Friday, February 10, 2012

State Cabinet takes decision on 3 HEPs in West Sikkim


GANGTOK, 01 Feb: The state government has finally taken its decision on the three hydro projects under scrutiny in West District. Two projects, namely, the 96 MW Lethang and the 99 MW Ting Ting projects have been scrapped by the government. As for the third project, the 97 MW Tashiding hydro project is ‘under examination’. This is the decision of the state government a month after the high powered committee under the Chief Secretary was constituted to examine issues related to the implementation of the 3 projects and make recommendations to the state government. The decision to scrap the 2 projects and further examine the status of the Tashiding project was taken at the state cabinet meeting held on 25 January.
The decision on Ting Ting and Lethang projects were not so hard to take as there have hardly been much investments or construction activity related to these projects. In fact, as regards the Lethang project, it had not even been accorded approval by the National Wildlife Board. The National Wildlife Board had rejected the project proposal for the Lethang HEP in November, 2010. As regards Ting Ting, the project was in the initial phases of land acquisition.
As for the 97 MW Tashiding project in Tashiding – Yuksom constituency and being developed by Shiga Energy Limited the state government will ‘further examine’ the project. In fact it is informed the power developer has spent more than Rs.100 crore already and the project is in an advanced stage with tunnels and adits being constructed including the colony for the officer’s quarters. The land acquisition has also been completed and the site of the power houseidentified and approach roads under construction. With the power developer having invested such a huge amount there will be complications if it’s taken off the grid and legal repercussions cannot be ruled out. Only recently the affected people living in the project area had formed coordination committees to supervise the implementation of various works which the project would entail in their area.
The decision of the state cabinet is obviously based on the report of the high powered committee which had submitted its report to the government last year itself. The opinion of the committee on the projects was that it should be scrapped; this opinion had then been forwarded to the Law Department. The cabinet meeting of 25 January was the first cabinet this year during which the report of the committee was put up and discussed and finally, decided upon.
Several organizations including Buddhist organizations had made several representations to the state government raising concerns about erosion and disturbance of certain religious and cultural symbols attached with the Rathong Chu river on which all the three named projects were to be developed. The Minority Commission had also taken up cudgels on behalf of the protesting associations and organizations on similar grounds and had even written to the Prime Minister.

Music to pave way for an AIDS-free Sikkim

GANGTOK, 01 Feb: Red Ribbon Super Band Contest is one platform which has brought together different generations of rockers from all over the state to perform on one stage. Who would have imagined that a young death metal band would emerge from a remote village and jam with big names in the rock n roll circuit here? This is what makes this competition one of the biggest rock fests to ever hit the state.
Red Fest is an initiative of Sikkim State AIDS Control Society [SSACS] to reinforce the messages on HIV and AIDS among the younger generation. 63 bands from across the state had participated in the contest out of which 10 bands made it to the semi finals at the Namchi Municipal Hall on 30 January.
In what turned out to be one of the toughest times for the judges, five top bands from the state were selected to fare against each other at the finals scheduled for later this month.
According to Uday Rai of Serenity Home which is also one of the organizers the five bands selected for the Grand Finale of Red Ribbon Super Band contest are Nightmares, Death Squad, Damagera, Fuzzy Logik and Juke Box from Gangtok and Death Squad, a death metal band from Namchi. It may also be added that Juke Box is the only band that has a female vocalist.
“According to the judges, the quality of performances is going up with every song of every round. Like one judge puts it, “the talent we have seen here is tremendous. With a little guidance and dedicated practice every band can be up there with the greats.” adds Uday.
The judges for the competetion comprised of eminent personalities namely Albert Gurung, Surja Solomon Rai, Diwash Rai, and Donald Lepcha.
He also says that competitions such as these should be an annual affair which will take the message of an AIDS-free society to the regional and then the national level. He informed that are invited for the finals to be held in Gangtok for which the date and venue will be decided soon. He added that the finals will also be an event which will have veteran bands from the state performing to pay tribute to Late Stephen Namchu, a local hero who had music in his blood.
With ‘Juke Box’ performing the composition in their classic rock style and Damagera doing the number in their “happy metal” [a term they use for the death metal they play] version, the crowd could not help but asking for more since the bands gave justice to each and every number they belted out.
Speaking to NOW! Siddhartha from Damagera said that they played their self compositions “Pristine” and “Damned for Eternity” which was well received by the audience. He added that Sikkim has never seen a bigger fest than this which has brought both veterans and new comers together on one stage.
Similarly, Dominic from Juke Box which has two members for whom this was the first performance said that no one actually needs drugs and alcohol to enjoy or play great rock and roll music. “I am pretty sure that this fest is trying its best to clear the misconception amongst the youth that music goes well with substances of abuse. The message that music is a drug in itself has gone through and we will take it as an achievement if we are able to convince even one youth from refraining from these social evils through our music,” he explains.
The semi final was a great show with all the bands giving it their best shot. The judges also commented on the new trend amongst the local bands which was to play their own compositions rather than covers. “Just a Phase” a song with the lyrics given by SSACS was also a treat as the music changed from band to band who performed the song as per their own genres.
What also makes the competition a perfect platform is that the message of an AIDS free society and awareness on drug and alcohol addiction is also being highlighted through the different bands that performed to a packed auditorium.
Sharing his views on the competition, Khituk T Lepcha who drove all the way from Gangtok to witness the semi finals said, “I am very happy and proud that we have such talent within our small state. MTV has held a similar competition at the national level which had around 200 bands participating and here there are 63 bands only from our state, this shows that we have the talent which has to be molded through programmes such as this.”
It may also be mentioned that Red Fest is being implemented in three stages namely, the Positive intervention in Schools, The Red Ribbon Super Band Contest, and Red Five open football tournament. Red Fest has been organized by SSACS in association with Hope Foundation, Serenity Homes, Recovering Users’ Network (RUN), and Sikkim Network of Positive People (SNP+). Nayuma Television and 93.5 Red FM are the official media partners of Red Fest. The audio-visual department is being managed by MAARK Pictures, Gangtok

