources and for local water governance.
The Minister also stressed on storage of water and to utilize it in a proper way further adding that the collection of related data and working in a scientific way is important for future initiatives.
Dr Ghanashyam Sharma from TMI-India gave his presentation on the TMI-India implemented project, ‘Provision of safe domestic water through sustainable development and management of water sources in rural areas of East and South Sikkim’. The project implementation began in February 2010 in convergence with MG NREGA Dhara Vikash initiative of the State Rural Management and Development Department.
It was informed that the project seeks to address the issues related to drinking water and sanitation through survey, documentation, awareness generation and subsequent support from concerned government departments in the three GPUs namely Linkey-Tareythang GPU in East Sikkim, and Sumbuk-Kartikey and Lunchok-Kameray GPUs in South Sikkim.
Informing about the various activities at their project sites, Dr Sharma said that micro planning was done to learn about water related problems in different areas including sanitation problems and reported to the concerned BDOs. He also informed that TMI has been studying 170 springs and it was found that many have dried up in the last 5 years. He further informed that TMI is studying both seasonal and perennial springs.
TMI has also provided trainings and inputs to barefoot engineers while other activities are also underway, Dr Sharma said. Ground water recharge measures and spring disappearances are some important challenges that need to be addressed, he further added.
RMDD Special Secretary, Dr Sandeep Tambe said that securing water resources and sources are important for the state. He informed that the Dhara Vikash project and recharging of lakes have proved successful at different parts of the state in reviving and protecting water sources.
Likewise, Field Facilitator of Kaluk BAC, Pem Norbu presented the success story of Dhara Vikash programme in Kaluk in West Sikkim and Temi BAC Field Facilitator also shared the success of Dhara Vikash in his area.

After dark high intensity blasts lead to complaints against Shiga Energy


GANGTOK, 17 Jan: West District police have arrested two persons on charges of attempting to burn down machinery and vehicles belonging to a power developer at Tashiding in West Sikkim. The police action was initiated after a complaint was lodged by Shiga Energy Projects, engaged in tunneling works at the Tashiding HEP, after their property was allegedly attacked by persons said to be belonging to the association called “Save Sikkim” which has been lobbying for the scrapping of three hydel projects in West Sikkim - Tashiding, Lethang and Ting Ting hydro electric projects. The duo - Yapchung Bhutia and Prabhu Ram Chettri, both from Sakyong village - was arrested by the Gyalshing police today, both informed to be of Sakyong. Another accused, Milan Subba, is yet to be apprehended.
At the same time it has also been learnt that the three had also approached the SP and the DC, West, a few days ago with complaints regarding the tunneling works being undertaken by Shiga Energy.
The three are alleged to have trespassed into the tunnels at the Tashiding project site, namely Adits II and III, on the night of 15 January. This, the complaint against them states, they did twice, once at 4:30 pm and then again at around 11:30 pm the same night. They are then alleged to have proceeded to damage equipment belonging to Shiga Energy Projects and in the process three heavy vehicles of the company were damaged along with machinery which includes a boomer and a compressor used in tunneling works.
Police source add that the trio is also accused of having set fire to the vehicles and machinery, but that this was quickly doused by the security personnel engaged at the project site. The security personnel, it is reported, identified the 3 as belonging to Sakyong village which lies above the construction site.
Interestingly, police also informed that it was this same group which had approached them with complaints against Shiga a few days ago with regard to blasting works being carried out at night. In fact blasting works at the tunnel are undertaken throughout the day and night as well. However night time blasting is said to have caused much disturbance and apprehension among the people, especially at Sakyong.
The police, at that time, had directed the youth to approach the licensing authority [which issues permission for undertaking blasting works] with their complaint. The licensing authority is the DC. It has been learnt that the DC was also approached by the youth with their complaint a few days ago; the complaints informed of night time blasting which was said to be causing much disturbance and also alleged extremely high intensity blasting being resorted to by the company.
In this connection, the DC West, S Pradhan, is informed to have intimated the company on both matters and in fact, it is reported that the DC directed the company to stop using explosives at night which the company is said to have agreed to.
On the matter of high intensity of the blasts, it was suggested that a representative of the village as well as from the police be present at the construction site when blasting is underway.
These matters were under consideration when the above mentioned incident took place leading to the arrest of 2 persons for criminal trespass and mischief.

Indigenous strand of Sikkim Paheli Dal “SKM PD-3” accorded varietal release

GANGTOK, 17 Jan: Sikkim Paheli Dal, branded as “SKM PD-3”, an indigenous strand of the pulses, was accorded an official “varietal release” by the Agriculture Department today and with its hardy nature and nutritional content attested, has been forwarded to central agencies for consideration and onwards promotion in other parts of the country. If SKM PD-3 receives the approval of the concerned central agency and gets adopted in other states, it will open a new avenue for earning for farmers here since this variety is grown only in Sikkim and all seeds will hence have to be sourced from here.
The Agriculture and Horticulture Secretary, Vishal Chauhan, convening a meeting of the State Seed Sub-Committee here at Krishi Bhawan conference hall today, also informed that this varietal release comes after a long gap in the state. The last time such a release was done was of the Sikkim Selection 1 [Mustard], NLD White [Maize] and Soyabean Gyallop in the 1980’s.
It may be mentioned here that the Central Sub-Committee releases varieties of regional or national importance, and the State Seed Sub-Committees release varieties deemed to be beneficial for individual states. Release is intended to make a newly developed variety available to the public for general cultivation in the regions for which it is adapted.
About the process, the Secretary informed that various varieties of local Paheli Dal were collected from different parts of Sikkim and trials were undertaken from the farm level to KVK level. This variety was found the best and after approval from the State Seed Sub-Committee and ICAR, it was officially released today.
Addressing the function, the Secretary, who is also the Chairman of the State Seed Sub-Committee, mentioned that the release of a variety of pulse seed is a big day for the state. He informed that after trial and observation for around 3 years at different parts of the state, this particular variety was found to be successful.
The Secretary informed that it will now be sent to the national level and if found successful in trials at different places in the country and approved, demand for the variety will automatically surge which will benefit local farmers.
He informed that this pulse is being produced 100% locally and is also being used by the Department in its area expansion programme. This year the Department has placed a demand of 860 quintals of Paheli Dal to SIMFED for different schemes of the Department, which will be procured locally, the Secretary added.
He mentioned that Paheli Dal is a popular crop in the state and can be cultivated even in dry areas as it is very resistant. The crop is the main source of livelihood in South and West Sikkim, it is very suitable for organic farming, gives a good return to farmers even in the local market and also shows high productivity in small areas of land, the Secretary further mentioned.
The Secretary also congratulated the whole team involved in the release of SKM PD-3.
Agriculture Department Principal Director, SK Sinha expressed that the release of a crop after a gap of many years was an auspicious occasion. The meeting was also addressed by ICAR Senior Scientist, Dr Saroj Toppo.
In his welcome address, Agriculture Department Director, Khorlo Bhutia, stated that this release of a Sikkim crop is the result of the joint efforts of the department, KVK, ICAR and other concerned agencies. The meeting concluded with the vote of thanks by Agriculture Department Additional Director [Seeds], PK Dewan.

