Monday, March 26, 2012

SU picketed in protest against non-teaching staff recruitments, interview postponed


GANGTOK, 23 March: Affected landowners of the Sikkim University campus slated to come up in Yangang in South Sikkim and a clutch of youth organizations, protesting what they see as an unfair recruitment process underway at the University, launched a two-pronged challenge against the University with simultaneous protests at the SU Management Block down at 6th Mile on NH 31A and at the University’s guest house, Visitor’s Residence, at Development Area. The two groups were intent on protesting what they see as the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Mahendra P Lama’s sidelining of local interest in the recruitment process, and dispersed only after they received confirmation that the interviews of Junior Assistants [LDC] called for today had been postponed. The protestors are demanding the scrapping of the entire recruitment process undertaken by the University to fill 45 posts of non-teaching staff on permanent basis.
At Development Area, the crowd of protestors left after they were given a copy of a Sikkim University notice issued by the Registrar stating: “Due to Unavoidable Circumstances, the interview for the post of Junior Executive [LDC] stands postponed.”
The gherao at the two locations was undertaken by members from Sikkim University Development Committee of Yangyang [made up of affected landowners], Sikkim Sachet Swarojgar Berojgar Sangathan, Ravangla Aastha Organisation, Sikkim Yuwa Samaj and Tumin Youth Association who were joined by youth from in and around Gangtok and other parts of the State.
The protestors were also accompanied by some of the prospective candidates who complained that they received intimation of the interview only a few days back when they should have been allowed at least two weeks advance notice to prepare and make arrangements to attend the interview.
The protestors started gathering at the two locations at around 9 a.m. this morning. Strong police presence at both places ensured that no untoward incident transpired although there was extensive heckling, sloganeering and shouting from the protestors who were waving banners and placards denouncing the VC.
As the number of picketeers at the Management Block swelled, they poured out on to the highway from their earlier perch along the footpath and held up traffic for nearly two hours between 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Their immediate demand was a cancellation of the interviews for the post of Junior Assistants and they remain insistent that affected landowners have been left out from the recruitment process, which, they contend, was carried out shoddily and in complete disregard to prescribed norms.
At the SU Visitor’s Residence, the protestors had made it to the lobby inside when they first arrived. Soon, however, on the intervention of the Sikkim Police led by SP [East], Dr MS Tuli, the protestors were convinced to take their protest outside where they carried on their slogans. There was surge when at one time word spread that the interview process had begun inside. There was adequate police presence at the spot to keep the crowd back and soon communication arrived that the interview had been called off.
Speaking to media persons, SUDC president, CL Gurung, complained that the vacancies had not been advertised widely enough and argued that while the VC had assured jobs for affected families, nothing had materialized thus far. He added that 41 applications from members of affected families and 200 from local educated unemployed youth from in and around Yangyang had been submitted to the VC back in 2009 itself, but not a single of these had led to placement in the Unversity.
Mr Gurung argued that the interview notice of vacancies in SU should be published in all local newspapers and not just on the SU website so that enough people learned of the opportunities. He argued that locals should be given preference and threatened to launch a much larger protest against the VC if the recruitment process was not made more transparent.
Upon seeing the restive mood of the protestors, the District Collector [East], D Anandan and the SP [East] intervened in the matter and mediated for CL Gurung accompanied by two more protestors to meet the Registrar and discuss their demands. The trio emerged with SU notice announcing the postponement of the interview and the gherao was lifted for the day.
Speaking to NOW!, Mr Gurung informed that the Registrar, while postponing today’s interview, also assured them that dates for all future interviews will be published in all local newspapers.
The protestors then proceeded to call on the Chief Secretary and express their reservations on the manner in which the VC was conducting the recruitment process. They returned from the meeting with the CS that he would earnestly take up their demand that no further interviews be held until the entire process was made transparent.
“On the basis of the Chief Secretary’s assurance, we have halted our protest for today but if the interviews continue we will launch our programme on a much wider scale,” members of the five organizations which participated in today’s protest said.
In this regard, it is learnt the HRDD Secretary, CS Rao, has written to the VC, sharing that “in case of non-teaching recruitment, the people are agitated to the extent that they have started disrupting normal public life by way of blocking the national highway”.
“In order to tackle the situation tactfully, it is requested that all the ongoing interviews for non-teaching staff to be kept in abeyance till the situation returns to normalcy,” the Secretary writes to the VC in a letter dated today.
The SSSBS president, Karma Gyurmie Bhutia, addressing a press conference this evening, alleged that the entire recruitment process at SU was extremely suspect and so poorly managed that these could have been rigged to favour a select few.
In this regard, he pointed out a section of Assistant Professors who had first exposed the extensive procedural lapses in the recruitment process have now been expelled from the University after they were harassed with withholding of their salaries and show-cause notices. He demanded that his organization was also demanding justice for teachers at the University who have stood up against the VC and have been victimised.

