Friday, January 27, 2012

15-day Sikkim Snow & Culture fest to power tourism recovery mission

GANGTOK, 24 Jan: The Sikkim Snow & Culture Festival, jointly organized by the Tourism Department, TAAS, SHRA and various village tourism development committees, is all set to commence from 14 February and conclude on 29 February. The event, aimed as a ‘recovery mission’ for the tourism industry devastated by the 18 Sept Earthquake, will seek to showcase afresh to prospective visitors and announce that ‘normalcy’ has returned to Sikkim and that it was still safe, pristine and peaceful like it has always been.
Tourism Minister, Bhim Dhungel, unveiled plans for the Fest at a press conference here today. Accompanied by the Tourism Secretary, R Telang, TAAS president, Lukendra Rasaily, SHRA president, Bhanu Rasaily, TAAS general secretary, Norgay Lachungpa and SHRA general secretary, Prashant Subedi, the Minister also released the Sikkim Snow & Culture Fest stickers, posters, T-Shirts and launched the official website,
Although the fest falls in a lean period of the tourist season, the organisers expect around 55,000 tourists to till make it here. The State government, it is informed, is promoting the event through different media houses across the country and organizing press conferences in all the cities where there are Sikkim Houses to announce the fest.
Many travel writers of repute have also been invited to Sikkim to cover the event, it is informed.
The festival will highlight the culture, nature, adventure activities in Sikkim and will also include a series of talent hunt exercises.
Amongst the various activities lined up for the tourists are adventure activities such as mountain biking, rallies & races, trekking, camping, angling, skiing, paragliding, rock climbing, river rafting, treasure hunt competition, zorbing, kayaking, hot air balloons, paint ball shooting, which will be organized at venues throughout the state.
Further, there will be exhibition and sale counters of paintings, handicrafts, drift woods, flower shows, factory produce from Sikkim, and mountaineering equipment on display. Along with entertainment activities such as cultural shows, food festivals, yak rides, Singye dances and fashion shows, there will also be country music contest, folk song contests, dance contests, beauty pageants, beat contest and Valentine’s Day special programme.
Tour packages, trekking, customised tours to pilgrimage destinations and even ice hockey and golf at the highest golf course in the world will also be organized with the support of the Indian Army.
The events are open for all including locals.
It was also informed that the Snow & Culture Fest 2012 will be followed by the Sikkim Youth Adventure Fest which will continue throughout the year.
In this regard, the Tourism Minister stated, “These fests will restore tourist traffic to Sikkim to what it was prior to the earthquake. The Mission will be used as a tool to rejuvenate the businesses, rekindle the enthusiasm of the tourism stakeholders and most importantly restore the position of Sikkim as the most favoured eco-tourism destination on the tourism map of the country and the world”.
He added that the State Government has pledged full support to the mission under the leadership of the Chief Minister, Pawan Chamling, and would continue to guide its course through the year.
“The fest is being organized for the economic benefit of the local stakeholders and also promotes quality tourism instead of quantity. This is a collective effort since it is a mammoth task we have at hand. The fest will also be an aggressive marketing strategy which will recover the tourism industry which has been affected due to the earthquake. Everything will change for the better now since almost all rebuilding and rehabilitation works are over,” stated the Tourism Minister.

Protesting SSA group to seek permission for dharna and continue trying to meet CM

GANGTOK, 24 Jan: Around 30 members of the All Sikkim Departmental Adhoc Staff Group [ASDASG] teaching and non-teaching staff of the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan [SSA] under the Human Resource Development Department [HRDD], who had gathered at the District Administrative Centre here at Sichey this morning seeking permission to sit for a dharna to press for their demands from the Superintendent of Police [East] Office had to return disappointed as today was a Government holiday.
“They wanted to meet the SP [East], but today being a government holiday the office of the SP [East] was closed and so I requested them to return tomorrow morning when the office reopens and meet the SP [East] regarding the permission,” informed Sub Divisional Magistrate, East, Dr AB Karki while speaking to NOW!
“Initially they were agitated and angry at being let down, but then I explained to them the procedures that have to be followed for obtaining such permissions and that this was not the right way to do things,” he said.
Meanwhile, Jigmee Bhutia, a member of the ASDASG, while speaking to NOW! later, informed that they had no idea that today was a holiday and that it was only when they reached the DAC premises that they came to know that today was a Government holiday.
“We could not meet the SP to apply for the permission, but we still wanted to sit for the dharna there. It was only after the assurance and guidance of the SDM [East] that we left from the DAC premises”, he added.
“On Wednesday, we will come and meet the SP [East] and seek his permission to sit for the dharna, and if we are not given permission for the dharna, we will go ahead with our hunger strike in front of the DAC,” he stated further adding that half of them will seek permission for the dharna, while the other half will seek an appointment with the Chief Minister, tomorrow morning.
The SDPO [East] and the PI of the Sadar Police Station were also present at the DAC today to control the situation from getting out of hand.

IRBn recruitment results to be announced on 25 Jan

GANGTOK, 24 Jan: Continuing with its efforts to undertake the largest recruitment drive ever at one go in the State, the India Reserve Battalion [IRBn], Sikkim, is going to announce the final results of the recruitment of  500 jawans for its two newly raised Battalions on 25 January. These will be available on the notice boards of all the police stations, offices of all the SDPOs, offices of all the District SPs and the Police Headquarters in Gangtok, after 10 AM on 25 Jan. Besides, these will also be available at the official website of the Sikkim Police i.e.
Briefing media persons in this regard, the Inspector General of the Armed Police, Akshay Sachdeva said that the final results have been based on each candidate’s individual performance in physical, written and oral tests conducted last year. He stated that the selected candidates will be required to report at the Police headquarters, during the working hours between 01 to 11 February, barring the public holidays and Sundays, along with their original documents.
He further added that they will have to bring with them Sikkim Subject Certificate, Date of Birth certificate, Reserved Category certificate, Qualification certificate and the Employment Card. The selected candidates will have to undergo medical fitness tests and character verification, before joining the India Reserve Battalion, Sikkim, which will have an all India posting liability, informed.
The Inspector General of the Armed Police revealed that despite a fifty per cent i.e. 250 seats being reserved for Home Guards, only 22 such candidates could get through and rest of the seats went to the open category, as was stipulated in the advertisement itself, bringing the total of selected candidates from the open category to 478. He made it clear that they too will get reservations as per the State Government norms.
It may be mentioned here that the viva-voce for the recuritment had taken place on 15, 16, 18, 21 and 22 of November, 2011 at the Sikkim Police Headquarters in Gangtok. About 5,000 candidates had appeared for the physical efficiency test held in all the four districts between 21 July to 06 August, 2011. Some 1,400 of them were cleared for the written test held at four centres on 28 August, 2011. West Point School and the TNA in Gangtok were the centres for the East and North districts, while JNV, Rothak in West district and Government Senior Secondary School, Namchi were the examination centres for the West and South districts.

SSSO to host 3-month long Vasanta Mahotsav in Gangtok

GANGTOK, 24 Jan: Sri Sathya Sai Organisation for Gangtok and the North District is all set to organise Saraswati Puja, along with Vasanta Mahotsav-2012 from 28 January till 29 April at Thakurbari.
Addressing a press conference here in the capital today, the chief coordinator of the organising committee, Kiran Rasaily, informed that the Mahotsav will feature exhibitions, seminars, workshops on various forms of art at the Thakurbari complex.
The Mahotsav is scheduled to be inaugurated by the HRD Minister, NK Pradhan, on 29 January. Likewise, the inaugural tutorial class for the children on various subjects covering academic and art education will also be provided.
A major attraction of the Mahotsav begins from 29 January till 11 February with an exhibition, workshop on drawing, painting and sculpture along with literary session every Sunday. Also, throughout the fest, exhibition and seminar on wildlife photography by Sikkim Ornithological Society, photo shoot session on the theme of ‘Emotion’, Graphic Design and Creative, Applied arts, inspirational songs, bhakti geet, skit competition on Hindu mythology, art and craft exhibition for college students, art and craft events for school students.
From 01 to 21 April, the inauguration of the India International Photographic Council- Sikkim and North-east chapter at Gangtok along with international, national level exhibition of photography and workshop on portraiture, fashion and production, journalism, digital photography, cinematography, nature, wildlife and festivals.
From 24 April onwards, prayers and devotional songs, exhibition of the photographs depicting the great moments of Sai Baba’s life will be showcased and on 29 April the valedictory function will be held.
Mr. Rasaily further mentioned that the co-organizers of the programme are fine arts - Oviya Art Circle, Gangtok; Wildlife Photography- Sikkim Ornithological Society; Sculpture, Craft and Fine Arts- Vikas Kala Akademi [VIKAS]; National, international exhibition of photographs, seminar, workshop by India International Photographic Council, Delhi; Exhibition of Photographs on Nature and Himalayas by Ashok Dilwali [Delhi]; Graphic Design, Creative Art, Applied Art by GM Pahari [Government College of Art, Kolkata]; Literature by Vichar Kala Sangam, Gangtok, Performing Art by Various artists and Sai youth and Photo Journalism, Creative Photography by Third Eye, Kolkata.