Pre Paid taxi service at Namchi to grapple with Tourists and Parking

Puran Tamang
NAMCHI, 01 Feb: Namchi has now got its own pre paid taxi service. The local taxi drivers of the south district headquarters have started a pre-paid / reserved taxi service Namchi bazaar to Siddhesvara Dhaam and other tourists spots in the area. Such taxis are mostly parked at the Parking Plaza and there is a ferry system used by the drivers.
This will be a uniform system for all vehicles entering Namchi and has been introduced by the Localk Taxi Drivers’ Association, Namchi. This, they have done, with the support and cooperation of the Namchi police and largely keeping in mind the bustling tourist season. Further, the pre-paid taxi service has been introduced in view of the traffic nuisance that has been created recently with the huge traffic heading for the Siddesvara Dhaam in Namchi.
With the increasing menace of traffic snarl ups the Association was of the view that such a system would be required sooner or later in view of the various festive seasons during the year and especially parking space a major concern. On the other hand such a system would also be able to provide an opportunity to the taxi drivers to earn a handsome amount and gain from the booming tourist flow especially the pilgrim tourists.

Two youth missing; 1 dead in Upper Dzongu

GANGTOK, 01 Feb: In another incident 3 youth of Upper Dzongu have gone missing. A police search has recovered the body of one of the missing identified as Karma Lepcha. The body was found lying on the banks of the Rongong Chu in North Sikkim in Upper Dzongu. It was the sister of the deceased, Anzee Lepcha who had alerted the police after her brother failed to return home. The police were alerted on 29 January. The other two are Lhakpa Lepcha and Pemchung Lepcha. All three are informed to have gone towards Rongong Chu a few days ago. A police party led by SDPO [Mangan] left for Rongong Chu soon after the complaint was filed and found the body of Karma. Two days later the police team returned to Mangan and the body was forwarded to the Mangan hospital. There do not seem to be any external injuries on the body of the deceased and the police are on the hunt for the missing two persons as well.

1 charged with forging Residential Certificate in Rangpo

GANGTOK, 01 Feb: A case of forgery has been registered on 31 January in the Rangpo Police Station against one Tanvir Ahmed, resident of Rangpo Bazaar on receiving an FIR from ADC [East]. He has been charged with using a fake and forged Residential Certificate.
According to reports, a copy of Residential Certificate [RC] bearing memo number 1026, dated: 25-04-1994 of Tanvir Ahmed was forwarded to the office of the ADC [East] for verification for genuineness by Municipal Executive Officer, Rangpo Nagar Panchayat. While verifying of the record it was found that the Certificate was not issued from the office of the ADC [East] and was found to be forged.
A case under section 468/471 [forgery for purpose of cheating and using as genuine a forged document] has been filed in the Rangpo Police Station. Tanvir is yet to be arrested.

300 complete DONER sponsored tourism training by TAAS

GANGTOK, 01 Feb: Travel Agents Association of Sikkim (TAAS) successfully completed a set of ten courses for tourism stake holders of North East Region and sponsored by North Eastern Council (NEC), Ministry of DONER and further supported by Government of Sikkim. A press release issued by TAAS also informs that there has been excellent feedback on the programme by the trainees.  All the eight North East States including Sikkim participated in the trainings. A total of 440 trainees had applied for the courses of which 300 participants successfully completed the courses and were handed their certificates. Examinations were conducted for all the courses and the trainees were also asked to prepare a project reports.
The programme included trainings on Capacity Building, Air Ticketing, Marketing and that for Trekking Cooks and German language. As per the press release the last 4 trainings for (1) German   Language, (2) Marketing, promotion Publicity, (3)(Advertising, Air ticketing, Banking &  Foreign Exchange and (4) Trekking Cook. Were completed with the valedictory function held here at Gangtok. Capacity building trainees drawn from all eight states, Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura and Sikkim.
 The certificates were handed out at a valedictory function organised here at Gangtok by the Chief Guest Mr.Karma Tashi Bhutia, Managing Director, Royal Demazong Hotels & Resorts, Mrs. Lee Pandi Targain, Assistant Director, Tourism, Mr.S.K.Pradhan former President TAAS and the Managing Director Siniolchu International and senior members of TAAS.

ASDASG dharna enters sixth day

Ameet Oberoi
GANGTOK, 01 Feb: The health condition of the president Sonam Sherpa and the vice president C Tamang of All Sikkim Departmental Adhoc Staff Group [ASDASG], who have been on an indefinite hunger strike since the evening of 29 January is detoriating. They were visited by doctors from the Sir Thutob Namgyal Memorial [STNM] Hospital today and yesterday as well who advised them to take medicines because of health problems. However both the agitating teachers have refused. This is in protest to the non response or non intervention on behalf of either the state government or officials from the Human Resource Development Department [HRDD].
The dharna by the ASDASG today entered its sixth day while the hunger strike went into its fourth day today. The two, along with other members of ASDASG, teaching and non teaching staff of the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan [SSA] and HRDD have been sitting on a dharna here at the District Administrative Centre [DAC] premises situated at Sichey since 27 January. “We want the State government to take some action and address the problems being faced by adhoc teachers [teaching and non teaching] of SSA and HRDD, but till now no official from the state government or the HRD Department has come and spoken to us”, informed the ASDASG president Sonam Sherpa. He added that they had already submitted their memorandum of grievances and demands to the Minister HRDD and the Secretary HRDD.
The ASDASG has also constituted a negotiating team from amongst their members in the event of  any future talks; besides the group is also preparing a memorandum to the Governor and the President of India very soon.
We are even ready to sacrifice ourselves, so that we can set an example for the future generation and that is why we are following the Gandhian principle, the president said and added that if there was no action taken either by the State Government of officials from the HRD Department then they would be left with no option but to sacrifice their lives.
It was alleged by the demonstrating teachers that the department had not been following the proper norms and criteria so why was it showing them NCTE rules when it came to the issue of their appointment. We just want to be given equal opportunity and the extension of our tenures, stated the president.
They informed that other leaders who were approached had also expressed helplessness and they further clarified that they were apolitical. At the same time they welcomed support from all quarters.