As for the land acquisition process, those representing the affected landowners informed today that they have already vacated their lands handed it over for the University. They alleged that the VC has not been in correspondence with the concerned authorities to take over the land. This, they contend is being done because operating from rented buildings was proving more profitable.

The Dilemma of Unemployment in Sikkim

KC Pradhan,

It was already midday [on Friday, 23 March 2012] and my driver had failed to return [to 6th Mile] in time from Gangtok. There was gherao at Sikkim University and all traffic jammed. On his return, he tells there were round 300 young people agitating for not having received any placement in the University’s recent recruitment process. They, I am told, were pacified only after the arrival of a convoy of VIP cars along with police and India Reserve Battalion personnel.
It made me both curious and sad.
Such a large number of our young people - well qualified, but jobless.
What they have looked forward to in life?
At the same time, a friend came calling for some advice along with her daughter who is well qualified with an MBA tagged to her name and still looking for a job in Sikkim. She was well placed in Kolkata, but her parents insisted that she return home only to leave her jobless here. Her frequent appearances in tests were to no avail, a situation made especially more complicated by the roster system consequent upon the politically-motivated Mandal Commission segregation of communities who had till 1994 been living in harmony, having come from the same economic background. I wondered why not have reservations on economic criteria across the board and not on the basis of tribe, class or caste as perpetuated in India for mere vote banks. Also, the luminaries who drafted the Constitution made it a point to highlight that the reservations were meant for 10 years only, but even after 60 years of independence, the malady continues dividing the society even further. Thanks to the Indian political system and our politicians’ farsightedness!
This dilemma of unemployment will grow manifolds and it needs in-depth study. Basically, it hinges on our educational system. We must plan how to spread our youth horizontally in various vocational courses rather than encourage them to go vertically only to churn out unemployable graduates. What is the glory of Universities when the educated youth are getting more or more unemployed and a liability on the society they aspire to serve? There is something wrong in our system and the curriculums so adopted. It is time to line up the opportunities on one hand and the educational talents required on the other to make a happy match for satisfaction of all.
Sikkim, in its wisdom, has made special privileges for its people - Indians of Sikkimese origin - as enshrined in the Constitution. The federal structure of States in the Union of India is coming very much in the news and the tempo will increase over the months. In Sikkim’s context, the privileges for its people are more than are available to subjects of any other state. It is time to look the issue de-novo, both legally and constitutionally, and ensure that the opportunities at whichever organization that makes a foothold in Sikkim - central, private etc - should first go to its people. Sikkim for Sikkimese should be the motto. But here I stop. This needs sacrifices. When the erstwhile kingdom was merged with the Union of India, there was no room for tribe or class. It was an afterthought in blatant violation of the sacred pledge when Sikkim as a country was merged. It is time to ponder whether we truly want to give a fair deal to our youth now and in the future. Eighteen years is a long time to empower those who were left out from the race. It is safe to say they have all come of age and at par due to the benevolence of the governance. It is now time to concentrate on the underprivileged and poor. This much of sacrifice should be forthcoming willingly and gracefully.
It is time to pull up our socks - all politics and communal trends kept at bay - and come out with a common voice which is loud and clear. This is the only course if the people of Sikkim want to ensure themselves a fair deal and live with dignity with their heads held high.
[the writer is a former Chief Secretary, Sikkim]

Peddler busted

GANGTOK, 23 March: A 28 year old youth was taken into custody by the Sadar Police here yesterday after he was reportedly caught red-handed peddling substances of abuse. The arrest led to the confiscation of a substantial cache of contraband substances.
The youth, one Deepak Rai, originally from Nepal and residing here for the past six years, is alleged to have been the peddling business for a while, operating from the house of one Bhakta Bahadur, an elderly resident of Lower Arithang. Police sources inform that the youth used to stash his ‘drugs’ in the senior citizen’s house who was unaware of the trick being played on him.
Deepak Rai is reported to have brought in a fresh consignment from Siliguri yesterday and stored it, as was his routine, in Bhakta Bahadur’s house. The Sadar Police was however tipped off by a source and team caught Deepak Rai in the act of peddling from the house at 1:45 p.m. today. He was immediately taken into custody and a search led to the recovery of 3,240 capsules of Spasmo Proxyvon and 440 tablets of N-10, both much abused prescription drugs.

Indian Youth Congress condemns protest against SU VC

GANGTOK, 23 March: Indian Youth Congress, Sikkim Unit, has strongly condemned the manner of protest and slogans raised by protestors against the Sikkim University Vice Chancellor today. The protestors, the IYC claims were panchayat members, cheli morcha and youth wing of the Sikkim Democratic Front who launched a pre-planned move against the VC.
A press conference issued by the IYC Returning Officer, Avinash Yakha, sees the protest as one of the most unfortunate incidents in the educational history of the State. He alleges that the SDF party members displayed crude conduct at the protest and displayed no understanding about the importance of the education.
He alleged that this protest was not lobbying for the poor of Sikkim or the affected people of Yangyang, but was just a display of bullying on behalf of the MLAs and the Chief Minister.