Singhi Cham at Lingthem Monastery

LINGTHEM, 24 Jan:  A weeklong Singhi Cham concluded at the Rikzing Choephel Targayling, Monastery at Lingthem in Upper Dzongu on 23 January. Organized by the public and the gumpa committee, the rituals had begun on 17 January.
This auspicious Singhi Cham is held every three years at the monastery with the devout believing that it benefits all the people and propitiates the Gods for world peace. Despite the remoteness of the village, the monastery was packed with the devotees on the final day.
Around 70 monks of the monastery, including the Omje and Dorjee Lopen, recited the special prayers - gyaldep – through the seven days. Kawang was bestowed on the people on the final day.
On the penultimate day, the chyam was attended by the area MLA, Power Minister Sonam Gyatso Lepcha accompanied by the DC North, TN Kazi,  DDO Chewang Gyatso Bhutia, Chairman Milk Union, Choden Lepcha, former chairman Chumki Saring Lepcha, MNP councillor Pappu Kumar Mallu, Panchayat members, officials and the devotees.
Legden Lepcha, the Tsultrimpha of the monastery, while speaking to NOW! informed that the monastery was established in the year 1854 by Lama Zogchen Singrap Gyatso. Only the Tholung Monastery is of older vintage in Dzogu. He also informed that the main purpose for the Singhi Chyam was to eradicate bad karmas and seek world peace.

UIDAI report on biometric technology confirms its accuracy and reliability

GANGTOK, 24 Jan: The UIDAI has released a report titled ‘The Role of Biometric Technology in Aadhaar Enrollment’ which confirms that the enrollment system has proven to be reliable, accurate and scalable to meet the nation’s need of providing unique Aadhaar numbers to the entire population, informs a press release.
The report is the outcome of a detailed analysis of the biometric accuracy and performance based on 8.4 crore Aadhaar enrollments.
It has been affirmed that UIDAI’s biometric capability for enrolments is ready to handle high throughput (10 lakh Aadhaars per day), accuracy (99.965% on duplication detection) and scale (database can be of 1.2 billion people). The UIDAI since issuing the first Aadhaar number on 29 Sept 2010 in Tembhali, Maharashtra has issued over 10 crore Aadhaar numbers as of 31 Dec 2011, making it one of the largest biometric systems in the world, the release mentions.
The primary design decisions that have enabled achievement of this high degree of accuracy and scale are: combining both 10 finger prints and 2 iris has greatly improved accuracy of de-duplication; the multi-ABIS solution architecture [three biometric service providers] has contributed to lowering costs, increasing throughput and fine-tuning accuracy; the highly scalable architecture based on open components and commodity hardware has made this ramp-up possible.
On the effectiveness of biometric technology in the Indian context with large number of rural/agricultural workers, the release mentions that the analysis has shown that the ‘Failure to Enroll’ (FTE) rate of the UIDAI Biometric system is at: 0.14%.  This implies that 99.86% of the population can be uniquely identified by the biometric system.
Even the exceptions (0.14%) are checked manually and processed. The False Negative Identification Rate (FNIR) of the UIDAI system is computed to be as low as 0.035%. This implies that 99.965% of all duplicates submitted to the biometric de-duplication system are correctly caught by the system as duplicates.
According to the release, Chairman, UIDAI, Nandan Nilekani said “The UIDAI biometric system is processing over 100 trillion biometric person matches with a high degree of accuracy each day capable of issuing 10 lakh Aadhaars daily. This makes it not only one of the most accurate but soon to be the largest biometric system in the world.”
Director General, UIDAI, RS Sharma said “This certainly gives us a high degree of confidence in executing this project of national importance with scale and accuracy.”

Upreti welcomes fresh petition against CM

GANGTOK, 24 Jan: Senior vice president of the Sikkim Pradesh Congress Committee [SPCC], KN Upreti, has welcomed the fresh petition filed in the Supreme Court by Delay Namgyal Kazi and Pema Dadul against Chief Minister Pawan Chamling and his Cabinet Ministers on various charges of corruption and misuse of public funds.
A press release issued by Mr Upreti states that following the withdrawal of a similar PIL on behalf of the Congress party filed earlier by Kunga Nima Lepcha and the subsequent silence on the issue has proven that the SPCC president Nar Bahadur Bhandari and Mr Lepcha have betrayed the party and the people.
The release further commends the efforts of Delay Namgyal Kazi and Pema Dadul.

Mangshila residents conduct peace prayers at accident site on the Singtam-Dikchu highway

MANGAN, 24 Jan:  The residents of Mangshilla in North Sikkim observed two days of peace prayers at 4th mile on the Singtam-Dikchu highway on 23 and 24 January under the supervision of Sirijunga Manghim Committee.  The prayers were held at the spot where recently seven tourists were killed in an accident.
On its first day, the prayers were conducted by the lamas with the “Zenshi” prayers and on the second day, puja was performed by Fedangmas (Limboo Priests) with participation of people from all walks of life.
President Sirijunga Mangheem Committee, Mak Raj Limboo informed that a number of accidents have been reported on this stretch which also poses risks for villagers crossing this spot in the evenings.  He also added that the spot between Namok Khola and 5th mile has recorded a high number of accidents in the past and many have lost their lives.

SHRPP to celebrate 10th anniv on 02 Feb

GANGTOK, 24 Jan: The Sikkim Himali Rajya Parishad Party’s CEC meeting held here at the residence of its party president Dr. AD Subba at Tadong today decided to celebrate the party’s 10th anniversary on a somber note on 02 February.
The meeting also discussed the latest petition filed in the Supreme Court against the Chief Minister and the State Government. While welcoming 23 January Supreme Court notice to the Central Government, CBI, Chief Minister and his cabinet colleagues, Dr. Subba demanded that the Chief Minister resign from his post on moral grounds and allow CBI to carry out an independent investigation into the allegations.

Rotary Club gifts ‘rain shelter’ to Syari

GANGTOK, 24 Jan: Rotary Club of Gangtok, South, donated a rain shelter to the community of Syari on 23 January in a short inaugural function.
During the function, Club member Jasoda Chettri gave a brief overview of the aims and objectives of the Rotary Club while president, Sunila Verma presented a detailed report of the projects taken up by the club, informs a press release.
She informed that the aesthetically constructed shelter was funded by Rotary International and is a gift to the Syari community from Rotary. The shelter can be used as a waiting shed and also as a Polio Booth to administer polio drops to children as part of the National Immunisation Day, said Ms Verma.
It was informed that the club had organised a free medical check-up camp in collaboration with Durgapur Mission Hospital and identified 4 children for surgery through the Rotary India Humanity and Rotary Heart to Heart at the Mission Hospital  Durgapur.
The release informs that this year the club has adopted 13 children from Sikkim Viklang Samiti and got them enrolled with Five Ways Institute to help them acquire basic qualification of class X and XII so that they can become employable and self reliant and not dependent on charity and compassion. These children are given free tuitions by Rotarians and volunteer teachers.
The club felicitated the volunteer teachers Purnima Gurung, Mr. Paras Lecturer, Roshan Bhutia and Ms Tensang. The president expressed her gratitude to Director Five Ways Institute, Dr HP Chettri for enrolling the children free of cost, the release mentions.
General secretary of Syari Employees Welfare Association (SEWA), BB Subba and representatives from the Syari Taxi Association, Accountant General Quarters, Cheli Morcha thanked the Rotary Club for constructing the shelter. Onex Lepcha, a social worker who played a key role in supervising the construction of the shelter was also felicitated by the Rotary Club.
The programme was also attended by a team of fifteen Rotarians from Kochin who have been travelling to 23 states to promote Polio Eradication along with State Polio Immunisation Officer, Dr Shashi Chettri and Raj Bangar educated the audience about polio, the release adds.
The chief guest, Minister HRDD, NK Pradhan thanked the Rotary club for the shelter and requested the community of Syari to maintain it. The programme was also attended by Dy Mayor, Shakti Singh.

How the new variety of Sikkim Pahelo Dal-3 was developed

GANGTOK, 24 Jan: A new variety of Pahelo Dal, SKM PD-3 (Sikkim Pahelo Dal-3 ) developed by the ICAR Research Complex for NEH Region, Sikkim Centre, Tadong was released by the Sikkim State Seed Subcommittee on 17 January. The program on identification of a new variety of Pahelo Dal was started under the leadership of Dr. H. Rahman (Former, Joint Director) of the Centre during 2006, informs an ICAR press release.
Various germplasm of Pahelo Dal were collected from locations across the state and then evaluated at the Research farm of ICAR, Sikkim centre, Tadong, Gangtok. The identified strain was then tested across all the four districts of the state for 2-3 years with the help of State Agriculture officers, KVK coordinators and various extension workers of the State Agriculture departments, the release informs.
The varietal development team comprised of Dr. R Karuppaiyan, Dr. H Rahman, Chandan Kapoor, Dr. SV Ngachan from ICAR and  SK Sinha, and Dr. Yashoda Pradhan from the State Agriculture Department. Earlier Sikkim Sarson-1 (Yellow sarson) and NLD white (maize) have been released by ICAR for commercial cultivation in Sikkim.
The release mentions that the new variety of Pahelo dal will be helpful for the farming community as it is the most important pulse crop of the region and in heavy demand round the year. The variety yield is comparatively high (8.5 quintals/ha) as compared to traditional local Pahelo Dal.
Some of the improved characteristics include determinate growth, synchronous habit, medium duration and fairly tolerant to blight disease. The variety is suitable for the mid-hills of Sikkim. The seed of the variety will be commercially available after notification in the Central State Seed committee, the release adds.

NYK organises essay competition at Makha

MANGAN, 24 Jan:  NYK Gangtok in collaboration with RHI-SYS-TRE at Paksum Moonlight Sangh Patuk, East Sikkim organized an Essay Competition on 23 January on the birth anniversary of Netaji Subash Chandra Bose.
Ward Panchayat, Patuk, KB Chettri was present as the chief guest at the function which began with a welcome address by BB Chettri. The chief guest and president Moonlight Sangh, PK Chettri in their addresses spoke on the Netaji's contribution towards the nation and urged the coming generation to follow in his footsteps.
The competition was adjudged by judges, KN Koirala and KL Koirala and the winners were awarded with prizes. The programme concluded with the vote of thanks by Rohit Sapkota.