Editorial:Disaster Preparedness, Still Awaited

Fires remain a constant concern during winter months. Unfortunately, like most other concerns, it continues to remain largely unaddressed. Over the past few years, the State has had to grapple with a rash of forest fires and some huge blazes in towns and villages. The recent history of fires might have been more dramatic, but fact remains that such fires have always been around. Many of the State’s monasteries and other important buildings have gone down to fires since the remote past to current times. The monsoon was healthy last year and there has been reasonably enough precipitation this winter to scale down the chances of forest fires. The mercury, however, has been slipping low, and as temperatures fall, the need for artificial heating in the phenomenally climate-insensitive Sikkim homes increases. With this, comes the danger of short circuits or stray embers causing fires. A life was lost to one such fire at Daragaon, Tadong, in the capital on Monday evening. Although casualties to fire have been rare in Sikkim, the latest incident underlines the reality that when it comes to flames, life and property are always at risk. Unfortunately, despite a history of devastating fires, this remains a hazard which remains largely unaddressed. If the loss of lives and property has been low of late, it is only because the State now enjoys the services of a much improved fire-fighting team. Their quick response, aided by better equipment now at their disposal, has ensured that Sikkim and its people have not paid as dearly for their recklessness as the situations had potential for.
That said, fire-fighters arrive at a scene only after human error [in most cases] has sparked one and almost immediately, are confronted with a host of obstacles, when, in an ideal situation, they should receive infrastructural and human assistance to expedite fire-fighting. Take the Monday evening incident for example – the cottage where the fire broke out was hemmed in by buildings on all sides with only an extremely narrow path over boundary walls allowing access. The house was not being lived in save an elderly person maintained there as a caretaker. He perished in the fire, perhaps already rendered unconscious by the noxious smoke before the blaze manifested itself. In all probability, the fire-fighters did not even know of the casualty until they entered the house after having doused the flames. The two requirements to ensure effective fire-fighting - access and information – were not available to the fire-fighters. This scenario holds true for most places across the capital and the State, and every fire is combated with fingers crossed in the hope that the resolve and bravery of fire-fighters will carry the day. That cannot always happen. It thus becomes important for better groundwork to be laid by residents of every area to ensure that when the professionals arrive, they know exactly what they are up against. The much touted civil defence teams, stitched together after the disastrous 1997 landslides in Gangtok, it appears, have run out of steam. But most townships of Sikkim now have urban local bodies to look out for their affairs. They should probably start doing more than issuing trade licences or joining cleanliness drives, and start addressing real urban woes – safety being an important concern. It will not take much imagination to achieve this. Disaster preparedness plans can be formalised for every ward. This, should include disaster scenarios ranging from earthquakes to landslides to fires to stampedes to even burst sewage pipes. Places/ houses more at risk and dangerously inaccessible should be marked and possible access and escape routes charted. There is not the space here to get into more details of what can be included in such a document, but information like the layout of power cables and detail demographics would prove helpful. And then, point persons could be appointed for each sector so that when the search and rescue teams arrive, they know whom to contact to get briefed on the situation. These are obvious things to do, but remain unfortunately unattended...

BJP ‘ignorant’ and ‘ill-informed’ counters SDF

GANGTOK, 17 Jan: The ruling Sikkim Democratic Front has condemned the recent comments made by Bharatiya Janta Party’s Sikkim president, Padam Bahadur Chettri, on the Chief Minister ‘going missing’ [as reported in various local dailies today].
An SDF release issued by its general secretary [publicity], TN Sharma, criticizes the comments as ‘indecent’ and ‘undemocratic’. The release further contends that despite news-reports on the CM meeting the Prime Minister to discuss various important issues regarding the state having also come out [attesting to the fact that the CM was pursuing state-related tasks outside], these allegations show how ‘ignorant’ and ‘ill-informed’ the BJP president was.
The release in turn accused Mr Chettri of trying to instigate the public by making such baseless and unfounded allegations.

SDF mourns passing away of founding member Sonam Gyatso Bhutia

GANGTOK, 17 Jan: The Sikkim Democratic Front has expressed deep condolences on the demise of Laso Gram Panchayat [under Tashiding constituency] member, Sonam Gyatso Bhutia. The Late Mr. Bhutia, who passed away this morning, was also one of the founding members of the party, it is informed.
An SDF press release informs that he had served “sincerely and with full responsibility at different posts in the party for a long time” and that his sudden demise was a big loss for the party.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Chamling calls on PM to discuss pending issues

GANGTOK, 16 Jan [IPR]: Chief Minister Pawan Chamling, who is currently in New Delhi pursuing pressing concerns of the State Government with Central Ministers and agencies, called on the Prime Minister at 10.30 AM Monday morning.
The relief and rehabilitation works pertaining to the 18 September Earthquake was discussed thoroughly and on the CM’s request Dr. Manmohan Singh assured immediate release of funds from the National Disaster Relief Fund. While Rs. 227.17 crore has been sanctioned through the NDRF for earthquake relief in Sikkim, the same has not yet been released.
Moreover, the PM also reiterated his commitment of the Rs 1,000 crore package announced for the State and stated that these funds will also be expeditiously released to the State Government.
The PM suggested that a study on the soil and geo-technical aspects of the region be initiated immediately to which the CM agreed to approach the Natural Disaster Management Authority. The CM also requested for setting up of a Natural Disaster Institute in the State to which the PM agreed and advised the State Government to approach the Natural Disaster Management Authority for full support.
The CM apprised the PM in regard to the Income Tax issue of “left-out persons”. The PM stated that the issue would be considered sympathetically and an amicable solution found.
The PM was also apprised on the condition of the NH 31A and the tardy progress of work undertaken by the BRO. The PM was of the opinion that in order to restore the roads efficiently all possible alternate courses of implementation should be evaluated and examined so as to ensure the roads improve.
 At the end of the meeting the CM complimented the PM for not only being a great leader to the country but for also being a great human being and a visionary statesman. Reciprocating the compliment the PM appreciated the leadership shown by Mr Chamling in guiding his State to peace and prosperity.
Lastly the CM on behalf of the Sikkimese people extended an invitation to the PM to visit the State. The PM expressed his willingness and keenness to visit the State in the near future.

Rs. 200 crore released as first installment Rs. 1,000 crore package announced by PM


GANGTOK, 16 Jan: Rs.200 crore out of the Rs. 1,000 crore package announced by the Prime Minister for post earthquake restoration and rebuilding efforts in Sikkim have finally been released. This amount was approved and released by the National Planning Commission on 06 January, 2012. The remaining Rs. 800 crore will depend on how soon and comprehensive the line departments are in preparing their detailed project reports for usage of the approved funds.
This is the first set of funds released under the Rs. 1,000 crore package and come with conditions which include that there should be no duplication of schemes and projects for which the funds have been released.
Complementing the release of this first installment is the Rs. 227.51 crore approved as financial aid under the National Disaster Relief Fund. This aid, as confirmed by the Prime Minister today and the Union Finance Minister yesterday at meetings with the Chief Minister, as earlier reported, had been provided as assistance for permanent reconstruction and mitigation measures in respect of government buildings, mines, minerals and geology and other important infrastructure in the state. In this regard the State had put up a memorandum seeking Rs. 7,400 crore as central assistance for permanent restoration and rebuilding measures.
As for the assured assistance of Rs. 1,000 crore, the state government was required to put up detailed project reports (DPRs) prepared by the line departments on how and where the funds would be utilized. Only DPRs for projects totaling Rs. 200 crore have been approved thus far.
It is informed that the DPRs submitted by the State government are vetted by the concerned central ministries and only on their satisfaction are they approved by the central government. Not all get passed and approved in their entirety and there are usually some cuts or rebuttal by the Centre to which the state has to respond. In this regard, officials inform that the departments are required to rework and reframe their proposals for the satisfaction of the central government for release of the remaining Rs. 800 crore.
The Rs.200 crore released by the Planning Commission is additional assistance released to the state on its request. This includes additional assistance of Rs. 100 crore as Special Plan Assistance and Rs. 100 crore as Special Central Assistance to Sikkim for post earthquake works under the Prime Minister’s Package (Rs. 1,000 crore) during 2011-2012.
The central assistance has come with conditions as well. The state government is to ensure “monitorable targets”, both physical and financial, against each project before the funds are released to the line departments; besides, a monitoring mechanism is also to be instituted to check progress. Significantly, the Centre has warned against duplication of schemes. In the words of the Planning Commission, the state government is to ensure that alternative sources of funding or funds through existing central schemes should not be availed for projects for which the funds have been released. There should be no overlapping of projects or funds. The funds have only to be utilized for which they have been released by the centre and should be passed on to the implementing agencies immediately.
The break-up of the Rs. 200 crore released is as follows: Rs. 30 crore is for reconstruction of the Secretariat for which the state had sought Rs. 193 crore; Rs. 45 crore for reconstruction of government building including schools, the STCS, police headquarters etc. The actual DPR for this had put up an estimate of Rs. 100 crores; For rehabilitation of roads and bridges, the state has received Rs. 15 crore out of Rs. 200 crore sought and for reconstruction of 7,972 damaged houses, the Centre has released Rs. 70 crore as of now out of the Rs. 453 crore put up by the State Government.

