Saturday, March 24, 2012

Truckers jam NH 31A at Melli-Laberbotey CP to protest undue harassment

NAMCHI, 21 March: Tired of what they see as undue harassment of transport vehicles from Sikkim by officers of the Commercial Tax Department, Government of West Bengal, at the Melli-Labarbotey Check Post on NH 31A in West Bengal, the truck drivers associations of Sikkim and Teesta jammed the highway for six hours today as they gathered at the Melli Laberbotey Check Post demanding an end to their harassment.
Speaking with this correspondent, the ex-vice president of the All Sikkim Truck Drivers Association, Deepak Gurung, argued that while these check-posts have been established monitor transport operations and to avoid unnecessary delays and harassments, the Commercial Tax Department officers there doing the opposite and subjecting transport operators from Sikkim to undue harassment.
Alleging that bribes were routinely demanded at this check-post and refusal to do so resulted in excessive checks and scrutiny due to which despite having “clean” documents and chalans, the vehicles were held up and delayed.
Members of the organisation further alleged that at other times, the officers there also seized the vehicle documents, driving licenses and even the keys of the vehicles until the penalties were paid up. Such seizures, they argued were not authorized by law. “We used to give some amount in order to avoid harassment and delay to reach to our destinations in time,” they added.
They also alleged that the officers also routinely held up vehicles which had not paid up their monthly “dues”.
When contacted, with Deputy Commissioner, Sonam Sherpa, condemned the allegations and countered that he and his officers were only performing their duty at the check-post.
He stated that they carried regular checking and errant vehicles were be fined according to the rules of the Commercial Tax Department of West Bengal. He also explained that the documents and keys were seized to ensure that the drivers did not flee till the checking was completed.
Meanwhile, the Janmukthi Himalayan Rajmarg Drivers Association president, Uttam Rai, informed that the concerned officers had given a written assurance that the check post personnel will no longer seize the documents and keys of vehicles and will also try to avoid such disputes in the future. This, after a six hour long discussion between association members, truck drivers and the officers of the department. It was only after this that the jam finally opened.

Poverty in Sikkim drops from 30.9% in 2004 to 13.1% in 2009-10

GANGTOK, 21 March [IPR]: The new poverty official estimates for 2009-2010 released by the Planning Commission, Government of India, on 19 March, reveals that the present State government has been very successful in reducing poverty in the State. Even the National Planning Commission, in a press communiqué issued yesterday, attests to as much by including Sikkim in the list of State where the rate of poverty reduction has been higher than average. Interestingly, the poverty levels in some of the other northeaster states [Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram and Nagaland] has increased in the period covered [from 2004-05 to 2009-10], the data reveals. The poverty estimates have been calculated based on the methodology suggested by the Tendulkar Committee with estimates from NSS 66th round of consumer expenditure based on 2009-10 prices.
In 2004-2005, the poverty level in Sikkim stood at 30.9% with 1,70,000 people living below the poverty line. Due to the intensive poverty alleviation programmes initiated by the State Government, the poverty level has been brought down to 13.1% with only 80,000 people now living below the poverty line.
The poverty level has significantly reduced in both urban and rural areas. In 2004, the level in rural area was 31.8% with 1,50,000 people living Below Poverty Line. The BPL in urban areas was 25.9% with 20,000 people living below the Poverty Line. This level has drastically reduced to 5% in urban areas [with only 10,000 people now living below poverty line] and in rural areas, the level has fallen to 15.5% with the BPL number at 70,000.
The percentage of BPL in Sikkim is half of the National average of 29.8%. The level of 15.5% in rural areas is also half of the national level of 33.8% for the segment. The State urban level of 5% of urban areas is one fourth of the National level of 20.9%. The latest poverty estimates data clearly shows that the State government is well within its goal of declaring Sikkim as poverty free state.
The Tendulkar Committee recommended use of implicit prices derived from quantity and value data collected in household consumer expenditure surveys for computing and  updating the poverty lines. The poverty line is thus defined in terms of per capita consumption expenditure on a monthly basis and can be also converted into a corresponding consumer budget per month.
The national average for the Tendulkar poverty line has been worked out to Rs. 672.8 per month per person for rural India and Rs. 859.6 per month per person for urban areas. For Sikkim, this has been calculated to Rs. 728.9 per person for rural areas and Rs. 1035.2 per person per month for urban Sikkim. For a family of five, the poverty line for Sikkim is thus drawn at Rs. 3644.5 per month in rural Sikkim and Rs. 5,176 for a family of five per month in urban areas.
The Tendulkar poverty line, it may be recalled, has been criticised on the grounds that it is too low, and therefore, under-estimates the scale of the population that needs special assistance. To this, the National Planning Commission has defended that “any poverty line is essentially arbitrary and the Planning Commission has only accepted the line recommended by the Tendulkar Committee”.
“We have also indicated that the line will be revised from time to time based on the recommendations of experts,” the NPC adds in an official press release.
The real purpose of estimating a population below a fixed poverty line is to judge whether progress is being made over time. For this purpose, the poverty line must be the same over time and updated to reflect price changes on the basis of an established methodology. If a higher poverty line is used, the absolute number of people below the line will obviously be larger. However, the results regarding trends in poverty will not be altered, the Planning Commission explains further.

SU-affected at Yangyang protest sidelining from recruitment process

GANGTOK, 21 March: The Sikkim University Development Committee [SUDC], a representative organization of landowners from Yangyang affected by the SU campus proposed to be developed there - has alleged that the SU Vice-Chancellor, Prof Mahendra P Lama, has done injustice to the affected people by sidelining them from the recruitment process underway at the university to fill non-teaching vacancies.
A press release issued jointly by the SUDC president, CL Gurung, and member, Hem Kumar Gurung, contends that following an assurance received from Prof Lama during the land acquisition process in 2009, a total of 200 affected people and youth from Yangyang had submitted job applications with his office for consideration during appointment of non-teaching staff at the University. “But even after many recruitment processes, no affected person has received any job opportunity in the University so far,” they rue.
Their disenchantment has been piqued by the recent spate of allegations suggesting that the recruitment process at the University, underway on a huge scale at present, is riddled with intentional irregularities. The SUDC has now joined issue with these allegations and alleged that the VC has sidelined the affected people to secure jobs even in the non-teaching, non-executive posts for outsiders instead.
They contend that recruitments in the non-teaching category at the University were not advertised widely enough for the prospective candidates from the affected area to learn about them in time and apply.
“The people at Yangyang had no any idea about this recruitment,” the release claims, while adding that the VC arranged for the candidates to called for the recruitment through telephonic messages unlike the wide publicity announcing the dates as should have been done.
The SUDC is convinced that the manner in which the vacancies were announced and filled disadvantaged the affected people at Yangyang at a time when special efforts should have been made to include them in the process.
The release announced that the SUDC president has decided to challenge the recruitment process at the Sikkim University on behalf of the people of Yangyang by using the Right to Information Act. It is further added that those responsible for this “injustice to the affected people” will then be taken to court.
The release states that the Chief Minister brought the Central University to Sikkim for the benefit of the people and the educated youth of the State, and goes on to allege that due to autocracy of the VC, neither were locals benefitting by way of jobs nor by way of improved access to higher education.
Likewise, Hem Kumar Gurung, who is also the Sikkim Democratic Front’s student’s wing convener for Rangrang-Yangyang constituency, has announced that the students and youth will come out and protest the “injustice”.

HC dismisses petition challenging award of school shoes supply contract

GANGTOK, 21 March: The High Court of Sikkim has dismissed a petition challenging the award of contract for supply of school shoes to BATA by the State government through the HRD Department. The petition was filed by Sital Enterprises of Jorethang, one of the bidders for the supply order in response to a notice inviting tenders issued by the HRD Department for supply of readymade school uniforms, shoes and socks for the academic session 2011. The petition was limited to the award of the contract for supply of school shoes only. While admitting the petition last year, the Court had directed that any further action on the tender process would be subject to the outcome of the petition.
The petition was dismissed on 15 March, 2012 by Chief Justice Permod Kohli, noting that High Courts do not sit as a court of appeal over the administrative decision of the public authorities.
The Court noted that even if there was an irregularity in the award of the contract to BATA, it did not call for any interference in exercise of the power of judicial review. The Chief Justice observed, “Power of judicial review in commercial field is to be exercised to examine the validity of decision making process of public authorities and not the decision itself”.
The tender process had resulted in 3 firms being shortlisted by the committee set up by the HRD Department. On the basis of the lowest bids the three selected firms shortlisted were Sital Enterprises which quoted Rs. 357 per pair of shoe; Zambala Enterprises, Gangtok which quoted Rs. 398 per pair and BATA Ltd, Kolkata which quoted Rs.397.
While the committee recommended the name of Basun Bisnu Enterprises, Namchi, which had quoted Rs. 461 per pair, the government rejected the recommendation of the committee and chose BATA as it was noted that Basun Bisnu Enterprises was a dealer of BATA shoes which was also the brand of shoes which were to be supplied to the department.
The government then placed the supply order dated 31 March, 2011 with BATA for supply of notified quantity of shoes at it quoted rate of Rs. 397 per pair plus 1% cess and inclusive of transportation and delivery to the respective stores in all the four districts.
Sital Enterprises, which had submitted tender for supply of Action and BATA shoes, then challenged the award of the contract in the court. The court noted that while the NIT invited tenders from reputed dealers, manufacturers and distributors the petitioner had not indicated that it was a dealer, distributor or manufacturer of either Action or BATA shoes; thus the petitioner did not fulfill an essential qualification.
The High Court noted that the petitioner’s tender was rightly rejected and thus also loses locus to challenge the award of the contract to BATA.
However, the Court went on to observe that the award of contract to BATA dos not suffer from any arbitrary, malafide or unfair action on the part of the department and being the manufacturer, was rightly preferred by the government over its dealer, Basun Bisnu Enterprises, the firm which was the recommendation of the selection committee.
The Chief Justice has also highlighted in the order the various observations and notes of caution of the Supreme Court about the interference in the administrative action of the public authorities in the matter of award of contracts. The CJ observed that while exercising the power of judicial review, the Court has to examine whether the decision making process has been fair, transparent, non arbitrary and not influenced by extraneous or irrelevant considerations.
“In absence of any such infirmity on examination even if it is found that decision, per se, may not be sound, no interference is warranted provided the decision is in public interest”.