AHLF&VS official team tours East Sikkim to assess status of ongoing schemes

Sagar Chhetri
GANGTOK, 01 Feb: An Evaluation of Silage Making and Green Fodder Cultivation of Oats at farmers’ field level at different places in East Sikkim was carried out by the department of Animal Husbandry, Livestock Fisheries & Veterinary Services [AHLF&VS] on 21 January.
The team of officials led by the Secretary, DP Sharma, made a field visit to Rumtek, Pastanga Assam Lingzey, and Pabyuk-Naitam where a maximum number of Milk Cooperative Societies are concentrated, to assess whether the farmers have been taking advantage of the benefits distributed by the department.
An AHLF&VS press release informs that while inspecting cultivable fields of the beneficiaries where oat seeds were sown in one or two places they found oat grass have grown fairly well and in some fields farmers have carried out their first harvest and are now waiting for the next harvest. Due to severe cold and shortage of water, growth has not taken place as expected, the release adds.
However, farmers have expressed their satisfaction over the benefits distributed by the Department which are meant for the farmers, it is informed.
The team also visited Silage making sites at Pastanga, Assam Lingzey and Pabyuk-Naitam.
According to the release, silage making is a scientific method of preserving green fodder grasses whereby fodder tree leafy green grass are put in pit measuring 7’x7’x5’ for about three to four months in air tight condition and the product is then fed to animals during the dry period when availability of green fodder is less.
Though this technology is an old one, it has been recently introduced at the field level in the State and the department has provided cash amount of Rs.27, 500 each to the beneficiaries for construction of Silo pit, the release states.
The team found that some of the farmers of Pastanga and Pabyuk are doing well in dairy farming. The team also inspected Chaff cutter provided to farmers to know whether they are being used for the specific purpose and it was found that farmers were satisfied and expressed their happiness that after availing chaff-cutter no fodder grass is being wasted, the release mentions.
The Secretary assured to provide all possible support from the department to the farmers and encouraged them to help make Sikkim self sufficient in livestock products.  He also visited Namcheybong, Nandok and Raigaon where Fish Pond construction has been allotted to the people. Some of the beneficiaries have started harvesting of Common Carp, Black Carp fishes while some of the farmers shared that they have already harvested 2.5 kg of Carp Fish which were sold locally, the release further states.

Tadong branch of Lions Club presented charter certificate

RANGPO, 01 Feb: Charter certificate presentation programme for Lions Club of Tadong was held at a local hotel in Gangtok today. Chief guest of the programme, district governor Lions Club International 322f, Binod Kumar Agarwal handed over the charter certificate to the Tadong Lions Club president, Purusotam Agarwal duly signed by the Club’s international president, Dr Wing Kung Tam.
Secretary of the Club, Santosh Kumar Singh addressing the programme highlighted the Club’s activities carried out after the installation of the Club on 25 August last year. The chief guest, Mr Agarwal in his address, appreciated the work done by the Tadong Club and all other three clubs of the state during the 18 Sept earthquake 2011. He informed that twenty three new members have now joined this international club which has 13, 80, 000 members in 750 districts of 46105 areas in 208 countries.
Also present on the occasion were zone chairman H P Kharel, district chairman Sanjay Agarwal, Lions service in Sikkim Pawan Kumar Agarwal, district chairman food bank project Raghubir Agarwal, district chairman GLP, sponsoring club Ranipool president N L Mundra along with members from Lions Club of Rangpo, Lions Club of Ranipool, Singtam and Kalimpong. [from SANJAY AGARWAL]

STA and SUTWA condole the passing away of former member

GANGTOK, 01 Feb: A joint meeting of Sikkim Teachers’ Association [STA] and Sikkim United Teachers’ Welfare Association [SUTWA] was convened on 31 January at STA headquarters in Tathangchen, Gangtok to condole the demise of Late RP Sharma who passed away on 21 January 2012.
The meeting observed two minutes silence to pay homage to the departed soul, who was a senior advisory board member in STA for a long time, informs a press release. He had worked as a teacher at Rongyek JHS till the last working session 2011.
The STA as well as the SUTWA will remember him for his contribution towards the welfare of the teaching community and the association. He had extended his selfless service not only to the teachers’ associations but to many other social and literary organizations as well, the release mentions.
The association deeply prays for the peace of the departed soul as well as for courage to the family members in this time of bereavement, the release adds.


GANGTOK, 01 Feb: One suicide has been reported from Ravangla, South Sikkim. According to reports a 22 year old woman, wife of Harka Bahadur Chettri, resident of Rayong, Sardung committed suicide by hanging herself. She along with her mother in law had gone to Sevek cowshed from Rayong Sardung and while the mother in law returned the deceased did not. Later a search team found that she had committed suicide by hanging in the Sevek jungle.

Artificial Insemination training by Animal Husbandry Deptt

Sagar Chhetri
GANGTOK, 01 Feb: A residential training course for private Artificial Insemination Workers was inaugurated by the Animal Husbandry, Livestock, Fisheries & Veterinary Services [AHLF&VS] Secretary, DP Sharma at Sikkim Livestock Development Board [SLDB] training centre at Deorali today.
A total of 15 participants Sikkim Milk Union from the four districts will undergo with this 45-day long training on artificial insemination, which is being organized by the SLDB in collaboration with the AHLF&VS Department. The training has technical officials and experts of AHLF&VS Department as the resource persons who will be covering all the concerned subjects theoretically and practically. The training will consist one month theory and practical classes at the venue and another 15 days will comprise of hands-on training with experts on the field.
In his inaugural address, Secretary, DP Sharma encouraged the participants to attend the training seriously to be perfect artificial insemination workers in order to earn their livelihood and also to provide useful service to rural people. He also mentioned that the aim of the training was to produce self-employed and self-reliant people.
The Secretary informed that the state government has been give priority to the rural population and has been working for them to uplift their economic status through capacity building programmes in order to enhance their skills. He suggested that the trainees adopt other animal husbandry related and agricultural professions apart from the artificial insemination profession and assured to provide full support from the department in their future endeavors. He stated that animal husbandry had a huge scope and potential.
Deputy Director [Breeding], Dr Sanjay Gazmer informed that a total of 200 private artificial insemination workers across the state were trained till date from which 129 have been actively working in their respective areas. He further informed that this was the eighth batch to undergo such a training. He informed that after conclusion of the training, the department will also be providing all required inputs to the participants.
The inaugural function started with a welcome address by the SLDB CEO, Dr. B Badola.  The function was also attended by senior officials of the department.