AHVS Deptt officials visit Rangpo following pigeon death reports

GANGTOK, 16 Jan: Following the death of pigeons in Rangpo Bazaar reported in local newspapers in the past few days, officials of Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Services from Gangtok inspected Rangpo Bazaar today. The officials also held a meeting with Rangpo Nagar Panchayat vice-president, Pushpa Mishra, regarding the issue.
AH&VS Director, Dr T Lucksom, AH&VS Deputy Director, Dr SM Rai and staff of Rangpo AH&VS accompanied by Ms Mishra surveyed the area and inspected the pigeons. The team has also taken live pigeons as samples for lab tests.
Dr Lucksom urged the people of Rangpo not to panic as it is not avian flu but a parasitic infection. Informing that pigeon samples have been taken to the departmental laboratory to ascertain the cause behind the deaths, he again urged the people not to panic and added that there is no big threat to humans.

Departmental action initiated against 4 jail personnel

GANGTOK, 16 Jan: Departmental action has been initiated against 4 Sikkim Jail police personnel on the escape of 6 convicts from the State Jail at Rongyek on 11 January. The four personnel include an officer who is the sub-jailer and of SI rank while the other 3 are head warders (Havaldars) at the jail. All 4 were issued show cause notices by the Jail Authority routed through the Home Department on 15 January and are required to respond within 7 days.
It is informed that action is more than likely against the 4 personnel who were on duty at the time when the jail break occurred. However, as per procedure, a show cause is issued first. The show cause requires them to explain the negligence on their part which resulted in the escaping of 6 murder convicts in broad daylight; it also requires them to explain why departmental enquiry or action should not be initiated against them in this regard.
It is informed that the sub jailer was the Duty Officer on the day of the escape, while the escapees were in the charge and supervision of the other 3 warders.
The departmental action has been initiated as per the Prison Manual, which interestingly, was only published last year by the State government. As per the prison manual, the accountability for such incidents as a jail break rests on the Duty Officer at that particular time and those who are on security detail.
Last week, a detailed report on the jail break had been submitted to the Home Department by the jail authorities as the state prison is under the charge of the Home Department. This report was examined by the Home Department and it is likely that there will be an enquiry into the causes and lapses which led to the escape of the 6 inmates from the state jail.
The 6 had escaped at around 1 pm on 11 January while they were on their way to Tea Break after having spent time at the workshop as part of their vocational training. Of the 6, three were apprehended that night itself and another 2 the next day. One of them, Rudra Thapa, is still at large.

One killed in Gangtok blaze

GANGTOK, 16 Jan: An elderly person, retained as a caretaker at an otherwise uninhabited home here at Daragaon, Tadong, was killed in a fire which razed through the cottage here this evening.
Neighbours believe that the fire started at around 7:30 p.m. The cottage is hemmed in by buildings and has a very narrow access path. The Gangtok fire station was informed of the fire at around 8:10 and rushed immediately to the spot. The victim was unfortunately already dead by that time.
Quick action by the firefighters with the assistance of the local people, however, ensured that the flames were beaten down before the fire could spread to the nearby houses. The cramped location of the house did however make fire fighting difficult.
By the time the firefighters had doused the flames enough to reach the victim, his body was already charred.

Turuk-Ramabung GPU gets a cyber café and guest house

GANGTOK, 16 Jan: A cyber café under the Information Technology Department and a guest house have been set up in Turuk-Ramabung Gram Panchayat Unit in South Sikkim. The café was formally inaugurated by Zilla Panchayat member, Farwanti Tamang in a programme held today, informs a press release.
After the formal inauguration Panchayat Account Assistant (PAA), Moses Lepcha presented details regarding the facilities available at the centre and informed that Basic Computer Crash Course, Internet Surfing, Photo Printing, Photo copy, Scanning, color printing, railway booking and all types of satellite TV recharge would be available at the centre, the release informs.
During the function, Field Facilitator of BAC, Sumbuk, Suren Mohra highlighting the importance of information technology in modern times also spoke about the achievements of Turuk-Ramabung GPU. He thanked all the Panchayat representatives for their commitment, dedication and concern for the development of the GPU on behalf of the people of the GPU.
Panchayat member of the GPU, RB Chhetri thanked the members of civil society for their support in making Turuk GPU one of the best GPUs in the state. At present, Turuk-Ramabung GPU is one of the top six GPUs of the state, he added.
Panchayat President, Sarat Raj Pradhan, in his address said that since being elected in 2007 introducing IT in the GPU had been a dream and urged people to make use of this facility, the release adds.
Secretary of Turuk Development Society (TDS), Harkajit Rai shared his experiences and requested all members of the society to lend a helping hand to make these infrastructures sustainable. Headmaster of Turuk Secondary School, TB Chhetri also addressed the gathering.
Chief guest, Farwanti Tamang in her address, thanked the Panchayat Representatives for the initiative and requested parents to send their children for computer training, the release further mentions. While, Panchayat Secretary, Kanchen Rai also placed a few words of appreciation.
The programme was also attended by President Turuk-Ramabung GPU, Sarat Raj Pradhan and all the members of GPU, Director of Turuk Child Development Centre, President and Secretary of Turuk Development Society, former presidents, teachers under this GPU, representatives from different Churches and local NGOs.

Car theft at Namchi

NAMCHI, 16 Jan: The winter chill may confine the common man to his home, but it does not seem to deter those looking for an opportunity to make some quick cash. A car theft that occurred last night at Namchi holds proof of that.
A Maruti Alto bearing registration number SK 04/P/ 0292 belonging to Prem Nath Dewan, parked outside his house on Dabuwha Melli road was stolen at around 9 PM last night when the owner was still inside his house.
According to police sources, the case has been registered at Namchi Police Station and investigation has begun.

Governor presents paper on ‘Building Peace: The Bahudha Approach’ at ISEAS, Singapore

GANGTOK, 16 Jan: On special invitation from the Institute of South East Asian Studies (ISEAS), the Governor of Sikkim, Balmiki Prasad Singh, presented a paper titled ‘Building Peace: The Bahudha Approach’ before a handsome gathering on 10 January, 2012 at ISEAS, Singapore, informs a press release issued by the PRO to the Governor.