Workshop held on linking budding entrepreneurs in food processing sector with different agencies and schemes

GANGTOK, 24 Jan: ASSOCHAM (Associated Chambers of Commerce & Industry of India) in collaboration with Ministry of Food Processing Industries, ICAR and Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DONER) organized a workshop today at Hotel Rendezvous. The aim of the workshop was to act as an interface between Small Time Entrepreneurs and front line officers from the different central government ministries and bodies as well as the various departments of the State government.
The workshop sought to assimilate the small and budding entrepreneurs with the various govt. schemes, to analyze the agro-horticultural resources of the region, to identify the problems of food processing industries in the state and to identify the economic feasibility of food processing industries.
Senior Director ASSOCHAM, Dr. Ombeer Tyagi in his preliminary address outlined the need for organizing this workshop. He said, “The agro-climatic condition in the State makes it suitable for growing almost all kinds of agricultural and horticultural crops and setting up of food processing industries. Government of India is promoting the food processing sector in the region to utilize its vast potential of raw horticultural produce through its various financial assistance schemes primarily through Ministry of Food Processing Industries and agencies like MSME, NHB, APEDA, NABARD, QCI, NHM etc along with the Government of Sikkim”.
He further added that “To develop strategic symbiotic synergy between the efforts of the Government and the industries, ASSOCHAM in collaboration with Ministry of Food Processing Industries took an initiative to organize this workshop with an aim to reach the budding processed food units in the state of Sikkim and make them aware about various assistance plans and schemes of the Central and State Government”.
Joint Director ICAR Sikkim, Saroj Toppo, in her address highlighted the constraints in the backward and forward linkages in the food processing sector and called upon the State government to play an important catalytic role in this effort by building partnerships with various central Government bodies, bankers, financial institutions and technical & management institutions. Appreciating the farmers of the state, she mentioned that although hardworking the farmers here lack financial support.
Director Agriculture, Khorla Bhutia shed some light on some of the centrally sponsored schemes which are being successfully run by the State government. He made a special mention of the National Watershed Program for Rainfed Areas (NWPRA) which is one of the most widely implemented Central Govt. schemes in Sikkim. In his address, he focused on the potential of Sikkim in the food processing industry.
Ministry of Food Processing Industries, Sanjay Singh in his address emphasized on promotion of entrepreneurship in North Eastern states and applauded ASSOCHAM for bringing this important agenda to notice by organizing this workshop. He also suggested diversifying agriculture in Sikkim via veterinary, poultry, floriculture etc.
Special Secretary, Department of Commerce and Industry, PT Ethenpa, present as the chief guest at the workshop in his inaugural address touched upon various topics like Attributes of a Successful Entrepreneur, Challenges faced by him/her and the support and assistance provided by the Government, Educational Institutes and apex industry bodies like ASSOCHAM. He said that knowledge, hard work, drive, mental strength, resilience, patience, creativity, passion and vision are extremely important to succeed.
On the other hand, challenges which could be faced by an entrepreneur are limited capital, lack of access, lack of knowledge, competition, pricing and technologies. He also gave a holistic picture of the Indian Food industry as well as scope of Sikkim to get itself in the forefront. The food processing sector has undoubtedly the potential to be an industry driver that can transform India’s rural economy, he stated.
Several food processing units are mushrooming all over the state and we are optimistic that the increase in the production of spices, fruits and vegetables as well cultivation of cash crops in the coming years will lead to a burgeoning food processing industry in the state, the Secretary added.
The workshop concluded with the vote of thanks by Programme Coordinator KVK Sikkim, AK Mohanty where he thanked ASSOCHAM and all the speakers on the dais for their valuable inputs.

SSA group crowds Mintokgang gate seeking collective meeting with CM to pursue service extension demand

GANGTOK, 23 Jan: Around 100 teaching and non-teaching staff employed on contract basis under the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan [SSA] by the Human Resource Development Department [HRDD] gathered at the gates of the Chief Minister’s official residence, Mintokgang, today demanding to meet him in person in pursuance of their demand seeking extension of their tenure. They are being supported by 176 Computer Teachers, who it is reported, had been assured by the Chief Minister of regular jobs, which have still not materialized and who have not received salaries for the last three months. Collectively, the group have formed an association by the name of “All Sikkim Departmental Adhoc Staff Group” [ASDASG] comprising of teaching and non-teaching staff.
“We have been trying to meet the Chief Minister for the past many days and have tried to get an appointment 2-3 times already, but have always been turned back by the PRO stating that we cannot get an appointment with the CM regarding this issue,” claimed Sonam G Sherpa [president, All Sikkim Departmental Adhoc Staff Group], while speaking to media-persons here today.
Interestingly, Mr. Sherpa also informed that the Chief Minister’s Office had conveyed word to them today to select a 5-member delegation to meet with the CM and discuss their demands. The ASDASG however decided not to send a small delegation and remained steadfast in their demand to meet him as a group, fearing that a smaller representation might feel intimidated and not pursue their demands as effectively.
At the crux of the matter is their demand for extension of their services.
“We were recruited last year and had put up the file regarding the extension of our tenure in November, 2011, and even the HRD Minister had approved the file for sanction. But when the file came to the officer’s level, it went missing and we have not been able to trace it,” he said. “It looks like that the departmental officials are trying to suppress the file and now we all have been running after the file to find its location,” he said.
“Our’s is a contractual job and we get consolidated pay and when we are asked to join we are given ‘service books’, wherein it reads that we are to have this job until the SSA projects running under the State government are not over, but here we are not even being given extension of our services even though the SSA continues,” argued Jigmee Bhutia, an ASDASG member.
He further informed that as they were drawing consolidated pay, they received only 22 days salary for December, 2011 instead of a complete month. “We were told that as we had worked for just the 22 working days we were being paid that amount,” he added.
Speaking on the agenda, the ASDASG president informed that the existing employees [under SSA] should continue on their jobs. Their group, he added, was “totally“ against NCTE criteria based norms and is also demanding that the previous staff should be extended the same privileges as the SSA regulars.
“There should be no discrimination from any department or the government policy, but should get equal justification before the eyes of law; we also want that there should be a systematic process for everyone in recruitment or extension; clear notification and circular should be forwarded by the department in any matter; we should be regularized under the manifesto of our state government as this list comes under the concurrent bill which has the same priority as the central government,” he added.
Mr. Sherpa insists that their group has no political affiliations and that they were taking the present stand for job security. He however added, “If our department cannot fulfill our demands, we will be compelled to become a politicised body”.
On the plan of action if a meeting with the Chief Minister as demanded by them does not materialize, he informed that the next course of action would be to go on a hunger strike, then march out with black flags and if even this approach fails, then turn completely political by fielding independent candidates for the upcoming panchayat elections and the assembly polls in 2014.
Meanwhile, the group sat in a meeting later in the day to decide future action. This meeting, the group’s president informs, resolved to try and meet the Chief Minister once again on Tuesday and should even this attempt end without results, go ahead with a dharna.
The president also alleged harassment by the PRO to the CM and the Superintendent of Police [East] in their bid to seek an appointment with the CM today.

JICA commits Rs 13 crore towards earthquake restoration

GANGTOK, 23 Jan: The State Forest Department has received formal approval from Japan International Cooperation Agency [JICA] for funds of Rs 13.12 crore to restore damage suffered by departmental infrastructure in the 18 September earthquake.
With JICA’s approval confirmed on 12 Jan, the Forest Department has pulled out its application seeking a similar fund from the Union Government for repairing earthquake damaged infrastructures, said Forest Secretary, ST Lachungpa in a press conference today.
Mr Lachungpa said that in the aftermath of the 18 September earthquake a detailed project report on restoration and renovation of departmental infrastructure damaged was prepared and submitted to JICA for funds. The restoration works are likely to commence by February, added Mr Lachungpa.
Additional PCCF and JICA assisted Sikkim Biodiversity and Forest Management Project Director, Anil Mainra informed that since major restoration works will be taken under JICA funding, the Union Government has expressed its willingness to fund the left over works under Integrated Forest Management System.
Two representatives of JICA will be visiting Sikkim on 30 Jan for a five-day trip during which they will assess the damages and funding estimated in our report, said Mr Mainra.
Mr Mainra further informed that the earthquake restoration fund of Rs 13.12 crore will come from the JICA project he explained that the JICA funding is done in the Japanese Yen which currently has a strong value in Indian currency. This fluctuation of rates in Yen and Indian Rupee and the profit derived through this has increased the total JICA funding for the project by 10-15%.

Delay Namgyal petitions Supreme Court with corruption allegations against CM and State Govt

GANGTOK, 23 Jan: Now, another petition has reached the Supreme Court of India leveling corruption charges against the Chief Minister and the State government. Delay Namgyal Barfungpa, formerly with the Congress and now vice-president, Sikkim National People’s Party (SNPP), has filed a fresh petition in the apex court which came up for hearing today. He has filed this petition along with two other petitioners.
The Supreme Court in turn, it is informed, has issued notices to the Chief Minister and the State government to respond to the allegations made in the writ petition against them. The response has to be filed within a time period of 4 weeks.
While the petition is fresh, the charges are a repeat of the Congress charges against the state government and the CM. In fact, Mr. Barfungpa, while speaking to NOW! over the phone from New Delhi, stated as much while detailing that he has approached the Supreme Court with allegations of corruption against the state government and the chief minister.
“It’s the same as the CBI corruption cases which the state Congress had filed against the state government and CM and we have asked the apex court to enquire into the corruption cases,” he said.
Mr. Barfungpa further stated that he filed the petition because he wants the corruption charges against the State government to be enquired into.
It may be recalled that the state Congress had also filed a petition against the Chief Minister and the state government leveling accusations of various degrees of corruption and misuse of central government funds. A publication called “Sikkim Burmaloot” had also been released by the State Congress in illustration of its allegations. Following the dismissal of the petition, the Sikkim Pradesh Congress Committee approached the Central Bureau of Investigation which is said to have conducted an enquiry. Following that, the State government also set up the Patra Commission to look into the allegations leveled by the state Congress. While the Patra Commission had been conducting hearings on the case, a petition has again been filed in the Sikkim high court challenging the constitution of the Patra Commission itself.