Sikkim MPs meet Finance Minister seeking IT exemption for old settlers

NEW DELHI, 21 March: Sikkim MPs, Hishey Lachungpa and PD Rai, today called on Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee at his office in the Parliament House after the day’s morning session of the ongoing budget session.
During the half an hour meeting, the two Parliamentarians placed a fresh memorandum requesting the exemption of Central Service Tax from retrospective date in Sikkim as well as Income Tax exemption for the old settlers.
During the discussion, the MPs also informed the FM of the several memorandums submitted by Chief Minister Pawan Chamling to the Prime Minister on these issues which are still pending with the Union Government and requested for an early resolution of the imbroglio.
The MPs also endorsed the memorandum submitted by the Joint Action Committee of All Sikkim Tourism Stakeholders before the Union Finance Minister demanding that the Central Service Tax be applicable in Sikkim from a Prospective Date, preferably from 01 April, 2012, rather than the retrospective date proposed.
The Union Finance minister was informed that summons were being issued repeatedly for collection of Central Service Tax with retrospective effect from 2006.
The MPs also cited several reasons as to why Service Tax should be implemented from a prospective date. Some of the reasons were lack of proper knowledge on Service Tax among the people of the state and the major slump on the tourism sector in Sikkim due to the devastating earthquake of September 18, 2011.
The issue of exemption of Income Tax for old settlers was also discussed with the FM. They informed that there were some 400 old settlers who have been living in Sikkim since prior to the promulgation of Sikkim Subject Regulation in 1961, and that the demand, which the Union Finance Minister was fully aware, was still awaiting a decision from the Central government.
Mr. Mukherjee was positive to the demands reiterated by the MPs and assured the two Parliamentarians that he would look into the matter and come up with some solution. [from PEMA L SHANGDERPA]

Rs. 32.84 cr labour budget cleared for MGNREGA works in East Sikkim in 2012-13

GANGTOK, 21 March [IPR]: The District Planning Committee, East, met yesterday to finalize and approve schemes under MGNREGA in the district for the financial year 2012-13. The meeting, chaired by the East Zilla Adhakshya Bimal Dawari, was convened in the East District Zilla Panchayat Bhawan conference hall here.
After presentations by the Block Development Officers of all the BACs in the district, the District Planning Committee unanimously approved and passed the shelves of schemes under MGNREGA  and the labour budget for east district amounting to Rs. 32.84 crore for the financial year 2012-13. MGNREGA has made it mandatory to approve the projected labour budget along with the shelves of schemes.
The shelves of schemes for the east district include various kinds of projects like Jhora training works, plantation, land development, irrigation channels and cow sheds for the farmers etc.
The Zilla Adhakshya, while addressing the DPC, expressed satisfaction with the works undertaken under MGNREGA in the past five years. Many milestones have been achieved which have been recognized by the Government of India as well, he remarked, while congratulating everyone involved in the implementation of MGNREGA in the State.
He also recorded his satisfaction with the quality of works undertaken through MGNREGA.
Earlier, Harihar Poudyal, a two-time Zilla Panchayat member and member of DPC for the last ten years, shared his experience of being a member of the DPC. He commented that during the course of his tenure, DPC has emerged as an important forum in the decentralization of powers to the elected representatives of rural areas. With this development, decisions for the development of rural areas were now rising from the villages themselves and this has made the role of the DPC more important and significant, he said.
Dr. Sandeep Thambe, Special Secretary, RMDD, in his address said that creation of assets under MGNREGA should be in the land of BPL families so that they were economically benefitted in the long run besides the wages they received for the works.
While on the nature of works which can be taken up under MGNREGA, he said that water security has to be given priority in order to reach the benefit to the poor people of the village.
The District Collector, East, in his interactions with the DPC members, stressed that strict monitoring should be ensured from all levels for MGNREGA works to ensure good quality. He stressed the need for impact-based achievements rather than expenditure-based achievement.

Tumin-Barang green flags Ramayan Village project

DIKCHU, 21 March: The Ramayan Village project, proposed to be developed over a 35 area plot touching the two GPUs of Tumin and Raley-Khesey here under Tumin-Lingee constituency was green-flagged by the residents at an open discussion convened at Tumin Barang today between the landowners and representatives of the State Government. The meeting was chaired by area MLA, the Govt Chief Whip, Ugen T Gyatso Bhutia. The Ramayan Village project, it may be recalled, was offered by Chief Minister Pawan Chamling during his stopover here as part of his village to village tour last year.
The open discussion saw landowners who have given land for this project raise varies queries seeking details about how the government proposes to develop the Ramayan Village concept. They also welcomed the project as one which flowed from a demand tabled by them and one which would promote both, tourism and pilgrimage to their area. They also submitted a petition seeking satisfactory compensation rate for the lands proposed to be acquired and sought that local residents be given preference in petty contracts and other related businesses in the project development phase.
The Ramayan Village is proposed to be developed across parts of Barang and Sheley wards of Tumin GPU and Raley ward of Raley-Khesey GPU under Tumin-Lingee constituency. The 35 acres identified for the project will affect 27 landowners.
While answering the queries raised by the people, the area MLA assured to take responsibility to have all their demands addresses and announced that the few families which will be displaced will be covered under the Chief Minister’s Rural Housing Mission. He further added that local residents will be given preference in all opportunities related with the project. The MLA also registered his displeasure over the three panchayat members who did not attend today’s meeting, pointing out that the open discussion was a crucial aspect of the project’s development and should not have been taken casually by the three absentee panchayats.
Hemu Rai, an artist, who will design the project, informed the meeting that the whole area will be developed as a “representation of paradise”. Included in the complex will be Dasrath’s palace, Janakpur Mahal, Panchakoti, Chitrakut, Lanka, Ashok Vatika, golden deer etc. The complex will also include a deer park, he infomed.
Meanwhile, Ringzing Tshering Lepcha, Additional Secretary, Cultural Affairs & Heritage Deptt., highlighted that the government was approaching the Ramayan Village project as one of its more prestigious projects and informed that a total of Rs. 4.45 crore has been set aside for land compensation. An amount of Rs. 2 crore will be transferred to the account of the Land Revenue Deptt. within this week as the first instalment, he added.
The area MLA expressed gratitude towards all the landowners for having provided the land and underlined that the project will make the entire area proud.
The function was also addressed by ex-Secretary, NK Sharma. Also present were M Shahid, Addl Chief Engineer, Building & Housing Deptt, Sonam Dadul Bhutia, Addl Chief Architech, Buildings & Housing Deptt., Special Secretary to CM, DR Nepal, BDO Tintek, Tenzing Dorjee Denzongpa, senior pandit Swami Achuta Nanda Sharma, landowners, senior citizens, panchayat members and the general public. Later, the chief guest and officials also visited the area where the project is to come up.

NHPC scholarships for 20 students

MANGAN, 21 March: A total of twenty students, ten from East and 10 from North Sikkim, were provided scholarships by NHPC Teesta Stage V today. The five schools from North district from which the students were chosen are Thingchim JHS, Gnon Sangdong SS, Hee-Gyathang Sr. Secondary School, Gor Sec. School and RangRang JHS.  The scholarships were handed over at a special function organized by NHPC Teesta Stage-V in association with Yuva Jagriti Sangh at Lower Samdong.
The students were selected from ST and SC BPL families based on their academic performance. Preference was given to girl students, the organizers inform. An amount of Rs. 10,000 each was provided to the students as scholarship.
The events for the day also included a Talent Hunt Competition on the theme, “Energy Conservation &  General Knowledge”, which was participated in by 54 students [classes VI to VII] from 27 schools from different parts of the State.
The function had Singtam-Khamdong MLA, Am Prasad Sharma, present as the chief guest accompanied by Chief Engineer In-charge, D Chattopadhya and Chief Engineer Teesta Stage-IV, AK Choudhary.
The function started with a welcome speech from SK Sethi, Assitant Director, HR, followed by a brief introduction to the programme by Binod Adhikari, General Secretary, YJS, who also detailed the various activities undertaken by NHPC in villages in the area.
In his speech, CE Incharge, Mr. Chattopadhya, highlighted that NHPC has been in Sikkim since 1980 and has developed two power projects- the 65 MW Legship HEP and the 510 MW Teesta Stage V.
On the issue of delivering on its corporate social responsibility, Mr. Chattopadhya invited the people to suggest ways and means for NHPC to assist development in the villages.  
While addressing the gathering, the chief guest appreciated the initiative undertaken by NHPC and lauded the infrastructure being developed by NHPC in his constituency.
In the Talent Hunt Competition, the first prize went to Mahesh Adhikari of Teesta Model Academy, Lower Samdong, followed by Neha Kumari Gupat of Rangpo SS on second position and Raj Chakraborty of Kendriya Vidhyalaya, NHPC Balutar, coming third.
Five consolation prizes were awarded to Sawan Chettri of Saraswati Vidhya Niketan, Samdong, Priya Pradhan of Makha SS, Sherika Pradhan of Sumin Lingzey School, Shruti Banwal, KV-NHPC and Shradha Pandey of Phalaichey Dara School.

Bhojraj sees Sikkim Disposal and Destruction of Documents and Records Bill as dangerous

GANGTOK, 21 March: Former MLA Bhoj Raj Rai and Krishna Gurung of Mamring, in a joint press release issued today, have thumbed down the Sikkim Disposal and Destruction of Documents and Records Bill as a dangerous bill. The release alleges that the Bill [which is incidentally identical to the Destruction of Records Act of 1917 which extends to the rest of India], now passed by the Legislative Assembly, if granted consent by the Governor, might get used for wrong purposes by the Chief Minister.
The release has further alleged that since the government documents and files “contain proof of corruption” during the SDF government, this Bill has been brought to destroy evidence.
The duo has called on the Governor not to give his assent to the Bill and demanded that until the CBI has not investigated the corruption charges against the CM and the State Government, not a single documents should be destroyed.

