Thursday, February 16, 2012

Chief Minister seeks IT exemption for Old Settlers; writes to Pranab for suspending Income Tax proceedings as matter is under consideration

GANGTOK, 07 Feb: The chief minister, Pawan Chamling, has asked the central government to suspend the issuing of income tax notices to members of the business community. Sources inform that in a letter to the Union Finance Minister, Pranab Mukherjee the Sikkim Chief Minister has requested that such processes be kept in abeyance as the matter of income tax exemption for the left out communities in the state is under consideration. He has further sought, in his letter, that the matter of exempting the Left Out communities from paying central income tax be kindly considered and the grievances of the Old Settlers favourably considered for exemption.
The Business community of the state have been upping the ante as far as their protests against their non exemption from paying income tax is concerned. Both the central government as well as the state government have been approached with petitions and with the Income Tax Office here in Gangtok issuing notices for tax returns on a regular basis the community members also approached the Chief Minister with their cause.
The letter of the chief minister is informed to have been submitted to the Finance Minister during the former’s visit to New Delhi in January this year. The CM, it is informed, has sought that as the matter is under due consideration of the government of india, that all proceedings initiated by Income Tax authorities as per due process of law may kindly be kept in abeyance, till a final decision is arrived at.
It needs to be mentioned here that members of the left out communities are regularly served notices by the Income Tax officer here in Gangtok and at the behest of the Income Tax office, Siliguri. The notices come with the warning that should the fail to file their returns proceedings will be initiated against them as per law.
While the state government has got exemption from paying central income tax for Sikkim Subject holders the old business community have not been exempted. In his communiqué, the chief minister has highlighted that there are about 400 families of old settlers residing here for long who have been continuously representing before the state and the union government pleading for their inclusion in the scheme of exemption on grounds of having settled in the state before the promulgation of Sikkim Subject Regulation, 1961. The chief minister has also stated that the state government has constituted a committee for examining the matter and that having been satisfied on their petitions passed a resolution in the SLA recommending their inclusion for exemption from paying central income tax.
The Finance Minister, it is informed, had responded, as he did in the Rajya Sabha a few weeks ago, saying that the matter is under due consideration of the central government.

Sikkim Snow & Culture Fest to revive Sikkim Tourism

GANGTOK, 07 Feb: Amit Paul, Indian Idol season-3 runner-up, is all set to perform in the state capital in a musical event ‘An Evening With Amit Paul. The programme is being organized by Gangtok based Namdul Tours and Travels at Tashi Namgyal Academy playground on 22 February evening and is part of the Sikkim Snow and Culture Fest, which is scheduled to be held from 14 February to 29 February in the state. Amit Paul will be another in the string of celebrities to hit the town recently, entertain tourists and locals alike and attempt to revive the fledgling tourism industry in the state.
The event will witness other local artists and also dancers from Kolkata. Part of the collection raised through tickets will also go to the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund to support the earthquake victims.
Addressing a press conference today, Namdul Tours and Travels managing director, Tularam Chettri informed that the primary focus of the event is to revive Sikkim Tourism which has taken slump lately; this is largely because of the 18 September earthquake. He further stated that the event will also help to send the message to the whole world that Sikkim is safe and fine and all set to welcome tourists in the state.
“Amit Paul was the runner-up in the Indian Idol and presently is a playback singer in Bollywood, so he is quite popular among the people of India; through this event we have also targeted domestic tourists coming to Sikkim to give them another extra event in the state,” Mr Chettri said.
For the same, the organizers have already informed hoteliers to convey the message of the event to their guests; they also plan to visit the hotels in days to come apart from also promoting the event through online marketing.
The organizers have fixed the price of tickets at Rs 500 and Rs 300 each which is available at a counter set up before Tourism Office in MG Marg. Mr Chettri informed that they have been approaching private companies to sponsor the event and should any company come forward to support the show then the price of tickets would go down.
The organizers expect a crowd of around 3000 people for the show.
Sima Thapa informed that Amit Paul has already confirmed his participation for the event and will be coming from Mumbai. She stated that this event will help to promote Sikkim as Amit Paul will convey the message of Sikkim to wherever he would perform around the world that Sikkim is alright and safe. She informed that he will perform with his own band and has also promised to present around 6 Nepali songs in the show. Ms Thapa added that dancers from Kolkata will perform in the show.
Travel Agents Association of Sikkim [TAAS] is also assisting the organizers in publicity and other arrangements and has also allotted a slot in the Sikkim Snow and Culture Fest for the next 3 years.

State BJP president writes to the President of India and PM on the alleged private universities scam

GANGTOK, 07 Feb: Bharatiya Janta Party, Sikkim State president, Padam Bahadur Chettri, has sent off letters to 15 high and concerned authorities on the issue of private universities in Sikkim on Monday.
The party president had, in an earlier release published on the 28 January edition, demanded that “the Governor may kindly ask the Chief Minister to show him, within a week, the Presidential assent on the Acts establishing the universities in Sikkim. If no assent is submitted to Governor, then he may order immediate closure of all concerned universities and order them to refund the money at penal compound rate paid by students and other payments for wasting time and causing anguish to students. Students or parents may ask for President’s assent and University Grants Commission recognition papers from the universities where they are studying or sending their wards.”
Copies of the letter have been sent to the President of India, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Union Minister of Human Resource Development, Governor of Sikkim, Chief Minister of Sikkim, Director, Central Bureau of Investigation, Registrar, Supreme Court of India,
Registrar, Sikkim Manipal University, Registrar, Vinayak University, Registrar, ICFAI, Registrar, EIILM, Secretary, Medical Council of India, Secretary, All India Council of Vocational and Technical Education, Secretary to Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition, Lok Sabha.
Addressing a press conference today, Mr Chettri informed that one week has already passed and there has been no response from the Governor or the Chief Minister so he has taken the next course of action by sending letters to the above mentioned addressees.
Alleging that the Governor preserves, protects and defends the Chief Minister of Sikkim and not the Constitution of India, Mr Chettri stated that no response on the issue shows that either the Governor is not serious on the matter or he is not aware of it. This issue is very important for Sikkim since various fraud companies and conmen have cheated the State and its people in the past, he added.
He stressed that private universities need to have the assent from the President of India before establishing the university failing which it becomes illegal. “They are patently illegal; and I fail to understand why the Governor did not act according to the Law and the Constitution of the country in accordance with his solemn affirmation at the time of his swearing-in as Governor to preserve, protect and defend the Law and the Constitution,” alleged Mr Chettri.
Citing the on going court case with regard to the validity of the degree awarded through distance mode by Sikkim Manipal University in the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, the BJP president said that similar actions may be anticipated from other legal forums in the country and hence, a samaritan may file a Public Interest Litigation in the Apex Court in the interests of millions of people in the present and future generations; and decide, once and for all, the status of the universities, other than Sikkim University, in Sikkim.
Further mentioning the cancellation of 122 spectrum licenses by the Supreme Court, he demanded that similar action should be taken against the Sikkim Manipal University of Health, Medical and Technological Sciences, the Institute of Chartered Financial Analysts of India University Sikkim, the Eastern Institute  for Integrated Learning in Management University  Sikkim, and the Vinayaka Missions Sikkim University for forging documents and misleading and cheating the people throughout the world who have sent their wards for studies in the “Sikkim” Manipal University and other private universities in Sikkim.
The letter asks the Secretary to the President of India to inform whether “the President has given his assent to the Sikkim Assembly Acts, establishing the private universities in Sikkim and a copy of the assent be kindly sent to him if available and if no copy of assent is received within 05 March then it will be presumed that the President has not assented to the relevant Sikkim Assembly Act”.
Likewise, he asked the Secretary to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and Ministry of Human Resource Development to inform how in the absence of the President’s assent to the Sikkim Assembly Act, Manipal Medical College under the illegal Sikkim Manipal University was allowed to function and grant MBBS degrees and other degrees.
He further asked the Secretary of Medical Council of India to inform under what provision of law the MCI recommended the recognition of Manipal Medical College in Sikkim as the SMU Act without the President’s assent.
The letter also asks the Secretary, All India Council of Vocational and Technical Education, New Delhi, to inform how and under what provision of law the Manipal Engineering College was recommended for approval by the competent authority. The Registrars of Sikkim Manipal University of Health, Medical and Technological Sciences, the Institute of Chartered Financial Analysts of India University Sikkim, the Eastern Institute for Integrated Learning in Management University Sikkim, and the Vinayaka Missions Sikkim University have also been asked to send the State Assembly Acts duly assented to by the President of India.
Mr Chettri also urged the Prime Minister to direct the CBI to conduct investigation and charge-sheet those who are responsible for the existence and continuation of the illegal private universities in the border state of Sikkim. He further urged the Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha to take the matter seriously and discuss it in the Parliament in accordance with the policy of war against corruption.
Mr Chettri further stated that if there is no response from these offices by 05 March, then he would file an FIR against the SMU Chancellor, Dr Ram Das Rai and take other legal steps as well.