Contractor makes bail in counterfeit currency case

GANGTOK, 23 Jan: Roshan Agarwal, arrested by the Sikkim Crime Branch on charges of possessing counterfeit currency, was released on bail today, two days after his arrest. The class-A contractor had filed an application for bail which came up for hearing at the East District Courts today. It is informed that the court granted him bail on the condition that he does not leave Namchi town [where the case is booked]; furthermore he is to report to the investigating officer at the Namchi Thana as and when required.
The accused has been booked by the CID on charges of possessing counterfeit currency and of trying to use fake currency as genuine while knowing it to be fake. He was arrested on Saturday following which he developed medical complications and was admitted at the Namchi hospital. He was later shifted to the STNM Hospital, Gangtok. He was reported to be suffering from anxiety.
The Crime Branch had been tipped off by sources that Roshan Agarwal had deposited some fake currency notes at a bank in Namchi; here, it is informed, that the police recovered fake notes worth Rs. 22,000. The CID had been tipped off by its sources on the ‘circulation’ of such fake Indian currency notes and had got into action and made the arrest. The accused is facing charges under 489 B and 489 C of the Indian Penal Code. The case is under investigation.

Editorial: On Vacation

It is a Government holiday today, and before one has finished sending out all the Sonam Lochar greetings, it will be time for another breather the day after with government offices on holiday for the Republic Day. The two, almost back-to-back holidays are a teaser to how extravagantly Sikkim celebrates holidays. Although a daily newspaper which conscientiously takes every Sunday off [the stands] and almost routinely celebrates every other holiday as well, might draw sniggers for its attempt to comment on work-cultures linked to holidays, we still stick our necks out, sandbagged behind the argument that the administration should be more accessible and accountable in a State like Sikkim where every aspect of life draws a string back to the government. [The limited readerships absolve newspapers of similar accountability because much fewer lives are touched]. Counting all the gazetted holidays, second Saturdays and Sundays, the year 2012 has an astounding 99 holidays for State Government employees in Sikkim! That’s nearly three and a half months of no work for the entire administration this year. Add to these the prescribed leaves enjoyed by government servants, and the number of days a government servant needs to report for duty slims down even more dramatically than the mere 266 days this year that all offices will remain open. Even for a holiday obsessed country, this figure must be a strong contender for a record among the States.
Don’t get us wrong, this is not an attempt to argue for fewer government holidays; in fact, Sikkim should seriously consider adopting a 5-day week, if for nothing else, then to reduce the expense on travel allowances and to allow the environment to breathe lighter for some more days. But that is a discussion for some other time. For now, let’s focus on what such a lavish number of holidays should guarantee for the lay Sikkimese. Those who depend on government offices to get work done should receive better services. After all, government employees here, apart from being among the better paid state government employees in the country, are also among the most rested, enjoying, on an average, a little over eight days off every month. This should recharge them amply and bring them reinvigorated to their desks and less bogged down by the lethargy which now defines bureaucracy in our country. As per the Report of the State Administrative Reforms Commission, submitted to the State Government in June 2010, the Sikkim government employees also spend the least amount of time in office, and this, not just because they enjoy the most number of official holidays, but also because the official working hours [10 a.m. to 4 p.m.] here are the lowest in the country which mostly operates on the 9 to 5 format on a 5-day week system. One will not even venture into how casually even this shortened working-hours schedule is followed, and close the detailing by reiterating that State government servants in Sikkim are well provided for in as much as remunerations and holidays are concerned. Improved work culture and better work ethic should hence not be considered an unfair demand.
Now, let’s see how service delivery measures up in this work-force when it is not on vacation. For want of space in this already too long a piece, we speak only of how fast [rather, slow] a file moves from the time a prospective beneficiary submits an application to the time a decision is made and communicated. As per the Report of the State Administrative Reforms Commission, such files take a “long and arduous” journey. While a person might address the letter directly to the Head of the concerned Department, once received by his office, the file moves down to the bottom tier of the system, one rung at a time. In most cases, as per the Report, the ‘files’ “settle down” at this level and rarely get moving [up] unless ‘pushed’. The Report also records that there is rarely any “intellectual input” on the contents of the file from the dealing assistant right up to the Superintendent level but it still halts there along the way. From the Under Secretary upwards, substantial inputs are made and by the time the file reaches the HoD a ‘draft’ order or reply is inked on the file. Then it reaches the Minister, and if required the Cabinet. The quickest that file can complete its downward process is 21 days. Given the average number of holidays, that’s already a month gone and if there are more than the normal number of reds on the almanac at the time, even longer. And then, the file has to move up again, and although this is quicker, it will still take seven working days to complete this journey. But that’s under ideal conditions. In general, the Report informs, the down and up process takes three months. Interestingly, the Report observes that the “indirect compulsion to keep everyone occupied in one way of the other itself complicates the process and adds to the delays”. Surely, with so many days officially off and that many fewer working hours per day, every employee should already be busy catching up with pending work for there to be any need to keep them so compulsorily occupied in matters they cannot contribute anything to. If they are not, clearer delegation of responsibilities should be made so that service delivery improves. They could definitely figure out a way to iron out these wrinkles in the days that they turn up for work between holidays...

Creative Craft makes winters fun for kids with series of workshops

GANGTOK, 23 Jan: ‘Creative Craft’ a learning initiative for growing kids through the process of creative engagement and fun conducted a two-week workshop “Winter is Fun” which concluded on 21 January, informs a press release.
The indoor-outdoor workshop focused on three main aspects required for a child’s self development – i.e. making them self reliant, enhancing self discipline in them and aspects of self awareness. The workshop conducted by Upashna Khawas and team had 25 students between 5 –12 years of age enrolled, the release informs.
Creative Craft is the learning initiative from the house of ‘24 hours Inspired’, a Bangalore-based personality and leadership enhancement firm established by Dewaker Basnet, the release adds.
The third batch of the workshop starts on 28 January. For more details contact: 78728 80086, 89066 51627

Inter-departmental workshop on lessons to learn from NAP implementation

GANGTOK, 23 Jan: A state-level Inter-departmental Workshop on Convergence of National Afforestation Programme [NAP] and other schemes for Joint Management and Eco-development Committees [EDC] and field-level staff of Sikkim was held today at the Forest Dept conference hall, Deorali.
Organized by the Regional Centre Jadavpur and State Forest Development Agency [SFDA], Sikkim, the workshop’s aim is to take cue from the experience of NAP implementation to make future programmes more efficient and effective.
NAP schemes aim to support and accelerate the ongoing process of devolving forest protection, management and development functions to decentralized institutions of JFMSs at the village level, and FDAs at the Forest level. The overall objective is to develop forest resources with people’s participation with emphasis on livelihood improvement of the forest-fringe communities, especially the poor.
Present at the workshop were IFS,CCF[T] Sikkim, Madam Bharati, IFS Addl PCCF/CWLW, Manjeet Singh, Sr. Scientist Regional centre NAEB, MoEF, Jadavpur University,  M Chatterjee, Research Scientist Regional centre NAEB, MoEF, , Jadavpur University, S Das.
During the workshop, Mr. Singh said that “All the projects except for Golitar are being carried out under the JICA, which are going well till now. The management committees in all the four districts are doing well. The Forest department has done a lot of work in many places and I am very thankful to Jadavpur University for organizing such a programmee”.
Ms Bharati said that the system has totally changed now to a bottom-up approach which brings about holistic development. People in the villages know what exactly the forest department is doing for them and there has been a lot of progress, she added.
Mr Das also added that this workshop is all about the convergence of other departments in the NAP scheme which include Aided Natural Regeneration, Artificial Regeneration, Bamboo Plantation, Mixed Plantation of trees having MFP and medicinal value. The main objective of NAP is to protect forests but it is not just upto the forest department to improve it which is where the point of convergence comes in, said Mr Das.
Immediate wage income through asset creation, development of mechanism for capital building, convergence of other Government Departments to generate wage income and production income through training and input were also highlighted by Mr Das.

Namchi Police nabs culprit behind car theft

NAMCHI, 23 Jan: Namchi Police have managed to nab the culprit behind the car theft that occurred on 15 Jan at Dabuwha near Namchi. SP South, Manoj Tiwari while talking to this correspondent informed that, one Mahindra Rai alias Salim Rai, a resident of Purano Namchi has been arrested while the car was recovered from Gyalshing.
Acting on information from sources, the police picked up the accused from his residence last evening. During interrogation, the accused revealed that seeing the car parked with its keys left inside by the owner, he drove the car towards Gyalshing via Sikip. When he heard that the police were on the case he abandoned the car at Gyalshing and returned to Namchi.
The police however are not convinced with this story and suspect that there might be others involved as well. The SP assured that the case will be solved soon.
It may be recalled here that the Maruti Alto belongs to Prem Nath Dewan of Dabuwha who filed a complaint at Namchi Police station following which PI Namchi, CB Basnet had started investigation.