17 teams sign up for CM’s Gold Cup Archery

GANGTOK, 21 March: A total of 17 teams from across the State and Bhutan will be taking part in the 13th Chief Minister’s Gold Cup Archery Tournament scheduled to begin here at the Sikkim Archery Association’s archery field at Tathangchen on 01 April.
Thirteen teams from the four districts and four teams from Bhutan, including the defending champions, Bhutan United, will be in contest for the prestigious Cup to played in traditional format on knock-out basis.
The fixture for the tournament was drawn on 18 March at the SAA office in the presence of the president, executive members and captains and representatives of the participating teams.
Tathangchen United [Red] will take on Gangtok VII in the inaugural match. The finals of the tournament will be played on 22 April.
The participating teams are already here and are practicing hard at the SAA archery field.

Sikkim bodybuilders impress in Jharkhand

GANGTOK, 21 March: The five-member team of the Sikkim State Body Building Association [SSBBA] flexed impressively enough to leave a mark at the Eastern India Bodybuilding Championship 2012. The championship, held in Jharkhand from 11 to 13 March, saw four of the bodybuilders secure positions.
An SSBBA press release informs that Pema Dorjee Bhutia stood third in the 70 kg category, with both, Lekhak Rai [in 65 kg category] and Ganesh Neopaney [in 70 kg above category], securing the fourth position in their respective categories while Arun Gurung stood fifth in the 60 kg category.
The team was accompanied by the Chief Coach, IB Gurung.

Sikkim growers tour Large Cardamom plantations in Lava

GANGTOK, 21 March [IPR]: Eighty farmers elected from all four Districts of the State were taken on a tour of Lava in Algarah Block of Kalimpong Sub-division in Darjeeling District of West Bengal in February-March 2012 as part of an exposure tour to areas where significant success has been achieved in large cardamom farming. The group visited large cardamom plantations at Gitbeong village and learnt of the different management practices adopted by the farmers there.
The farmers were escorted by Deputy Director of the Department and accompanied by Horticulture Development Officers along with Assistant Director, Mr. Ramalingam and Mr. Pradhan, Senior Farm Manager of Spices Board Office, Kalimpong, the organization instrumental in supporting the efforts of the large cardamom farmers of Darjeeling District.
Lava was selected for the visit as the region shared close similarity in terms of agro-climate and edaphic conditions including altitudinal aspects which was comparable with the large cardamom growing regions in Sikkim. Gitbeong village in Algarah Block is flanked on either side by Kalimpong Block and Gorubathan Block which includes Today, an important large cardamom growing belt in the region.
The main aim behind organising the tour was to provide Sikkim farmers an opportunity of informal learning through interactions and exchange of knowledge, information, views and idea.
“A very well maintained plot. We should also adopt the same method of planting,” exclaimed the jubilant farmers, T. Laripa and ST Bhutia, from Pelling.
Karma Bhutia and Nakul Rai from Assam Lingzey remarked that it was possible to maintain the same type of crop in Sikkim as well if the practices followed in Lava were adopted in earnest. Naku Lepcha of Lingi, South District, turned nostalgic upon finding himself at the same plantation from where he had procured the large cardamom suckers for his field six years ago and where it was still performing satisfactorily.
Lakpa Tarbu Sherpa, Panchayat President of Kewzing Bakhim GPU of South District and Khimu Lepcha, ex-Zilla Panchayat member of North District, expressed gratitude towards the Department for the opportunity provided to farmers through the exposure tour.
The agronomic practices followed for growing the crop at Lava are completely traditional in nature without use of any synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. The crop is grown under totally organic conditions with use of organic Farm Yard Manure along with provision of irrigation water during the lean winter season using indigenous methods and resources.
Harvesting is followed by intensive care of the plot through application of organic manure to replenish the soil nutrients. The care extended to each plant after harvest was a critical factor determining further growth and development including yield of the crop in the ensuing season and neglect was something unheard of in the region.
In addition, the harvested culms are all collected, heaped and burnt, thereby helping in effective management of the disease inoculum in field, a farmer practice worth emulating and often neglected by farmers.
Phurba Sherpa, an organic farmer, maintains yielding plots as old as sixteen years which were well managed, healthy and free from pests and diseases. With large cardamom being a cross pollinated crop, a few plants of the Churmpa variety, a wild cultivar of large cardamom which was maintained by each farmer on his plot helped in imparting host plant resistance to the cultivated species.
The itinerary also included visits to the Indian Agriculture Research Institute where farmers of South District interacted with the scientists and observed the pot experiments aimed at managing the viral diseases inlcuding greening disease of mandarin orages being undertaken at Institute.

Fire safety lessons for Enchey School seniors

GANGTOK, 21 March: Sikkim Fire and Emergency Service organized a fire safety awareness programme for the Class XII students of Health Care Science at Enchey Senior Secondary School here at Fire Station premises today. Twenty-one students, accompanied by two teachers, attended the awareness session.
The students were briefed on various topics related to safety, fire fighting and even disaster mitigation. A demonstration of firefighting equipment was also presented for the students.
The programme, it is informed, was arranged on the request of the Enchey SSS principal.
Deputy Chief Fire officer, Prakash Rai, while interacting with the students, urged them to remember what they learned today and help keep their surroundings safe from fires. He also suggested that they prepare their projects in a way that they could also serve as awareness material to share with people beyond the classroom.
Other resource persons at hand to guide the students were Fire Station Officer Phuchung Lepcha, Assistant Fire Station Officer Samsher Subba and Leading Fireman Madhusudan Adhikari.

Impressed with Sikkim Milk Union, NCDFI board members assure all assistance for future initiatives

GANGTOK, 21 March: Members of the National Cooperative Dairy Federation of India (NCDFI) board, in Sikkim for their national board meeting [held here on 19 March], visited the Gangtok Dairy Plant and appreciated the plant upkeep and over all functioning and performance of Sikkim Milk Union, an official press release informs.
The board also observed that the State was laying the required emphasis on developing the dairy sector here and appreciated the efforts of the Government in promoting dairying in the state, the release adds. The board has assured all assistance from the NCDFI towards the development of the Sikkim Cooperative Milk Producers Union Ltd.
The NCDFI Board meeting was held earlier in the day at the Sikkim Milk Union premises here. Chairman Vinayakrao D Patil, and Managing Director KC Supekar of NCDFI and chairpersons of various State Dairy Cooperative Federations attended the meeting. The board discussed issues related to dairying and milk supplies to army and railways throughout the country. This was for the first time that the NCDFI was meeting in Sikkim. Mr. Patil assured Sikkim Milk Union that NCDFI would facilitate expansion of its market with Army and IRCTC and can also extend cooperation in providing HY variety Frozen semen to the state.

SRDS conducts free health camp at Lall Bazaar

GANGTOK, 21 March: A free health camp for the people living in and around Lall Bazaar was organized by the Sikkim Rehabilitation and Detoxification Society [SRDS] near the Police Booth here at Lall Bazaar today. The camp, sponsored by the Sikkim State AIDS Control Society [SSACS], was held from 10 AM to 1 PM.
SRDS Program Manager, Milan Rai, informs that a total of 132 adults along with a large number of children benefited through the medical camp. He informed that medicines were also provided to the people free of cost. The health camp also included an awareness campaign on HIV/ AIDS and IEC materials and condoms were also distributed to the general public.
SRDS has expressed its gratitude towards the Gangtok Municipal Corporation for allowing use of the venue and Lower MG Marg Ward councilor, Sandhya Prasad, for her support and to Dr LB Limboo from the Central Referral Hospital, Tadong, for providing his services at the Health Camp.

Why Sikkim’s ocean-like Gyam Tsona must be revived

INTRO: Today, 22 March, is World Water Day. To mark the significance of the day, USHA LACHUNGPA, profiles the only brackish water lake of Sikkim, Gyam Tsona, used to be the largest such water body in Eastern Himalaya until human interference reduced this ocean-like lake into a desolate puddle. Can this water body be restored to its earlier proud size, she asks, while detailing why this was necessary…