We the public of Khangsee, Namcheybong busty, East Sikkim beg to state that we have requested the Secretary, Irrigation Department, several times to shift the on-going work to the actual site of landslide here. However, the Department has not taken any action and work continues at the site where there is no landslide.
[signed by 20 Namcheybong residents]

3-year-olds take up painting at Vasanta Mahotsav

Anusha Gurung
GANGTOK, 01 Feb:  Eight children from Sai Samiti joined the art workshop today at the ongoing Vasanta Mahotsav at Thakurbari. The children, most of them aged around 3 years, have produced some beautiful paintings in different styles.
Umesh Tamang [3 yrs], Sonamit Lepcha [3 yrs], Renuka Rai [3 yrs], Abinash Tamang [3 yrs], and Deepika Subba [4 yrs] are being guided by senior artist as well as treasurer of OVIYA Art Circle, Dhiraj Pradhan at the workshop.
Speaking to NOW! Mr Pradhan said “Art is not just about using a brush and colours but materials like straw, canvas, sand can also be used and are being used here in the paintings. This is an experimental work, I do contemporary art and I use straw and sand in making abstract art.” A total number of 5 of his paintings are on display here, out of which one is abstract art.
Mr Pradhan got his diploma in Fine Arts from the British Institute, Mumbai and has also taken part in the International Exhibition 2011 in Dhaka. He started painting while in school but took it up as a profession only in the year 2004.
“Here, we keep changing the paintings weekly so that every one, especially the newcomers also get a chance to show their talent” mentioned Mr Pradhan.

GFPF celebrates second Factory Day

GANGTOK, 01 Feb: Government Fruit Preservation Factory [GFPF] celebrated 2nd Factory Day at its compound at Singtam on Tuesday. The celebration had the area MLA, Am Prasad Sharma as the chief guest.
The celebration included a friendly volleyball match along with other activities for the factory workers, their family members and guests.
In his address, the chief guest congratulated the workers and staff of the factory for their efforts and hard work to place the factory at its present stage. He further added that hard work, sincere efforts and dedication are ingredients for success and good team work would help achieve the target. The Area MLA further encouraged the factory workers to do better in the future.
GFPF Managing Director, Karma Zimpa stated that celebration of this day was also to deliver a message to the people on the achievements and presence of the factory. He also informed about the various achievements and targets of the factory.
On the occasion, Kul Bahadur Gurung was declared the Best Team Worker and awarded a cash prize of Rs 5,000 along with other gifts whereas Thomas Subba stood second in the same category and was awarded Rs 2,000 followed by Dharma Shila Mukhia in the third place with Rs 1,000.
The celebration was also attended by the Chairman SIMFED-cum-GFPF, Girish Chandra Rai, Zilla panchayat members, co-workers and local people.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

TAAS begins online promotion of Sikkim Snow Fest

GANGTOK, 31 Jan: Around 20 lakh e-mail invitations for the ‘Sikkim Snow & Cultural Festival’, a tourism recovery mission to restore pre-earthquake tourism status in the State, have been carpet bombed by Travel Agents Association of Sikkim [TAAS] to corporate sector, associations, tour operators and honeymooners in India and Southeast Asia, since 05 January.
“Eight computer operators are sending around 70,000 e-brochures of the snow festival daily from our office. We are targeting honeymooners, corporate sector, tour operators and associations of different professions and sending them e-mails”, said TAAS general secretary, Sonam Norgay Lachungpa reporters today.
The snow festival, organized by TAAS and supported by the Sikkim government, commences from Valentine’s Day and ends on Leap Day. The TAAS general secretary said that the e-mail consists of a home page of where the recipient can click and enter the website to read the different activities outlined for the festival.
“We have tied up with a matrimonial website for getting the e-mail address of newly married couples and are sending them links to our website. The response is very encouraging as we are getting lot of enquires and feedback from potential tourists. Some of our members have already got bookings for the festival”, said Mr Lachungpa.
TAAS president, Lukendra Rasaily said that a big buzz through internet promotion has already been created for the upcoming festival. “January and February months are a lean tourism season in Sikkim. But now, through this festival, we have created a big buzz and enquires from tourists are coming in. We want tourists to visit Sikkim also during January and February so that we have a long tourism season in Sikkim. We have decided to continue the snow festival annually”, he said.
The e-mails will be continuously forwarded till the end of the festival and we aim to send 1 crore e-mails, said Mr Rasaily.
TAAS software consultant Jayant Das said that a special e-mail extractor software is being used to get the e-mail addresses of the targeted sector in India and Southeast Asia. “Once the email addresses are extracted, our computer operators start sending the e-mails to all. We are getting a thousand hits every day to our website and the numbers are increasing daily”, he said.
The snow fest website link has already been uploaded in the official website of Sikkim government and Sikkim Tourism department.
“All our members are also using the social networking site, Facebook, to promote the snow fest. Several travel writers are interested in coming to Sikkim and cover the event”, said Mr Lachungpa.
The snow fest has already received attention nationally with Australian born travel writer Sherell Cook writing a post on the festival in an Indian travel portal. “Himachal Pradesh is a popular destination for snow seekers in India, however if you're looking to have fun in a winter wonderland, this year Sikkim has something special to offer”, she writes in her post with details on the festival and a link to
As part of the promotion activity, the TAAS will also be sending 1 lakh SMSes to all tour operators in the country. “Such kind of mass tourism promotional activity through e-mails and SMSes is being conducted for the first time in the country. We have good teamwork in TAAS and the Sikkim government has been very supportive”, said the TAAS president.