One killed in truck mishap

NAMCHI, 23 Jan: One person was killed and the driver seriously injured in a truck mishap last night here at Mickhola, a few kilometers from Namchi. The accident occurred at around 9 PM when a truck [SK/03/3399] belonging to one Arjun Jaswal of Namchi was on its way back to Namchi from Siliguri carrying a load of bricks. The truck fell off the road and plunged down around 1,000 ft.
One Kiran Pradhan of Ghurpisey, Pakhrin who had taken a lift in the truck from Kitam Bazaar died on the spot while the driver, Santosh Sherpa, suffered head injuries and is under medical supervision at Namchi Hospital.
The Police have registered a case against the driver at Namchi PS and investigation is underway to establish the cause of the accident. Meanwhile, the body of the deceased was released to the family after autopsy.

Hydel workers briefed on welfare rights

MANGAN, 23 Jan:  The Department of Labour, North District today conducted a programme on Implementation of Building & Other Construction Welfare (RECS) Act 1996 and distribution of Welfare Benefits to Registered Beneficiary workers in North Sikkim here at the power house site at 1200 MW Teesta Stage III H/E Project at Ringdang in North Sikkim.  The function was chaired by SDM Mangan, PW Lepcha as the chief guest.
The Deputy Commissioner Labour, KR Limboo highlighted about the welfare of labourers and informed that workers who work continuously for three months or more in a particular establishment may obtain the relevant forms from the Labour department for registration of workers and beneficiary after deposition of required fee as per the Rules.  He also informed that the contractors have to pay 1% cess to the department mentioning that this Cess, notified in September 2010, goes towards funds to be utilized for the welfare of the workers.
The Deputy Commissioner further informed that a total of 307 laborers have been registered with the Department which covers the life insurance of Rs. 1 lakh.  Apart from it, the beneficiaries will get welfare facilities based on their needs like medicine, injury compensation, death compensation etc.
He further informed that the seven labourers who died in the18 September earthquake will be provided with compensation of Rs. 1 lakh each.  The Deputy Commissioner further highlighted about the establishment of three recreation centres for labourers at Singhik, Chunthang and Theng with facilities like 48-inch television, carom board, volley ball etc.
The chief guest while addressing the workers said that they should know about this Act and about the benefits for which he urged them to be in touch with the department.  He also informed about the importance of registration with the department.
A total of 307 registered labourers were provided with one blanket and one hot case each from the department on the day.

Elected representatives on an exposure visit to Himachal Pradesh

GANGTOK, 23 Jan: In a bid to provide exposure to different parts of the country under capacity building initiatives to the elected members of the GPUs and ZPs, the Rural Management & Development Department, had organised a 10-day visit to Himachal Pradesh for the first group comprising of 16 Panchayat Presidents, Secretaries and Members from 08 to 18 January.
A press release informs that the objective was to provide an opportunity to the elected members to see how Gram Sabhas in various Panchayat units were organised and the PRI was functioning in other states.  The elected members reaped the benefits of such exposure-cum-study visit by learning new things and enhancing their knowledge, skills and attitude through interactions and experience sharing.
The group first visited Mandi District of Himachal Pradesh.  The District Planning Officer at Mandi gave an overview of his district and the system of PRI in vogue.  The group was also introduced to the Intermediary Panchayats or the so called Block Samities by the respective Block Development Officer, the release mentions. An opportunity was also given to the Sikkim group to attend one of its general body meetings at the Block level. The group was then introduced to a number of Self Help Groups and exposed to their activities.
The team visited various Gram Panchayat Units and saw its functioning especially in the implementation of MGNREGA, Water shed harvesting schemes etc.  The group also visited Kullu - Manali areas and interacted with the local panchayats and self help groups.  Such exposure visits would go a long way in improving and honing the capacities of the elected representatives and functionaries in the PRI for managing local self governance, the release further mentions.
Earlier, between 15 – 21 March in 2011 a group of Panchayat Presidents had also visited Manipur for participation in the “Inter-State Interactive Experience Sharing Programme for Beacon Panchayats” hosted by SIRD, Manipur.
Also, 17 staff members of SIRD were sent for an exposure-cum-study visit to NIRD and other Institutions of repute in Hyderabad, the release adds.

SDF plans grand second decadal convention in March

GANGTOK, 23 Jan: The Sikkim Democratic Front has announced plans to celebrate its second decadal convention on 03 and 04 March at Jorethang, South Sikkim in grand manner. This was decided at a meeting of the party held here at party headquarters at Indira Byepass today under the chairmanship of party vice president KB Chamling.
The meeting, also attended by vice presidents, general secretaries, central executive members, former ministers, MLAs and members of various frontal organizations, decided that the celebration will include an internal meeting of the party, public meeting, a cultural extravaganza and also feature the grand finale of Sargam Sikkim, a state-level talent hunt being organized by the cultural wing of the party.
Today’s meeting constituted various sub-committees and handed over their respective responsibilities, informs a press release issued by Amber Rai, publicity secretary of the party. A review meeting of the same is scheduled to be held at Jorethang on 01 February, the release adds.

Exposure tour organized for West Sikkim farmers

GANGTOK, 23 Jan: The Department of AH, LF&VS, Extension and Training Cell organized an exposure tour for progressive farmers of West Sikkim from 15 – 21 Jan. The objective of the tour was to make the farmers aware of progress achieved in the selected farms in the field of dairy farming, poultry farming, piggery, turkey farming, backyard poultry farming, meat processing and packing. growth and development of Azolla (a quick growing aquatic fodder of nutritious value), informs a press release.
Maity Poultry Pvt. Limited Kurmapur, Midnapur, West Bengal Co-operative Milk Producer’s Federation Ltd., Kolkata Mother Dairy Dankuni, Hoogly, West Bengal state poultry farm, Tollygunje and Harrringata Farm Mohanpur, Noida were the farms the group visited.
A review meeting with department officials was held in Sikkim House, Kolkata on 21 Jan which was presided over by Joint Director West AH, LF&VS, Dr. DS Tewari, the release informs.
On the very outset BB Chhetri, a farmer from Mangalbaria, Rinchenpong expressed gratitude to the government for facilitating such an expansive tour. Mr Chhetri is one of the farmers selected for poultry estate at Mangalbaria which will be started soon.
He highlighted that temperature maintenance at brooder stage, grower stage is crucial for poultry farming in hilly regions and in the absence of electricity, heating sand in metal or earthen pot can sustain heat for 10-12 hours, the release mentions.
After this Chintamani Sharma from Timburbung said that they learnt that local feed preparation by mixing all locally available ingredients like ground maize, rice husk, mustard cake etc is more economical and farmers are spending more in purchasing feeds in Sikkim at present.
Sushma Subba of Sardong Dentam highlighted on Azolla culture for availing feed in lean period. She also expressed gratitude to the government for giving equal opportunities to women farmers. While, Sandeep Subba from Gareythang Tashiding highlighted on the need of rat and snake proof poultry farm.
Livestock Assistant, Dodak veterinary centre, Bhim Shankar highlighted on the need of such exposure tours for understanding new mechanisms and technology in modern farming system. Dr Tewari summed up the session by urging all the farmers to be more hard working and prompt in adopting technology as per the requirements, the release adds.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Stars descend on Paljor Stadium for Super Sunday

GANGTOK, 22 Jan: History was created today when the world’s finest veteran footballers and celebrities clashed against Bhaichung Bhutia’s USFC here at Paljor Stadium today. The Charity event was organized by JPR Events, the Government of Sikkim and Bhaichung Bhutia himself. This is probably the first time that many of these legendary players are playing a match here in this country, and Sikkim proudly hosted such a mega event putting itself in the footballing map of the world.
The veteran footballers who named their team the ‘Super Star XI’ included greats like former Dutch striker, Rudd Gullit and Frenchman Christian Karembue along with celebrities like the legendary Scorpion guitarist, Rudolf Schenker, Bollywood actors Rahul Bose and Neha Dhupia who cheered the team from the stands.
The Super Star XI team however lost to USFC, 4 -7 but that did not stop the excitement in the audience who had gathered here from all over the state and outside. This is for the first time that such a mega event has been organized in Sikkim and the new astro-turf at the stadium showcased a game which was of international standards. It may also be mentioned that the charity event has been organized to support the Sikkimese people who suffered the brunt of the 18 Sept 2011 earthquake.
The event started with Kolkata-based band Under Ground Authority which was also the finalist at India’s Got Talent Season-II and rock outfit, Still Waters from Sikkim who jammed with the Scorpion guitarist belting out numbers like ‘Rock You Like a Hurricane’ which set the mood for the gala event which had the SLA Speaker, KT Gyaltsen as the chief guest. Also performing was ‘Chotey Ustad’ finalist, Prakriti Giri from Darjeeling.