‘Gyamtso’ in Tibetan means ‘Samunder’ or ocean. ‘Mi - Do’ is Fire–Stone or flint stone. Check out the Kongra La ‘finger-tip’ on any map of Sikkim and you will see under it a spot called Mirdo and a lake named Gyam Tsona or Gayum Chhona. In the cold desert of Sikkim this lake along with Tso Lhamo and Gurudongmar Tso are the only three big water bodies that together with Khangchung Tso of Tista Khangse (Glacier) form the sources of River Tista. Flintstones found in the area are used to adorn tops of chortens by the native Tibetan nomads or Dokpas.
When I first visited the lake 24 years ago in 1988, a giant wave of immense homesickness washed over me. It was the sight of this enormous lake with wave after wave lashing the shores leaving foam on its edges. 20 years of sleeping to the sounds of the sea in Amchi Mumbai echoed way up here on the roof of the world!
A brackish water lake in our cold desert; the only remnant of the prehistoric Tethys Sea in this part of our world! What a privilege that it sits right at the top of Sikkim, crowning our glory! We were conducting a waterbird census for the Asian Waterfowl Count as part of an international effort to estimate migratory birds. On July 19, 1988 this lake had over 200 ducks; mostly Northern Pintails (140), Common and Tufted Pochards, Wigeons and Common Teals, sporting exuberantly like so many children at a picnic. Many of the birds were so far out ‘at sea’ that it was impossible to identify, let alone count them. We returned with an approximate count to send to the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), coordinating the national effort. We also counted ducks at Tso Lhamo and Gurudongmar in this cold desert and over the next few years covered almost all the lakes in Sikkim. (Results were published in the Proceedings of the International Salim Ali Centenary Seminar 1996. Salim Ali was the famed Indian ornithologist who wrote for us ‘Birds of Sikkim’ in 1962.)
Other ‘Lesser’ Lakes: In East Sikkim near the Kupup village the Bedang Tso whose name seems to have originated from ‘Phaedon’ (in Bhutia) or Monal Pheasant according to Late Mr. Chezung Lachungpa IFS had the highest number of migratory ducks. Khecheopalri has this prestige in West Sikkim. However maximum counts never exceeded 40-60 birds. Many people had seldom seen even these numbers and the reaction of our Forest Guard Naku Lepcha on seeing about 30 Brahminy Shelduck huddled in one corner of ‘Phaedon’ Tso was typical. ‘Dyammai thiyo’!
Best stop-over site for Karaang-Kuruung in Sikkim: This means Gyam Tsona alone in Sikkim holds the record for maximum visitation by these internationally protected feathered bipeds. Under the international Ramsar Convention to which India is signatory, we are committed to protecting them. Gyam Tsona, Sikkim’s only lake with noisy waves had put us on the Waterbird Map of the World. This is surprising because the giant lake is fed by a small spring from the Mirdo catchment above it. Due to the short summer the catchment is usually under snow or ice most of the year. Perhaps there was a glacier underneath.
Gyam Tsona: a Historical Perspective: During the course of fieldwork on alpine grasslands in this area, we were the few fortunates able to stay with the shepherds and yak herders called Dokpas. Today there are not many graziers left on the Tso Lhamo plateau. The oldest of them, Late Dongkung Nyima (who passed away recently on 16 February 2012 at a grand old 89 years) informed us that earlier when the borders were not sealed, there was a trade route via Mirdo through the Kongra La to Tibet. When traders returned from the plains laden with goods, there were no vehicles and all luggages had to be carried physically or on donkeys or mules by those who could afford them. The changes in altitude made many of them sick. Their animals also suffered. By the time they reached Gyam Tsona some of the poorer ones used to get the ‘shakes’ and die of exposure. There was no time and seldom any lamas for the deceased to be given time honored sky burials (where after the ceremonies were performed, Himalayan Griffon Vultures and Lammergeiers came to dispose off the remains). This was not possible en route so the bodies were laid to rest into the lake and the people hurried on past Mirdo and Kongra La into Tibet. The dead animals were also given similar farewells. The lake was so large, with heavy waves and loud noise that it could be heard right down to Lhechen, the temporary Dokpa settlement, and it was all so normal.
Present Scenario: Today this area on the International Border is restricted territory and hence not accessible to the casual visitor. This is perhaps the main reason that has protected the rare wildlife in this pocket of Sikkim. The Indian Army stationed in the area certainly deserves commendation for this unanticipated outcome of their presence. They along with the peaceful Dokpas who are bound by religion to respect life are the only humans of whom wildlife is not afraid. Wild sheep called Tibetan Argali wander close to the camps and in winters go together with the yak and sheep!
Alien Pack Hunters: On the other hand, an increasing army of stray and feral dogs is slowly replacing the globally threatened Snow Leopard, Lynx, Pallas’s Cat, Tibetan Wolf and Tibetan Fox, all ‘Schedule-1’ protected, as dominant predators. Proliferating and living off camp food waste, they roam the cold desert today in increasing numbers and were even seen swimming into the now shallow waters of Gyam Tsona after Brahminy Shelduck ducklings or digging out and killing Himalayan Marmots from their burrows, even chasing down yak calves.
One of the three Sources of River Tista: Earlier countless waterbirds used to fill the lake in summers. They used to fly in large formations. Some, probably Bar-headed Geese, would lay eggs around the lake. Water from Gyam Tsona would flow out through a small valley via Kampe to add to the Tista near Dongkung. During periods of heavy snowfall, the snow would melt in summer to form a small freshwater pond beside the Tso. While most of the migrants were shy and used the larger lake, Ruddy Shelduck were bolder and would also visit the small freshwater pond.
How our Ocean was dried: However, sometime in 1999, the small feeder spring coming down from Mirdo to Gyam Tsona was blocked using bulldozers and water diverted to the pond via a man-made channel lined with metal sheet. A couple of years later the metal sheeting was removed but the diversion to the ‘Duck Pond’ remained along with the signboards. Without the Mirdo spring, its only lifeline, Gyam Tsona slowly began drying up over the last decade. First to go was the outlet to the Tista; the entire valley is now dry. In 2004 we saw vehicle tracks on the bed of the lake; fierce winds that blew waves just a few years ago now raised sand from the dry bed and bent a few grasses. During a summer visit we actually walked on the sandy bed looking for human bones and found some old bovid and canid bones. It was difficult to understand the need to divert the flow away from the lake since freshwater was any way being sourced from the Mirdo spring using pumps into water tanks on trucks, and more water was being trucked up from the Tista itself.
Is this the end? The old prehistoric Tethys Sea remnant lake which survived millennia before mankind has now been shrunk from around 75 hac to virtually nothing. White rings around its old edges stand mute witness to the dying lake reminding us of foaming banks just over a decade ago. Was this a brackish water lake? Despite being fed by freshwater Mirdo springs? The officials of the Geological Survey of India and Mines and Geology Department of the Government of Sikkim were approached for suggestions. Studies on these aspects, water quality, sand cores, could go on and on, but right now they do not seem as urgent as reviving this dying heritage lake of Sikkim, which today no longer feeds the Tista with its water of life. This is a big blot on the conservation ethics Sikkim is famous for.
The solution seems as simple as removing the physical obstruction damming up the original channel and letting the spring into its original course. All that needs to be done is to put the water back into its natural channel. It took a just few years for the lake to dry up due to man’s action. If set right now, it would take perhaps a few decades fill up, given the small size of Mirdo spring and the high radiation in this rarified land. The freshwater pond was seasonal and would always remain so, sometimes with water, sometimes without. It would still be a natural feature of the area. There really would be no need to further chop up the already fragile landscape to try channeling water from Lungma snowfields. Only that much freshwater from Mirdo spring can be drawn daily as required, letting the life-giving liquid flow in its natural channel the rest of the time.
SAVE GYAM TSONA: Year 2003 was the United Nations International Year of Freshwater, and the theme to support it on World Environment Day was Water - Two Billion People are dying for It! It called on each of us to help safeguard the most precious source of life on Earth - WATER. It would perhaps be fitting if during this International Decade on Biodiversity 2010-2020 and United Nations World Water Day 2012 the very people who depend upon its water for their survival could give the dying Gyam Tsona, one of the sources of River Tista and Sikkim’s highest lake, a new lease of life.

CM invites people to stake ownership and monitor implementation

GANGTOK, 20 March: In a Legislative Assembly bereft of any Opposition presence, Chief Minister Pawan Chamling donned the role today, targeting the bureaucracy and the contractors with some scathing bluntness. Earnest policy interventions of the legislative were being sabotaged by the “looting tendencies” of contractors who made no efforts to deliver quality and officers who have failed to monitor implementation with the diligence that the people of Sikkim deserve. Inviting the people to stake more pronounced ownership of the development model laid out by the State Government, the CM contended that only such proactive involvement of the people will now ensure quality delivery and repair the system to the desired level of accountability.
The CM devoted a large portion of his vote of thanks on the concluding day of the 2-day Assembly Session today to what he saw as obstacles hindering development as envisaged by the State Government. He stressed that ineffectual implementation was the biggest challenge facing the government. Although there is noticeable development and marked improvements in the standards of living in Sikkim, development projects by and large are still lacking in quality, he admitted.
Better implementation, he stressed, can be ensured only if all sections of the society – the legislative, the executive and the masses – owned joint responsibility towards Sikkim and dedicated unflagging commitment to ensure quality implementation of policy decisions.
As for the policy interventions undertaken by the State Government, the CM pointed out that these have been attested as earnest commitments with far-reaching impact even by the Central Government. Concepts like capacity building, power generation, universal healthcare and right to education were promulgated in Sikkim some years ago and are now climbing in the priority list of the Government of India as was underlined in the President of India’s recent address to the Parliament before the Budget Session, the CM pointed out.
It was hence necessary for all concerned, from the bureaucracy to the contractors to the stakeholders, to understand how glorious the future could be for Sikkim if quality delivery could be ensured.
It was no longer enough to only ensure timely completion of projects but equally important to also ensure quality, the CM stressed.
While this should be the normal responsibility of the concerned departments, its officers, panchayats and the contractors, because implementation was not up to the mark, the people should become more involved and proactively inspect and monitor quality of the works.
“I don’t have technical know-how, but I am honest in my commitment towards building Sikkim and this has helped me reach Sikkim to its present level of development,” he shared, while adding that “responsible politics and responsible politicians create a responsible system peopled by responsive bureaucrats and masses”.
Reiterating his call on the people to understand and deliver on their responsibilities more proactively, the CM said that this will require people to first grow out of the existing mindset which sees development as the sole responsibility of the government.
“People have to realize that at the end of the day all policy interventions are aimed for their welfare and unless they claim ownership of these initiatives, quality delivery cannot be ensured. Also, once they become active participants of the process, they will also harness the opportunities created better,” he said.
The CM also rued that people still see their role in a democracy limited to electing a government. “People’s involvement has to be more pronounced and consistent through the intervening years between elections so that their work proceeds unhindered by opportunist profiteering or willful derailments,” he said, stressing that people should not remain detached bystanders.
While thanking the house for passing the Vote of Account 2012-13 and the Second Supplementary Demands for Grants 2011-12, the CM directed that this fund be utilized properly for earmarked government programmes and priority sectors.
The CM also commented on the earthquake rehabilitation works underway in the State and while reminding the House that Sikkim had suffered extensive damage on 18 September last year, directed the concerned departments to complete all repair works in time as the monsoon season and its attendant potential to cause further damage was approaching.