World Water Day at SIRD

GANGTOK, 23 March: The United Nations declared 22 March as World Water Day, a day to focus public attention on critical water issues of our times. Each year, this day is observed in many different countries and much time and effort is dedicated towards sensitizing people about the burning issues related to water. This year, ‘Water and Food Security: The World is Thirsty Because We are Hungry’ was the theme chosen by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations .
Following the previous year’s success, the State Institute of Rural Development (SIRD) in collaboration with the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF), Gangtok, conducted a daylong programme based on this year’s theme on World Water Day. The programme, held at SIRD, Karfectar, saw participation from ten schools and was also attended by Zilla Adhakshya, East, Bimal Dawari and Zilla Adhakshya, North, Khamsoom Lepcha as the chief guest and the guest of honor respectively. Also, Present on the day were Superintendent Engineer and Divisional Engineer from RM&DD, Director (I/C), SIRD, HK Sharma, Joint Director, SIRD, Bishal Rai, various officials and staff from the institute and a team from WWF, Gangtok.
Various events such as Slogan Writing, Poster contest, Extempore, Songs, Radio play and Skits based around this year’s theme were presented by the participants. Topics ranging from Dhara Vikas Programme under MGNREGA, Village Water and Sanitation Committee (VWSC), Food Security and Climate Change were discussed through speeches and acts. A Radio Play performed by Yuksom Senior Secondary School and also an entertaining and informative skit presented by Kala Kunj, a theatrical group from Bikmat in South Sikkim won accolades from the audience.
Paljor Namgyal Senior Secondary School and Tadong Senior Secondary School also kept the audience enthralled with their self-composed songs. A quiz contest was put together by the team from WWF, in which PNGSSS was adjudged the winner.
Following are the results of various competitions held throughout the day:
A. Best Poster :
1st position: Soreng Senior Secondary School
2nd position: Mangan Senior Secondary School
3rd position: Jorethang Senior Seconday School
B. Extempore:
1st position: Jorethang Senior Secondary School
2st position: Deorali Girls Senior Secondary School
3rd position: Tie between Mangan Senior Secondary School and Deorali Girls Senior Secondary School

C. Slogan Writing:
1st position: Mangan Senior Secondary School
2st position: Jorethang Senior Secondary School
3rd position: Tie between Yuksom Senior Secondary School and Namchi Public School

D. Quiz competition:
1st position: Paljor Namgyal Girls Senior Secondary School
2st position: Uttarey Senior Secondary School
3rd position: Mangan Senior Secondary School

1st position: Jorethang Senior Secondary School
2st position: Mangan Senior Secondary School

Awards and certificates were also given to 29 best performing Barefoot Engineers from various BACs for their exemplary work in the field. Award for the deceased Barefoot Engineer of Mangan BAC was posthumously received by his wife.
A short promotional video on Earth Hour was presented by the team from WWF, Gangtok, urging everyone to turn off their non-essential lights for one hour to raise awareness towards the need to take action on climate change. It was informed that Earth Hour 2012 is scheduled for 31 March, 2012 from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Similarly, World Water Day was celebrated across the state in different locations.

Advocate arrested on charges of assault

GANGTOK, 23 March: An advocate has been arrested by the Namchi police on charges of assault on the Sub Divisional Magistrate (SDM), Namchi. As per reports, the accused, Amitab Shanker, an advocate by profession, was arrested by the police on the complaint of the SDM that she had been abused and humiliated by the accused who also allegedly misbehaved with her on 22 March at around 10:30 a.m. in the course of a case hearing in her office.

Miscreants make away with 64kgs of Large Cardamom

GANGTOK, 23 March: SIMFED’s Ginger processing unit at Nayabazar was vandalized on the night of 15 March by some unknown persons. A complaint has been filed at the Nayabazar police station by Deputy Manager, SIMFED, Kailash Roy. As per reports, the shutter at the processing unit located in Birdang was forced open and 64 kgs of large cardamom stocked inside stolen. No one has been arrested so far and the case is under investigation.