JICA survey on bear population to be completed by Feb

GANGTOK, 31 Jan: A 60-year-old from Upper Payong, Lingee, who had been attacked by a Himalayan Black Bear yesterday, was brought to the STNM Hospital today for treatment. Chandra Man Rai, a farmer, was attacked by a bear at around 11 a.m. on 30 January while he was collecting fodder near his farm. The area where the attack took place is close to the Mainam Wildlife Sanctuary in South Sikkim.
“My brother was cutting grass in the morning, when the bear which was in the nearby kholcha that is around 10 to 15 feet away from the farm land attacked him,” informed the victim’s younger brother, Indra Kumar Rai, while speaking to media persons here at the STNM Hospital, today.
He has injury marks on the right side of his chest, left elbow and bite marks on the right side of his head. “We used to have visits by bears before, but this is the first time that a bear has attacked a person”, he added.
PCCF-cum-Secretary, Forest Department, ST Lachungpa, who visited the injured person at the STNM Hospital, while speaking to the media informed that this was the first incident in the area, but bears do get attracted to the smell of food and there was a need to avert such accidents in the future.
In the past few years as the forest cover area has grown so has the population of wildlife and no individual census of wildlife has been conducted in the state till now, he added. If the population of bears has grown, then culling of bears needs to be done, he stated.
The indirect effect of such an incident is that fear sets in within the minds of the people, but the direct effect is that this shows that there is forest growth, biodiversity is getting richer, which is a good indication for the environment and thus good for tourism too, the Secretary said.
Chief Wildlife Warden, Manjit Singh, in turn, informed that an international seminar on the proposed National Bear Conservation Plan is scheduled for November in Delhi by Ministry of Environment & Forests. “The meeting is tentatively proposed in November during which the Ministry will be discussing the National Bear Conservation Plan. They are collecting data from different States including Sikkim. The plan will be like the Tiger Project which will help us in getting funds for bear conservation and management,” he added.
Conservator of Forests [Wildlife], Gut Lepcha said that a survey is being done by Japanese International Cooperation Agency [JICA] researchers assisted by the Forest department in Sikkim forests to prepare a rough population estimate of Himalayan black bears in the State.
 “The survey started earlier this month and will be completed in February. Our forest personnel are guiding and providing all support to the survey team. They will submit a report to us with the approximate population estimate of bears in Sikkim and this report will be useful for the National Bear Conservation Plan”, said Mr Lepcha.
The team is setting up camera traps in the forests, recording the human-bear conflicts and crop damages by bear as part of the survey. The survey is being conducted in the different wildlife sanctuaries in different parts of the State. Two survey teams are presently at Pangolakha wildlife sanctuary in East Sikkim and Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary in West district.
The Secretary also handed over Rs. 5,000 as relief money to the victim, while the expense of the medical treatment of the victim is being borne by the Forest Department and all the medicines are being provided by the STNM Hospital.

MHA letter banning Sikkim Lotteries in Kerala finally reaches State Govt

GANGTOK, 31 Jan: The official letter from the Ministry of Home Affairs intimating the State government of the banning of Sikkim paper lotteries in the state of Kerala is informed to have arrived at the Lotteries Directorate, Government of Sikkim. The MHA has banned the Sikkim lotteries for a period of two years for having violated certain conditions of the Lottery Regulations by the marketing agent of Sikkim Lotteries- Future Gaming. The MHA letter has now been put up to the State government by the Director, Lotteries for further action. There is a likelihood that the State government will lodge an appeal with the Central government.
But while the central government has temporarily banned Sikkim lotteries in Kerala, the company operating the lotteries had stopped operations there a year and a half ago due to the “excessive sales tax”, it has been revealed.
“The Kerala government was charging lottery tax at Rs.25 lakhs per draw,” informs an official of Future Gaming which operates the Sikkim paper lottery. The suspension of operations has caused losses in the crores to the company it is informed. As a result, Sikkim government, which also earns crores of rupees in terms of revenue from lottery sales and draws has also suffered losses. Apart from the losses incurred by the agency and the government, another 500 people employed by Future Gaming in Kerala have been laid off for the past year and half.
The primary cause of contention between the Kerala and Sikkim governments, it has been revealed, was the allegation leveled by the Kerala government that the company operating Sikkim state lotteries was not abiding by the rules and was issuing double and triple digit lotteries. These had been banned by the Lotteries (Regulation) Rules, 2010 which came into force in April, 2010. Till then, the lotteries were single, double or triple digits all of which were banned now.
Company officials inform that just when, in September 2010, they were ready with a four digit lottery the Kerala government hiked the lottery tax from Rs. 7 lakh to Rs. 25 lakh per draw. As per company officials it had become very difficult to sustain operations in Kerala after the huge hike in the lottery tax and the company thought better of it.
Instead, a petition was filed in the Kerala high court challenging the hike. In the meanwhile another controversy cropped up with the imposition of the Lottery Regulations and the subsequent banning of single, double and triple digit lotteries.
In fact, Sikkim paper lotteries stopped sales in Kerala on 1 September, 2010 inform officials of Future Gaming which operate the only paper lotteries of the state government.
The “termination” of sales of Sikkim lotteries in Kerala has resulted in huge financial losses and the “retrenchment” of 500 employees of Future Gaming. The financial loss to the company has been to the tune of a minimum of Rs. 2 crore per month.
Most interestingly, it is informed that all the while that the lotteries had been suspended in Kerala the 500 odd employees from retailers to dealers to agents employed by the company were being provided their due salaries and wages.  But now, with the suspension of Sikkim lotteries in Kerala likely to be prolonged, the company will have to rethink about continued provision of salaries and wages to its agents there. The government too will continue to suffer losses in terms of revenue from sales and service tax.