Juvenile trio booked for theft

GANGTOK, 20 March: Three juveniles were arrested by the Sadar police here on charges of theft. Disturbingly, one of the juveniles arrested yesterday, a 14 year old resident of Dhobi Dara, DPH Road, Gangtok, had been charged and arrested by the police on a similar charge four years ago as well.
As per reports, the trio had broken into a hotel in Development Area on 19 March made away with a substantial cache of goods.
At the time of the theft, both, the owner and the caretaker of property, Hotel Ambience, below TNSS School at Development Area, were out of station. They were out from between 15 to 19 March. On the return of the caretaker, S. Mandal, it was found that various items had been stolen, following which a complaint was registered with the Sadar police.
Soon the police rounded up the 3 juveniles, one a 16 year old resident of Manpari Colony near Paljor Stadium, the 14 year old from Dhobi Dara and a 13 year old also of Manpari Colony. Upon interrogation, it is reported that they confessed to the crime and the police recovered and seized the stolen items. These include a laptop, mobile, an iPod, microwave, a USB modem, a digital camera and a bag.

Assembly session concludes

GANGTOK, 20 March: The Sikkim Disposal and Destruction of Documents and Records Bill and the Sikkim Siddesvara Dham [Amendment] Bill were placed and passed by the House unanimously on the concluding day of the two-day State Legislative Assembly session today.
The Sikkim Disposal and Destruction of Documents and Records Bill, Bill No 25 of 2012, was placed by the Chief Minister Pawan Chamling, who is also the Minister-in-Charge for Finance, Revenue and Expenditure, today.
The Statement of objects and reasons accompanying the Bill explains that it was framed to provide for a law to deal with disposal by way of destruction or otherwise of documents and records in possessions of or custody of the High Court of Sikkim or courts of civil or criminal jurisdiction sub-ordinate to it and also the documents which relate to any State Government department or any organization or corporation or any other authority set up under any statute or instrument.
Meanwhile, the Sikkim Siddhesvara Dham [Amendment] Bill, Bill No 26 of 2012, was placed by the Tourism and Civil Aviation Minister, Bhim Prasad Dhungel today.
The statement of objects and reasons explains that the amendments are proposed to make certain modification and changes in the Act “to ensure smooth and effective functioning of the institutional mechanism provided under the Act”.
This Bill proposed to appoint the “Tourism and Civil Aviation Department as the “Administrative Department” for the Siddheshvara Dham at Solophok and a slew of other amendments to facilitate delivery on this responsibility by the Department.
Also today, the Chief Minister moved a Government Resolution, “A Policy Resolution 2012” on “Sikkim Earthquake Management and Rehabilitation Fund and Sikkim Land Policy for Private Sector Development- 2012”. This Government Resolution No1 of 2012 was also adopted by the house unanimously without discussion.
The Chief Minister also tabled the Finance Accounts 2010-11 [Vol I & II], Appropriation Accounts 2010-11 of the State Government and the “Half Yearly Review” Report of the Trends in Receipts and Expenditure, ending on 30 September in relation to the Budget 2011-12.
Meanwhile the two bills - Sikkim Local Fund Audit Bill and Sikkim Shops and Commercial Establishments [Amendment] Bill - placed in the House yesterday were also passed unanimously without discussions today.
After the consideration and passing of the Second Supplementary Demands for Grants 2011-12, the CM moved the Sikkim Appropriation Bill for the Second Supplementary Demands for Grants 2011-12 today. The Second Supplementary Demands for Grants for the current year 2011-12 was presented by the CM in the Assembly yesterday.
The Sikkim Appropriation Bill for the Second Supplementary Demands for Grants 2011-12 was considered and passed unanimously by the house.
This bill was introduced to provide for the appropriation out of the Consolidated Fund of the State of funds required to meet the expenditure charged on the Consolidated Fund of the State and Supplementary Grants made by the State Assembly for the expenditure of the State Government for the financial year 2011-12. The bill proposed the issue of Rs 43,873.83 Lakh out of the consolidated Fund of the State for the financial year 2011-12.
After the passing of Vote of Account 2012-13 by the house unanimously, the CM introduced the Sikkim Appropriation Bill for the Vote of Account 2012-13. The Vote on Account for the Government of Sikkim for the financial year 2012-13 was presented by the CM yesterday.
The Sikkim Appropriation Bill for the Vote of Account 2012-13 was also passed by the house unanimously.
This bill was introduced to provide for the appropriation from and out of the Consolidated Fund of the State of Sikkim, of the money required to meet the expenditure charged on the Consolidated Fund of the State and Grants made in advance by the Sikkim Legislative Assembly for the expenditure of the Government of Sikkim for the part of the financial year 2012-13. This bill seeks the issue of Rs 1,109.20 crore out of the Consolidated Fund of the State for the Financial Year 2012-13.

Entries invited for Dr. Shova Kanti Thegim (Lepcha) Smriti Puruskar 2012

GANGTOK, 20 March: The Dr. Shova Kanti Thegim (Lepcha) Memorial Trust has invited entries for the prestigious Dr. Shova Kanti Thegim (Lepcha) Smriti Puraskar 2012. Writers from Sikkim have been invited to submit entries – novels, short story collections, poetry, criticism and plays in Nepali published in the years 2008, 2009 and 2010 for consideration of the award on or before 21 April 2012. The Trust, in a move to ensure equal opportunity to all participants in the running, has also decided that only one entry per writer will be accepted for consideration. Intending participants are required to submit four copies of their works for necessary assessment and consideration.


Sikkim made it to the pages of the Guinness Book of World Records at one time under the enviable entry of a state with a “zero crime rate.” The data that earned Sikkim this status is obviously suspect, but no one can deny that Sikkim has been a safe place. Of course there have always been crimes committed; that, after all, is something every settlement has to live with. Of late, however, the nature of crimes has been showing a disturbing trend. Not only is violence entering the crime roll in higher numbers, but violence to effect thefts and burglaries are also now not as uncommon as they used to be till some years back. The most recent case was from Uttarey in remote West Sikkim where a lady was brutally attacked at home by a group intent on burglary. It was only recently, after the lady had recovered from her injuries in a Siliguri Nursing Home and returned home, that she identified her assailants and they were taken into custody. The other worrying statistic is the involvement of juveniles in crimes. Although the Uttarey case involved youth in their twenties, as a report in today’s edition reveals, an elaborate burglary was carried out by a group of kids barely in their teens, aged between 13 to 16. It is disconcerting enough that burglars are getting habituated to violence, and now there is the added anxiety of the induction age into crime getting consistently lowered.
For a state already grappling with a host of social challenges ranging from runaway substance abuse to growing number suicides to high school drop-out rate, crime is becoming the latest cause for distress. Although each of these challenges will require individual attention, they should not be seen in isolation because they are essentially interconnected in that they result from the socio-cultural and socioeconomic changes that have visited the State as part of ‘development’, modernity and mainstreaming. None of these are essentially negative influences but have collaborated to change lifestyles in Sikkim and while this change could have been eased with a more responsive society, fact remains that people at large were left to their own devices to ‘adjust’. The spurt in crimes and the involvement of kids too young to be held responsible for their deeds is possibly a product of imitative consumption which is too disquietingly common, especially among the younger generation. The obvious income inequality does not help matters and this situation when catalysed by a largely absent civil society, eases the path leading to crime.
The inference made above is admittedly speculative, and it should be a worrying sign when journalists end up speculating on social trends when these are better handled by professionals trained in making sense of such issues. But that is not happening in Sikkim, is it? And that is where the main problem lies. For all the profusion of NGOs and such in the State, there is none of any consistent commitment to issues of the young. It is important that the people and their representative organisations notice the trend and arrest the slide by first understanding first what it is that drives some of its young to such extreme actions and then setting the aberrations right. The situation demands a collective response, which, if not addressed soon, will snowball into a presence that cannot be erased as easily later. The cops will obviously do their job of rounding up suspects and finding the culprits, but until the root cause is not corrected, the problem will persist. What is worse, disinterest will from a hardened crop of anti-socials, because juveniles in obvious need of compassionate counselling would have received only ‘police action’ and derision. Antisocial tendencies are not fed by economic poverty, it is social bankruptcy that cements it.

Dead body recovered from riverbank at Rangpo

GANGTOK, 20 March: An unidentified dead body of an approximately 35 year old male was recovered from the banks of the Teesta yesterday at around 11:30 a.m. near the Mining Bridge. The dead body has been forwarded to the STNM Hospital, Gangtok, for identification. It is suspected that the deceased was swept away by the river on 18 March.

Attempted theft at Rorathang dam site

GANGTOK, 20 March: The Rhenock police has arrested one person on charges stealing from a dam construction site. His accomplice, however, managed to flee before he could also be rounded up.
The two accused, Tajuddin Ansari, 20, and Biju Darjee, both from Rorathang, East Sikkim, reportedly trespassed into the dam construction site of Simplex infrastructure at Rorathang. They were caught pilfering items from the site at around 4 pm on 19 March by security guards on duty. While Tajuddin Ansari was caught, the other accused managed to escape and is still at large. Some items were also recovered from the spot.

One killed in fall from cliff

GANGTOK, 20 March: 48 year old Damber Singh Limboo, a resident of Som Basti in West Sikkim, was killed in a fall off a cliff side.  He has reportedly gone out to cut bamboo late in the afternoon of 19 March below his residence when he is believed to have slipped and fallen to his death some 700 feet down the cliff side.

Cable thief nabbed from Bojoghari

GANGTOK, 20 March: The Sadar police here have arrested one person on charges of pilfering cable lines from various parts of Gangtok. A complaint was filed on 19 March with the police by SDE (Phones), S. Bhattacharya, informing that on the intervening night of 18 and 19 March, about 300 meters of jelly-filled cables (overhead alignment) were stolen from various places stretching from Bojoghari to Deorali Dara to Pangthang Road. Upon investigation, the police rounded up Sanjay Pradhan, 28, originally of Nepal and presently residing at Bojoghari here. He has reportedly confessed to the crime and the stolen items have also recovered from his possession.

One booked for arson

GANGTOK, 20 March: The Jorethang police has arrested one person on charges of arson. The accused, Ganga Prasad Sharma, a 40 year old resident of Lungchok, Sumbuk Basti in South Sikkim, reportedly set fire to the house of his elder brother, Bhawani Prasad Sharma.
The police complaint was filed by another brother accusing Ganga Sharma of setting fire to the 2-storied wooden house of their elder brother on 19 March at around 8 p.m. in the evening. In the fire, half of the two storied structure was totally burnt and damaged while the other half was saved with the help of neighbours.