This is in the context of the news item titled ‘Disposal of Documents Bill will not destroy important records, officials reassure’ appearing on 23 March in NOW!
It is appalling to see the lack of depth and knowledge of our people who have the ageold tendency to make wild allegations on the slightest flicker such as now on misuse of Bill on disposal and destruction of old records enacted by the Assembly.
Fears have been raised that records on corruption would be destroyed by vested elements. This Bill passed by the Sikkim Legislative Assembly on 20th March, 2012 has been done in line of the Central Law on Destruction of Records Act, 1917 which provides for the destruction or disposal of certain documents in possession or custody of Courts and Revenue and other public offices. Unfortunately, this Central legislation has not been extended and enforced so far in Sikkim in view of the special position of the State. This could have been done by the President of India recommending extension and enforcement of Central Laws in the immediate two years after the merger of the State as provided in the Constitution. This did not happen. In the State legislation also, no such law in the subject had been promulgated or legislated in the past. There was, hence a vacuum which needed to be filled in as one could not go on keeping record after record for decades. This is also not possible in keeping domestic records. Quite rightly, the Hon’ble High Court had felt the pinch of the problem and had suggested for such legislation to be enacted.
The Right to Information Act provides for maintenance of records for a minimum period of twenty years which has a bearing on all Central Legislation and offices and in the State offices too. Then why the fear that records on papers of corruption would be destroyed?! The fears are unfounded and need to be allayed.  This State Legislation has to be backed by Rules. The Hon’ble High Court would be framing Rules for the Courts for their guidance for the records of the Courts. Certainly, the State Government also would be framing Rules for guidance as far as the Government Records are concerned. When there is no issue at all, it is redundant on account of lack of merit and of fear of illegality. One should appreciate what is right and not be misled.  
The tiger has to be seen as a tiger and not feared as in a mirage in the desert. But where is the proverbial tiger?
R.B. Subba, Chandmari [recvd on email]

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Disposal of Documents Bill will not destroy important records, officials reassure


GANGTOK, 22 March: The Sikkim Disposal and Destruction of Documents and Records Bill, 2012 introduced and passed in the recently concluded Assembly session, has created a stir among some sections of the society, especially the Opposition political parties, which have cast aspersions on the intent behind the government proposing such a law. The state BJP has even questioned as to how the High Court has been named in the Bill, and in a press statement released today, sought that all court records be preserved. Other groups see the Bill as a move to destroy “evidence” related to corruption charges against the Government.
The concerned authorities in the State Government [the Bill was tabled by the Chief Minister in his capacity as also holding the Law portfolio], when contacted today, reassured that records and documents cannot, and will not, be destroyed or disposed off arbitrarily or without the laying down of clear rules and procedures.
The Bill, identical to a Central Act [Disposal of Document Act of 1917], seeks the appointment of an “authority” to make rules for disposal of documents and records, which are, in the opinion of the authority, “not of sufficient public value to justify their preservation”. For matters of the Court in relation to this Bill, this Authority will be the High Court itself and in case of documents related to the State Government, it will be an officer specially authorized for the task.
Allaying what they see as “unfounded and superficial apprehensions”, reliable sources within the government explained that records falling in the ambit of the Right to Information Act, for example, cannot be destroyed.
Section 3 of the Bill states: “Nothing in this Act shall be deemed to authorize the disposal or destruction of the document which, under the provision of any law for the time being in force, is to be kept or maintained for further reference and record”.
The Right to Information Act is a law very much in force and provisions of this Act stipulate that any citizen can seek information dating up to 20 years back from the date of the RTI application. Just with this Act alone, official documents of up to 20 years vintage at least are automatically secured. Meanwhile, there are other documents and records which continue to be of “public value” and remain in contemporary use, like the Sikkim Subjects Register of 1961 on the basis of which Certificates of Identification are issued nowadays. There will similarly be more documents, which because of “laws for the time being in force”, remain relevant for reference and record. These cannot be destroyed.
On the question of why the Bill was required in the first place, officials inform that one of the motivating reasons was the impracticality of maintaining all records for perpetuity. It might also be added here that all governments, foreign as well as the Government of India, have provisions for the disposal of documents and records which have ceased to be of any real value; so it is not a new or unique to Sikkim concept.
A law provides for clear rules to be framed and a process established on how to decide which documents or records can be disposed. In the absence of such an enabling Bill, the government here is technically required to preserve every document it has ever generated forever.
Senior government officials commented that there is a need to dispose old documents and records which are of no obvious public value but are occupying too much space and are not even being stored too well either. With the State government hard pressed to find proper space for the storing of such documents and records, the need to dispose those no longer required is prudent, they state, while adding that this could not “officially” be done thus far since there were no rules in place to allow such disposal.
Interestingly, reliable sources inform that the High Court of Sikkim, too, has desired that such a provision be made available to enable it to dispose old and unnecessary documents and records in its possession.
In fact, it is informed that the High Court, in an internal meeting, had felt the need for such an Act in the State and subsequently written to the State government communicating its opinion.
“In all earnestness,” officials stress, “this Bill was not a hastily prepared one and much thought went into it with a Cabinet memo prepared duly explaining its intent purpose.” They further reiterate that proper rules will be framed for the disposal of documents and since the Bill stipulates that documents required for reference or record under provisions of any law in force cannot be destroyed, most of the fears being raised against the Bill have already been attended to.