Understanding Human Trafficking

The ‘Winter Sojourn’ programme is an annual field study organised by Sikkim University on various themes with a view towards documenting and understanding issues of the region. Winter Sojourn 2012, was organized along 17 different themes like Amliso Broom, Earthquake, Women Vendors, Hydel Power Projects, Migrant Labourers and Human Trafficking. The purpose of the field studies approached through an interdisciplinary perspective is to sensitive and supplement classroom learning with the problems of the society through awareness, documentation and advocacy.
The team “Human Trafficking” had a total of 34 teaching staff and students from the University, affiliated colleges as well as schools. The teachers included Dr. Suman Negi, Dr. Satyabrat Sinha and Ms. Samida Vedabala from SU and Ms. Susan Rai and Bindhya Rai from the affiliated Colleges. Diki Bhutia, Abhijit Bajracharya, Romana Lepcha, Yugul Khanal, Shankar Prasad, Rizwan and Makuta were the group leaders amongst the students.  The team chose Siliguri and its adjoining areas, Darjeeling, Mirik and Kurseong as its survey location. The area was selected due to its strategic political setting, porous International borders and state borders that are conduits for trafficking. The main objectives of the study was to identify underlying factors responsible for trafficking of women and children, analyze the geographical, social, cultural, demographic and economic situations of these exploited children and women, measure the vulnerability of porous borders as main transit routes for trafficking and assess the function of the State and Civil Society in curbing Human Trafficking. The field work was scheduled for ten days from the 21st till the 31st of January.
Due to social stigma and the sensitive nature of the issue, Human Trafficking research cannot be conducted without the assistance of agencies already working in the arena. The team sought help of various NGO’s, CINI (Child in Need Institute), CONC’RN (Care of Needy Children Rightfully Nurtured), DMSC (Durbar Mahila Samanaya Committee), ICSRS (Ideal Centre for Social Research and Self Reliance of the Child), Mary Ward Social Centre, World Vision, Mukti Network, Asha Bari, WBVHA (West Bengal Voluntary Health Association), Vaasta, Emmanuel Anath Asram Society, Marg, Lakshay. The team also visited the various shelter/transit homes of organizations like Waasta, Nayee Disha etc. and the Transit home run by Maity Nepal at Kakrivitta. Apart from the NGO’s which provided access to interacting with victims/survivors and professionals who work for these organisations and in order to underscore the reliability of the study, the team also interacted with the Officers of police stations in and around Siliguri. A team of 10 members left Siliguri to visit and survey Mirik, Darjeeling and Kurseong. The team enquired with the Police Officials in Mirik, Sukhia Pokhri, Darjeeling, Jore Bunglow and Kurseong. The team also paid a short visit to Maiti Nepal Shelter Home in Pasupati Nagar, Nepal. The team interacted with various NGO’s in Darjeeling and Kurseong as FOSEP TI, MARG, Lakshya, Nari Aayog, Child Line, Manas Bangla, Edith Wilkins Street Child Trust, etc.
There are a number of NGO’s among and beyond the above listed ones who are working to curb the menace of Human Trafficking in the study area. Most of these NGO’s are about a decade old and they are directly or indirectly associated with the rescue, rehabilitation of trafficked individuals and also involved with raising awareness, advocacy to sensitize the target community, help victims with capacity building and livelihood development for leading mainstream lives, making available shelter homes and facilitating health checkups and contraceptives for sex workers. One of the appreciative aspects of the various NGO’s functioning was that they worked in collaboration with each other. Amongst these NGO’s Kanchenjunga Udhaar Kendra is the prime organisation involved in tracing victims and conducting the rescue work with the assistance of the police force. We were also informed that 70% of the trafficked victims are not rescued.
In our interactions with victims of Human Trafficking mainly women and children we learnt of the difficulties of their respective lives. We also met the West Bengal Voluntary Health Association (WBVHA), which comprised of an association of Flying Sex Workers (FSW) in and around Siliguri town. It is estimated that there are over, 3000 FSW, in the Siliguri region, a huge number especially in contrast to 636 sex workers in the Khalpara Red light area. The team also met and interacted with many of these sex workers some of whom were HIV positive under the treatment of ART (Anti Retro Viral Treatment) being provided by WBVHA.
As per the various NGO’s, the susceptibility of women and children begins at home, in the community or the village, with someone known to the family being the first person in the chain. Many children and girls trafficked are engaged in house hold works, circuses and are exploited physically and sexually. There are many instances of children sold by their own parents and other family members. They are engaged in the various industries like-in the Hotels, Teagarden, Households, factories, Circuses, Begging and Sex industry. The trafficking of human beings also raises substantial moral and ethical issues like, abject poverty, ambition for a better life and escaping the violence of the home, broken homes that increase the vulnerability of individuals in such circumstances.
The team was lucky to have the Vice-chancellor Prof. Mahendra P Lama join the team during a visit to the CINI office and shelter home at Siliguri which currently houses 15 girls below the age of 18. Most of them were orphans who were rescued by different NGO’s.  Prof. Lama interacted with the children and also asked NGO’s like CINI and others to participate in joint collaboration with institutions like Sikkim University to fight against Human Trafficking.
Overall this field study was a learning experience as an outcome of its objective, but it was also an emotional expedition for all of us as each story told by these victims left a distressing imprint that eradicated biasness for those involved in professions looked down upon by society. What we as a team achieved was to look at them at Humans.  
Human Trafficking Team

Sikkim Taekwondo Kheorugi team for Nationals Champ selected

GANGTOK, 07 Feb: Sikkim Taekwondo Kheorugi team selection for Senior National Taekwondo Championship-2012 was conducted by Sikkim mateur Taekwondo Associaton(SATA) officials Trilok Subba,6th.Dan,Dawa Tamang,3rd.Dan,Rupen Pradhan,3rd.Dan,Sanjay Subba,1st.Dan and Bijay Gurung,1st.Dan at Palzor Indoor Stadium, Gangtok on 5th.Feb.2012.
The players from all over Sikkim participated for both male & female weight categories. The names of the selected players in the Womens’ category who will represent the state at the Senior National Taekwondo Championships are Sabina Sundas, Naksum Bhutia, Kunjang Ongmu Bhutia, Tshering Ongmu Bhutia, Pempa Dolma Tamang and Benuka Manger.
Among the boys the selected players are Phurba Sherpa, Unesh Tamang, Suman Tamang, Dipen Rai, Ratan Baraily & Ganesh Rai.
The SATA has appointed Dawa Tamang and Bijay Gurung as team coach and Rinchen Gyatso Kazi and Sanjay Subba as team manager. The team will leave on 10.Feb.2012 for Delhi and the championship is scheduled to be held at Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium, New Delhi from 15 February to 17 February 2012.

SBA appoints new vice president; supports protest against west HEPs

GANGTOK, 7 Feb: Sikkim Bachao Abhiyan [SBA] has appointed PD Lama as its new vice-president. As per a press release issued this was decided during a meeting held at the residence of the president, Jiwan Pradhan at Deorali on 5 February. After a long discussion on different issues, the meeting also decided that they had to come together to work together for the preservation and promotion of the cultural, traditional and communal heritage of the state.
The Sikkim Bachaw Abhiyan has also congratulated different organizations involved in the protest against the three hydel projects on Rathong Chu River; as a result, the press release states, the state government scrapped two of the three projects, namely Ting-Ting and Lethang hydro power projects. The SBA during the meeting also strongly condemned the recent attack on two executive members of All Sikkim Educated Self-Employed & Unemployed Association by SDF youths at Singtam while they were engaged in distributing leaflets at the Singtam bazaar.

RBI conducts training on fake Indian currency notes and NBFCs for Sikkim Police

GANGTOK, 07 Feb: Reserve Bank of India, Gangtok conducted training-cum- awareness programme on “Fake Indian Currency notes and Non Banking Finance Companies” for the Officers of Sikkim Police today.
A press release informs that the programme was intended to impart knowledge on detection and proper ways of disposal of Fake Indian Currency notes and give vital inputs about Non Banking Finance Companies by experts from Reserve Bank of India.
While inaugurating the workshop at Royal Plaza, GM/O-i-C, RBI Gangtok, EE Karthak, mentioned that with the recent seizure of fake notes to the tune of Rs 2.25 Crore in New Delhi, it has been understood that the counterfeiters have achieved a ‘zero-error counterfeiting capability’, with all the features in a genuine Indian currency note being present in these counterfeit notes. It took the experts long hours to identify each note. The seized notes have all the basic security features of Indian Currency notes namely Micro printing-used by RBI to combat counterfeiting, Gandhi watermark, Security thread, 100% cotton paper, embossing by insertion of Intaglio images and electro yet watermark. These counterfeits are smuggled from Pakistan via Jammu to India to fund terror operations. The alternative routes for trafficking of the counterfeits are the porous borders of Nepal, Bangladesh and the sea. Nationwide raids by the National Investigating Agency has led to arrests of 14 people smashing an international racket involving the smuggling and distribution of Fake Indian Currency notes by Pakistani agents through their Indian operatives.
The release mentions that he further stated that a lot of private finance companies, namely Bharosa, Stock Guru (now curbed) etc have been collecting deposits from the general public with the promise of very lucrative returns. These Non Banking Finance Companies have been luring gullible investors under the pretext of being deposit taking NBFCs as licensed by the Reserve Bank of India. The investors in such companies often find themselves as victims of financial frauds who under normal recourse approach police officials. In the light of such activities it becomes important to equip the Sikkim Police Officers with an understanding of Non Banking Financial Companies so that such malpractices are curbed with immediate effect.
Speaking to the participating officers, IPS, IGP, Sikkim Armed Police, Akshaye Sachdeva highlighted the vital role the Sikkim Police has played in nabbing fraudulent NBFCs namely Bharosa, Teena Finserv and Stock Guru etc. He also indicated the problems faced by the Sikkim Police in distinguishing the legitimate areas of operations of the NBFCs. He highlighted the issue of public dilemma in registering complaints against these companies in hopes of getting the promised returns. He also commended the pro active policing undertaken by the police in registering suo moto cases against these fraudulent NBFCs in the past, the release further mentions.
The guest faculty from RBI Kolkata namely DGM, Department on Non Banking Supervision, Kishore Pariyar and AGM, Issue Department, SN Mitra, gave specialized input for the functioning of NBFCs and the features of Genuine Indian Currency notes respectively, the release adds.