Forger cheats SBS of Rs. 2 lakh, lands behind bars

GANGTOK, 20 March: One person has been arrested by the West District police on charges of fraud in connection with a Rs. 2 lakh cheat he allegedly played on the State Bank of Sikkim. The complaint was filed with the Soreong police station by the Soreong Block Development Officer, Som Nath Adhikari against one KB Gurung of Mendu Goan, West Sikkim falling under Soreong police jurisdiction.
The incident dates almost a year to February 2011, when the accused, KB Gurung, fraudulently misappropriated the Panchayati Raj Institution funds of the BDO office. As per reports, the accused had tampered with a PRI cheque of Rs. 25,000 and converted it to show Rs. 2,25,000. The cheque was then encashed from the SBS by copying the signature of the Soreong BDO and also using the stamp of the Block Development Office. After thoroughly examining the witnesses and the evidence at hand, the police, on 19 March, took the accused into custody and also seized various articles from his possession.

CBWE training on empowerment and development of NER begins in Gangtok

GANGTOK, 20 March: A 5-day special training programme on ‘Human Empowerment and Development of North East Region’ began yesterday at the Central Public Works Department seminar hall here at Baluwakhani organised by the Central Board for Workers Education [CBWE] under the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Government of India. The inaugural session was chaired by the All Sikkim Democratic Labor Front [ASDLF] vice president, BM Ramudamu, as chief guest.
Mr. Ramudamu, in his inaugural address, detailed the initiatives towards worker welfare undertaken by the State Government and the ASDLF’s interventions towards this end in the State.
Addressing the participants, who have come in from all over the North East Region, the ASDLF vice president highlighted that the good governance provided by the SDF Government in Sikkim has ensured that even though surrounded by three international boundaries and political turmoil among the neighbours, the State remained an oasis of peace.
He urged the participants to share and exchange ideas and views on every major issue related to worker welfare and conditions in their respective States so that good coordination could be developed among the participants resulting in fruitful results for all concerned.
The inaugural session was also addressed by Education Officer [CBWE] and the programme in-charge AC Lahiri. The training is being attended by a total of 30 participants from the NE states, which include 08 participants from Guwahati, 08 from Tinsukhia, 05 from Imphal and 09 from Sikkim.


I was enthralled to read the write up by Shri. Bhim Dahal on Siddheshwar Chaar Dhaam published recently in your newspaper. The timing of the write up has been significant as hordes and hordes of tourists are flocking to Namchi in South Sikkim. The tourism business has grown by leaps and bounds. It has not been even six months now that the Chaar Dhaam was thrown open to visitors.
Now daily five thousand vehicles are plying to Namchi. If one vehicle carries ten passengers, then how many would be visiting Namchi daily is anybody’s guess. Guru Rinpoche’s statue at Namchi and Chaar Dhaam have brought windfall to our tourism business.
Usually, the political leadership are fossil-like without thinking and are based on narrow considerations. Leadership should be such which brings benefit to the people and the state. We are very fortunate to have the political leadership in Chamling whose vision has brought Sikkim in the world tourism map. Not only this, Sikkim is known the world over for an innovative tourism project emanating from religion.
This pilgrimage tourism has become a thriving industry in the state otherwise the state has little potential for revenue. This industry has also brought knowledge in the forefront as people now know the existence of Chaar Dhaams and Jyotirlings as well as the guardian deity in the form of Guru Padmasambhava. Whoever would visit these places would understand who Guru Rinpoche was and what he had done for the state. Similarly, the visitor would be adding to his knowledge the different facets of all the Dhaams symbolised in Chaar Dhaam in detail and 12 Jyotirlings. This would lead to increase in one’s knowledge. Religion has been fruitfully synergised with tourism and industry. Political leadership of the state has given this message to the world. It is now for the people of the state to hold these in their heart as such creations add to the glory and name of Sikkim. We can also boast of a mind that is doing hard work and thinking of ways and means to build great organisations and institutions for the society.  The people are proud of the assets that are being created in Sikkim. It is beyond doubt that these assets earn rich dividends. And it is for the people to partake the rewards.  
Jamuna Sharma, Sichey

SMC and Guardians meet at Rongli JHS

RONGLI, 20 March: Rongli Junior High School, under Regu BAC in East district organised a School Managing Committee cum Guardians meet at the school on 17 March. The meeting was presided over by Ganesh Pradhan, a senior citizen and was attended by the Ward Panchayat, Headmaster, CRC Coordinator, teachers, SMC and MTA members and guardians.
Following a welcome address by Bhumika Rai, a Graduate Teacher at the school, her colleague, Junu Pradhan, briefed the meeting about the new assessment system in place and also detailed the scholarship schemes available for students.
The SMC chairperson, Pemchung Lepcha, in turn stressed the importance of transparency and clear communication between teachers and parents to better understand the problems of students. He also recorded his satisfaction with the quality of Mid-day meals being provided at the school.
The NGO representative in the SMC, Mani Kumar Gurung, delved on his travels abroad and urged that the virtues of punctuality and discipline [like he had seen in Japan] be more widely embraced and followed by the people.
Headmaster Ganesh Kumar Chettri placed the annual school report at the meeting and informed that 92 new students were admitted in the academic session 2012 in different classes and that wth this, the total students strength of the school was now 469.
He also placed the status of teacher deployment of the year and added that the school, should the guardians agree, will introduce house dresses for students. He further informed that the corporate social responsibility division of hydel developer Gati Infrastructure has offered to conduct coaching classes after school for academically weak students from economically depressed backgrounds.
The meeting also decided to renovate the computer room so that computer classes could be held and in this regard, Kumar  Gurung of Rongli  assured to provide eight chairs, YODESS, an NGO, committed a Rs. 5,000 cash contribution, Aihir Kumar Rawat of Rongli offered to donate a fan while the Panchayats, Headmaster, teachers, SMC members and guardians agreed to meet the remaining requirement of funds.
An open discussion on the strengths and weaknesses of students here was held between teachers and parents. [from SHITAL PRADHAN]

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Gratuity cover for employees on wages and audit of local bodies soon

GANGTOK, 19 March: The two day Assembly session which began today to Vote on Accounts and pass the supplementary demand for grants might have met for only a brief while today, but saw the tabling of two substantial Bills, one an amendment and the other a new Bill, which should gladden many hearts and, in their individual capacities, will go a long way towards ensuring social security for employees by making payment of gratuity mandatory and determining accountability among elected local bodies.
The two Bills in question are the Sikkim Shops and Commercial Establishments [Amendment] Bill, Bill No. 21 of 2012, presented by the Labour Minister, Neeru Sewa, and the Sikkim Local Fund Audit Bill, Bill No. 22 of 2012, introduced by Chief Minister Pawan Chamling, who is also the Minister-in-Charge of Finance, Revenue and Expenditure Department.
The statement of objects and reason accompanying the Amendment to the Sikkim Shops and Commercial Establishments of 1983 explains that the State Government “deemed it expedient to amend the Sikkim Shops and Commercial Establishment Act, 1983 with the view to dispose of the disputes/ offences expeditiously by making provision for compounding the offences committed by the shopkeepers/ employers.”
Among amendments, the said Bill seeks to add that “the employee shall be entitled to gratuity as per the provisions of the Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972 and the rules framed there under.”
The Payment of Gratuity Act 1972 is a social security enactment. It is derived from the word ‘gratuitous’, which means ‘gift’ or ‘present’. However, having being enacted as a social security form, it ceases to retain the concept of a gift but it has to be seen as a social obligation by an employer towards his employee.
This Act extends to “every factory, mine, oilfield, plantation, port and railway company; every shop or establishment within the meaning of any law for the time being in force in relation to shops and establishment in a State, in which 10 or more persons are or were employed on any day in the preceding 12 months; Such other establishments or class of establishment, in which 10 or more employees are or were employed on any day in the preceding 12 months, as the Central Government may notify in this behalf; Any shop or establishment shall continue to be governed by the Act even if the number of its employees comes below 10 persons at any time in the future.”
The Act dictates that gratuity be paid to an employee hired on wages on the termination of her/ his employment after s/he has rendered continuous service of not less than 5 years i.e. on superannuation, retirement, resignation, death or disablement due to accident or disease. The period of 5 years is however not necessary if the termination of the employee is because of death or disablement.
As per the Payment of Gratuity Act 1972, the amount of gratuity is to be calculated in the following way: “For every completed year of service or part thereof in excess of six months, the employees, other than the seasonal employees are entitled to gratuity at the rate of fifteen days’ wages based on the rate of wages last drawn.  The employees of seasonal establishment who do not work throughout the year are entitled to gratuity at the rate of seven days’ wages for each season.  These provisions do not, however, affect the right of an employee to receive better terms of gratuity under any award or agreement of contract with the employer.”
Also, the employers have to pay the gratuity within thirty days from the date it becomes due and if the gratuity is not paid within the prescribed time limit, the employer is required to pay the amount of gratuity with interest as specified by the Government from time to time.
The amendment tabled in the Assembly today, also seeks to insert a new section- “78A. Composition of certain offences 78A” which proposes that offences may, either before or after the institution of the prosecution, be compounded by any officer not below the rank of Joint Labour Commissioner, authorized by the Government, by notification, for an amount which shall not be less than five hundred rupees and not exceeding two thousand rupees. Another part of new section states: “(2) on payment of such sum under sub-section (1), the offender, if in custody, shall be discharged and no further proceeding shall be taken against him in respect of the said offence: Provided that if a person commits similar offence again within the period of first offence, the same shall not be compounded.”
The other Bill placed in the House today is the Sikkim Local Fund Audit Bill, which seeks to provide for and regulate the audit of the local funds under the management or control of local authorities in the State, viz, the panchayats and the urban local bodies.
The statement of objects and reasons for this Bill explains that it is required to “obtain credible data on the financial performance of Local Bodies and to ensure that all Panchayati Raj Institutions and Urban Local Bodies maintain up to date and audited accounts.” Towards this end, the Thirteenth Finance Commission has recommended for preparation, and auditing of accounts of all local bodies on a regular basis in a uniform manner across the State.
The new Bill requires that the Annual Report of the Director of Local Fund Audit be placed before the State Legislature.
The State Government meanwhile is required to put in place an audit system for all local bodies and that the Annual Report be placed before the Sikkim Legislature in order to be eligible to draw down its share of the general performance grant.
The bill proposes that the State government, by Notification in the Official Gazette, appoint a Director of Local Fund Audit In-charge of the Audit of Accounts of the Local Authority.
The Bill also states that “whenever any defalcation or loss in money or stores of a local authority is discovered, the fact shall be promptly reported by the Executive Authority to the Director and to the Controlling Authority giving in detail the circumstances which led to such defalcation or loss.”
This Act covers all Municipal Corporations, Municipalities, Gram Panchayat Units and Zilla Panchayats.