Forger RDA sent to 15 days JC, one more picked up as co-accused

SORENG, 22 March: A Rural Development Assistant at Soreng BAC in West Sikkim, Krishna Bahadur Gurung, was arrested on charges of forging the signature of his senior, BDO Soreng, to illegally withdraw Rs. 2.25 lakh from a GPU’s bank account [read NOW! issue dated 21 March 2012] some days back. In a new development, the West Sikkim police yesterday took into custody on MS Subba, a retired army personnel, from Soreong as a co-accused.
SP West, DB Giri, while talking to this correspondent informed that the Police received a complaint from BDO Soreng, Somnath Adhikari, alleging that his signature had been forged by his RDA of Mandong-Barbotey GPU to withdraw an amount of Rs. 2.25 lakh from the GPU’s bank account in SBS Soreong.
As per the official complaint, the BDO had released a cheque for Rs. 25,000 in the name of Mandogaon-Barbotey GPU. The RDA, it is alleged, went on to make out another cheque (as GPUs have their own cheques) of Rs. 2 .25 lakhs. Police investigation suggests that the co-accused, MS Subba, forged the BDO’s signature. The two then withdrew the amount and pocketed the Rs. 2 lakh surplus.
The BDO upon discovering the unauthorised withdrawal soon confirmed the signature as a forgery and approached his immediate senior, the ADC West [Development] and also informed the DC about the incident. With the permission of ADC, the BDO lodged an FIR at Soreng Police Station on 19 March, following which the RDA was taken into custody the same day.
During interrogation, the RDA is reported to have admitted his crime and informed the police about the involvement of MS Subba, who was then taken into custody yesterday.
The SP informs that both the accused have been booked under sections 420/ 468/ 471 of the Indian Penal Code at Soreng PS and presented before the Chief Judicial Magistrate, South and West, at Namchi today from where they were sent to 15 days judicial custody at the District Prison, Boomtar in Namchi.
As for the recovery of the stolen amount, the SP informs that the accused said that they had already used up the entire amount. Cross checking with their bank accounts shows that they do not have the money there, the SP stated while adding that investigation is still underway to check if the accused have any other bank accounts into which they might have stashed the money.

NHPC convenes coordination meeting with Left Bank Committee in preparation for Stage IV public hearing

MANGAN, 22 March: NHPC today convened a coordination meeting with the “Left Bank Committee” members of the 520 MW Teesta Stage-IV hydel project being taken up by it, the public hearing for which is scheduled for 29 March. Affected people from most parts, it may be recalled, have resolved to attend the public hearing this time after having boycott it en masse in July last year.
The Left Bank Committee represents landowners and Panchayats of Ringhim, Nampatam, Chandey, Mangan and Kazor in North Sikkim. The coordination meeting was held at the Zilla Bhawan, Mangan, and was attended by the NHPC Stage-IV Chief Engineer, AK Chaudhury, Manager [electrical], Lhendup Lepcha and other officials.
The CE, in his address, presented a detailed report of the developmental schemes proposed by the organisation as part of the Relief & Rehabilitation plan for the project. Towards infrastructure development, Rs. 75 lakh has been marked for construction of footpaths, Rs. 50 lakh for bus stops and rain shelters, Rs. One Crore for water supply provisions, Rs. 1.25 crore for infrastructure upgradation, Rs. 50 lakh towards community welfare centres, Rs. 30 lakh for protection of cultural heritage and Rs. 2 crore for improvement of Namprikdang mela ground.
Similarly, NHPC proposes to invest Rs. 47 lakh in capacity building programmes for the project affected areas, Rs. 50 lakh for formation of SHGs, and Rs. 10 lakh for awareness camps and LPG distribution.
As per the NHPC, it also proposes to invest the following funds for community and social development projects: Infrastructure development Rs. 630 lakh; model village Rs. 154 lakh; economic development Rs. 107 lakh and construction of an ITI in the area Rs. 500 lakh.
The Catchment Area Treatment (CAT) plan for Stage IV is budgeted for Rs. 2,157.52 lakh and the environmental management plan will be implemented at an outlay of Rs. 8,265.92 lakh, it was further informed.
The Rs. 3,594.74 crore Teesta Stage IV HEP is projected for completion in 74 months from the date of CCEA approval.
Landowners at the meeting demanded a revised compensation rate, pointing out that the rate notified for the project in June 2009 at Rs. 18 per sq. ft was too low. They also sought that a development plan for Mangan should also be included in NHPC’s commitments to the area. The CE assured that a revised rate will be declared at the Public Hearing.

Police Raid lands peddler behind bars

JORETHANG, 22 March: Jorethang Police today arrested a 28-year-old on charge of drug peddling. Bikash Pradhan of Majhigaon Zero Golai here is accused of peddling substances of abuse from his house. He was taken into custody after a police raid of his residence led to the recovery of 1,132 loose capsules of Spasmo Proxyvon and 134 tablets of N-10, both are much-abused priescription drugs. The youth has been booked under Sikkim Anti Drugs Act and taken into police custody.