253 kids complete winter football coaching with Boy’s Club

GANGTOK, 31 Jan: The valedictory function of the 40-day long winter football coaching camp organized by one of the oldest football clubs of Gangtok, Boy’s Club, was held here at Paljor Stadium today.
This was the second consecutive year that Boys’ Club organized the coaching camp.
A total of 253 children, aged between 4 to 17 years, attended the camp during which they were trained by coaches and senior players of the Club. The camp had begun on 23 December.
The recently nominated Rajya Sabha MP from Sikkim, Hissey Lachungpa, who was present as the chief guest today, gave away the certificates to the participants.
Addressing the function, Mr Lachungpa appreciated the initiative in conducting such coaching camps and suggested that parents of the participants support the club by registering themselves as members.
He highlighted that sports and games help keep youth and children engaged in productive and healthy activities, and stressed that in order to strengthen the society, parents should work for the overall development of the children.
Mr Lachungpa mentioned that the State government has also given priority to sports and has been creating and developing facilities and infrastructures for sports across the state. He added that the government cannot provide jobs to everyone but it has been providing tremendous opportunities and scope for its people.
The MP suggested that private companies in the state should come forward to support and develop active sports clubs and associations in order to promote local sportspersons. Being the Sikkim Football Association advisor, Mr Lachungpa suggested that SFA should conduct leagues in different age categories to provide more platforms for local footballers.
He also urged the budding footballers to take inspiration from Bhaichung Bhutia to be a successful footballer and also urged them to concentrate on their studies along with sports.
SFA general secretary, Menla Ethenpa congratulated Boy’s Club for setting an example of an active club through their initiatives for budding footballers and for developing club culture in the state.
He mentioned that to encourage the club, SFA has been sending Boy’s Club teams to different national football tournaments. He informed that in a recent national tournament, Boy’s Club performed well and reached the semi-final stage and two of its players were even selected by the AIFF for the India U-17 selection camp at Goa.
Mr Ethenpa encouraged young players to be disciplined, dedicated and sincere in their game and further urged their parents to encourage their children in sports to keep them away from anti-social activities.
He also urged the Sports Department to complete and open the football ground at Khel Gaon as soon as possible to produce more footballers. Responding to Mr Lachungpa’s suggestions, he informed that SFA would start football leagues for different age groups soon.
Boy’s Club chief coach, Thupten Rapgyal informed that the main aim of the coaching camp was to promote football in the real sense across the state and to inculcate sports culture in the society. He further informed that sports culture has been developing in the state and a good number of parents were present at the ground on the day to encourage their wards.
Speaking to NOW! a Boy’s Club member, Basant Gurung informed that 253 children from all four districts participated in the camp. He stated that the response from the people was good and even the participation has doubled compared to last year.
He informed that children were taught on the basics of football, fitness and other skills. Mr Gurung also appreciated the encouraging response from the parents who were also involved along with their children in the camp.
The club has expressed its gratitude to Mr Lachungpa for supporting the coaching camp, Sports Department for providing the ground, parents and well wishers.

Cabinet meets to sanction and approve

GANGTOK, 31 Jan [IPR]: A Cabinet meeting was held on 25 January 2011 at the Cabinet Hall of Samman Bhawan under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Pawan Chamling.
The following proposals of various departments were approved by the Cabinet.
Home Department
The Cabinet approved the proposal for according approval and sanction of Rs.100.70 lakhs only for the construction of Model Police Station at Rongli, East Sikkim under the scheme Modernization of Police Force.
Water Security and Public Health Engineering Department
The Cabinet approved the proposal seeking approval and sanction for upgradation and overhauling of Namchi and Gyalshing-Rabdentse Water Supply Scheme at an estimated cost of Rs. 19.99 crores.
Human Resource Development Department
The Cabinet approved the proposal of the State Level Committee and Departmental Selection Committee nominated for the purpose of monitoring the selection and nominating procedure of students based on merit under Hon’ble Chief Minister’s Merit Scholarship Scheme and also the guideline framed by the department to provide criteria for the selection of the State Toppers at the primary education level.
Rural Management and Development Department
The Cabinet approved the proposal for according approval and sanction of Rs.4,49,53,700/- only for the construction of Kisan Bazar at Namthang, South Sikkim.
Urban Development and Housing Department
The Cabinet approved the proposal to hand over the partial administrative control and maintenance of Kanchen Dzonga Shopping Complex at Lall Bazar, Gangtok to the Gangtok Municipal Corporation for an initial period of five years.
Irrigation and Flood Control Department
The Cabinet approved the proposal seeking approval and sanction of Rs.61.92 crores only for the implementation of schemes approved and sanctioned by the Hon’ble Chief Minister during his village to village tour.
Roads and Bridges Department
The Cabinet approved the proposal seeking approval and sanction of 100.00 lakhs only for the construction of 55 meter span steel bridge at Bungling over Rongli Chu in East Sikkim.
Cooperation Department
The Cabinet approved the proposal seeking approval and sanction of Rs.100.00 Lakhs only to be released as grants- in-aid to 19 MPCS for construction of building, repair of existing building and purchase of land.
Forest Environment and WL Management Department
The Cabinet approved the proposal seeking ex post-facto approval and sanction of Rs.572.83 lakhs only for implementation of various works under Sikkim Ecology and Environment Cess fund for the year 2011-12.
Labour Department
The Cabinet approved the proposal seeking approval to transfer Rs.200.00 lakhs only to SIDICO for Comprehensive Educational Loan Scheme to take up higher academic studies and professional courses within the country and abroad.
Tourism Department 
The Cabinet approved the proposal for according approval and additional sanction of Rs. 20.06 lakhs only as against its earlier sanction of Rs.7.93 lakhs only for electrification of tourist Amenities at Majhitar, South Sikkim.
Water Security and PHE Department
The Cabinet approved the proposal seeking approval and additional sanctionof Rs. 1080.71 lakhs only with an additional sanction of Rs.97.29 lakhs only for construction of Water Supply Scheme in Pakyong, East Sikkim under NLCPR.
Forest Env. & WL Management Department
The Cabinet approved the proposal seeking approval and en-bloc sanction of Rs. 21.40 lakhs for the work Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats for Khangchendzonga National Park.
Urban Development and Housing Department
The Cabinet approved the proposal for according approval and sanction of Rs.50.00 lakhs only for the construction of parking Space and allied works at Namthang, South Sikkim.
Health Care, Human Services & Family Welfare Department
The Cabinet approved the proposal seeking approval and sanction of Rs.50.00 lakhs only for Mukhya Mantri Jeevan Raksha Kosh Scheme to provide financial assistance to general public other than BPL persons referred for treatment outside State (within) India by the Medical Board for further specialized investigation and treatment.
Food Security and Agriculture Development Department
The Cabinet approved the proposal for according approval and sanction of Rs.65.00 lakhs only for establishment of two numbers of Mobile Soil Testing Vans presently functioning in South / West and North / East District respectively and strengthening of existing Soil Testing Laboratory.
Human Resource Development Department
The Cabinet approved the proposal seeking approval for Compulsory Teachers Training Programmes for all the regular untrained Government teachers under Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009.
Social Justice, Empowerment and Welfare Department 
The Cabinet approved the proposal seeking approval and sanction of Rs. 272.34 lakhs only for transfer of fund under Supplementary Nutrition Programme for the period April to September 2011.
Roads and Bridges Department
The Cabinet approved the proposal of seeking approval and sanction of Rs. 605.65 lakhs for upgradation of existing link road from Soreng, Sreebadam, Kaluk to Lower Samdong in West Sikkim, Rs.609.78 lakhs only for upgradation, improvement and carpeting of Radhu Khandu road from Shanku Fatak to Hee Pool in West Sikkim and Rs. 727.78 lakhs for upgradation work of Rinchenpong to Mayong road via Yangsum in West Sikkim.