On his maiden visit to the Institute, Mr Singh was warmly received by the Director of ISEAS and the Ambassador of Singapore to Jordan, K Kesavapany and his staff. He introduced Mr Singh to the gathering and spoke briefly about his academic credentials.

The thesis of Mr Singh’s address was based on peaceful resolution of conflicts by means of the Bahudha approach, the release informs. Through this harmonious approach, Mr Singh presents an alternative view to Samuel P. Huntington’s theory of the Clash of Civilizations.

The Bahudha approach is both a celebration of diversity and an attitude of mind that respects another person’s point of view. It also promotes a feeling that the world would be a dull and over-uniform place if there was only one religion, one God, one language, one folklore and one folk tale.

The inculcation of attitude of mind inspired by the Bahudha approach would mean that one hears others in a manner that is akin to our behaviour with family members or with our neighbours. It helps us appreciate and even adopt good practices and value systems of others without diminishing our own.

The lecture was divided into two segments: paper reading and paper discussion of 45-minute duration each. The paper discussion was extremely well participated by the academicians, research scholars and students from the Institute and outside, the release mentions.

At the institute’s library the Governor garlanded the bust of Rabindra Nath Tagore. He gifted the Institute a Sikkimese thanka and a copy each of the books “Bahudha- in the post 9/11 World” and “India’s Culture”- authored by him- and also a copy of “Sikkim’s Raj Bhavan”, the release adds.

SSACS Red Five Bus heads towards Namchi

GANGTOK, 16 Jan: Sikkim State AIDS Control Society ‘s Red Five Bus was flagged off by the SSACS Project Director, Dr Uttam Pradhan from STNM Hospital premises today. With the completion of Red Five Football for East Sikkim, now the organizers will tour in the bus to South, West and North Sikkim for the tournament.
Hope Foundation emerged as the champions of East Sikkim in the tournament and now the organizers will conduct the tournament in rest of the districts. With the flag off, the bus headed towards Namchi today for the Red Five Football Tournament.
The Red Five Football was kicked off on 06 January at MG Marg and the knock-out matches were played between 10 to 14 January at Guards Ground, in which Hope Foundation was the winner and Young Star was the runners-up. The tournament has 12 teams each in West and North Sikkim, while 18 teams are participating in South Sikkim. The East Sikkim had 64 teams in the tournament.
The tournament is part of the Red Fest multi media campaign of SSACS to generate awareness on drug abuse and HIV/ AIDS keeping in mind the youth falling in the age group between 15-49 yrs.
“We hope that the tournament in South and West district will be successful. The main objective is to spread the message on HIV/AIDS and also to create awareness on drug abuse,” said a mentor of Hope Foundation, KC Nima.

Governor visits Institute of Technical Education in Singapore

GANGTOK, 16 Jan: The Governor of Sikkim visited the Institute of Technical Education (West) College of the Institute of Technical Education (ITE), Singapore at Choa Chu Kang Grove on 11 January. He was warmly received by Principal of the College, Dr. Yak Tiew Ming and the staff.
A press release from the PRO to the Governor informs that the Governor was accompanied by First Secretary (Commerce), Amitesh Bharat Singh and Attache (PIC) of the High Commission of India, Debashish Choudhuri and Joint Secretary to the Governor, Thakur Thapa.
The Governor was given a presentation by the Principal, Dr. Yak Tiew Ming. The ITE  works under the ‘One System, Three Colleges, Governance and Education Model’ introduced by the Singapore Government in 2005 under which the ITE-HQ oversees the broad system, policy issues and ensures standards while the ‘three colleges’ are empowered to develop niche areas of excellence to enhance attractiveness of ITE education.
The ITE owes its success primarily to its unique ‘Hands on, Minds on and Hearts on’ education philosophy where students integrate theory and practice through course work, industry exposure, projects and experimental learning, the objective being to prepare and expose students of different abilities, talents and interests to the realities and challenges of the global market.
Later in the afternoon, the Governor visited Singapore’s Asian Civilization Museum at Empress Place, the release informs. He was received by Senior Curator and Head of the Museum’s South Asian Collection, Dr. Gauri Krishnan and Curator, Cross Culture, Clement Onn.
He was briefed about the museum, its collections and about the influences India has had in shaping the cultures of Southeast Asia through the centuries.
The Curator, Mr Onn also guided the Governor on a tour of the museum, where the highlight of the museum was the ongoing exhibition-‘Patterns of Trade-Indian Textiles for Export, 1400-1900’- where Indian textiles of different colors, patterns and materials produced and exported from India were displayed. Some of the exhibits were more than 600 years old, the release further mentions.

At the end of the tour the Governor thanked the Museum’s staff and presented the museum with a Sikkimese thanka, a copy each of the books “Bahudha- and the post 9/11 World”, “India’s Culture” and “Sikkim’s Raj Bhawan”. In return he was presented several books documenting the museums collections and Singapore’s ancestral cultures, the release adds.

Ward-level Badminton tourney in Bardang concludes

GANGTOK, 16 Jan: On the occasion of the finals of the Ward-level Badminton Tournament at Eden Garden School playground at Bardang on Sunday five persons were felicitated for their contributions to the society by a Bardang based organization, Divya Jyoti Samiti [DJS].
Journalist, Nandu Dutraj, social worker, Pradeep Limboo and retired army, Hemant Kumar Thapa, Jagar Singh Darnal and LB Rai, were felicitated by BDO [Duga], Pursottam Pradhan, who was the chief guest on the occasion along with DJS president, Pratap Singh Rai.
In the ward-level badminton finals, Raj Rai defeated Buddha Subba in the men’s category while in the women’s finals, Rabita Rai beat Kimti Khawas. Likewise, in the village-level, Karsang Sherpa lost to Shyam Chettri in the men’s finals while Binda Rai defeated Jayanti Chettri in the women’s finals.
Lila Maya Chettri and Pravesh Chettri were adjudged as the Players of the Tournament in the village-level and Priyanka Rai and Manoj Chettri were conferred with the title in the ward-level.
DJS president, Mr Rai informed that the badminton tournament will be organized on a larger scale and around 20 personalities will be felicitated next year.
BDO, Mr Pradhan stressed that everyone should come forward in such social activities and also urged others to take inspiration from the felicitated personalities and contribute towards the society. [from NANDU DUTRAJ]

Namsoong and Losoong Football tourney at Syari concludes

GANGTOK, 16 Jan: Surjay Gaon of Lower Syari have emerged as the champions of the Namsoong & Losoong Festival Football Tournament organized by Lower Syari based organization, Ginzing Club, at Ginzing ground in East Sikkim.
In the final match played on 14 January, Surjay Gaon thrashed Ranipool United Boys by 5 goals to 1. A total of 32 teams from in and around Lower Syari participated in the tournament, which was kicked off on 25 December.
The final match was chaired by the Speaker, KT Gyaltsen, who is also the area MLA, as the chief guest and was accompanied by a member of the OBC Board, TB Chettri as the guest of honour, Panchayat president, Pancha Lama, Middle Syari Panchayat, Mohan Tamang and Panchayat of Nandok.
The winning team was awarded the cash prize of Rs 15,000 along with trophy and certificates, while the runners-up received cash prize of Rs 10,000 along with trophy and certificates.
Another attraction of the final day was the girl’s exhibition football match between Ginzing Club and Falcon Youth, Marchak, in which the former team won by 3-2. Likewise, a veteran’s exhibition match was also played in which Middle Syari defeated Lower Syari by 3-2 and for the third place Dhakal Gaon, Lower Syari, thrashed Samdur 4-1.
In his short address, the Speaker appreciated the initiative of the Ginzing Club in engaging youth in the sporting event and providing a platform to talented footballers. He also assured to provide all possible support to the club in organizing this event on a larger scale by adding more attractive features.
Cultural programmes were also presented by the members of Ginzing Club and Samdur. The final day started with the welcome address by Ginzing Club cultural secretary, Pemki Lepcha and concluded with the vote of thanks by Ginzing Club member, Anjana Tamang.
Ginzing Club president, Nima Wangdi Lepcha mentioned that this time the club has organized this festival in a small way by conducting the football tournament but the club has plans to organize it in a grand manner in the future. He further informed that other attractions and activities would be added to the festival next time.
Mr Lepcha expressed his gratitude to the area MLA, Panchayat members, senior citizens, the general public and members of the club for providing support in making the event successful. He also thanked the Energy and Power Department for fully supporting the event.