Judicial Magistrate issues warrants against KN Sharma and Yuv Raj Rai in defamation case

NAMCHI, 22 March: The Judicial Magistrate, District & Sessions Court, here today issued a non-bailable warrant against Congress leader KN Sharma and a bailable warrant against Yuv Raj Rai while hearing the defamation case filed against them and other State Congress leaders by Shirish Khare, MD Nayuma Indane.
Bhupendra Giri, the advocate for Mr. Khare, while speaking to this correspondent, informed that the two against whom warrants were issued today have been absenting themselves from previous hearings, following which the Court today pronounced the warrant against them.
It may be mentioned here that Mr. Khare has filed a defamation case against SPCC president NB Bhandari and other Congress leaders here - KN Upreti, Lalit Sharma, KN Lepcha, Avinash Yakha, DB Basnet, Yuv Raj Rai , Chumsang Shenga, KN Sharma and Dil Kumari Chauhan – accusing them of trying to defame him in the book published by them under the aegis of the SPCC, “Sikkim Mahaloot” and “Burmaloot in Sikkim”.
Most of the respondents were present in the Court today along with their advocates except for Yuv Raj Rai and KN Sharma. The bailable warrant against Yuv Raj Rai along with the show cause to his surety was issued for Rs. 5,000 returnable by 19 April, 2012. The non-ailable warrant issued against KN Sharma was also returnable by the 19th of April, 2012.

SSLSA trains trainers for Juvenile Jurisprudence

GANGTOK, 22 Mar: A Training for Trainers programme was organised by the Sikkim State Legal Services Authority [SSLSA] in coordination with the District Legal Services Authorities of the South & West Districts at Namchi on 17 and 18 March at the District Court premises, and on 20 and 21 March in the Conference Hall of the High Court of Sikkim here for East & North Districts, for the designated Juvenile/ Child Welfare Officers nominated from the Police Department, Members of Juvenile Justice Boards of Sikkim, Officers of the Social Justice Empowerment and Welfare Department and Panel Advocates nominated by the District Legal Services Authorities, informs a release issued by the Joint Secretary, SSLSA.
This training of trainers programme on Juvenile jurisprudence, child psychology and behavioral science was organised to enable the trainers to act as resource persons in imparting further training to be conducted by the District Legal Services Authorities in coordination with Sikkim State Legal Services Authority on a regular basis as per the guidelines issued by the National Legal Services Authority under the directions of the Supreme Court of India in Writ Petition (Civil) 473 of 2005 Sampurna Behrua-vs-Union of India & Ors. The training was imparted by Anant Kumar Asthana, a child rights lawyer and panel advocate of Delhi Legal Services Authority, further adds the release.

Sikkim gears up to host final leg of second division I-League

GANGTOK, 22 March: Sikkim is all set to host the final leg of the second division I-League Football which is scheduled to play out here from 29 March to 17 April at Paljor Stadium here. Sikkim Football Association is keeping busy, making arrangements for Sikkim’s first brush with hosting the I-League.
Seven clubs will be in the fray in the Gangtok leg of the final phase. The top two will be promoted to the first division I-League.
The clubs making their final bid for elevation into the main I-League are: United Sikkim Football Club, Aizwal FC, Kalighat MS, Royal Wahingdoh FC, Mohammedan SC, Vasco SC, Goa and ONGC Mumbai. Of the seven, six clubs qualified from the preliminary round held in Delhi, Cuttack and Silchar while ONGC Mumbai makes the seventh team after it was relegated from the 1st Division I-League last year.
The first leg of the final round has been underway at Siliguri’s Kanchenjunga Stadium since 05 March and will conclude on 25 March. USFC is leading the leg having won all its games so far.
I-League is the top tier league in the national football system. It was started in 2007-08 and its first edition was inaugurated by Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh. I-League has replaced the National Football League which had lasted for eleven seasons. I-League has two divisions, wherein the relegated teams from the first division move down to the second division and the top team from the second division move to play in the first division every year. The I-League over the years has aimed to professionalize the league system in India.
Addressing a press conference today, SFA general secretary, Menla Ethenpa, informed that All India Football Federation has designated MG Suvarna as the Match Commissioner, Debu Mukherjee as the Observer and Sujesh Ranjan as the Senior Manager for the Gangtok leg.
He informed that as per the fixture drawn by the AIFF for the Gangtok leg final round, there will be two matches on most days. The first match will kick off at 12:30 PM followed by the second match at 2:30 PM and the single match days will start at 2:30 PM.
Mr. Ethenpa highlighted that such an honour coming Sikkim’s way has been possible only due to the creation of an asset like Paljor Stadium by the State Government and encouragement by the football lovers in the state. Soon after the Siliguri leg, all seven teams will be arriving in Gangtok.
After discussion with the AIFF, the SFA has made arrangements for the daily practice schedules for the teas at Paljor Stadium every morning and evening.
SFA president, BK Roka, in turn, mentioned that it was a great achievement to bring the I-League to the state for the first time after a competitive bid and a golden opportunity for the local football lovers to see reputed clubs of the country playing here in the capital.
To popularize football among the students and to enable them to see the nationally reputed clubs playing in their own town, SFA has announced free entry for students in uniform to all the matches. For others, the SFA has fixed a nominal amount as entry fee at Rs 20 for hillside gallery, Rs 30 for southern and northern galleries, Rs 50 for western gallery and Rs 100 for VIP gallery.
In the Gangtok leg, United Sikkim will be playing its first game against Royal Wahingdoh on 30 March, then against Vasco Goa on 02 April, Kalighat on 04 April, against ONGC Mumbai on 11 April, with Aizwal FC on 13 April and finally against Md Sporting on 17 April.