Editorial: Still Stoned

A college student was taken into custody in Namchi on Monday evening. After commonly abused subscription drugs were found in his car, his rented apartment was raided and a much larger consignment of contraband uncovered. Apart from being booked under the Sikkim Anti-Drugs Act, the 23 year old, IIIrd semester student is also facing charges under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act. These are strong laws, career-ending cul-de-sacs in fact. Go through any of the many news-reports on ‘drug busts’ around the State, and one will notice that the number of repeat offenders is very high. A noticeably disturbing trend of late has been the increasing number of very young finding themselves on the wrong end of the law [when it comes to ‘drugs’] because of their chemical dependence and the need to finance it. It can be safely vouched that many of the young SAD Act or NDPS Act offenders become addicts first and then graduate to become peddlers or mules for peddlers. The youth picked up in Namchi on Monday was old enough to be be expected to decide things better for himself, but was only starting out in life. A conviction under the charges he has been booked under will land him a jail sentence, and it is common knowledge that things go downhill from thereon. The gloom of his future is highlighted here as an example of the inevitability that awaits many young people in Sikkim because the society at large and its representative organisations are failing miserably in keeping them safe from addiction.
There are many who believe that SADA and NDPS are extreme in their severity and inhuman in their failure to differentiate between an addict [who is a victim] and peddler. They are right to some extent, but what cannot be ignored either is the situation which led to the drafting of the Sikkim Anti-Drugs Act in the first place. Till this Act came into force, the peddling of common substances of abuse in Sikkim, even though they were claiming lives, because they were dealing in prescription drugs and not hardcore psychotropic substances, got away, even when caught with huge consignments, got away without even a slap on their wrists. This newspaper had lobbied consistently for an anti-drugs law specific to the Sikkim situation and welcomed the enactment of SADA when it finally came about. What the recent episode from Namchi and the many which have been reported before that, however, prove is that the social support required to combat addiction with any chances of success, has not come about. What Sikkim is thus left staring at is a situation where there are strong laws to punish both peddling and addiction, but no social net to help its young Say No. Anti-drugs awareness is almost exclusively attempted by rehabilitation centres [of which Sikkim does not have enough], and they already have their plates full helping the already addicted quit their habits and stay clean. Their assistance is definitely required, but what the State desperately needs is for its associations and groups to address the problem of substance abuse earnestly and effectively and help the young keep away, because once they acquire chemical dependence, the vortex will pull them in and snuff out potential which the society at large has a responsibility to groom and nurture.

Justice Patra has not resigned: Govt

GANGTOK, 31 Jan: The Information & Public Relations Department today dismissed as “factually incorrect and without basis”, news-reports appearing in a section of the media here suggesting that Justice RK Patra has resigned. “Justice Patra is still serving in the State Government, and any news item that states otherwise is false, malicious and mischievous,” the IPR reiterates in a press release issued today.

Art workshop begins at Vasanta Mahotsav 2012

GANGTOK, 31 Jan: The art workshop on various forms of drawing and painting in the ongoing Vasanta Mahotsav 2012 at Thakurbari complex started today. The three-month Mahotsav 2012 of exhibitions, seminars and workshops on various forms was started on 29 January.
The venue has paintings of gold medalists and other renowned artists who have reached the international level from Indra Dhanush Chitra Kala Sanstha [Namchi], which is one of the oldest organizations, and OVIYA Art Circle [Gangtok]. A total of 65 paintings are on display at the venue.
Speaking to media persons today, OVIYA member, Sagar Subba, mentioned that the main aim is to not only inspire young artists by exposing them to such works but also to learn and practice it and the venue has a large space, where learners can bring their materials and start practicing here itself.
“Through OVIYA Art Circle, we want to send the message to everyone, that art lovers can come here and learn new styles and forms of arts with the international artists,” he stated.
He further added that the knowledge of required materials to use will be provided to them and people from any age group can come and join. Interested learners can even paint here which will be displayed here along with other paintings.
This workshop will be followed by an exhibition and seminar on Wild Life Photography, Exhibition of Photographs depicting the great moments of Sai Baba’s Life, Photo shoot session, Graphic Design and Creative/Applied Arts, Literary sessions,  Exhibition of Art and Craft for College Students, National and International Level Exhibition of Photograph and Workshop.