The Super Star XI team included Rudd Gullit as Captain, Regi Blinker from Holland, Christian Karembu from France, Marcel Oerlemans from Holland, Ali Dael from Iran, Ronald Kopp from Germany, Jimmy Silvester from Venezuela, Rudolf Schenker from Germany, Tim Tranker [World Motor Sports Champion], Shyam Thapa, IM Vijayan, and Rahul Bose.
Also present were Indian veterans, Kharey Basnett [currently National Coach of Bhutan] and Urgen Lama also famously known as ‘Mini’. Gullit, however, chose to remain off the field due to health issues.
The USFC team struck first with two goals in the 7th and 19th minute by striker Daniel, Thoi from USFC struck the net in the 12th minute, Beiko in the 35th minute, Thupden in the 41st minute, M.D Lepcha in the 57th minute and Bhupendra Khewa in the 70th minute.
The goals for the Super Star XI came from Marcel Oerlemans who scored three goals in the 30th, 64th and 68th minutes and Sushi Singh hit the net in the 32nd minute. The only yellow card of the game was shown to Sushi Singh in the second half of the game.
Sports Minister, NK Pradhan speaking to NOW! stated that this was for the first time since the earthquake that such a mega event was being hosted by the state. He added that whatever image the earthquake had created in the media of Sikkim as an unsafe place for tourists will all be cleared and there will be no misconceptions.
“This event will put Sikkim back on track as one of the most sought after tourist destinations and prove to the world that we have risen again and we are a hard working and proud people. Sikkim is safe and any traveler can come and enjoy their stay here in the pristine Himalayan state,” said Mr. Pradhan.
He also commented on the world class infrastructure here in Sikkim which had actually lured these footballing greats to Sikkim. This event would morally boost the people of Sikkim who have just gone through such a natural disaster and give them hope and courage by showing that we have bounced back, he expressed. He further expressed hope that with this media highlight and international publicity, many such state-of-the-art sports facilities will come up and we will gain recognition around the world, he added.
Similarly, the Sports Secretary, Karma P Bhutia stated, “This is a historical day for Sikkim and the event has been possible only because of the support of the State government and the personal intervention of the Chief Minister, Pawan Chamling who is also an avid football lover.” He added that the event was to be held at Kathmandu, Nepal but since every celebrity wanted to come to Sikkim and experience its natural and pristine beauty, the event was brought here to Paljor Stadium.
“There were other states like West Bengal which could have hosted this event but once the organizers approached Bhaichung, we set the date and fixed Sikkim as the venue. I assure you that this is not the first and last, many such mega events are on the cards,” explained the Sports Secretary.

Neha Dhupia

‘I will be back and the next time I will come with a shooting crew. Sikkim from whatever I have seen is beautiful and the serenity and peace here is just amazing. The warmth, hospitality and the beautiful people here has captured my heart. I’ve had an amazing time here and ill let everyone in Mumbai know what Sikkim exactly is”.

Rudolf Schenker

 “I had not really heard about Sikkim but was pleasantly surprised when I got here. It is like Shangrila. Although there was some news about the earthquake and the trail of devastation it left but I find that the people here have bounced back after the disaster. I did not know that people in this part of the world had also heard our music. I was surprised and thrilled to see everyone mouthing our songs word by word. I agreed to come as part of ‘Scorpions for charity’ because we have always been interested in such events. I was also surprised to come across talented musicians here in Sikkim and I had a great time jamming with them here. I hope to visit Sikkim again in the future if I get a chance.”

Rahul Bose

“I see Sikkim has bounced back and the crowd here is just amazing. The spirit of the people here is commendable. This event was also a way to pay tribute to Bhaichung Bhutia, one of the greatest footballers to come out of our country. He is the face of Indian football for the past 20 years and this event is also to thank him for all the accolades he has won for our country”.

Rudd Gullit

“I am deeply privileged along with my counterparts to be a part of this event as it is for charity. We know that the funds generated from this match will reach the most under privileged. I have seen that the people of Sikkim are brave and are recovering well from the devastation last year. This is how it should be. A new beginning is what we should believe in”.

Kalimpong’s Lokesh Pradhan carves wooden boot gift for Bhaichung

43-year-old Lokesh Pradhan of Sundergaon, Kalimpong has been here for the past two days to get a glimpse of football legend Pele who was also supposed to come for the event. He had carved a wooden football boot, which had taken 11 days of continuous work to create, to present to Pele. In the absence of Pele, Pradhan gifted the boot to Bhaichung Bhutia whom he considers to be one of the greatest after Pele.

Sikkim holds Chattisgarh to goalless draw

GANGTOK, 22 Jan: Sikkim held Chattisgarh to a goalless draw in its second round match of the 48th Junior National Football Championship for the Dr. BC Roy Memorial Trophy 2012 played at Cuttack, Orissa yesterday. A Sikkim Football Association press release informs that Sikkim will take on Gujarat on Monday. Earlier, the Sikkim boys had beat J&K 2-0.

A-grade contractor in counterfeit muddle

NAMCHI, 22 Jan: An A-grade government contractor was arrested yesterday by the Crime Branch, Sikkim Police, on charges of possession and use of fake currency notes. The contractor, Roshan Agarwal, was picked up at Namchi by the CID police and interrogated in the Namchi police station following which he was put under arrest.
However, soon after being arrested, the accused developed medical complications and was taken to the Namchi hospital. From there, he was shifted to the STNM Hospital, Gangtok under policy custody. He was reported to be suffering from anxiety.
The Crime Branch had been tipped off by sources that Roshan Agarwal had attempted to deposit counterfeits at a bank in Namchi. These were detected and rejected, it is learnt. The cops recovered fake notes worth Rs.22,000 from the bank, it is informed.
Sources inform that when the concerned bank official came to know that the notes deposited by Roshan Agarwal were counterfeits the latter was immediately contacted instead of the police. This, is learnt, took place a few days ago.
Sources further inform that the accused claimed to have received the counterfeits in a casino in Nepal. It may be mentioned here that all transactions in casinos in Nepal are in Indian rupees.
While the CID has confiscated the counterfeits from the bank they have to unearth and plug several loose ends of the case. The bank officials, police sources state, should have reported the matter but did not.
The CID has charged Roshan Agarwal for possessing and using as genuine, forged or counterfeit currency notes knowing that they are counterfeit notes. These are charges under 489 B and 489 C of the Indian Penal Code. The case is under investigation at present.

Sikkim to get its first ever metal fest ‘Metal Evolution’ this Jan

GANGTOK, 23 Jan: Metal lovers of Sikkim will get a chance to headbang with their favourite metal bands from the region at the first metal festival ‘Metal Evolution’, organized by local event management company ‘The Alpine Attitude’, scheduled to be held on 28 January at TNA School ground.
A press release informs that the event will feature bands like Sinister Violence from Darjeeling, Dream Diabolic from Namchi and Damage Era from Gangtok. Metal fans will also get a chance to hear some fresh talents from Sikkim like Dwelling for Aeon and Eyestill, both from Gangtok.
Although Sikkim has a huge following for metal music, in the absence of major metal music festivals, Sikkim has always remained aloof from the metal music scene of India, which is only growing in other parts of the country, state the organizers in the release.
The festival is set to open at 3 PM on 28 Jan with tickets priced at Rs 150 and Rs 100 for early birds.

Forest Minister leads inspection tour to projects around Gangtok

GANGTOK, 22 Jan: Forest Minister Bhim Dhungel, accompanied by PCCF-cum-Secretary, ST Lachungpa and senior officers of the Forest Department visited the worksites of the Japan International Corporation Agency [JICA] assisted Pangthang Nursery, Golitar Project in East Sikkim, proposed floriculture nursery at Bulbuley and the ongoing road construction work at Forest Colony on 21 January.
All the projects except for Golitar are being carried out under the JICA assisted Sikkim Biodiversity Conservation and Forest management Project. Infrastructure development under JICA is carried out mainly to strengthen the administration of the Forest Department.
The PCCF-cum- Secretary stated that the majority of the existing forest infrastructure was constructed way back in 1957 and is in a dilapidated condition. Under JICA competent architects have been involved to develop the existing infrastructure.  The designs are all of a high standard and as far as possible it has been designed in a manner so as to leave less carbon footprint.
The three major structures are the office building at Deorali, Training Institute at Pangthang and the officers’ quarters at Forest Colony. The design of these structures is based on the concept of having a green building including designs that are energy saving, for example the use of space heating centers, solar panels, water harvesting ecological waste treatment, vertical garden, insulating the entire building with eco-friendly material.
In addition to these major buildings there is also provision for the new construction of Range Offices, Check Post and Block Offices. There are also plans for improvement of forest infrastructure destroyed during the recent earthquake of 18 September, 2011 all over Sikkim under SBFP.
The Forest Minister, Bhim Dhungel while speaking to media persons at Golitar informed that supporting facilities, approach roads at the Fambong Lha Wlidlife Sanctuary and the Sanctuary were being prepared for the ‘High End Tourists’ that visit Gangtok and are interested in nature.
The area would be developed as a nature integration centre having facilities of cafeteria, viewpoint, car park, living quarters, eco huts along with an artificial lake for the visiting tourists, he added. The project started in November 2011 at an estimated cost of Rs. 4 crore and is set to be completed by 2014, the Minister further informed.
This is a unique and innovative work taken up by the department and regular visits are being made by department officials to see that quality work is being done by the people as envisaged by the Chief Minister, the Minister informed.
The Pangthang Nursery, the first of its kind has been constructed by the Forest Department. The main objective of creating the Semi Hi-tech Nursery at Pangthang is to propagate important species of wild edible fruits, like Pomsi, walnut etc, informed ST Lachungpa [PCCF-cum-Secretary].
Species of ecological importance like Larix, Betula etc also nee to be propagated and conserved for which ex-situ propagation is necessary. Also in certain forestry species the natural regeneration in the wild is difficult due to abiotic and biotic factors. Certain species have less viability, he added.
The seedlings will be grown in special root trainers. The advantage of root trainers is that they will occupy less space, the roots will be well trained and survival percentage will increase. Root trained seedlings are easier to transport to the plantation site without disturbing the roots. Also root trainers help in air pruning the roots thereby making it more hardy.
Unlike polybags which has to be disposed after use, root trainers can be reused, so it is more eco friendly, he further informed.
Meanwhile, The Secretary further stated that the Bulbuley Floriculture Nursery, under JICA assisted SBFP project will be propagating species that are of aesthetic value. The plants grown in this nursery will be used for beautification of roads during green mission, in gardens all over Sikkim and tourist spots.
It is designed in a manner that is in conformity with the landscape of that area. A simple green house will be created that will house temperate and tropical species, the existing footpath and gazebo will be improved so that visitors can also enjoy the beauty of the forest, wilderness and the existing waterfall. It will be a compact ecotourism site and will showcase Japanese cherry, peony, maple species etc.
Construction of new officers’ quarters at Forest Colony since the existing quarters are old and insufficient is also proposed and the road being constructed under JICA assisted SBFP Project will lead to these quarters, informed Manjit Singh [APCCF].
The design and planning stage of the quarters have already been completed and it is now at the tender stage. Within a period of a month the tender will be done, he said and added that it is also proposed to create a new Gangtok Range Office.
Also present during the tour were Dr. Anil Mainra [APCCF-cum-Project Director], Mrs. Bharati [CCF,Territorial], Dechen Lachungpa [DFO SBFP,N/E], and Forest department officials.