Michelle Yeoh joins Aamir Khan as brand ambassador for Live to Love Foundation


GANGTOK, 22 March: The Live to Love Foundation promoted by the Drukpa Lineage, a 1000 year old Buddhist sect headquartered in the Himalayas, today announced its second Ambassador, the acclaimed international actress Michelle Yeoh.
The most recent recipient of France’s highest decoration the Legion of Honour, Michelle joins Hindi cine star Aamir Khan as a brand ambassador for the Foundation and has volunteered her services to promote the values of the lineage. Aamir Khan had earlier pledged his support to the Drukpa Lineage’s core causes focused towards protection of the environment and the spread of education in the Himalayan belt.
“We are delighted that Michelle Yeoh has agreed to support the cause of the Live to Love Foundation. I believe that celebrity patrons like Michelle and Aamir Khan can play a significant role in not only raising global awareness about our mission and goals, but through their personal efforts encourage many others to come forward and provide us much needed support,” commented the Gyalwang Drukpa today.
The announcement was made on the sidelines of the BAFTA event in London, which, this year, had a unique entry from India - a documentary focused on the work of the Drukpa Lineage entitled “Pad Yatra: A Green Odyssey”.
This documentary which has been entirely shot using solar power by Ngawang Sodpa, a monk from Ladakh, has been directed by Wendy J.N. Lee and narrated by leading environmentalist Daryl Hannah. The film charts a 250 mile trek undertaken by 700 people across the Himalayas to highlight to an international audience the damage being caused to one of the most important water sources on the planet.
With a call to save the ‘3rd pole’, these 700 intrepid walkers equipped with only the most basic kit, travelled on foot from village to village, gathering almost half a ton of plastic litter enroute. Led by the Gyalwang Drukpa and a large entourage of monks and nuns from the Drukpa Lineage, as well as several environmentally conscious global citizens who subscribe to the philosophy and beliefs of the Live to Love Foundation, the group completed this journey in 45 days.
The film outlines the story of their difficult journey through hostile and formidable conditions, while at the same time poignantly capturing the simplicity and innocence of the local people encountered during the trip.
A historic and revolutionary adventure, the Pad Yatra offers a beacon of hope for the rest of the world and highlights the importance of local action in the ongoing battle against climate change.
During his visit to London the Gyalwang Drukpa was joined by some of his world famous Kung Fu nuns from the Himalayas, who symbolize empowerment and independence. The nuns demonstrated kung fu at the prestigious Oxford University and Olympic Park.

[The trailer for the Pad Yatra film can be seen here:]


‘Poverty in Sikkim drops from 30.9% in 2004 to 13.1% in 2009-10’. This news published in your newspaper on 22 March came as music to my ears. On March 20th, The Statesman had carried the article Poverty down in some states, up in N-E.  The moment I read the headline I jumped to the article just to see if Sikkim had joined the league of the poor states in the North East. Thankfully Sikkim did not find a place in the list.
The exclusion of Sikkim can be attributed to the fact that Sikkim is seeing unprecedented growth and development for the last many years. The drop in poverty bears testimony to this fact. The news item says that the percentage of BPL families in Sikkim is half of the national average of 29.8%. The State Government is well within its goal of declaring Sikkim as a poverty free state.
There has been a drop in poverty in both rural and urban areas in Sikkim. This clearly indicates the holistic approach of the State Government towards development and upliftment. Urban areas are doing well in Sikkim due to the opening of numerous industries and the availability of endless opportunities. In rural areas development has been phenomenal. This has been made possible due to the various schemes of the State and the Central Government which are directly aimed at raising the standard of living of the people.
The Planning Commission in its report has said that the Poverty Line will be revised from time to time. Now the only challenge that lies in front of the State Government is to insulate Sikkim from poverty so that the revision does not have any impact and the figure drops further to 0% as envisaged by the State Government.
Jashoda Chettri, Gangtok