Surveying activity for Railway head stopped in view of protests; officials to ascertain disgruntlement

GANGTOK, 07 Feb: The East District administration has stopped all surveying and spot verification works which were underway at Khani Khola, Majitar. This is in response to the agitated stand taken by the local people whose lands are being surveyed for the upcoming Railway head to be set up there. This will be the first railway junction in the state, if it comes up.
It was further learnt that regarding the same, a meeting between the members of the Railway affected Committee and the State Transport Authority was held recently, but the outcome of the meeting is not known.
It had earlier been reported that the affected locals of Khani Khola had organized themselves into a committee called the Railway Affected Committee to present a united stand against the taking of their lands for the railway project. However it seems that the reaction of the locals may be a bit premature considering that there has, as yet, been no notification issued by any authority on land acquisition at the particular spot. It may be also said that the act of surveying too is premature without an official notification of land acquisition. Notifications of land acquisitions are issued by the Land Revenue department of the state government, and as of now and as informed, there is no such notification. In fact in the absence of such a notification state government officials are not supposed to go into any land for purposes of surveying and verification.
However in this instance, this was a preliminary survey being conducted by the East District office. The Head Surveyor, GB Subba and RO, GP Sharma, East District, had gone to Khani Khola on 11 January 2012 in a preliminary surveying exercise. However, when they returned to continue with the survey exercise a few days ago they were met with opposition from the locals. The officials did complete their survey exercise of the Mining Complex but were challenged when they attempted it at Khani Khola, which falls under West Pendam, they informed. The people of the area put up a protest and did not allow the officials to step on their lands for the spot verification and did not allow them to gather the land details either, officials informed.
Considering that there is no notification along with the disturbance now created among the locals there who have stated that they will not part with their lands the district administration has thought it better to stop all surveying and spot verification exercises in the particular location till further directions. This was informed by SDM East, AB Karki while talking to NOW today. He further informed that the administration is looking into and examining the grievances of the public and will try to find out the reasons why the people do not want to give the land for the project.
We will look into the matter at the earliest and find to resolve the problem and also find out the reason for the resentment of the people of the area as why they do not want to give their lands for the railway project, the SDM [East] stated.

One suicide at Ranipool

GANGTOK, 07 Feb: One person committed suicide by hanging at Jalipool under Ranipool police jurisdiction. According to reports the deceased has been identified as Damber Kumar Pradhan, 31 year old resident of Jalipool who is said to have hung himself from the ceiling fan at his residence. He was taken to the Central Referral Hospital, Tadong where the doctors pronounced him dead.

Mangan Nagar Panchayat website launched

GANGTOK, 07 Feb: Rajya Sabha MP, Hissey Lachungpa formally launched the website of Mangan Nagar Panchayat on 27 January at Mangan. A press release informs that the website provides all the necessary and detailed information of the Mangan Nagar Panchayat viz. Ward councillors details, staff details, photo gallery, news and events, tenders, notices and many more.
Trade license holders can access all the information and can also download different types of forms from the website, the release informs.

Sikkim Lepcha Youth Assoc congratulates CM on Bharat Asmita Award

GANGTOK, 07 Feb: Renjyong Mutanchi Rong Ong Schejum [Sikkim Lepcha Youth Association] has congratulated the Chief Minister Pawan Chamling for being conferred with the prestigious “Bharat Asmita Jeewan Gharav Puraskar 2012”, Special Award for Life Time Achievement by the MIT Group of Institutions, Pune.
In a meeting of the association convened at its head office at Development Area today, advisors and executive members congratulated the CM on behalf of the association.
A press release states that it was appropriate that the CM was conferred with this prestigious award, which he fully deserves.

Juvenile molests 8 year old

GANGTOK, 07 Feb: A juvenile has been charged with molesting a minor boy in Namchi. According to reports the 17 year old juvenile, resident of Karek, Namthang, South Sikkim is accused of having molested a 8 year old boy of the same village on 6 February. The juvenile was apprehended and later handed over to his guardians after a medical examination. Both the victim and the accused were taken to the Namchi district hospital by the police and later referred to the medico – legal experts at STNM hospital. As of now no serious injury or bodily harm has been identified on the victim. The case is under investigation.

State prepares for Twelfth Five Year Plan

GANGTOK, 06 Feb: It will be interesting and noteworthy to see this year’s budget allocation to each of the departments and more so the annual budget of the state government as finalized by the Planning Commission of India. While the annual budget is supposed to be passed by the Legislative Assembly by March 2012 this year there may be some delay due to changes in estimates and proposals of the state government which had to be re-worked due to the earthquake of 18 September and subsequent damages incurred by the state.
With the state - as well as the country - now entering the next 5 year plan phase the state government is required to assess the availability of resource for financing the Twelfth Plan; in fact this has to be prepared and submitted to the central government before finalization of the Annual Plan. While the direction issued by the Finance Department last year to the government departments was to formulate their budget proposals as early as possible and the heads of departments requested to take immediate steps for formulation of  Budget for 2012-2013 and estimate the projection for remaining years of the 12th plan the process, it is likely, will be re-visited and the post earthquake scenario considered, assessed and accounted for as well.
It may be mentioned here that the state government has enacted the Fiscal Reform and Budget Management Act in 2010-11and introduced Medium Term Fiscal Plan (MTFP) containing the Fiscal projections for the period 2011-12 (BE) to 2013-14. While preparing the MTFP, 15% in Tax Revenue and 20% in Non Tax Revenue have been targeted. In view of this the state government has desired that the prescribed growth of tax and non tax revenue should not be less than the prescribed growth rate projected in the MTFP. In case of any variations to the estimated growth rate the departments will be required to submit their explanations.
This time the central government has desired some changes as well as some more regulation when it comes to preparing the state’s annual as well as 12th plan. All departments are required to submit a statement on the existing strength of Muster Roll and Work-Charged employees separately under non-plan. In case of Departments like Human Resource Development, Police, Health and Rural Management and Development, Nominal Rolls are to be segregated District wise, Subdivision
wise, Institution wise etc. No provisions are to be made for posts lying vacant for more than 1 year and further it is directed that provision for vacant posts should be made with circumspection in order to avoid savings due to non filling up of posts. A consolidated statement showing total strength is to be prepared for each department.
For the projection period i.e. from 2013-14 onwards growth rate of Non-Plan revenue expenditure is to be taken as 8% except for salaries, pension, interest payment. In case of any variation explanations are to be forwarded by the departments.
Consolidated estimates for revenue receipts were to be worked out on Trend Growth Rate as well as on policy decisions and other orders. In the event of any shortfall anticipated in revenue realization in revised estimates of 2011-2012 explanations were to be appended. The Finance Department had also desired that detailed explanations be furnished by departments which, during the financial year 2010-2011 had not been able to realize their estimated revenue; furthermore they are also required to propose the steps taken to overcome the shortfall of the previous year in order that the deficit is neutralized. In fact the departments had been directed to take urgent steps to increase their revenue commensurate with increase in expenditure.

Miscreants attempt to steal from ATM

GANGTOK, 06 Feb: Some miscreants have vandalized the ATM belonging to the State Bank of India located at 5 Mile, Tadong near the Central Referral Hospital. The vandalism aimed at stealing money from the ATM however did not cause much loss to the bank as the miscreants could not extract any money. The outer cover of the cash vault was found broken and was noticed by SBI officials who went to refill  the machine on the morning of 4 February. The vandalism is informed to have taken place at the night of 3 February. No one has been arrested so far and the Sadar police is investigating into the incident.

Old Nga-dag monastery in Namchi to come up as a ‘model’ monastery

The old Nga-dag monastery

NAMCHI, 06 Feb: Namchi has now become the most sought after town in the state as far as pilgrimage tourism is concerned. The town boasts of various religious spots and sites which cater to followers of various religious faiths of the state. In addition to the already existing attractions like the statue of Guru Padmasambhava and Char Dham, the Namchi Nga-dag monastery, among the oldest and a very important monastery of Sikkim is being upgraded.
Namchi Nga-dag monastery has completed more than 400 years and according to the records, Pendi Ongmoo conspired the murder of her half brother Chhador Namgyal the third King (1686-1717 AD) in order to usurp his throne. However, immediately after, she was put to death in this monastery by the order of the Royal Darbar.
The monastery committee along with the monks erected a substitute monastery in 1978 and after its completion in 1982 all the religious artifacts were transferred from the old monastery to the newly built one. The old monastery was left under the care of the Culture and Heritage Department as a heritage site.
With the view to revive this important heritage site, the Building and Housing Department began upgradation work on the old monastery in 2008 at the cost of Rs. 23 crore which is in the final stages of completion.  Speaking with media persons, the Chultimpa (head administrator), Pem Tsh. Lama of Nga-dag Gumpa informed that this monastery will be a model for other monasteries in Sikkim as its unique design is not found in the entire country.
He on behalf of the Buddhist community living in Sikkim thanked the Chief Minister for his support and for his initiative of the renovation of this historic monastery.