Shahid Diwas observed at Aritar

RHENOCK, 31 Jan: Shahid Diwas [Martyrs’ Day] was observed at Aritar-Khamdong, East Sikkim, with a special function organised by the Nehru Yuva Kendra, Gangtok, and jointly hosted by Nava Jagrati Sangh and Aritar-Khamdong Gram Panchayat Unit at the Sangh Bhawan.
The programme was attended by NYK, Gangtok, District Youth Coordinator Puran Chettri as the chief guest while it was chaired by Government Contractor Chewang Norbu Sherpa.
The Sangh’s president, Subash Dahal in his welcome address highlighted the activities of the Sangh and informed that the Sangh was conferred the Best Club award at the district-level and Outstanding Club award at the state-level by NYK in 2011.
The Sangh and Aritar-Khamdong Gram Panchayat felicitated the families of Ex-Panchayat Late Balram Ghimirey, Ex-Area MLA Karna Bahadur Chamling, MLA Chujachen, Puran Kumar Gurung, Journalist Bhanuraj Thapa, Ram Gauri Sangralaya president, Ganesh Kumar Pradhan and members of Aritar -Khamdong GPU.
Ganesh Kumar Pradhan, Chewang Norbu Sherpa and DYC Puran Chettri also addressed the gathering.
Also present were National Youth Awardee, Mani Kumar Gurung, Himali Sangh general secretary, Narapati Dawari, Panchayat Vice-President DC Pradhan, Secretary Nar Bahadur Chettri, RDA Madhu Sharma, Ward Panchayat Uma Neopany and others. [from BHANURAJ THAPA]


I would like to commend the just-concluded Winter Football Coaching Camp organised by Boys' Club at Paljor Stadium from 23rd December 2011 to 31st January 2012.
The camp was not only a wonderful way to keep our children constructively occupied in the winter break, it also furnished them with some fine footballing skills under the supervision of the coaches of the Boys' Club.
I do, however, have one small request for the organisers. While a lot of effort obviously went into the creation of the certificates of participation handed out to the participants today, with their photographs et al, the spelling of Paljor ('Palzor') Stadium was a huge let-down.
The stadium bears the name of our late Crown Prince Kunzang Choley a.k.a. Paljor Namgyal who died while serving as a VRAF pilot (Volunteer Royal Air Force) in World War II.
Incidentally, at the recent Republic Day celebrations, while surviving WWII veterans were honoured, no one even made a mention, even in passing, of late Prince Paljor Namgyal also having served in WWII.
Yours etc,
Tenzin C. Tashi [recvd over email]

SIMFED showcases Sikkim’s organic produce at India Intl Food & Agri Expo

GANGTOK, 31 Jan [IPR]: Sikkim was represented by Simfed at the Agri Expo. 2011, India International Food and Agriculture Expo-2011, held at the Gokulam Convention Centre, Kaloor, Cochi, Kerala from the 26 to 28 November. This is one of the major National Organic Fair organised by the Foundation for Organic Agriculture and Rural Development, Coffee Board, Coconut Board, NABARD, Government of India, Government of Kerala in Kerala. The Expo was inaugurated by KC Sashidhar, Chief General Manager.
The Fair consisted of participants from all over the nation and several from South East Asia. The participants comprised of Manufacturers, Dealers, Cooperative Societies, etc. The Exhibits mainly ranged from Organic vegetables, all types of organically grown spices, fruits, coconuts, and their processed products.
Besides Exhibition cum Retail activities, the Expo also comprised of seminars by invitee Experts in various fields of organic Farming, followed by open forum discussion amongst Growers, Dealers, Manufacturers etc and the Experts during all three days. The Seminar also highlighted the current status of Organic Farming in India and Globally. On this occasion Mr. P. K. Sunwar, Dy. General Manager(Marketing), Simfed delivered a brief and well versed deliberation on the current status of Organic Farming in Sikkim during which he clarified and answered questions and certain points put forward by the participants who all came from various parts of country.
The Simfed delegation comprised of ten farmers from all over Sikkim and SIMFED ICS Area of Rateypani and West Pendam. The team was headed by PK Sunwar, Dy. GM (Mktg), Simfed, and was sponsored by the National Horticulture Board, Sikkim State Unit and was organized with the help & support of the local Senior Officer of NHB AK Singh, Centre in Charge. The NHB also sponsored the last Bio-Fach Exhibitions and two awareness program on Ginger and Cardamom.
The Simfed Stall consisted of all Organic products of Sikkim, right from Large Cardamom, oranges, cherry Pepper (Dalle), Ginger, Pulses, various local medicinal herbs etc. Sikkim Stall with its rich hue of organic products at display for sale and as exhibits, adorned with rich traditional artifacts impressed all the visiting delegations to the Expo. Owing to its rich hue of organic products display for sale and as exhibits, adorned with rich traditional artifacts impressed all the visiting delegations to the Expo. Owing to which it was elaborately flashed in all the local Newspapers and SIMFED has got special appreciation certificate.
The overall participation of the Sikkim delegation to this Expo was a grand success. Farmers from Sikkim were able to visit the local organic farms for exposure to some of the advanced technologies being introduced in organic farming. In particular, this Expo participation helped Simfed garner a lot of interest for several organic products of Sikkim from amongst some major National and International growers, manufacturers, purchasers, dealers etc. SIMFED has got trail order of 15MT Organic Ginger from one of International Exporter after which they confirmed regular order of 100MT Ginger per month. SIMFED also got order of Large Cardamom which to be supplied every month to them in Kerala. SIMFED is working continuously to promote the Organic Products of Sikkim in National and International Market and fulfill the dreams of the Sikkim Organic Mission and Chief Minister of Sikkim with the help and support of the Agriculture & Horticulture Department officials.

13 Forest Guards ready for deployment

GANGTOK, 31 Jan: The basic training course in Forestry and allied subjects to the 13 untrained Forest Guards [FGs] was conducted from 12 December, 2011 to 30 January, 2012 at Forest Range Office [Territorial] situated at Baluwakhani.
They were physically trained in drill and saluting and also given practical training in apprehension of forest offenders, recording of statements, seizure of properties, measurement of timber and logs and filing of report to the officers.
They were also trained in Botanization, eco-development activities, biodiversity conservation programme, firefighting, man and animal conflict, forest survey, map reading and application of modern tools like GPS. The trainees were well trained in adopting plantation methodology and nursery techniques.
The closing ceremony of the 50-day training had the PCCF cum Secretary Forest, ST Lachungpa as the chief guest today at the Forest Range Office, Baluwakhani and was attended by senior officers of the department. The certificate of training was awarded to the trainees by the Forest Secretary.
The programme concluded with the vote of thanks by DFO (T) East, N Tshering Bhutia.