Sikkim BJP wants CS to explain CM’s ‘whereabouts’

GANGTOK, 16 Jan: The Bharatiya Janta Party’s Sikkim State president, Padam Bahadur Chettri, today submitted a letter to the Chief Secretary seeking details on the whereabouts of the Chief Minister.
The letter contends that the whereabouts of the CM are not known to the people of Sikkim for more than 15 days now, and being a representative of the people, he owed it to the people to keep them informed of his travels.
The letter demands that if the CM is not keeping well, a detailed ‘health bulletin’ be issued along with details of total expenditure incurred in treatment. It further demands that if he is on tour, his tour programme be released along with details of the touring team and total expenditure incurred. If the CM is on official duty, the people of Sikkim should know the public duty being performed by him during his absence from the state, the letter further states.
Addressing a press conference today, Mr Chettri mentioned that it was the responsibility of the Chief Secretary to inform the people of Sikkim on the whereabouts of the CM.
Mr Chettri mentioned that if the CS does not provide these details within one week, then the party will approach the Governor and other concerned central government agencies. He also mentioned that even if the CM reappears in the state in the next few days, the CS will still have to release details of his whereabouts to the people of Sikkim.
When many of the affected people of the 18 September earthquake have still not received their relief fund how can the CM go missing from the state, he further challenged.
In this regard, he alleged that the State Bank of Sikkim’s Yuksam branch failed to release relief money to affected people, as the bank has no money. “…and in such a situation, how can the CM go missing from the state”” Mr Chettri further questioned.

Five beneficiaries receive Rs 30,000 each under the Aganwadi Karyakarti Bima Yozana

GANGTOK, 16 Jan: Nominees of five beneficiaries of Aganwadi Karyakarti Bima Yozana [AKBY] received a cheque of Rs 30,000 each from the Life Insurance Corporation [LIC] on the insurance claims on the death of their wards here at the Welfare Division of the Social Welfare Department today.
This is a central government scheme and covers the Aganwadi workers and helpers. Under this scheme, the LIC contributes Rs 100 while Rs 80 is contributed by the client per annum. This scheme has to be renewed every year.
Under this scheme, the LIC provides insurance claim of Rs 30,000 on the natural death of workers in service and Rs 75,000 to the nominee on death due to accident and Rs 75,000 on permanent disability due to accident and Rs 30,500 on partial disability to the client.
The AKBY scheme was launched in the state in 1994 and at present 1072 Aganwadi workers and 1068 Aganwadi helpers are enrolled with the scheme in the state.
Under the same scheme, a scholarship, Siksha Sahayogya Yozana, has also been provided to two children of Aganwadi workers and helpers from class IX to XII, it is informed.
The cheques were provided by the hands of Joint Director [ICDS], KK Subba, Branch Manager LICI [Jalpaiguri], J Banerjee and LICI Manager [Customer Care] from Siliguri, N Majumdar.
On the occasion, these officials also shared about various LICI schemes beneficial for the Aganwadi workers.

Integrated Pest Management prog underway in South Sikkim

NAMCHI, 16 Jan: To help progressive farmers of the state and to achieve the target set by the State Government of being a totally organic state by 2015, the Department of Agriculture, Horticulture and Cash Crop Development had launched new programme called Integrated Pest Management (IPM) through Participatory Technology Development (PDT) to check diseases, insects and pests and minerals and vitamins deficiency in plants and soil.
According to Deputy Director IPM, South, Haris Moktan, the Agriculture department had recently adopted this IPM programme in the state according to which the department had deployed 4 Deputy Directors in each district. Similarly 4 Plant Protection Officers and 4 Plant Protection Assistants with 1 fully equipped mobile van had been sent to each district for plant protection and control measures.
He further informed that this IPM programme uses biological measures against pests and diseases of plants and soil which was adopted by the Department after long research by the department experts in different parts of the state. Moreover the basic objectives of IPM programme are to control pests and diseases through biological inputs and techniques. To monitor, evaluate and to understand the plants protection control measures against the epidemic and endemic outbreak of pests and diseases in plants is another objectives of the IPM programme.
Mr. Moktan further informed that the department had initiated this programme in November 2011 and IPM programme in South district had already undertaken the remedial control measures in various crops and plantation crops. The South District has covered areas like Turung, Kivitipur, Dorap Busty, Sanchatar, Nathang, Tinik Chisopani, Karfectrar, Namak Bikmat and the result of the IPM programme in these areas have been positive.
The programme launched by the Department is not only helping progressive farmers of the state in controlling pests and diseases but the programme is also helping farmers increase productivity and enjoy the benefits of income generated by this programme.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Rudd Gullit, Valderama and other World Cup greats to play against Bhaichung’s USFC at Paljor Stadium