SDF coordinates with educated youth of South and West districts

DARAP, 22 March: A coordination meeting of the educated youth of South and West district was convened yesterday at Darap in West Sikkim under Yangthang constituency. Political Secretary to the Chief Minister, KN Rai, was present as a resource person accompanied by the Yuksam-Tashiding MLA, Dawcho Lepcha, as guest of honor.
The main objective of the meeting was to build consensus for a joint platform of the educated youth of the two districts with the expressed aim to “plan future initiatives, interact on the present political scenario, promote self-reliance, agree on priorities and responsibilities of the youth towards the state and the society, spread awareness on and build active support for the vision of the Chief Minister, and to get the youth involved in active politics”.
Other guests present for the meet were Yangthang MLA, PL Subba, Zoom-Salghari MLA, Madan Cintury, Sikkim Milk Union chairperson MB Rai along with the SDF central executive members of different constituencies and panchayats.
The SDF, it is learnt, plans to hold such meetings at different parts of South and West districts followed by a door-to-door campaign, political debate and other such engagements to generate wider awareness on the government’s functioning, its policies and plans.
Addressing the around 300 youth gathered from different parts of the south and west districts, the main resource person for the day stressed that the educated youth must come forward and participate in the development process.
He stressed that an involved youth was the best defence against the misleading propaganda that antisocial elements routinely take recourse to to derail the development momentum set for Sikkim under the leadership of Chief Minister Pawan Chamling.
The youth at the meeting also participated in the open house discussion raising the social, economic, political etc problems they have noticed in Sikkim.
The meeting was also addressed by the Yangthang MLA PL Subba, SDF CLC member LP Kafley, SDF CEC member KB Limboo, Sikkim Janbhumi editor Ranjit Tamu, Sikkim Mail editor Ashit Rai, coordinator South-West, Silash Tamang and Yougen Tamang. The programme was hosted by Sushil Tamang and organized by the Darap SDF youth wing. The next meeting of the said educated youths is scheduled for Uttarey in West Sikkim sometime in April.

Destruction of Documents Bill imperils democracy, BJP Sikkim claims

GANGTOK, 22 March: Bharatiya Janata Party’s Sikkim State president, Padam Bahadur Chettri, has dispatched memorandums to the President of India, Prime Minister, Union Home Minister, Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, Governor, Chief Minister and the Speaker, Sikkim Legislative Assembly, challenging the Sikkim Disposal and Destruction of Documents and Records Bill as a legislation which imperiled democracy in Sikkim.
Addressing a press conference today, Mr Chettri further informed that an all-party meeting is scheduled to be held soon to discuss the Bill and its implications. The Bill had potential to play substantial mischief, he believes.
Mr. Chettri has called on the Governor and the President not to grant assent to the Bill. “If the bill is signed, democracy in Sikkim will be in great danger and we will have no faith left in Indian democracy as practiced in Sikkim,” he stated.
He compared the latest Bill to the now withdrawn Public Order Bill, and alleged that the new Bill was an attempt by the Chief Minister to hoodwink the people of Sikkim and to destroy evidence of his massive corruption and to save himself from the Central Bureau of Investigation.
“This is his last effort to put an end to the good deeds [documents and records] of his political enemies. BJP Sikkim will not allow him to succeed,” he added.
He also stated that the pre-publication of the Bill in the Sikkim Government Gazette is required so that MLAs could read the Bill in advance and for discussions in public, but no such pre-publication was undertaken for this Bill.
Mr Chettri went on to argue that the High Court does not fall in the State List and went on to add that it was not principled for the government to interfere with the judiciary. The Bill has provisions for documents in the possession of the courts to also be destroyed on the recommendation of a specified authority. In the case of documents in the possession of the courts here, that authority, as per the Bill, is the High Court of Sikkim.
Mr. Chettri today demanded that all the records, especially on “convicts, corruption and the criminals” in the High Court of Sikkim and subordinate courts must be preserved at all cost.
On the clause in the Bill which specifies that documents “not of sufficient public value to justify their preservation” can be destroyed [on clearance by the appointed authority], Mr. Chettri enquired why, if a document is not worth preservation because it is not of sufficient public value, was it was created in the first place. In this regard, he also demanded to know the definition prescribed to identify documents which are worth preservation.

Livestock awareness prog at Rizey

GANGTOK, 22 March: A day-long awareness programme on Dairy, Piggery and Poultry Management and Production for farmers was organized by the Department of Animal Husbandry, Livestock, Fisheries and Veterinary Services [East District] at Rizey under Naitam-Nandok GPU yesterday.
The awareness programme included a free Veterinary Mobile Clinic to cater to the needs of livestock farmers in the area.
A press release issued by Joint Director [East], Dr. Sangay Dorjee Bhutia, who was also a resource persons for the programme, informs that the awareness programme intended to bring awareness among the farmers on latest technologies and livestock rearing practices. It is informed that 50 farmers of the area participated in the programme.
The programme also had Superintendent of State Veterinary Poly Clinic, Dr BM Chettri, Deputy Director [Pakyong Sub- Division], Dr DP Pradhan and field functionaries as other resource persons.
The release adds that a calf rally was also organized for calves born through both, artificial insemination and natural services, under the Genetic up-gradation programme of the Department. It is informed that the owners of the first three position’s calves were also provided the cash prizes and consolation prizes were provided to all participants.
The programme had Pabyuk Panchayat president, Rinzing Ongmu Lepcha as the chief guest, and was accompanied by Panchayat vice-president of Bhusuk, Dawa Doma Bhutia, Panchayat member, Dawa Pintso Lepcha and Panchayat secretary of Nandok, Chandra Kant Sharma.