School books available before the new academic session this year

GANGTOK, 06 Feb: Human Resource Development Department [HRDD] has dispatched school textbooks and exercises copies to all district stores before the schools reopen this year. HRDD has done this in order to ensure that studies begin on time and does not hamper the functioning of the schools.
The schools are reopening on 14 February for its new session.
Addressing a press conference at the HRDD conference hall today, HRDD Secretary, CS Rao, informed that a special request was made to the NCERT and the CBSE by the HRDD and early response from their side resulted in the availability of text books on time.
The Department has already dispatched the textbooks and exercise copies to all the district stores and even 8 schools in North Sikkim, 13 in East Sikkim and 6 in South Sikkim have already procured their textbooks from their respective District stores. Likewise, the HRDD dispatched textbooks and exercise copies to West Sikkim this morning.
There are a total of 779 schools in the state, in which 44 are senior secondary, 107 are secondary, 196 are Junior High Schools and 340 are Primary Schools along with some SSA Schools.
The Secretary informed that there are two term books especially for classes I to V and all subjects are included in a single book and separate language books. The first term book will cover the first half yearly session and the second book will cover the second half yearly session.
“This is being done for the first time in Sikkim just to minimize the burden of the students and even the government is insisting on quality education,” he said. He further informed that from this year onwards most of the contents of the book have also been changed and the department is also planning to organize a three-day special teacher training programme for which the dates will be finalized soon.
The Secretary informed that for classes VI to VIII there will be no term books and separate books are available for which Social Science, Science and Mathematics have been developed by NCERT while English and languages is being developed by SCERT and Language Cell HRDD. NCERT and CBSE have developed the books for Classes IX to XII and the textbooks are being published by the Frank Brothers Publication while the exercise copies are published by the Green Tara publication, Gangtok.
“This time there would not be any delay in providing textbooks, earlier we were using private publishers but this time NCERT and CBSE agreed to print our books and it was an achievement for the department and the state government is bearing the transportation charges to providing these books to its destination,” he informed. He further informed that the government has also approved the school uniforms and within 60 days the uniforms will be ready.
The department is now in a position to supply the textbooks on time for which the Secretary had also expressed his gratitude to the Chief Minister, sister department and the media personnels in rendering their cooperation. The Secretary further stated that sufficient stocks are available and excess requirements made by the Schools will be addressed soon.

Railway project affected people protest land acquisition, form Railway Affected Committee

GANGTOK, 06 Feb: On 5 February a huge gathering of land owners got together at Khani Khola, Majhitar for a meeting to discuss the behaviour, and in their view, unauthorised activity of railway authorities. The meeting was called in order to make a united stand and formulate a response over the attempt at acquiring their land for the railway head. The land owners, it is informed, are unhappy over the mapping and surveying of their land conducted by the railway authorities for construction of the railway project. In fact, the affected landowners of the area had earlier alleged highhandedness on the part of the railway authorities who had come to survey their land particularly in view of their submission that they are not ready to part with their lands. In view of this they have called the survey and mapping work being done on their lands ‘unauthorised’.
At the meeting the landowners discussed all possible scenarios and unanimously decided to form a committee for defending their cause and called it the  'Railway Affected Khanikhola Majhitar Joint Action Committee' (RAKMJAC). They have resolved not to allow any land to be taken. The meeting also cited various instances where people had been relieved of their lands without proper compensation and leading to their impoverishment. The landowners have also threatened an agitation should their land be taken forcibly. The next meeting is scheduled for 12 February.

It may be recalled here that for building proposed railway infrastructure then Railway Minister Mamta Banerjee had selected Mining Ground as a suitable place for the railway platform.

Fire guts one of the oldest houses in Makha

MANGAN, 06 Feb: One wooden [ekra] house at Dhar Gaon at Makha was completely burned down in East Sikkim on Sunday.  Leela Maya Rai, the owner of the house had gone shopping at around 10 30 AM when a fire broke out in her house. Fortunately, none of the family members were in the house at the time and it was the neighbors who noticed smoke coming out of the house and alerted the other villagers. The cause of the fire remains unknown.
The villagers and youth along with police personnel from Makha Check Post reached the spot immediately and managed to save some of the belongings.
The house was one of the oldest in Makha, made completely out of wood and some concrete, it is learnt. Fire personnel from Singtam also rushed to the spot upon hearing the news but it was already too late when they reached. Even though, the fire personnel doused the fire completely, Ms Rai lost most of her belongings that included important documents, utensils, ornaments, cash Rs. 6500 and others in the fire.
The Tumin-Lingee MLA, Ugen T Gyatso Bhutia also visited the spot and handed over Rs. 20,000 to the victim and announced the reconstruction of the house under CMRHM. The victims were also provided with some utensils and clothes by the SDF party members.

Load bearing capacity of Rangchang bridge fixed at 15 tonnes

MANGAN, 06 Feb: BRO has now fixed the load bearing capacity of the old Rangchang Bridge at 15 tonnes. Plying of heavy vehicles over the bridge along the Mangan-Singtam highway had been suspended after it collapsed on 19 December when a 48-wheeler loaded with the transformer of the Teesta Urja Company was crossing the bridge.
Following the incident only light vehicles were allowed to ply on the bridge. Of late, the maintenance work has been completed wherein BRO has installed a couple of supporting pillars and other necessary repairs.
The BRO In-charge posted in the area informed NOW! that vehicles with up to 15 tonnes of load are now allowed to ply over this bridge. He also informed that the BRO carried out load testing up to 20 tonnes after installing the supporting pillars but will only allow 15 tonnes as of now due to the old structure of the bridge.

Schools ready to run despite 18 Sept Earthquake; reconstruction work to be taken on priority

GANGTOK, 06 Feb: All schools in the state are set to reopen their gates for the new academic session in time from 14 February this year. This is inspite of the damages incurred to a large number of school buildings due to the earthquake of 18 September. Over 400 school buildings had been damaged and the Human Resource Development Department is yet to complete restoration and reconstruction works in all the damaged school buildings. Over 200 school buildings suffered damages and another 105 school buildings collapsed all over the state.
Responding to media queries, the Secretary mentioned that all schools are set to start the new academic session without any obstacles related to the 18 Sept earthquake. He informed that 178 temporary structures with 665 classrooms were set up at different locations and classes will be running smoothly from 14 February. However, he informed that reconstruction of school buildings will also be taken up immediately on priority basis. The HRDD had sought Rs.253 crore for immediate relief and restoration of school buildings and in the first installment of Rs.200 crore from the Rs.1000 crore relief package announced by the Prime Minister retrofitting of damaged school buildings along with other government structures was allotted Rs.45 crore.

SU Winter Sojourn team studies prevalence of Cancer in rural and urban Sikkim

GANGTOK, 06 Feb: In India over one million new cancer cases are diagnosed every year. It is time for people to come out of the illusion that they can’t be affected with cancer and instead should educate themselves of its risk factors. Keeping in mind the increasing prevalence of this disease Sikkim University conducted its Winter Sojourn programme on the theme of Cancer from 26 January till 05 February 2012. The Sikkim University Winter Sojourn team comprised of three faculty members, two representatives from the Management and fifteen students from diverse disciplines. The team was coordinated by Dr. Deepti Singh and led by Gagan Chettri and Ranjan Kumar Tirwa. The study was to evaluate different risk factors of common cancers prevalent in rural and urban population in East Sikkim. The focal areas of the field study were to observe the prevalence of various types of cancer in Sikkim and to see the relationship of diet and lifestyles with cancer. Along with it psychological implications of people affected with cancer were also studied. The target zones for the study were the rural and urban areas of East Sikkim. Ranka, Lingdum, Luing, Beliman, Samthang, Kholapari, Rai Gaon, Tamang Gaon, Dharjee and Bhutia Gaon were covered among the rural areas while Chandmari, Sichey, Gangtok, Deorali, Tadong, 5th Mile and 6th mile were covered among the urban areas visited for the study. STNM hospital and Sikkim Manipal hospital were also visited for case studies. An insight into the status of cancer in Sikkim in terms of prevention, treatment and cure were obtained from Dr Yogesh Verma and Dr Namgyal Sherpa. During the study the team encountered both mortality cases and incidence of cancer in the areas visited. Overall the rural population had very little awareness about the causes and prevention of cancer. Different types of cancer namely colon cancer, skin cancer, stomach cancer, oral cancer, intestine cancer and uterus cancer were prevalent among the areas visited. [Dr Deepti Singh]