SDF convenes meeting at Namthang-Rateypani

NAMCHI, 22 Jan: With the Panchayat elections approaching, the ruling Sikkim Democratic Front held its first party meeting of the New Year aimed towards creating awareness amongst party workers and the youth of Namthang-Rateypani constituency.
The meeting, held yesterday at Rateypani ground with the SDF vice-president (E), KB Chamling as chief guest, was also attended by the area MLA, Buildings Minister Tilu Gurung, VP (S) GM Gurung, GS (S) RN Rai, GS (S) Cheli Morcha Manita Mangar and other senior party members and SDF supporters.
Addressing the meeting, the chief guest highlighted that the SDF government has brought about substantial changes in the State under the leadership of party president, Chief Minister Pawan Chamling. He further said that the people and youth of the state have to take up their responsibility in building a strong foundation for the party and work for the up-liftment of the state.
The Minister in her address informed that the party has elected new members from the ward to the constituency level and these new members must take up their responsibility sincerely and work for the party and people.
The Minister alleged that the opposition group is misleading people, giving the instance of a recent visit by the group to Tanzi-Bikamet where they misinformed villagers on the Rural Housing Scheme. Here, she urged all party workers to not allow such incidents to happen again.
The Minister further urged all party workers and people to refrain from groupism with regard to Panchayat election tickets, adding that the party is yet to decide on the candidates.
The programme was also addressed by VP (S), GM Gurung, GS (S), RN Rai, GS Frontal Organization Satish Chandra Rai, Secretary Frontal Organization Balbir Tamang, GS (S) ChaliMorcha Manita Mangar.

SU begins its Winter Sojourn prog on ‘Women Vendors’

GANGTOK, 22 Jan: Sikkim University’s Winter Sojourn programme for this year is on the theme ‘Women Vendors’ wherein a 20-member team will cover different issues related to women vendors sitting along the NH 31A upto Teesta Bazaar.
The team led by Dr Swati Sachdeva and three other faculty members of SU, Dr Pallavi Kulkarni, Dr Shanker Thapa and Dr Sangmu Thendup and 20 students from different fields began the programme from Lall Bazaar on Saturday.
Speaking on the programme, Dr Sachdeva mentioned that the main objective is to study the socio-economic profile of the women vendors. She further stated that the team will study the various problems faced by the women, challenges present in the market and how they cope with modernization and globalization.
“Through our work we are trying to suggest solutions to some of the problems being faced by the women vendors, which will be a good help to the government and policy makers,” she adds.
Dr Sachdeva informed that apart from the oral history programme of the University, the team will also make films on some of the women vendors.
Mentioning that the winter sojourn programme was started by the Vice-Chancellor, Prof Mahendra P Lama last year she added that various themes were selected for this year’s programme to provide field exposure to the students from different fields, which makes the programme inter-disciplinary in nature.

High meat yielding variety of goats distributed in three constituencies

NAMCHI, 22 Jan: The “High Meat Yielding Variety of Goat distribution programme” of the Animal Husbandry Department has reached Poklok-Kamrang, Namchi-Singithang and Melli constituencies.
Today, a total of 180 goats were distributed to beneficiaries from the three constituencies. MLA Namchi-Singithang, Binod Rai was the chief guest of this programme while it was also attended by Director AH, LF & VS Department Dr. Tilak Luksom, Additional Director Karfectar Farm BS Subba, and Joint Director Dr. DK Pradhan.
Addressing the programme, the MLA said that the government has always been concerned about the welfare of farmers and many schemes have been launched to help them rise from poverty.
Talking about the scheme he said that the government wants to make Sikkim self reliant in meat consumption and provide progressive farmers an opportunity to earn more. Further stating that there is huge demand of meat in our state and we have to fulfill this demand ourselves he urged all the beneficiaries to increase the number of this high meat yielding variety of goat.
Deputy Director Karfectar, Dr Tilak Sunar who is also the nodal officer of this goat distribution programme during the technical session of the programme informed the beneficiaries about the objectives of the programme. This programme was launched by the government to fill the gap between the demand and supply of ‘chevon’ [goat meat derived from adult animals] in the state, to strengthen the farmers’ economy and also to meet the demand of defence personnel, he informed.
He also informed that the department is distributing Singhari (local native breed), Saanen and Boer Buck Cross variety of goats which has been adapted in different parts of the country. The Boer breed will reach weights of 95 kg and can give 2 kg of milk with 7-9% of fat content and 17-19% of SNF. This breed grows fast and produces meat with less bone and less fat.
He also informed the beneficiaries’ that the department has strict directives for this programme and the beneficiaries have to sign a bond by which they would have to adhere to the technical norms for housing, feeding, management, disease control and insurance coverage. Farmers cannot sell the parent stock or sublet to other persons for rearing and maintain only exotic crossbreed goats as parent stock, farmers have to maintain register and submit quarterly reports of the animals to the department and if they fail to do so the department will accordingly take action.
The programme was also addressed by Director AH, LF &VS Tilak Luksom, JD (S) Dr DK Pradhan, and Deputy Director Dr. Mala while the programme was also attended by Panchayats and officers from the department.

Gov flags off educational tour organized by ITBPF

GANGTOK, 22 Jan: Governor of Sikkim, BP Singh flagged off an educational tour organized by the Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force (ITBPF) to commemorate the Golden Jubilee Year celebration of ITBP, from Rangpo (Raj Bhawan) on Saturday.
A press release informs that this educational tour is part of the Civic Action Programme being conducted by the 11th Bn. comprising of 20 school students including thirteen boys and seven girls and two teachers of North Sikkim’s Tasa Tangy Govt Sec. School, Chungthang  accompanied by one ITBP officer. The Governor also interacted with the school students and shared the importance of such educational tours and the learning that comes from it.
The educational tour is planned up to 31 Jan and during this period the students will be visiting Delhi and Agra. In addition to sight seeing they will also be interacting with various dignitaries and will also attend the Republic Day parade at Rajpath, New Delhi. The aim of this excursion tour is to promote national integration, inculcate a sense of belonging in these students towards their country, to expose them to developmental activities in other parts of the country and to show and share unique cultural heritage, the release mentions.
The year 2012 is being celebrated as the Golden Jubilee Year of ITBP which was raised in the year 1962. Various significant events are being planned to celebrate the Golden Jubilee Year by reaching out to maximum number of villages of North Sikkim in a meaningful way, the release adds.
IPS, DIG Sector Headquarters Gangtok, Amit Prasad along with Commandant 11th Bn Pawan Malik and other officers were also present on the occasion. The DIG also appraised the Governor about the activities of the ITBP under its programmes in the far flung areas of Sikkim.

Coaches training by Special Olympics Bharat concludes

GANGTOK, 22 Jan: The valedictory function of the Advance Coaches Training Programme on softball and athletics was held yesterday here at Paljor Stadium indoor gymnasium.
Fifty-five participants from East and North-East India had taken part in the training, which was organized by the Special Olympic Bharat, [SOB] Sikkim Chapter from 17 January.
On the occasion, former skipper of the Indian football team and co-owner of United Sikkim Football Association, Bhaichung Bhutia was announced as the Brand Ambassador of SOB Sikkim Chapter by the Sports Minister, NK Pradhan.
The Sports Minister, who was present as the chief guest, congratulated SOB Sikkim for making its presence felt in the state by bagging international medals including its other activities.
He stated that coaches have tremendous responsibility in guiding the youth towards the productive and positive direction and in enhancing the player’s skills further.
The Minister stated that to make a strong state and country the people have to be strong so great responsibility lies in the coaches to motivate youngsters through value-based and welfare training.
Bhaichung Bhutia expressed that to train special children was a tough and noble job. He added that the coaches are doing an important job in supporting special children and bringing them into the mainstream through sports.
In his welcome address, SOB Sikkim Area Director, Dr BP Dhakal, mentioned about the various achievements and activities of SOB Sikkim. He informed that after introducing softball in the state the organization will now develop a team to participate at the national level.
Programme Coordinator, NK Chettri, informed that the main objective of the training was to mobilize youth through sports and to introduce softball in the state. He stated that SOB Sikkim has been working in training special children by inculcating their talents and promoting them at the higher levels with the ultimate aim to bring them into the social mainstream.
The function concluded with the vote of thanks by SOB Sikkim Treasurer, CP Dhakal.