GANGTOK, 15 Jan: International soccer greats and a host of celebrities will be descending on Sikkim next weekend to play an exhibition-cum-entertainment match at Paljor Stadium here on 22 Jan, and with this gesture, express solidarity with Sikkim and broadcast to the rest the world that the 18 September Earthquake has not destroyed Sikkim’s resilience and that the State is ready to reclaim its place on the world tourism map.
This will be a historic moment for footballers lovers in Sikkim because lining up in the Super Stars XI versus Bhaichung Bhutia’s United Sikkim Sporting Club Football Club [USFC] on Sunday will be a galaxy of soccer greats. Confirmed for the Super Football event are: Rudd Gullit [Holland], Ali Daei [Iran], Ansgar Brinkmann [Germany], Christian Karenbeau [France], Carlos Valderama [Columbia], Claudio Cannigia [Argentina], Regi Blinker [Holland], Tim Trenker [world motorbike champion from Germany], Roland Kopp [Germany], Marcel Oerlemans [Holland] and other international personalities.
Efforts are still underway to bring football legend, Pele, to Sikkim for this event.
The founder-member of the rock-band Scorpions which has given the Hills many anthems, guitarist Rudolf Schenker, is also scheduled to play for Super Stars XI.
The event is being put together by JPR Events with logistic support from the State Government.
The Super Football event was announced at a press conference today addressed by Sports Minister, NK Pradhan, Sports Secretary, Karma P Bhutia, IPR Secretary, KS Topgay, USFC co-owner, Bhaichung Bhutia and Sunil Hamal from JPR Events.
Mr Topgay explained that this mega-event will put Sikkim back on the world tourism map and undo the negative image which went out in the wake of the 18 September Earthquake.
“The successful hosting of this event in the presence of such stars and celebrities will announce to the world that we are ready to receive tourists again,” he said.
Sports Secretary, Mr Bhutia, who is also the organizing secretary of the event, in turn informed that an organizing committee has also been formed for the event headed by UD&HD Minister, DB Thapa, as chairperson.
He pointed out that even though the match carried special significance for Sikkim, it was also a major event for the entire north-east and neighbouring states as it brings to this corner, an opportunity to watch celebrated international footballers of yesteryears in action once again.
Mr Hamal of JPS Events expressed gratitude towards the State government for coming forward to support the event and informed that the match was originally scheduled to be played in Kolkata but was postponed due to unavoidable circumstances. This provided the opportunity to host it in Sikkim.
He confirmed that Rudolf Schenker of the Scorpions will be in Sikkim and wearing the Super Stars XI colours on the field apart from also performing live with a band, Underground Authority from Kolkata.
Bhaichung mentioned that his team was fortunate to receive the chance to play in the event due to postponedment of the event at Kolkata. He added that it was a good opportunity for the club players to play against the legend like Rudd Gullet and other former World Cup players.
Bhaichung shared that the USFC players were excited about the prospect of taking to the field with such greats and looking forward to the event. He also expressed his gratitude to the Sikkim government for providing full support to the event.
The Sports Minister confirmed the full support of the State government to this special event and welcomed the historic opportunity created for football lovers here.
“The government is putting in all efforts and working hard round the clock to ensure the success of the programme because it will be an honour for the people and the state to host such legend,” he said.
The State government has also exempted the event from paying entertainment tax, and will be providing transportation, security, venue and other logistic support to the event.
The Minister underlined that the main purpose of the event was to squash rumours that Sikkim, in the wake of the 18 Sept Earthquake, was no longer safe for tourists.
Pointing out that tourist arrivals had fallen substantially since the earthquake, he stressed that the presence of such great personalities from across to the world in Sikkim would fetch positive coverage and boost tourism in the State.
The Super Stars XI will also have former renowed footballers of India like Chima, Vijayan and others.
Tickets for the match have been priced at Rs 500 for the Hillside Gallery, Rs 1,200 for other galleries and Rs 2,000 for the VIP gallery. There will also be 3 corporate boxes in the Hillside Gallery. Paljor Stadium has a capacity to seat 18,000 people.
The tickets go on sale from Monday onwards and counters will remain open till 20 January. Online bookings can be made at

Centre sanctions BRO road projects in Sikkim

GANGTOK, 15 Jan: At long last, the Central government has approved, sanctioned and given the green signal for implementation of several road construction works in Sikkim. The roads where construction and improvement in terms of widening and strengthening are to be undertaken are all under the charge of the Border Roads Organisation.
A press release issued by the BRO informs that the Centre has approved the detailed project reports of two road projects, one of which includes construction along the National Highway 31 A. Another DPR approved by the Centre relates to the proposal for consultancy services for preparation of a Detailed Project Report for construction of a 1000 metre span viaduct at Rangpo for Rs. 1.5 crore.
The works to be undertaken on the national highway include widening of road between Kalijhora and Rambi, both of which are on the West Bengal part of the highway. These widening works have been given the go ahead and for which the central ministry is informed to have sanctioned Rs.51 crore. The other project approved and sanctioned includes the strengthening of the pavement from Ranipool to Gangotk for which Rs.17 crore has been approved and sanctioned. This work too will be undertaken by the BRO, it is informed.
The BRO press release states that its agency Swastik has been working on these projects for the past one and a half years with relentless efforts to get the sanction of the central ministry. With the approvals and sanctions coming through the agency is now preparing to execute these projects. it is informed that the first two projects will be undertaken shortly the third one will come through only when the consultant submits the DPR after which the estimates have to be approved by the sanctioning authority.

CM calls on Finance Minister, follows up on pending demands

GANGTOK, 15 Jan: Chief Minister Pawan Chamling, who is currently camped in New Delhi, called on Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Sunday evening. Officials inform that the meeting, which began at around 5 p.m. today, covered several important issues concerning Sikkim, especially demands still pending with the Centre and other issues requiring urgent attention, all of which received a patient hearing of the Finance Minister.
The Chief Minister followed up on the demand of the State Government to extend Income Tax exemption to the left-out community of Sikkim as well. A delegation representing the left out community had called on the Union Finance Minister on Saturday with the same request [read accompanying news report for details].
The CM also brought up the still pending release of funds already sanctioned by the Centre to assist earthquake repairs in Sikkim. As mentioned, this amount has already been announced and sanctioned by Delhi, but still not yet released. The Finance Minister, it is informed, assured to expedite this process and ensure that these funds are released at the earliest.
Of these funds, the Finance Minister informed that Rs. 227.17 crore from the National Disaster Relief Fund has already been approved and that he would have it released immediately. Similarly, of the Rs. 1,000 crore earthquake relief package announced by the Prime Minister for Sikkim, Rs. 200 crore has already been approved and would now be released as soon as possible, the Finance Minister further assured.
Even the remaining Rs. 800 crore [from the package announced by the PM], will be released without delay immediately on receipt of Detailed Project Reports for its use, the Finance Minister is reported to have assured the CM.
During the meeting, the Chief Minister also briefed the Union Minister on the deplorable condition of roads maintained by central agencies in Sikkim and updated him on the Rangchang Khola bridge collapse of December 2011 which claimed eight lives.
Mr. Mukerjee is reported to have assured the Chief Minister that he would take up the matter [of Sikkim roads] with the concerned authorities at the Border Roads Organisation and direct that repairs and improvement works are expedited and quality ensured by the BRO.
During the meeting, the Finance Minister is also reported to have expressed the desire to visit Sikkim in the very near future [ideally during the Flower Show here], an interest towards which the CM expressed gratitude and extended an open invitation.

Jorethang Maghey Mela begins with prayers for earthquake victims

JORETHANG, 15 Jan: Jorethang’s biggest annual event, the Maghey Mela, began on 14 Jan on a sombre note this year. The Maghey Mela began with a homage to lives lost in 18 Sept Earthquake and the organisation committee has left out all events and zones of entertainment this year.
The Mela Celebration Committee organized special prayers for the earthquake victims on the inaugural day which had Animal Husbandry Minister Dawcho Lepcha as the chief guest accompanied by Namchi-Singithang MLA, Binod Rai and area MLA, Madan Cintury.
The Minister joined the Puran Aahuti Puja and then declared the Maghey Mela 2012 open. He, along with the MLAs also visited stalls and Menal Mela.
It may be mentioned here that the Maghey Mela is a major event here, attracting hordes of locals and tourists each year. The Mela is said to have evolved from an agricultural fair and now hundreds of stalls selling and exhibiting various products are put up for the huge number of people who visit the fair.
It is a great mix of local cultural extravaganza as well as modern day entertainment along with traditional stalls, but this year, the Celebration Committee included a fewer number of stalls and focussed essentially on agriculture, horticulture, the 7th National Expo 2012, Great India Shopping Festival exhibition-cum-sale and Menal mela for children.
In the evening, the Celebration Committee organised a candlelight procession from the Mela ground to Akkar Bridge covering the entire Jorethang bazaar and after observing two minutes of silence, the gathering offered prayers and bhajans in a Sarva Dharma Prathna Sabha for the earthquake victims.
Speaking to this correspondent, MLA Madan Cintury explained that this year, the Jorethang Maghey Mela was not about entertainment but more about sharing the grief that the 18 Sept earthquake brought. He informed that the Celebration Committee has organised prayers by all faiths followed by the people of Sikkim.