USFC maintains flawless 2nd Div record, beats Wahingdoh FC 2-0

GANGTOK, 19 March: Continuing with its flawless winning record in the final phase of 2nd Division I-League, Bhaichung’s United Sikkim Football Club [USFC] today defeated Shillong’s Royal Wahingdoh FC 2 goals to nil, in its fourth match of the league at Kanchenjunga Stadium in Siliguri. By winning all its four matches in the league so far, USFC is now on the top of its league with 12 points.
At the match today, a golden chance for the USFC to take a very early lead was missed by Baba Tunde in the 2nd minute and the first goal was eventually scored in the 25th minute by USFC midfielder, Quinton Jacobs when he converted a cross from Thoi Singh. Another brilliant attempt, this time by Daniel Bedemi in the dying minutes of the first half ricochet off the goalpost.
Daniel however bounced back soon in the second half and weaved past the Wahingdoh defence to slam home a powerful goal in the 52nd minute. The lead could have been extended even further had Daniel’s strike stayed true when he was greeted by an unguarded goal shortly after. The match eventually ended 2-0 in favour of USFC.
USFC senior manager, Arjun Rai, informed over the phone from Siliguri that the entire team played a good game and shared that this straight fourth win has boosted them further for the two games still remaining.
He informed that Bhaichung also played for the last 15 minutes of the match.
Mr Rai adds that this match was crucial for the team as Royal Wahingdoh FC was among the stronger teams in this leg of the league.
Now, USFC will be playing against Aizwal FC on 22 March and then take on Md Sporting FC in its last match of the Siliguri leg on 24 March.  The Sikkim team will then be in the State to play the Sikkim leg at Paljor Stadium.

Vote on Account sought for Rs. 1,109.20 crore

GANGTOK, 19 March: The Vote on Account of the Government of Sikkim for the financial year 2012-13 was presented by the Chief Minister Pawan Chamling, who is also the Minister-in-Charge of Finance, Revenue and Expenditure Department, on the first day of the two-day long sessions of the Sikkim Legislative Assembly today.
The total fund requirement is of the order of Rs 1,109.20 crores, comprising of Rs 816.30 crores on Revenue Account and Rs 292.90 crores on Capital Account, worked out based on the Budget Estimate for 2011-12.
The Vote on Account is to cover expenses for the three months from April to June, 2012 and has been prepared for presentation to the Legislative Assembly pending consideration of the detailed Demand of Grants for the year 2012-13.
The Vote of Account is intended for distribution of salaries, wages and other expenses for running the government offices. Apart from these, any other disbursements shall be subject to clearance of the Finance, Revenue and Expenditure and Development Planning, Economic Reforms and North Eastern Council Affairs Department.
The Vote of Account shall not used for incurring expenditure on new items and new services.
The State Budget for the financial year 2012-13 is still awaited due to non finalization of Annual Plan for 2012-13. The finalization will take place only after the presentation of the Union Budget 2012-13 and thereafter when the sectoral plan allocations are made. As such, the preparation of Demands for Grants etc. will take some time, it is informed.
The Chief Minister, it may be recalled, will be meeting the National Planning Commission in New Delhi next month to finalise the plan outlay for Sikkim. The Budget Session is expected sometime in June.

Supplementary Demands for Grants involving gross expenditure of Rs. 43,873 lakhs

GANGTOK, 19 March: The Second Supplementary Demands for Grants for the current financial year 2011-12 was presented by Chief Minister Pawan Chamling, who is also the Minister-in-Charge of Finance, Revenue and Expenditure Department, on the first day of the two-day long sessions of the Sikkim Legislative Assembly today.
The supplementary demand for grants included in this batch covers 25 Grants/ Appropriations and involves a gross expenditure of Rs 43,873.83 lakh comprising of Rs 39,531.33 lakh on Revenue Account and Rs 4,342.50 lakh on Capital Account.
After taking into account related adjustments during the current financial year, the appropriation will involve a net out go of Rs 43,873.83 lakh.
Of this net outgo, Rs 26,514 lakh will be covered through funds from North Eastern Council, Centrally Sponsored Schemes, Special Plan Assistance [newly sanctioned], Unspent balances of Special Plan Assistance/Additional Central Assistance and Grand in aid from National Disaster Response Fund.
The highest additional requirement has been sought by the department of Land Revenue and Disaster Management of Rs 36,885.08 lakh.
Twenty One Supplementary Demands totalling Rs 7390.97 Lakhs under State Plan are necessitated due to sectoral adjustments.
Thirteen Supplementary Demands include the amount required for implementation of Central Sponsored Schemes involving total outlay of Rs 1,377.45 Lakhs, three demands includes expenditure under North Eastern Council involving total outlay of Rs 220.33 Lakhs and one demand under Non-Plan includes provision for transfer to State Disaster Response Fund amounting to Rs 21,180 Lakhs.

Training for Biogas users held at Melli Dara

GANGTOK, 19 March: A daylong “User’s Training Course on Biogas” was organized by the State Renewable Energy Development Authority [SREDA] at the Village Administrative Centre, Melli Dara, South Sikkim today. The training was sponsored by Ministry of New & Renewable Energy.
MB Tamang, former Advisor, Horticulture Deptt, was present as the chief guest accompanied by officials from the line departments.
The Melli Dara Paiyong Panchayat President, Ganesh K. Rai, welcomed the guests and trainees followed by Senior Supervisor DB Rai who explained the Operations & Maintenance of Biogas.
Project Director, SREDA, Siphora Targain, in her address, appreciated the work done by this GPU for the betterment of the residents and assured all assistance to make SREDA Programmes in the GPU successful. In this regard, she detailed the different projects adopted by SREDA to make the use of renewable energy sources.
An interactive session was also held.

Editorial:1,14,293 Households Would Welcome a Reliable Public Transport Option

Owning a mode of conveyance, even an imported bicycle, will become more expensive from 01 April 2012 onwards, once the Union Budget kicks into effect. This latest development, when taken up in consonance with the growing hesitation among banks to jump at every vehicle loan application, leads to a situation where one can safely assume that the number of new cars on Sikkim roads will not be growing at the same clip as they did in the decade between 2001-2011. A host of factors came together in the past decade to inject an explosion of vehicles in Sikkim, and while this might be all fine if one were looking at vehicle ownership as a sign of prosperity, the traffic jams here led to a mistaken notion that there were enough private vehicles in Sikkim to justify the absence of a decent public transport system here. But we get ahead of the story here. Let’s begin with the vehicle ownership statistics in Sikkim as revealed in the data for households released by the Census of India [for 2011].
Sikkim had around 1.04 lakh households in 2001 and this grew to 1,28,131 households in 2011. While the population grew at its slowest rate in recent time at 12.6% between 2001-2011 [against 33.6% growth between 1991-2001], four wheel vehicle ownership grew nearly four-times. Where 2.3% of the families in Sikkim owned a car/jeep in 2001, the 2011 headcount revealed that this has now grown to 8.3%. Comparison against the national average for such ownership provides some interesting statistics. While back in 2001, car ownership in Sikkim at 2.3% was slightly lower than the national average of 2.5% of the households, in 2011, it was nearly double the national average of 4.7%. For those who would prefer real numbers, here it is: while 2,618 of the 1.04 lakh households in Sikkim owned a car in 2001, in 2011, this number had grown to 10,635 families out of the around 1.28 lakh households here. The increase, as mentioned, has been mind-boggling and the endless line of vehicles on the highways and town roads here also projects the mistaken notion that there are already too many vehicles on the road to also add the burden of a wider public transport system. But the latter is a wrong inference, because while many more families in Sikkim now own cars, the number of Sikkim households without any mode of conveyance is also staggering at 89.2% of the households here. Interestingly, at the national level, while much fewer families on average own a car, only 44.1% of the households own no mode of transportation. Again, for those who would prefer actual numbers – the Census of 2011 found that 1,14,293 households in Sikkim do not own any form of conveyance, neither a car, nor a scooter nor even a bicycle. This number was 1,00,548 in 2001. The point being made here is that nearly 90% of the households are in a cheap and reliable mode of transportation. The road network in Sikkim is already expansive and there are jeeps available to and from every corner of the State. People have recourse to only an occasional SNT bus in most places and private jeep services are expectedly more expensive than what a state operated bus would charge for the same journey. What is also sorely missed in Sikkim is a public transport option for shorter distances. Even the City Runner which has a well advised route connecting Gangtok to the suburbs and nearby towns has too few buses on the road compared the number of commuters who would use it if they were more frequent. The same applies to the districts. Fact remains that close to 90% of the population remains denied the option of using a state supported public transport, which, even if it were slower, would also be more reliable [against the tourist season vagaries of private operators], safer and cheaper. The policy makers should perhaps factor the interests of this sector in their future projections.