Himgiri Prakashan organizes Sahitya Kala Sangam in Assam

GUWAHATI, 06 Feb: “Sikkim has played a major role in preserving and promoting Indian Nepali literature, language and culture. The initiative to install the full sized statue of first Nepali poet Bhanubhata Acharya was contemplated by Sikkim, whereas the major step in order to include Nepali language in the 8th schedule of the Indian constitution was successfully taken by Sikkim. Not only that, Sikkim hosted a mega event of honoring the great talents from Nepali community of national and international repute for the first time” said Lil Bahadur Chhetri, litterateur and author of famous Nepali novel ‘Basai’ while speaking as the chief guest here at Sikkim House, Panjabari in a literary meet called, Sahitya Kala Sangam organized by Himgiri Prakashan, Sikkim.
Mr Chhetri further said that in the field of promotion of Nepali language and literature, the Indian Nepali people always look forward to Sikkim. The present Chief Minister of Sikkim, Pawan Chamling is a poet and a literary person who has taken incomparable initiative in the field of literature. He recalled the mega event of Sikkim Samman Sammelan where he was also honoured and he lauded the effort. He further said that while organizing such a function in the near future, the talents of Assam also have to be genuinely taken into account. He hoped that such a literary function organized by Himgiri Prakashan, Gangtok, would bring litterateurs of the region together to exchange their works and unite in the promotion of literature at the national level.
While addressing the meet, Dr. Khagendra Chamlagai appreciated the event and stressed the need of publication of a bibliography of Indian Nepali litterateurs and hoped that Sikkim can take up such genuine work.
While presiding over the function, litterateur and journalist Bijay Bantawa in his speech expressed that literature has no boundaries and it works towards bringing people together immensely. The main objective behind organizing such a literary meet is to provide a forum to the writers and literary persons of North East from the Nepali or Gorkha community to exchange their creative work and views on literary pursuits. He also stressed the need of translation of Nepali books in different languages including Assamese and English.
The literary meet was also addressed by Dr. Kamal Chhetri, poetess, Laxmi Subedi, Secretary of Panjabari branch of Nepali Sahitya Parishad, Deven Sapkota, Social worker and advocate, Kishore Upadhyaya,Nanda Kirati Dewan and Kamal Pradhan. In the self composed poetry recital session, poet Rohit Gautam, Dr. Kamal Chhetri, poetess Laxmi Subedi, poetess Dr. Induprava Devi, poetess Niru Parajuli presented their poems.
In the musical presentation session, Kamal Pradhan, Rabi Thapa and Uttam Chhetri presented Nepali songs while Suman Rai presented a dance.
In the meet, General Secretary of Nepali Sahitya Parishad, Chintamani Sharma, the Gorkha youth of Manipur, Ramesh Baskota, Deepak Chhetri and a large number of Gorkha youth of Assam were present. The students from Sikkim studying medical science and various other disciplines were also present who interacted and shared their experiences during the meet.
Earlier, Ruth Rai on behalf of the organizers of the meet welcomed the guests. The organizers offered Sikkimese khadas to the guests while welcoming them in the meet. The function was conducted by Guwahati based correspondent of Himgiri and Snowline and promising Gorkha youth leader of Assam, Nanda Kirati Dewan. [from BIJAY BANTAWA]

SABLA to be monitored in Dzongu

DZONGU, 06 Feb: The Rajiv Gandhi Scheme for the Empowerment of Adolescent Girls (SABLA) at Dzongu has now been enabled with a supervision and monitoring committee. The committee was formed during a meeting of the Integrated Child Development Services, Tribal Project at the Block Administrative Centre, Dzongu on 4 February.
The programme was attended by AEO, HRDD, BAC Passingdang as chief guest, ICDS staffs, panchayats, anganwadi workers, ICDS mothers, ANM, AHV, and adolescent girls of Dzongu.     ICDS staff provided a detailed account of the SABLA scheme and the target to provide education to dropouts, health & education and information on healthy nutrition.   On the day, the GPU level committee for the scheme was also formed.
The Chief Guest in his address informed that ICDS staff should monitor adolescents and ensure that they were consuming adequate and a nutritious diet and that all were provided proper nutrition. The government, he stated, had set aside a large amount of funds for schemes related to the upliftment of the BPL in education and health sectors. Considering this, he hoped that there would be a successful outcome of the scheme’s implementation.

Rumbuk resident allegedly attacked on Sunday eve

GANGTOK, 06 Feb: One KS Subba of Rumbuk in West Sikkim, a teacher by profession was allegedly attacked by Jeewan Subba of the same village on Sunday evening at around 7 PM. SDF dissident MLA, PS Golay along with his supporters met the victim at Sombarey PHC today.
A press release issued by former panchayat, Jacob Khaling informs that the victim was returning from a marriage party when Jeewan Subba attacked him with a sharp weapon on his head from behind and fled from the spot. The victim is undergoing medical treatment at Sombarey PHC.
The release alleges that the attacker has close affiliations with the area MLA and further states that the incident brings out ‘the real face’ of the ruling party.
According to the release, the people of Rumbuk and its surrounding areas have demanded the police to nab the culprit, who is on the run at the moment, at the earliest and take strict action against him. In response, Sombarey PS, OC and Soreng SDPO have assured the people that they would look into the case without any discrimination, the release mentions.
A case has been registered under 326 and 241 IPC against Jeewan Subba, the release adds.

30 teams sign up for Traditional Bamboo Archery Tournament

GANGTOK, 06 Feb: A total of thirty teams have confirmed their participation in the Traditional Bamboo Archery Tournament- 2012 for the President’s Cup at SAA Archery Field at Tathangchen. The tournament organized by Sikkim Archery Association will be inaugurated on 11 February.  Apart from a team from Pedong Monastery, all the other participating teams are from across the state.
SAA has decided to draw the fixture of the tournament on 08 February at 10 AM and interested teams can confirm their participation before the time of drawing the fixture.

Gorkhaland Task Force claims it is not engaged in underground military training

GANGTOK, 06 Feb: The Gorkhaland Task Force has vehemently refuted and strongly condemned the statement of the GJM president  that the Gorkhaland Task Force is engaged in underground military training to create violence in the hills and to target the GJM leadership.
In a press release issued today by Munish Tamang, General Secretary, GTA the organization has clarified that it is an alliance of well-known political and social organisations as well as prominent individuals who are committed to the creation of Gorkhaland. It includes the oldest political party of the hills as well as the district units of national parties such as the Congress and the BJP.  All organisations that are part of the Task Force have a long, unblemished track record of dedicated service to the Gorkha Society. No partner in the GTF is on any record for involvement in random violence.
The release states that the allegations of Shri Bimal Gurung is all the more laughable since most concerned quarters, including government authorities, are aware which party or organization is capable of sparking violence in the hills.  In fact his naming of CPRM General Secretary RB Rai and GTF Coordinator R Moktan in his statement is, in itself, implicit of a political threat, claims the release of GTA.
The release goes on to say that the unfounded statement of the GJM only proves that the politics of the GJM party is based on lies and deceptions. The GJM, it states, is now bereft of ideas and meaningful issues and is thus trying to divert public attention from its visible failures on all fronts.
The Gorkhaland Task Force has challenged Shri Bimal Gurung to come out with concrete evidence to back his claims about the GTF receiving illegal underground training or else withdraw his statement and desist from making statements that vitiate the peaceful atmosphere in the hills.
The GTF release also expresses that it was ridiculous of the GJM president to plead that it was not he but the general secretary who signed the GTA Agreement and was, therefore, free to lead the movement for a separate state. The GJM General Secretary signed the agreement on behalf of the Party and with the full consent of the President. If indeed, as the statement of the party president suggests, the General Secretary signed against the wishes of the party and the president, then the GJM should expel Shri Roshan Giri from the party, make an unequivocal statement for Gorkhaland and join the Gorkhaland Task Force to unitedly fight for the creation of a separate state for India’s Gorkhas, states the release.

Ministry of Textiles sponsored handloom weaving skill upgradation concludes

GANGTOK, 06 Feb: A 60-day long skill up-gradation on handloom weaving under Integrated Handloom Development Scheme sponsored by office of the Development Commissioner [Handlooms], Ministry of Textiles, New Delhi, concluded today. The training was organized by Sikkim Handicrafts and Handloom Development Corporation Limited at here at Directorate of Handicrafts and Handloom complex.
The valedictory function had the Deputy Director [Marketing and Sales], Karma Samten Bhutia as the chief guest, who stressed upon to carry on the knowledge learnt from the master trainer, Narayan Das from Weavers service centre, Kolkata during the training in the future practically.
Assistant Director [East], Jigme Pintso Bhutia also stressed on the need of the weaving training and further informed weavers to take full advantages of all opportunities of the government. He further mentioned that the knowledge acquired from the training would not only benefit the oneself but will benefit the others and can become self sustain and develop the economic condition of oneself and of the state and also spelt out about the admission under Health Insurance Scheme and Life Insurance Schemes of the weavers provided by Government of India, Ministry of Textiles.
The programme was concluded with vote of thanks by Assistant Director [Handlooms], Pema Sangmo.
Earlier, in the inaugural function on 2 December the DHH Director highlighted various programmes of the government relating to the handloom sector to weaver and encouraged beneficiaries to participate and upgrade their skill so as to be self- employed and to establish a self sustaining handloom industry in the area.