Namthang BAC felicitates Panchayats

NAMCHI, 22 Jan: The Namthang Block Administrative Center today felicitated 46 Panchayats, including 3 Zilla Panchayats of Namthang-Rateypani constituency, in recognition of their “selfless services and contributions towards the general public”. The felicitation was held at a special picnic organised by the BAC for the panchayats and BAC staff at Kopchey-Mamring in South Sikkim. The picnic was also attended by the area MLA, Minister Tilu Gurung, former Minister DP Kharel and BDO Namthang, Navin Sewa.
Addressing the occasion, Ms. Gurung appreciated the works and achievements of felicitated panchayats. The term of the present panchayats is nearing its end, it may be recalled, with elections expected in April.
Ms. Gurung highlighted that the pachayats of Namthang-Rateypani constituency had been cooperative and pro-people since the beginning of their term and achieved substantial developmental gains for the area.
She also pointed out that not all the sitting panchayats might receive party nominations in April especially since this time 50% of the seats are to be reserved for women against the 40% reservation under which the last panchayat elections were held.
She called on all the sitting panchayats to take this initiative of the government positively and urged them to continue to work for the people at their respective levels.
The Minister also appreciated the work of the Namthang BDO for the development of Namthang GPU said that all the people, panchayats along with the departmental officers should work together to achieve the target of becoming the best constituency of the state.
The programme was also addressed by the BDO and was also attended by the officers from the various departments.

4 Legship-Hingdam GPU families complete houses on schedule under CMRH, receive Rs. 10,000 token appreciation

NAMCHI, 22 Jan: Barfung MLA, Sonam Gyatsho Bhutia, yesterday handed over monetary rewards of Rs. 10,000 each under the Chief Minister’s Rural Housing Scheme to four families for timely construction of their houses under the scheme.
The four houses were inaugurated by the MLA yesterday at Legship-Hingdam GPU of South Sikkim. These houses, constructed under the CMRH scheme with Rs. 3.5 lakh received under CMRH and Rs. 50,000 trough MG-NREGA, were completed within six months, qualifying them for the Rs. 10,000 benefit.
Addressing the inaugural programme, the MLA highlighted that it was the dynamic leadership of Chief Minister Pawan Chamling which had brought Sikkim such a visionary scheme as the CMRH which has not been attempted anywhere else in the country. Under this scheme, a total of 74 houses are to be built in Ravangla BAC.
Then programme was also attended DDO South, BDO Ravangla, BDo Sikkip, Zilla Panchayats and panchayats, RMDD JEs, and AEs.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

World Bank extends $130 mn loan for development in North-East and SIkkim

New Delhi, 20 Jan: The World Bank today extended a US $130 million loan to India that will be used to fund rural development programmes in the North East region, including Sikkim.
The money will be used to fund the North East Rural Livelihoods Project, which aims to enhance livelihoods of the rural poor, especially women, unemployed youth and the severely disadvantaged people in the North East region, the Finance Ministry said in a statement here.
Eight districts of four states — Aizawl and Lunglei in Mizoram; Peren and Tuensang in Nagaland; South, West and 15 Panchayat wards of East District in Sikkim; and West and North Districts in Tripura will be covered under the project, reports IANS.
The agreements for the North East Rural Livelihoods Project (NERLP) were signed here by Venu Rajamony, Joint Secretary in the Department of Economic Affairs, on behalf of the government of India, DL Wankhar, Project Director on behalf of the North East Rural Livelihoods Project, and Roberto Zagha, World Bank Country Director in India.
“The project seeks to develop an institutional platform for the communities, which will help them link up with the private sector, public sector, and civil society and to acquire the institutional, technical, and financial capacity needed for improving their livelihoods,” an official statement released after signing of the agreement states.
Loan will be extended by the World Bank’s concessionary lending arm the International Development Association. The concessional credit has a final maturity of 25 years, including 5-year grace period.

Loaded trucks suspected of forcing their way across Old Rangchang Bridge despite weight ceiling

DIKCHU, 20 Jan: The new Rangchang Bridge on the Singtam-Dikchu road collapsed last month when a vehicle too monstrous in weight and girth [a 48-wheeler] tried to negotiate it. Eight lives, including two pedestrians, were killed in the incident and the outcry was loud. Eventually, the BRO opened the old Rangchang Bridge for traffic, and played over cautious by announcing that traffic would be allowed only after clearance of the district authorities. Over-loaded trucks weighed heavy on everyone’s minds and when the Old Rangchang Bridge was eventually opened for traffic, it was under a 5-tonne max load stipulation. For anyone arriving at the bridge during daytime, this weight ceiling is very strictly implemented, so much so that passengers are made to alight from jeeps and made to walk across, and vehicles, now lighter, driven across. For the past week or so, this weight limit has been blatantly violated by truckers who weight out at a convenient distance during the day and then force their way across the bridge, load and all, after dark. While residents in the area have noticed this, they were suspecting that the trucks were being ‘allowed’ through. When NOW! contacted the ‘traffic controllers’ maintained by BRO at the spot, they dismissed suggestions that they were in cahoots with the truckers and allowing them to slip through at night. They maintain that the trucks arrive in a convoy at night and force their way across. These ‘traffic controllers’, two of them, are obviously in no position to stand up against the truckers with any authority, and one wonders here why a stricter watch is not maintained at this spot.

Pilot project on ‘Artemisia Annua’, a medicinal plant, on the anvil

GANGTOK, 20 Jan: A meeting on cultivation of Artemisia Annua, a medicinal plant, in consultation with the Council for Socio-Economic and Environmental Research [CSER], Guwahati, was held at the Forest Department conference hall at Deorali today.
The meeting was attended by the Chief Consultant, Arindam Choudhary and Coordinator Gunamani Das, from CSER Guwahati, PCCF-cum-Secretary, ST Lachungpa and Joint Director, Karma Legshey.
In his presentation, Mr Choudhary mentioned that the climate of Sikkim is best suitable for growing Artemisia Annua and can be successfully cultivated by the farmers. He further informed that the project proposal was also discussed with the Project Director and it has been decided to implement this project in Sikkim as a pilot project with the approval of the State Government. A meeting with selected farmers from four districts regarding the project was held on 10 January, he informed.
The Chief Consultant, speaking on his organization informed that it was a semi-governmental non-profitable organization working for the promotion, cultivation and marketing of medicinal and aromatic plants throughout the North Eastern states.
“We have selected a total number of 36 farmers from all the four districts including 15 farmers from North, 6 from South, 10 from East and 5 from West Sikkim and we need support from all sides,” he said.
Mr Choudhary also stated that there is a lack of marketing in Sikkim, so the CSER will be focusing on that.
“The main objective is establishment of herbal garden, demonstration unit and experimental trial plots of some selected medicinal and aromatic plants having high market value which can be taken up for commercial cultivation in the North East Region,” he added.
CSER Coordinator, Ms Das mentioned that the organization has chosen Artemisia Annua especially for the State of Sikkim as the climate here is more suitable for this plant in comparison to other medicinal plants.
It is a short-day [requiring long periods of darkness] temperate plant, which requires cold winters and moderate summers and is a cash crop with industrial importance and export potentiality with less investment involved in cultivation, she further mentioned.
She also shared that the main objective of the organization is to promote the cultivation of this medicinal plant in Sikkim as it is fast gaining importance as a source of drugs against choloroquin [quinine] resistant malaria and cerebral malaria.

Satyajit Ray’s “Sikkim” released in DVD format

GANGTOK, 20 Jan: After its first public screening here in Gangtok last year organized by the Art and Culture Trust of Sikkim at Vajra cinema hall, Satyajit Ray’s “Sikkim” was finally released in DVD format on Thursday at Nandan in Kolkata.

The DVD has been produced by ANT Television Pvt Ltd and also features a collection of music and songs from Ray’s films, according to a press release. The release function had Director and son of the late filmaker, Sandip Ray, Director, Goutam Ghose, GM ACT Sikkim, Sudip Barman, Director, Angel Video, Abhay Tantiya along with other prominent dignitaries.


Sikkim boys down J&K 2-0
GANGTOK, 20 Jan: Sikkim’s Junior Boys Football team emerged victorious in the preliminary round of the 48th Junior National Football Championship for the Dr. B.C. Roy Memorial Trophy 2012 defeating Jammu & Kashmir 2-0, informs an SFA press release.
In the match played on 19 Jan, Chandra Tamang and Ram Chhetri scored one goal each for the state. Sikkim will now play against Chhatisgarh on 21 Jan in the second round of the Championship underway at Cuttack, Orissa.

SDF selects Hissey for Rajya Sabha

GANGTOK, 20 Jan: Former Minister and three-time MLA from North Sikkim, Hissey Lachungpa, is all set to take up office as the next Member of Parliament from Sikkim in the Rajya Sabha.
Mr. Lachungpa, the Political Advisor to the Chief Minister [a post from which he resigned yesterday in preparation for the candidature], was officially announced as the SDF candidate for the Upper House today. He was at the Sikkim Legislative Assembly this morning, to file his nomination papers with the Returning Officer, Secretary, Sikkim Legislative Assembly, D Rinchen.
Incidentally, today was the last date for the filing of nomination papers and the Secretary informed that only one nomination has been received by him. Scrutiny of the nomination papers is scheduled for 21 January, with 23 January set as the last date for the withdrawal of nominations. The process [of filing nomination papers had officially opened on 13 January].
While Mr. Lachungpa was always considered a front-runner for the party endorsement, his candidature was officially unveiled only this morning by the SDF Parliamentary Board constituted for the task.
Sources inform that there were not many other names in the final shortlist and that Mr. Lachungpa was a unanimous choice.
Mr Lachungpa’s nomination was supported by four MLAs - Bhim Prasad Dhungel, Beg Bahadur Rai, Menlom Lepcha and Dorjee Namgyal. A Rajya Sabha candidate required the endorsement of at least10% of the MLAs of the State Legislature to contest for the berth. With all Assembly seats with the ruling Sikkim Democratic Front, no other hopeful can muster the 4 supporting votes of MLAs required to even file nomination papers.