IPL lifts 6 tonnes of organic Ginger from East Sikkim

GANGTOK, 19 March: International Panacea Limited [IPL], a service provider hired by the Food Security& Agriculture Development Department under the State Organic Mission for promotion of organic farming and organic certification, has been working in Central Pendam, West Pendam, Pacheykhani and Sumin-Lingzey areas.
An IPL press release informs that in a move to provide better marketing for the farmers, it has recently bought 60 tonnes of ginger from progressive farmers of the area being serviced by it, from the field itself and is now working towards setting up a marketing system for farmers.
The IPL ginger collection centre at Duga in East Sikkim was inspected by Agriculture and Horticulture Minister, DN Takarpa, on 17 March. The Minister was accompanied by Agriculture and Horticulture Secretary, Vishal Chauhan.
The release informs that the purchased ginger consignment will be exported to other parts of the country and to Azadpur Mandi in New Delhi.
IPL informs that the organization has been working with its internal control system for organic certification and due its efforts, these areas have already received the C-1 organic certificate.

CS chairs steering committee meeting for Horticulture Mission

GANGTOK, 19 March [IPR]: The State Level Steering Committee meeting under the chairmanship of the Chief Secretary was held in the Krishi Bhavan conference hall on 16 March to review the progress achieved in 2011-12 and approve the action plan for 2012-13 pertaining to two Central Sector Schemes on horticulture- the Horticulture Mission for North East & Himalayan States and the National Bamboo Mission.
Present for the meeting were the Development Commissioner, Secretary-cum-PCCF, Secretary Agriculture & Horticulture, Controller of Accounts, Principal Director Agriculture, Principal Director Horticulture, representatives from various Government of India Organizations like the ICAR, NRCO, Spices Board and many other officers from state government and horticulture department.
During the course of meeting, district-wise presentations and a short presentation on floriculture were made reflecting physical and financial progress made vis-a-vis targets for 2011-12. The Secretary Agriculture summing up pointed out that satisfactory achievement has been made during the past year and intense efforts would be made during the coming year to address implementation gaps experienced during the previous year. The Principal Director presented the progress of past year and the action plan 2012-13 for National Bamboo Mission.
The Chief Secretary expressed satisfaction towards overall progress made in horticulture sector. He categorically stated that the present government has recognized horticulture as an important driver of rural economy and added that every support would be made available to the department for upliftment of rural masses. Congratulating the sincere efforts of the departmental officers in reaching extension service to the doors of the farmers, the Chief Secretary added that the impacts of these efforts are tangible in the fields. He further added that horticulture department has been diligently implementing the policies and programmes of the government and has set a new benchmark which must be sustained for years to come.
The total financial outlay approved by the SLSC for consideration of Agriculture Ministry, Government of India is Rs 5000 lakhs for Horticulture Mission for North East and Himalayan States and Rs 682.26 lakhs for National Bamboo Mission.

Workshop held on National Animal Disease Reporting System

GANGTOK, 19 March:  A workshop on “National Animal Disease Reporting System [NADRS], Preventive Measures for Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza [HPAI]”, was organized here today at the Forest Department conference hall. The workshop was organized jointly by the National Informatics Centre [NIC] and Animal Husbandry, Livestock Fisheries and Veterinary Services Department.
Joint Director [DI] KC Bhutia, in his welcome address, informed that the recent outbreak of HPAI in Nepal and Bhutan was a warning reminding Sikkim that the disease was in close proximity.
“We need to therefore remain vigilant and act promptly as per the action plan issued by Government of India,” he stressed.
“Recently the state of Odisha confirmed HPAI in wild crows and in this regard we have received several letters from the Government of India regarding the do’s and dont’s particularly not to touch the dead carcass with bare hands and not to perform post mortem in the field,” he informed.
Highlighting that importance of control and containment operations, he pointed out that these efforts were being monitored by the Prime Minister’s Office. “We therefore need to work together with our friends from the forest department to follow up on any sort of mortality of wild birds,” he added
Director [AH], T Lucksom, in his inaugural address, emphasized the importance of prevention and control and informed that NADRS will involve a computerized network linking the various units of Animal Husbandry Department at the block, district and state level to the central disease reporting and monitoring unit [CDRMU] at the DADF at New Delhi.
All diseases scheduled in the prevention and control of infectious diseases in Animals Act 2009 will be included in this reporting system.
He added that the project will improve the efficiency of the departments and provide SMS alerts about animal disease outbreaks, remedial measures and such details. Another benefit will be the integrated management information to systematize the existing record-keeping procedures. After this, all concerned officials of the department will undergo training and by the next financial year, every case in the department will have to reported online, he informed.
“I am sure that with the cooperation from NIC, we will be able to achieve the desired results,” he stated.

74 yr old run over by truck

GANGTOK, 19 March: One person was killed after being run over by a truck at Ranipool on 17 March. As per reports, the deceased, Damdi Bhutia, a 74 year old man of Namok, was run over by a truck at 10 Mile, Bhusuk at around 10:30 a.m. The truck was being driven by one Bhim Bahadur Rai who has been arrested by the Ranipool police. The body of the deceased was taken to the Central Referral Hospital, Tadong.

Theft charges land 2 behind bars

GANGTOK, 19 March: The Singtam police has made two arrests in connection with a case of theft. The two arrested are Juna Limboo, 21 of Subba Gaon, Assam Lingzey and Arjun Suner, 23 of Swastik Burtuk. From them, the police have also reportedly recovered gold ornaments weighing 10 tolas and a cash amount of Rs. 19,000.

3 arrested in Uttarey assault and robbery case

GANGTOK, 19 March: Three persons have been taken into custody by the west district police on charges of robbery and assaulting a woman in an incident which took place on 22 February.
The three persons were arrested on the statement made by the victim, Jiwan Kumari, after she was recently discharged from the Siliguri hospital where she had been recuperating from injuries suffered in the assault. Her statement and identification of the accused led to the arrests on 17 March. The trio placed under arrest are: Dipesh Rai, 24 of Upper Mukrung, Passang Lepcha, 37 and Mahendra Chettri, 21 also of the same area which falls under Uttarey police station.
On the night of 21 February, the trio had banged on the door of the victim on the pretext of purchasing recharge vouchers but had proceeded to assault the lady who was alone at the time and made away with cash as well as gold ornaments. The victim was only found the next day lying in a pool of blood.

Deorali Samaj Kalyan Sangh anoints new working committee

GANGTOK, 19 March: The Deorali Samaj Kalyan Sangh appointed a new working committee during its general meeting held at Saramsa Garden on Sunday, a press release informs.
Chenga Lama was unanimously chosen the president, Tshering Doma Tamang vice-president, Arun Rai and Dependra Mohra as general secretaries, Pavitra Gurung assistant secretary, Pramila Pradhan publicity secretary and Renu Raj Chettri and SS Lakhotia as treasurers.
The Election Commission members were LT Namchyo, ST Basi, PK Rai, Sambhu Pradhan and SK Das.
Earlier, the meeting observed a two minute silence to mourn the passing away of Acha Yangki and Nupur Gupta.

AKRS-East meets and retains existing body

GANGTOK, 18 March: The coordination meeting cum election of the East District Committee of the Akhil Kirat Rai Sangh was convened here at the STNM Hospital conference hall today under the chairmanship of AKRS president, Dr SK Rai, a press release informs.
The meeting was also attended by South Zilla Adakshya BM Rai, chief patron of Sapten Mangkhim  Ranka Mohan Dungmali, East District president Binita Rai and members from different block level branches of the organization in East district.
The east district general secretary, DK Rai, presented the details of accounts and informed that although the State Government has allotted a site at Lumsey in Tadong, the construction for a Rai Khim remains a challenge for the district committee. In this regard, he appealed to all block level members of the organization for contributions to assist the completion of the project.
It was also informed during the meeting that the field and official work for the construction has been completed and construction order has also been approved, and in this regard, the work put in by KR Rai, treasurer, East District Committee, was appreciated by all present at the meeting, the release adds.
Representatives from the block level committees also addressed the meeting and issued of Rai script and language were also discussed.
After dissolving the existing  AKRS Sikkim East District Committee , elections for the new body were conducted and all the eight block committee members decided to retain the existing body with a few changes in the posts.

Training held for Phase-II of Socioeconomic & Caste Census

GANGTOK, 19 March [IPR]: The training on “supervisory enumeration and claims & objection procedure for Socio Economic & Caste Census, 2011-12” was held at the East District Administrative Centre here on 15March. The training was chaired by DC [East], D Anandan, and attended by MN Dhakal, ADC (Dev.), East, Pratap Pradhan, ADC-I, Joint Secretary, UD&HD, all Charge Officers(SE&CC) of Rural, Forest & Urban along with their supervisors.
The resource persons included MK Darjee, Deputy Director, Directorate of Census Operation, Tadong, Karnitmit Lepcha, Under Secretary, Office of the ADC (Dev.) East, District & ECIL Team.
It was informed that the first phase of SE&CC in the State had been completed and now the second phase involving supervisory enumeration would start where in the supervisors will enumerate at least 10 % of the households enumerated per Enumeration Block. In this phase, the data collected during the enumeration phase could be verified and edited.
The second session of the training was on Claims and Objections procedure wherein claims and objection could be filed within 21 days of publication of the draft list of SE&CC .The disposal procedure and time period for disposing the claims and objections at the intermediary and at the District/final level was also imparted.
The final list would be published on the 31st day of publication of the draft list of SE&CC at various places in the rural and urban areas.

Nehbroon Secondary School hosts Cluster Level Coordination meet

NAMCHI, 19 March: A Cluster Level Coordination Meeting was held on 17 March at Nehbroom Secondary School here in South Sikkim for teachers of the Nehbroom cluster. The meeting was chaired by Headmistress Kalyani Gurung, and had Cluster Resource Coordinator (CRC), SSA, TN Sharma, as the resource person.
The meeting began with an interactive session with senior students on the new education policy and counselling required in different aspects of human resource development.
The CRC urged the students to remain competitive in their pursuit of knowledge and the meeting highlighted the present scenario of the education system in Sikkim.
The headmistress, in her welcome address, urged the gathering to commit all their resources towards the holistic development of the entire cluster, while Mr. Sharma made a presentation on CCE, RTE, SSA and inclusive education along with other topics under HRDD.
The meeting also included an open discussion on the poor performance of computer system in the said school. The teachers as well as the school head from Manzing enquired about the RTE, age bar for students, their promotion as well as the management in case of disabled children.