Computer teachers petition CM once more for regularization

GANGTOK, 06 Feb: The Computer Teachers serving in the various government schools of the state have once more petitioned the state government and the Chief Minister to consider and redress their grievances. A press release issued by the Computer Teachers state that they have not gotten any response as yet from the state government but they remain hopeful that the chief minister will consider their grievances. They also highlight the proclamation made by the chief minister regarding their regularization as computer teachers during his visit to the various constituencies in the month of September, 2011.
The computer teachers, about 176 of them, attached to various state government schools under the ICT central scheme, have been asking that their services be regularized. At present and as per the central scheme, they are attached on contract basis.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

All persons seeking government job now to produce Loan Clearance Certificates

GANGTOK, 05 Feb: In another directive issued by the state government intended to prevent and curb truancy among the populace all hopefuls of landing a job with the state government need to get No Objection Certificates from various state run financial institutions. There has been a direction issued recently by the state government that all persons seeking employment in various posts in government service under the state government need to produce Loan Clearance Certificates from the state run financial institutions.
 In fact, the Department of Personnel has issued the directive stating that for the purpose of all fresh appointments in any posts in the government service is will be mandatory to produce Loan Clearance Certificates from the State Bank of Sikkim, Sikkim Industrial Development & Investment Corporation Limited (SIDICO) and the Sikkim Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes Financial Development Corporation (SABBCO).
Just a few weeks back there had been a similar kind of direction from the Department of Personnel linked to promotions wherein employees under the state government were directed to produce  clearances of utility bills and taxes at the time of their promotion. Along with the Annual Confidential Report (ACR) and the Annual Property Returns (APR) and other entitlements employees were directed to produce their utility bills including those of water supply, electricity bills, sewerage, ground rent, dhuri khazana whichever are applicable at the time of their promotion. It had not been clarified in the notification as to what prompted the government to adopt such measure however it is apprehended that nonpayment of pending dues, which have led to the accumulation of revenue owed to the government by employees and officials may have prompted such a stricture to be passed.
Similarly it is informed that there have been numerous instances when people have applied for loans from the state run financial institutions but have dithered in their loan repayments. In fact many loans have gone bad with the financial institutions having to be bailed out by the state government in numerous occasions. The other reason, it is informed, for the issuance of such a directive is that many have applied and been given Unemployment loans and then who have, subsequently, been absorbed into government service under the state government. More often than not, officials inform, once such a person gets government the loan taken usually goes bad.
It is also informed that for those seeking fresh appointment with the state and who have not taken any loans from the SBS, SABBCO or SIDICO, they will have to produce no objection certificates or similar documents stating that they do not have any loans in their name.

SP East assures aggrieved Common Platform members of arrest of Singtam assault accused

GANGTOK, 05 Feb: Alleging assault on their members the All Sikkim Educated Self-Employed and Unemployed Association [ASESE&UA]  which is now also part of the Common Platform against Ting-Ting, Lethang and Tashiding Hydel Power Projects took their case to the SP East, MS Tuli on Saturday, 4 February. The SP East assured the complainants and aggrieved party that the accused would be arrested soon and justice meted out.
Two executives of ASESE&UA were allegedly manhandled by a group of SDF supporters at Singtam Bazaar on 4 February. The incident took place late in the evening at around 5 pm when the two members were on a pamphlet distribution spree in the bazaar area. There was some assault incident and the Singtam police had to intervene and a case has also been registered at the Singtam thana.
Speaking to media persons, SIBLAC convener, Tseten Tashi whose organization is also part of the Common Platform, mentioned that the SP has given them full assurance to provide justice and arrest the culprits. He further mentioned that the case is under investigation and law will now take its course. He stated that Sikkim is a border state and such incidents could create law and order problem in the state and would threat to the national security.
ASESE&UA president, Nawin Kiran mentioned that the association has full faith in the law and that justice would prevail. However, he also mentioned that should justice be found to be wanting then his Association would take appropriate action.
He alleged that the ruling party has rewarded them with an assault while they have been fighting for the people of Sikkim. He also stated that they could also retaliate but they did not as they having faith and  in the law of the  land.
Mr Kiran stated that the assault was just not an attack on two executive members of ASESE&UA but on every unemployed and self-employed youth.
Khagendra Dhakal and Mohan Rai, who were assaulted, informed that while they were distributing pamphlets informing about their Pratiwad Rally scheduled for 13 February at Geyzing Bazaar when a group of people arrived in a gypsy with SDF flag and then manhandled two of them. They also informed that they this group of people had been following them from Dikchu.

ASDASG indefinite hunger strike on to its second week

GANGTOK, 05 Feb: All Sikkim Departmental Adhoc Staff Group [ASDASG] president Sonam Sherpa and vice president C Tamang are now into the second week of the indefinite hunger strike, which they started on the evening of 29 January. Meanwhile, the vice president C Tamang was taken to the STNM Hospital today as his health condition deteriorated since he was already on medication before he went on the hunger strike.
It has now been 10 days since 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.
“We went and met the Lok Sabha MP, PD Rai regarding this issue, who in turn gave us his assurance that he would look into this matter as we are the children of the State”, informed the ASDASG president Sonam Sherpa, while speaking to the media today. The MP also advised them to break their indefinite hunger strike and the dharna, which they declined stating that they want a written assurance and not just verbal assurances, Mr Sherpa added.
“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”, the president stated.
“We will first meet with the Chief Minister, regarding our cause and then if there is no outcome from the meeting we will proceed to meet the Governor and also send a copy of the memorandum to the President of India”, he further said and added that ASDASG has also approached the national media to do a coverage on their plight.
Raising questions about the manner in which the department works, since many adhoc teachers and non-teaching staff working under SSA and the HRDD were earlier regularized by the department, the group wants to know why the department is now following NCTE rules with regard to their appointment. “We also have many incriminating documents, which can be used by us against the department, but that would add a political colour to our cause, which we do not want”, the ASDASG president further stated.
Mentioning that the government in its manifesto and even the Chief Minister had stated that all adhoc teachers and non teaching staff would get regularised, Mr Sherpa asked what had become of that promise now.
According to a Notification [6921, dated 25/04/2011] taken out by the government during its 100 days programme, it is clearly mentioned that all adhoc teachers and non-teaching staff would be regularised, he questioned.
Meanwhile, another female ASDASG member has replaced the vice president C Tamang even as he continues his hunger strike at the hospital.

Book on folktales of Dzongu released

GANGTOK, 05 Feb: ‘Dzongu Nye Mayellyang Sikkim’, the first book by Sonam Wangchuk Lepcha was released by the HRDD Minister, NK Pradhan in a function organized by the Sikkim Lepcha Youth Association [SLYA] today.
The book has a foreword by writer Gener “Ghjie” V Talan of Philippines and is a compilation of folklores of Noom Panang, Nayving Cave, Mulongmung Cave, a love story of Sumfuk Punu and Lungzong, Fenn and others. It has been mentioned that these classic folklores of Dzongu have never been put on paper before and are aptly supported by photographs of different locales and people around Dzongu.
After releasing the book, the HRDD Minister congratulated Sonam Wangchuk for his first book on Dzongu and appreciated the beautiful and informative manner of presentation.
“People who go through this book will get an idea about the culture and background of Dzongu,” said Mr Pradhan.
Sonam Wangchuk hails from Noom-Panang in Dzongu and is a 3rd year BCA student of SMIT, Majhitar at present. A writer and photographer, he is the son of Sherap Pintso Lepcha and Dukmit Lepcha.
Speaking to NOW! Sonam said that anyone could look up the general information on Dzongu online but this book would help people to know how Dzongu looks like as it mostly contains photographs of Dzongu. While, the folktales in the book were passed onto him by his late grandfather, Naku Tshering Lepcha.
“My book is inspired from the beautiful and mystical places of Dzongu, which is really a paradise on earth,” said Sonam. Another objective behind writing this book, added Sonam, was to encourage people to save the rich culture and traditional heritage of Dzongu.
He expressed his gratitude to his parents, family members, friends and all well-wishers who supported him in this project. While, SLYA members expressed that it was a matter of great honor that someone like Sonam from the Lepcha community had taken such an initiative.
The book is priced at Rs 500 and interested persons can also contact or 098007-24684. The book will be available in the market soon and part of the sale will go towards charity.

Karma Gyatso delivers only presentation on Crisis Management at Conference of Chief Secretaries;

GANGTOK, 05 Feb: Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India inaugurated the Annual Conference of the Chief Secretaries on 03 February, 2012 at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi. Karma Gyatso, Chief Secretary, Sikkim attended the Conference along with the Chief Secretaries of all States & UTs. This year’s the Chief Secretary’s Conference gained importance as various important issues pertaining to the development of Infrastructure, Internal Security, Centre – State relations, Innovation initiatives, Skill Development, Crisis Management and Good Governance were discussed at length including the opinion on the fresh policy initiatives sought from the Chief Secretaries.
Karma Gyatso, Chief Secretary, Sikkim, was given the privilege of being the only Chief Secretary among the other 34 Chief Secretaries of various States / UTs to make a detailed presentation on Crisis Management and the Sikkim experience of handling the Rescue, Relief and Rehabilitation works in the aftermath of 18th Sept. 2012 Earthquake. This privilege was accorded to the Chief Secretary, Sikkim because of the fact that the Chief Minister and the State Government took immediate and prompt action to mitigate the sufferings of the people to the satisfaction of all.
The presentation made by Karma Gyatso was discussed at length by the delegates and much appreciation was made in the deft handling of the situation and immediate action initiated by the State Government for the relief, rescue, re-construction and re-habilitation initiatives. This was applauded by all including the Union Home Ministry and Union Cabinet Secretary.
The Chief Secretary, Sikkim, also attended a Dinner hosted by the Prime Minister at his residence on 3rd Feb. 2012 wherein the  Prime Minister inquired about the request made by Pawan Chamling, Chief Minister of Sikkim, as to whether the advance released for re-construction and re-habilitation under Prime Minister’s Special Package has been received or not. Gyatso conveyed the gratitude of the  Chief Minister and the people of Sikkim for receiving the 1st installment of funds towards the Prime Minister’s Special Package for Sikkim.