Sikkim State paper lotteries on the verge of extinction

GANGTOK, 15 Jan: Sikkim State lotteries, by all indications, could go extinct by the year end. In fact, sources operating the lottery business here in Sikkim hint that the termination of Sikkim lotteries may be as soon as within 6 months, and with it will cease a sizeable source of revenue for the State government.
West Bengal is the only remaining State where the Sikkim state paper lotteries are operating at present. Even this is likely to shut if Mamta Banerjee and her government continue with their present policy of hiking tax on the lotteries. Around half of the Sikkim paper lotteries have stopped sales in West Bengal since 01 December, 2011. The reason – extreme hike in lottery sales tax. In effect, Future Gaming has now only 4 lotteries out of its full strength of 8 lotteries operating in West Bengal now.
The West Bengal government, on 28 November, 2011, increased the lottery tax five-fold to Rs. 5 lakh per draw resulting in the withdrawal of half of the Sikkim lotteries sold there. Till a few months ago, there was no tax on lotteries in West Bengal making it a very profitable place for Sikkim state lotteries. There were 8 Sikkim lotteries being operated in WB till November 2011 and in fact the first levy of tax was imposed by the West Bengal government in July 2011 at Rs.1 lakh per draw.
Sources inform that should the tax be increased by another Rs.2 lakh, Sikkim paper lottery operations will come to a close there. It is very likely that the lottery tax will be hiked further and in all likelihood, lottery operators here opine that in another 6 months they will have to close shop.
There is nothing the state government can do about it.
An easy and simple avenue of revenue for the state government will close and is, in fact, already dwindling. Officials at the Lotteries Directorate informed that there has been tremendous impact on the revenue due to the suspension of operations in Kerala, and now with West Bengal also hinting that it is averse to lottery operations, the State is losing out on revenue in the crores.
In comparison, the Sikkim government levies only Rs. 2,000 per draw which is the least among all the states in the country. Maharashtra and Punjab, the only two other states were lotteries operate in the country, levy Rs,, 75,000 and Rs.50,000 a draw respectively.
The Rs. 250-crore-a-month lottery retail trade in West Bengal, offering livelihood to nearly two lakh people had pulled down shutters in protest against steep hike in taxes by the West Bengal government. West Bengal is the second largest lottery market, after Maharashtra, contributing nearly one-fifth of the national turnover of Rs 1,200 crore a month. The lottery market in West Bengal is primarily dominated by draws from the Sikkim and Nagaland government lotteries apart from a few draws from the West Bengal government.
Each of the three lottery operators in the State, Future Gaming which operates the only Sikkim paper lotteries, Tashi Delek and Summit Online, both of which operate online lotteries, pay a minimum of Rs. 11 crore each, which is binding, to the state government. The rest of the revenue depends on sales proceeds.
On average, Future Gaming alone pays about Rs. 30 crores a year to the state government as revenue.
Other states which have banned Sikkim paper lotteries include Tamil Nadu which banned the lottery in the year 2003, Karnataka in 2007, and Andhra Pradesh. As mentioned, as of now the only state where Sikkim paper lotteries operate outside Sikkim is West Bengal. While Kerala has not banned the lotteries, the extreme hike in lottery tax to Rs. 25 lakh per draw has virtually ensured that it is an impractical trade there.

Left-out Sikkimese call on Finance Minister with request to be included in IT exemption list

GANGTOK, 15 Jan: A delegation of ‘left out’ people of Sikkim called on the Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee in New Delhi on Saturday with their request to be included in the ambit of Income Tax exemption as “magnanimously granted” by the Union Government to the Sikkim Subjects and their descendents.
A press communiqué received from SDF Trade Cell general secretary, Shankar Agarwal, informs that Mr. Mukherjee extended his greetings to the people of Sikkim on the occasion of Makar Sakranti and assured to look into the matter sympathetically, pointing out that as “all facts are well known to him and he is fully informed of the issue”.
The delegation also called on Chief Minister Pawan Chamling in New Delhi. The CM reaffirmed his commitment to vigorously pursue the matter till it was finally settled as committed to the people of Sikkim, the release adds.

Editorial: Let In the Left-Out

When the Direct Tax laws were finally introduced to Sikkim, it was done with the welcome recognition of Sikkim Subjects as a genuinely unique entity. The Finance Bill was amendment to include their exemption from the purview of Income Tax, and the wording of the exemption was as special. The exemption was extended to the “Sikkimese”, an identity explained in a footnote as those with their names included in the Sikkim Subjects Register of 1961 and their descendents. It was a historic development and one without any recent precedence in the country in that a special treatment was announced for “a people” collectively, and not exclusively to a community, caste, or religious denomination. For Sikkim, the Centre has reiterated the individuality of “Sikkim Subjects”. Interestingly, not even the 8 May Tripartite Agreement of 1973, nor even Article 371F make any specific mention of “Sikkim Subjects.” The amendment mentions exemption for the “Sikkimese”. Thus far, special treatment, even for Sikkim Subjects, has been based on ethnicities. Delhi has never acknowledged the people of Sikkim as a united group and even leaders here have acquired the rhetoric which speaks of the people of Sikkim segregated as Bhutia, Lepcha and Nepali [and of late, also Byapari]; a coinage that came into currency with the Tripartite Agreement of 1973 and continues to remain in circulation. The State is too small for such divisions and it is ironic that this message had to be driven home with an amendment of the same Bill, which in 1994, had cleaved Sikkim into even deeper divisions.
That disturbing phase is now in the past, and now, the challenge facing the Sikkimese is whether they want to support the aspirations of those ‘left out’ from being counted among them despite having contributed as much to the development of the State and having as much stake in Sikkim as any Sikkim Subject, if not more. This left-out section, comprising primarily of the business community members, by definition includes everyone who qualified to become a Sikkim Subject when subjecthood was offered in 1961. They continue to be left out of most of the privileges enjoyed by the Sikkim Subjects, but it is perhaps time that their deep roots in Sikkim were given their due and their, established by generations of having lived and worked here, nativeness, accepted. Their argument seeking IT exemption like the rest of the Sikkimese is obviously as much for the economics of their situation as for identity. The former benefit cannot be dismissed off-hand as a ‘business move’ because business is no longer exclusive to the traditional business community of Sikkim and many Sikkim Subjects also now operate thriving businesses. What is significant here instead is that the left-out group, if denied privileges like those accruing to Sikkim Subjects, will have nothing special to underline their belonging to Sikkim because their status will be at par with Indians who arrived in Sikkim much later whereas they joined India with the rest of the Sikkimese. A delegation of this group called on the Union Finance Minister on Saturday with a request to be extended the same privileges as the Sikkim Subjects in exemption from Income Tax. The State Government has been seeking the same for while now, but what is missing is the endorsement of the Sikkim Subjects.
Agreed, as far as the Direct Tax Laws are concerned, it was citizenship [Sikkimese citizenship] which earned exemption, Nothing Else. Everyone who decided to take on the risks of becoming subjects to a King because they loved the land more was recognized [with IT exemption] for their commitment to this land. That recognition has been achieved, and facing Sikkim now is consensus on the status of those who qualified to become Sikkim Subjects but did not, for various reasons, become one. The demand of the ‘left-out’ section is awaiting a final push, a decisive leg up which can only be offered by the Sikkim Subjects with an endorsement of their demand, a gesture which will let in the left out. Such an approval has not come through with any forcefulness thus far. Will it?