2 students awarded with Students of the Year award by SLYA

GANGTOK, 05 Feb: Gaymit Lepcha of class X and Puran Gurung of class XII were awarded with the ‘Students of the Year’ by the Sikkim Lepcha Youth Association [SLYA] on the occasion of the valedictory function of the winter coaching camp today here at Tashi Namgyal Senior Secondary School auditorium.
A total of 136 students of class X and XII from all four districts had gone through this month-long coaching camp organized by SLYA starting 02 January.
SLYA president, Ongden Tshering Lepcha informed that 44 students of class XII and 92 students from class X were taught by 14 teachers on different subjects in the coaching camp. He further informed that last year the SLYA had conducted same coaching camp for 134 students from all over the state and students had since then shown great improvement in their academic performance.
Mr Lepcha also informed that the SLYA has been organizing this coaching camp every year since 1997 for the students of not only Lepcha community but from other communities as well. He informed that the association has been trying to assist students in their academics who were not able to afford private coaching camps to prepare themselves for the board examinations.
In his valedictory address, HRDD Minister congratulated the SLYA for taking such a productive initiative for the students and further congratulated the teachers of the camp for coming forward to teach students and sacrificing their winter vacation. He stated that the concept of education had now changed and taken on a new dimension. He stated that this change is good for the students and education system and for the future of the country as well.
“The Right to Education Act has vested the on every individual the responsibility of the success of the education system,” he said. He further stressed that the teachers have a great role to play but at the same time students, parents, school managing committee along with every individual have equal responsibilities towards the education system.
Mr Pradhan stressed that this is a century of challenge and students need to prepare themselves with competitive passion. He added that such coaching camp was an opportunity for the students to prepare themselves for future competitions.
He stated that the state government too had started state-wide coaching camps for the class X and XII students since the previous year.
The function started with the welcome address by SLYA joint secretary, Rinzing Ongmu Rongmit and concluded with the vote of thanks by SLYA general secretary-II, Lobsang Chopel Lepcha.

Dry and Backward areas of South district get projects sanctioned and implemented; Deptt reviewing progress

GANGTOK, 05 Feb: Secretary FSADD and HCCDD, Vishal Chauhan visited  South District on 01 February 2012 along with A Thapa, Addl Director Soil and Water Conservation division of Food security and Agriculture Development department,  Joint Director/ South, C B Rai and Deputy Directors B D Rai and Sunita Pradhan.
During the visit progress review was done for the HCM’s Package of Dry and Backward Areas in the Lamaten Tingmo GPU of the Ravangla sub-division. Under the scheme, Bench Terracing Work has been granted for 7 Ha to 35 no. of Beneficiaries and 70 water harvesting tanks are being constructed under the scheme. During the inspection of  Mangbru ,Hingdam, Lamaten, Upper Tingmoo and Lower Tingmoo wards , work was found to be implemented satisfactorily  and direction was given that those beneficiaries who have completed construction of tanks  are to be provided their payment of Rs 40,000 as per government norms and others are to complete the work at the earliest.

Miss Sikkim pageant returns with the Sikkim Snow and Culture Fest

GANGTOK, 05 Feb: Miss Sikkim is set to return this month after a 5-year hiatus, as part of the Sikkim Snow & Culture Festival.
The beauty pageant, organized by Ckim Travels, will feature in the snow festival on the theme ‘beauty with compassion and a mission’, informs a press release issued by Travel Agents Association of Sikkim [TAAS]. Selection rounds will start from this week and the final event to crown the most beautiful woman with compassion from Sikkim is scheduled to be held on 24 February.
“Compassion signifies encouraging people to preserve the rich culture and to spread love and togetherness. That is why the first round of the beauty contest will be a traditional round where the contestants will dress in traditional attire of their choice”, said Ckim Travels managing director, Raj Pradhan.
The traditional dress round will be followed by the swimsuit round. In the final round, the ten finalists in evening gowns will be fielded questions and then the top three will be chosen, said Mr Pradhan. The mission of the Miss Sikkim contest is to help showcase the beauty and talent of young women of the State, he added.
Miss Sikkim winner will be taking home a cash prize of Rs. 25,000. The first runners up will receive Rs. 15,000 and second runners up will get Rs. 10, 000. There are several surprise gifts for the contestants as well, said  Mr Pradhan.
Forms can be downloaded from or collected from select outlets in MG Marg and other parts of the town like Cacao, Virgo, Bakers Café, Girlfriend, Aries Beauty Parlour, Hotlix, Lata’s Beauty Parlour, Ckim Café, Bounce Beauty Parlour and Style Check. The entry fee for the show is priced at Rs. 200.


I have been seriously following the news items appearing at different local news papers about the current issue regarding the appointment of teaching and non – teaching staff recruited by the HRD Department under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. From these news items I understand that these employees were recruited on ad – hoc basis till the end of this academic session. Now this representative of the so called ad – hoc staffs are on hunger strike demanding regularisation of their services in the same post where they were working. I further understand from these news papers that HRD Department has taken a firm stand not to accept the demands of these agitated teachers on the ground that their appointment letters clearly mentions that their appointments were purely temporary till the end of 2011 session.
I as a well qualified educated unemployed youth with all required qualification to become a graduate teacher, fully support the stand taken by the Department/Government. Like me there are many aspiring educated unemployed youth eager to compete to get a job in the government sector. Therefore it will be a right decision for the government to hold competitive exams to select the best candidates. This issue of competition becomes more important when it comes to selection of teachers, there should be no compromise on this issue as teachers play a vital role in shaping the future of coming generation. Government looks committed to deliver good quality education for which teachers are the key players.
We all know that very recently also a viva – voice interview was conducted by the department to select teaching and non teaching staff under SSA, again on adhoc basis. However, this also seems to be only a temporary solution, In this background not only me but all the educated unemployed youth of the state fully support the stand taken by the Department and look forward to early competitive examination to fill the vacancies on regular basis. This will not only solve the administrative problem of the department but also benefits the students and society in general. This exercise will also lessen the burden of unemployment problem on the government in view of the growing unemployment problem in the state.

Received on email
An Educated Unemployed Youth

Public awareness on various developmental issues at Temi Tarku

GANGTOK, 05 Feb: Massive public awareness through cultural programmes on subjects like MG-NREGA, sanitation, Chief Minister’s Rural Housing Mission [CMRHM], formation of Self Help Group and national integration is being organized at Temi Tarku, South Sikkim. The venture is a combined effort of Song and Drama Division, Government of India and Sikkim Government under the guidance of Block Development Officer, Jorethang Block, South Sikkim, informed team leader, North Kolkata Prayasi, the cultural group, Baishaki Ray.
The programmes are being presented through dance, song and drama by North Calcutta Prayasi, cultural troupe of Song & Drama Division, Government of India. The programme is being carried out with the support of District Magistrate [South], Block Development Officer [BDO] and Panchayats of Temi block, informed Baishaki Ray.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

JICA on Sikkim recce to inspect and assess damages as well as progress of Forest projects

GANGTOK, 03 Feb: Japan International Cooperation Agency [JICA] representatives are in the state at present to review the JICA assisted Sikkim Biodiversity Conservation and Forest Management Project [SBFP] and to assess the damages to the infrastructures under the Forest Department incurred by the 18 September earthquake. In response, JICA has sanctioned Rs 13.12 crore to provide financial support to the state to rebuild the Forest Department’s infrastructures devastated by the earthquake.
JICA representatives, Miho Horikawa and Vineet Sarin, arrived in the state on 31 January and have been visiting various project sites of SBFP and are also visiting other sites to make spot assessment of the damages to forest infrastructures in the state by the earthquake.
The JICA representatives accompanied by Forest Department officials made visits to various sites of SBFP project in East and North Sikkim to review the progress of the project on the field. They also participated in the stakeholder’s consultant workshop on ecotourism held at Dzongu on 31 January where Mr Sarin encouraged the locals to take full advantage provided by the JICA to develop ecotourism in Dzongu and to generate economical activities and also to safeguard their unique resources. The team also met the Dzumsas of Lachen and Lachung and discussed the conservation and livelihood priority of the community.
The JICA representatives interacted with the officials of SBFP, Project Management Unit [PMU] officers and Project Management Consultants [PMC] in a review meeting at Forest Department conference hall today.
In the meeting, SBFP, PMU and PMC briefed JICA representatives on the physical and financial progress of the activities under biodiversity conservation and forest management, ecotourism, joint forest management and infrastructure development.
Mr Sarin mentioned that they have been visiting various spots to review the physical works on the field. He expressed his happiness with the progress of the works under the SBFP till date. However, he indicated that there was a need to speed up the pace of works as there were many more coming up.
Mr Sarin stressed that focus needed to be given on the quality and on biodiversity protection and promotion of ecotourism in the state. Ecotourism projects will be a flag bearer for the whole country, he expressed. He stressed that the project will be beneficial to the state for the preservation and development of its biodiversity in a more scientific way.   However, he stated that the main focus of the project is to improve the socio-economic condition of the people. He mentioned that JICA would like to support Sikkim to rehabilitate and rebuild its damaged infrastructures.
Mr Sarin mentioned that the response and support from the state government is exemplary and encouraging and indicated the government’s interest towards the promotion of ecotourism and biodiversity preservation. He also observed that the people are also enthusiastic for the commencement of the project.
Ms Horikawa also expressed her satisfaction with the progress of the project in the state so far.
APCCF-cum-Project Director [SBFP], Dr Anil Mainra stated that all the suggestions given by the JICA representatives will be taken seriously and will be included in due course. He also expressed his gratitude to JICA for supporting Sikkim morally and financially in the time of natural disaster and for lending a helping hand in conserving the unique biodiversity of the state.
It was informed that during 2011-12, activities for village and forest development, income generation and capacity building and exposure visits for JFMCs and EDCs were included in the selected 45 targeted villages initially and plantation on 100 ha of land in 25 monasteries and temples were carried out. To enhance the biodiversity improvement efforts, 5 JFM nurseries and 5 propagation nurseries to propagate rare and important species have been established so far and construction work is in progress to create 6 Range Offices, 10 Block Offices and 4 Check Posts. In addition various manuals on the Ecotourism Policy, Joint Forest Management Manual and Community Organizers Manual have been developed.
It was informed that to strengthen the capacity of the Forest Department staff, a detailed training master plan and training plan has been prepared. Development of the GIS and MIS capacity of the Forest Department is on the track as formalities for acquisition for software and hardware and creation of facilities are in progress. Under the project various major infrastructures like Office Building at Deorali, Training Institute at Pangthang, Butterfly Park at Rang Rang are proposed and works are in various stages of development.

TAAS convenes coordination meeting for Sikkim Snow Fest

GANGTOK, 03 Feb: A coordination meeting to discuss the agendas and other formalities regarding the Sikkim Snow & Culture Fest that is to begin from 14 February was held at Hotel Tibet on 02 February. The meeting was organised by Travel Agents Association of Sikkim [TAAS] and was attended by Minister for Tourism, Bhim Dhungel, District Collector [East], D Anandan, Superintendent of Police [East], Dr. MS Tuli, Mayor [GMC], KS Topgay, GMC Deputy Mayor, Shakti Singh Chowdhary, Municipal Commissioner, Anil Raj Rai, PI Sadar Police Station, Tshering Sherpa, officials from the Tourism, Forest, Police and Culture department, the army, event managers and members of TAAS and SHRA.
Speaking during the meeting, the Minister for Tourism stated that after the 18 September, 2011 earthquake, the tourism sector had been affected badly and so by organising such an event the people related with the tourism sector were trying to bring the State back to it’s previous glory. Even the Chief Minister has been informed about this event and he too has extended his full support for this fest, he added.
President, TAAS, Lukendra Rasaily apprised the gathering about the permissions required from various departments, the different types of events to be held during the fest and of the promotion and publicity being done by TAAS for the event. Various other topics were also discussed during the meet.
There are various events lined up for the Fest, such as dance competitions, paragliding, folk song competition, adventure tours, photography contest, rock climbing, treasure hunt, trekking, skiing, bird watching, mountain biking, country song and beat contest.
The event is going to be held in many places across the state, like Tsomgo, Baba Mandir, Nathula, Kupup, Zaluk, Aritar and Gangtok in the East District, Lachen, Lachung, Dzongu and Mangan in North Sikkim, Yuksom, Pelling, Uttarey, Hee Bermiok and Barsey in West and Namchi, Ravangla and Kewzing in South Sikkim.
The members of TAAS have appealed to the people of Sikkim to make the event a grand success by participating in the Fest on a daily basis and enjoy the event. It may be mentioned here that the event is a tourism recovery mission and is being organised by TAAS and supported by Sikkim Tourism and SHRA.

Nyingma menlom, annual congregation for world peace concludes at Bodhgaya


BODHGAYA, BIHAR, 03 Feb: The 10-day long Nyingma Monlam, annual congregation for world peace, at Bodhgaya in Bihar which started from 24 January concluded here today on 2 February.   The diverse lineages of the Nyingma tradition were hosted by Sikkim this year.
The observance every year by Nyingma followers has been continually supported by the generosity of Tarthang Tulku Rinpoche.   The tenth day which is the concluding day of the prayer was observed as Guru Padmasambhava day and Tsog (Prasad or symbolic meal) was offered with devotion to Guru Padmasambhava which witnessed the conclusion of the annual Monlam.
The monks from different monasteries of Sikkim including  Lachen Gomchen Rinpoche and Lachung Rinpoche have been engaged in organizing the prayers with their respective duties and responsibilities.  The prayers which were held at Mahabodhi Stupa have become an auspicious occasion for the Nyingma followers to pray for world peace and dedicate them to the founders of their tradition viz., Bodhisatva, Guru Padmasambhava and Trisong Deutsen (Kunkhyen Longchenpa) in Bodhgaya.  The prayers were also attended by Dujom Rinpoche from Bhutan and several other eminent Rinpoches from different monasteries.
The Nyingma Monlam Chenmo is held in Bodhgaya every year since 1989 during the first ten days of the twelfth month of the Tibetan calendar as decided by most Gurus of Nyingma tradition. The prayers are participated in by the renowned Rinpoches, tulkus, monks and devotees from different monasteries across India and also participated in from the monasteries across the world like Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Korea, Thailand etc.  

One of the senior monks while speaking to NOW informed that the participation in the Annual Nyingma Monlam Chenmo, the congregation to pray for World Peace at Bodhgaya is extremely important and worthwhile in order to inspire hope and courage in bringing about greater peace, harmony, joy and happiness in the world as well as seeking relief from all unwanted sufferings and to remember and pray for all those parents, families and friends who suffered severely or lost their lives in the tragedy that befell on them and for the benefit of all sentient beings.

It may mentioned here that the Kagyu Menlom is being held from 1st to 8th of March’2012.

District level NE Games begins in South Sikkim

GANGTOK, 03 Feb: The District level North East Games for South district in order to select participants for the XXVI North East Games scheduled to be held at Aizawl in the third week of February will be conducted from 03-05 February at the Indoor Stadium, Namchi and Singithang Ground, informs a press release.

The district-level games will be held in the disciplines of Athletics, Badminton, Boxing,
Table Tennis, Weight Lifting, Volleyball ( Women Only), Football and Tae-kwon-do.

Selected participants will represent South District at the State Level NE Games at Gangtok scheduled to be held from 13-15 Feb, the release further informs.

SHRPP team meets ASDASG members on strike

GANGTOK, 03 Feb: A Sikkim Himali Rajya Parishad Party team led by the party president, Dr AD Subba met the members of All Sikkim Departmental Adhoc Staffs Group [ASDASG] sitting on an indefinite dharna at the District Administration Centre premises at Sichey today. The team interacted and enquired about the health of the SAA employees.
A SHRPP press release issued by its general secretary, Tara Shrestha states that the demand of these SAA employees is genuine and the service of these employees, who have already received a lot of exposure in their fields, should be extended.
The release alleges that SAA is a central government project but it has been controlled by the Chief Minister and HRDD Minister and the recruitment of the SAA employees is dominated by them. The release further demands that the state government resolve the issue immediately by regularizing these employees.

Sikkim Snow Fest to host ‘Rock on Beat’ contest at Saramsa

GANGTOK, 03 Feb: As part of the Sikkim Snow and Culture Fest being organized by Travel Agents and Association of Sikkim [TAAS] a rock band competition titled “Rock on Beat” contest will be held on 24 February from 10:00 AM onwards at Epica garden [Saramsa].
Speaking at a press conference today, representative of the Star Event Management Company, Tshering Wangchuk Lepcha informed “This beat contest is basically a platform for the upcoming generation. I want to appeal to the humble people of Sikkim to come and support our first Sikkim Snow fest open heartedly. The reputed president of TAAS has committed that the winner will be given a chance to perform an opening act for the Indian band Parikrama.”
Baskets will be put up at the contest’s venue where people can donate wearable clothes which will be distributed to the needy in West Sikkim by the Dirty Angels Bikers Club while people can also donate books for the library at the Ravangla Monastery, he informed. The company has pooled in Rs 50,000 as the cash prize for the winners of the contest, he added.
The last date of submission of registration forms for the contest is 20 Feb which will have Saching Gurung, from the Noida School of Rock as the judge. The entry fee for the contest is priced at Rs 200 per person.
The Sikkim Snow and Culture Fest is being organized from 14-29 Feb and is also supported by Sikkim Tourism and SHRA.

Red Five Open Football tourney finals today at Guards Ground

GANGTOK, 03 Feb: The semi finals and finals of the ‘Red Five’ football tournament will be played at Guards ground, Tathangchen on 04 February.
The semi-final games will kick-off at 10 AM, where Hope Foundation from the East district will take on West district semifinalist Lingchom Sec School and in the second semi final match Hope A of South district will play against McDonald Singipa Club.
In the afternoon, the final match will be played from 1 PM onwards.  A cash prize of Rs. 50,000 will awarded to the winner of the tournament and the runners-up team will be awarded Rs. 30,000. Women’s football match will also be played at the same venue
Sikkim Legislative Assembly, Speaker KT Gyalsten will be present as the chief guest on the day. The ‘Red Five’ Open Football Tournament was launched at MG Marg on 06 January. The knock-out rounds were played in all the 4 Districts of Sikkim in which over 113 teams from all the four districts participated.
The tournament is being organized in order to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS and to encourage youth to engage in sporting activities instead of indulging in drug/substance abuse and immoral behavior.
Sikkim State AIDS Control Society [SSACS] is organizing the tournament in association with HOPE Foundation, Bethzatha Society (Serenity Homes), Recovering Users’ Network (RUN), and Sikkim Network of Positive People (SNP+).