Taklung Tsetrul Rinpoche on a three-day visit to South Sikkim

NAMCHI, 15 Jan: One of the senior most priests of the Nyingmapa sect of Buddhism, Changter Taklung Tsetrul Rinpoche arrived at Namchi on Friday for a three-day visit to South Sikkim. The Rinpoche offered prayers and Tsewang [long life blessings] to devotees during his visit.
The Rinpoche along with other monks offered prayers at the statue of Guru Padmasambhava in Samdruptse this morning and also visited other important Buddhist pilgrimage centers of South District.
The Taklung Rinpoche was accompanied by Gunzang Rinpoche, Sangha MLA, Phetook Tsh. Lama, Chairman NMC, BT Tamang, monks from the different monasteries of Namchi and a huge number of followers.
After offering prayers at Samduptse, the Rinpoche visited the recently inaugurated Siddheswara Dham (Char Dham) at Solophok where he met with the priests and also offered prayers. He then visited the Sai Mandir situated near Assangthang. Tomorrow the Rinpoche will visit Tashiding Monastery in West Sikkim.
Yesterday the Rinpoche offered Tsewang at Ngadak Gumpa which was organised by the monks and Buddhist community of Namchi. It may be mentioned here that Taklung Tsetrul Rinpoche had visited the state for the first time in 2002 and offered a 45-day Wang at Ngadak Gumpa and soon after the government of Sikkim approved the construction of the new Ngadak Gumpa on his advice. The construction work of the Gumpa is now in its final stages.

Upper Dzongu residents deplore lethargy in road construction work

MANGAN, 15 Jan: The public of Upper Dzongu have expressed dissatisfaction over the precarious condition of roads – especially the one starting from the CWC near Passingdang to Lingzya in Upper Dzongu. This stretch of road has been under construction - i.e. widening, back-cutting and black-topping - undertaken by contractor Rajesh Agarwal for the past two years.
The work, worth more than Rs. 16 crore, has only 9 to 10 labourers deputed on the site by the contractor, informed Samten Lepcha while speaking to NOW!. He further complained that although this casual approach has been brought to the notice of concerned authorities several times, no action has been taken and the condition of the road remains the same.
During the Chief Minister’s visit to Dzongu last year, the panchayats had raised this issue but the contractor’s assurances to increase the pace of work has still not materialised, the people add.
The condition of the road is such that even light vehicles and two wheelers find it difficult to manoeuvre through the sludge in the CWC area. The work is under the supervision of SPWD, the local public want to know what the authorities are doing in this regard.
Expressing their fears over the road conditions deteriorating in the monsoons, the public have appealed to the concerned department to look into the up-gradation of the roads at the earliest.

RSS organises Officer Training Camp in Sikkim

GANGTOK, 15 Jan: Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) Sikkim organised a 20-day “Officer Training Camp” (OTC) at Pacheykhani Sivayala Sanskrit School in Pakyong recently. An RSS press release informs that the training was attended by around 30 Swayamsevaks from different parts of the State.
During the training camp, the Swayamsevaks were taught different physical exercises to keep them fit and briefed on current affairs.
RN Baral, the release informs, was present as a guest on the occasion, while Regional Organiser of RSS, Aditaya Charan Dutta, was the main speaker at the closing ceremony of the camp yesterday.
Mr. Dutta highlighted different social issues in the national sphere from the RSS’s perspective and further appealed to everyone to remain vigilant and thanked every individual involved in making the training camp a success.

Sikkim Bachao Abhiyan to take out weekly publication

GANGTOK, 15 Jan: An executive committee meeting of Sikkim Bachao Abhiyan [SBA] was convened under the chairmanship of its president, Jeewan Pradhan, on Sunday. The meeting discussed future strategies and programmes of the organization.
An SBA press release informs that the meeting agreed that due to unsound financial condition at present the organization was not being able to pursue some of its programmes. The meeting also discussed plans to publish its mouthpiece, ‘Jan Bhawana’, in a weekly format soon and decided to offer primary and lifetime memberships and raise funds for the organization.

Young Boys to represent Sikkim at Sub Junior nationals

GANGTOK, 15 Jan: A Sikkim Football Association [SFA] team comprising of players from the Young Boys Football Academy of Gyalshing, West Sikkim, left on Saturday to represent the State at the 34th edition of the Sub-Junior National Football Championship for the Coca Cola Cup scheduled to be held in Cuttack, Odisha, from 18 to 27 January.
The state team comprises the entire set of young and promising footballers from YBFA and is accompanied by their coach, Namgyal Bhutia, and manager, Palden Bhutia.
Before leaving for the tournament, SFA had organized a 15-day coaching camp for the team at Kyongsa Ground, Gyalshing.
Speaking to NOW! over the phone from Gyalshing, the coach, Mr Bhutia informed that the Young Boys Football Academy has footballers from all eight constituencies of West Sikkim.
He mentioned that the team is in a good form and enjoy a fluid coordination on field. He expects them to do well at the tournament and definitely clear the qualifying round of the tournament.
He also expressed gratitude on behalf of the Academy to the SFA for providing an opportunity to the YBFA footballers of West Sikkim to represent the State and assured that the team will put in its best effort to do well.
Area MLA, PL Subba, who is also the YBFA Chief Patron, DC [West], Santa Pradhan, who is the YBFA patron, and other executive members of the academy wished the the team well and sent them off with khadas at a special send-off function organized at Kyongsa Groug yesterday.
The Sikkim team will be playing its first qualifying match against Jharkhand on 19 January followed by the second and final qualifying match against West Bengal on 21 January. If it clears this round, it will be playing in the semi-finals on 25 January.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Tourism infrastructure to get a boost with slew of projects on the anvil

GANGTOK, 13 Jan: The State government is looking at starting another hotel management institute in the State, it is informed. A new Institute of Hotel Management is to come up in the Hathi-Dhunga block of West Sikkim, constructed by the Tourism Department.
The Department, it is learnt, has already begun the process of acquiring nearly 4 hectares of land in the area. If it does come up, this will be the second IHM in the State, the first being the one at Rumtek. In fact it is informed that more and more youth are being attracted to the hospitality industry and especially with Sikkim being a tourist state the government is promoting this particular sector so that more youth can find gainful employment.
Several projects have been initiated by the State government through the Tourism department for the promotion of tourism and tourism-related infrastructure here in the past couple of months, it is further learnt.
The government plans to develop a hot spring in Dzongu, with the Tourism Department having put up such a proposal to be taken up in Lingdem block of Upper Dzongu in North Sikkim for tourism promotion in the area.
For this purpose, the Department is in the process of acquiring land in the area.
The Tourism department, in its endeavour to promote tourism in Sikkim, is also in the process to develop tourism related infrastructure at Luing near Gangton in East Sikkim for which it is acquiring another 3 hectares of land.
In addition to this, the department is also acquiring another around 2.5 hectares for the development of a tourism project at Simick, East Sikkim.
A Heliport, car park along with an approach road is also being constructed by the department at Ringhem above Mangan in North Sikkim. A tourist resort is being constructed at Deu, South Sikkim on half a hectare plot and the construction of a car parking facility near Rumtek Gumpa is also being undertaken.
Other projects being undertaken by the department include the installation of a ropeway station at Namchi bazaar and Singithang, South Sikkim. A Tenzing Hillary Park is also being developed at Maneybong, Uttarey, West Sikkim for which 4 hectares land was recently acquired by the department.