Friday, April 27, 2012

Somber 23rd birthday celebrations for ‘missing’ Panchen Lama

GANGTOK, 25 April: Tibetans celebrated the 23rd birthday of the 11th Panchen Lama, Gendun Choekyi Nyima, the second-highest Tibetan religious leader, with prayers here at the Sera-jey Dho-phenling Monastery at Chandmari. The mood was somber, given the fact that the Panchen Lama is “missing”, not having been seen for the past 17 years ever since he was abducted by the Chinese authorities along with his family shortly after his recognition by the Dalai Lama in 1995. This is the status which explains why even on his 23rd birthday, the Tibetans have only a photograph of him as a six year old to keep among them.
Today’s observation was organized by the Tibetan Youth Club and Tibetan Women’s Association of Gangtok. More than 300 people including Tibetan school children participated in the celebrations.
“Today is the 23 birthday of the 11th Panchen Lama, and we are celebrating it by holding prayers here,” informed the TYC president, Chung Chung, while speaking to NOW! The Panchen Lama was born on 25 April, 1989 and recognised by the Dalai Lama as the 11th Panchen Lama in 1995 on his sixth birthday. His recognition was officially announced by the Tibetan Government in Exile on 14 May, 1995, and three days later, on 17 May, 1995 the Chinese government took the six-year-old and his family into custody. None of them have been seen or heard of since then although the Chinese government has made vague references about his receiving modern education and being under “protective custody”.
Meanwhile, China has foisted its own Panchen Lama in Tibet with obvious plans of having him replace the Dalai Lama in the minds of the Tibetans. The Panchen Lama, as mentioned, is the second-highest ranking reincarnate of the Gelugpa Sect and also then the Tibetan Government.
The Chinese candidate does not however evoke much support among Tibetans anywhere and the fate of Gedun Choekyi Nyima continues to excite strong emotions.
“We don’t know if he is alive or not. The only information we have had about him has been through vague references by the Chinese government at different times,” the Gangtok TYC president highlights.
“He is 23 today, but still we have not been able to meet him, so we are holding prayers on his birthday to pray that he is released from his confinement as soon as possible and his followers allowed to meet with their guru,” he adds.
He also reiterated the appeal of all Tibetan, their organizations and well-wishers to the United Nations Organisation to take up this issue with China. “We want the UNO to work on the release of our gurus and other rimpoches who have been imprisoned in Tibet by the Chinese government, so that their followers can meet them,” he added.
The Chinese crackdown following the Dalai Lama’s recognition of Gedun Choekyi Nyima as the 11th Panchen Lama did not end with the abduction of the child 17 years ago. Ten years since the completion of his six-year prison sentence in May 2001, the fate of Chadrel Jampa Thrinley Rinpoche, the former abbot of Tashi Lhunpo Monastery [the Panchen Lama’s seat in Tibet] and the head of the Search Party to identify the reincarnation of the 10th Panchen Lama remains unknown.
Chadrel Rinpoche was arrested on 14 May 1995, the day the Dalai Lama announced the reincarnation of the 10th Panchen Lama. After being detained incommunicado for two years, on 21 April 1997, the Intermediate Court of Shigatse Prefecture sentenced the Rinpoche to six years imprisonment and three years deprivation of political rights on charges of “plotting to split the country” and “leaking state secrets” during his search for the 11thPanchen Lama.
There is no information on Chadrel Rinpoche except for an unconfirmed report in November 2011 that said Chadrel Rinpoche had died of poisoning. The Chinese government continues to maintain a deafening silence on Chadrel Rinpoche’s whereabouts and current condition.

Sikkim bags Best State award for development of Panchayati Raj Institutions

GANGTOK, 24 April [IPR]: Sikkim has been declared the best state in the country in the category of smaller states for its outstanding performance in strengthening and developing the Panchayati Raj Institutions in the state by the Union Government.
Union Rural Development Minister, Jai Ram Ramesh and Union Minister of Panchayati Raj and Tribal Development, V Kishore Chandra Deo presented the ( Panchayat Empowerment and Incentivising scheme award)  PEAIS 2011-12 award to Sikkim Rural Management and Development Department Minister, CB Karki during the national conference to celebrate the National Panchayati Raj Day function held in Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi today .
Sikkim bagged five prestigious national awards in the function including the Best Performing North East State award and was presented Rs 1.36 crore. President Zilla Parishad, South district, BM Rai was presented the best performing District award in the function. BB Chamling Gram Panchayat Unit Sangay Dorjee was presented the Rashtriya Gaurav Gram Sabha award. Panchayat Sachiv, Gerethang, Laxmi Prasad Sharma  was presented the best Gram Panchayat Unit, West district and Panchayat Sabhapati  Gram Panchayat Unit Aritar, East district, Dhiren Gurung were presented awards by the Union Rural Development Minister, Jai Ram Ramesh and Union Minister of Panchayati Raj and Tribal Development, V Kishore Chandra Deo.
State RMDD Minister, CB Karki said that Sikkim will be developed as the "Switzerland of the East" by developing its villages on the lines of the rural areas of Switzerland. He said that the State government has prepared a comprehensive and holistic planning and budgeting framework in the form of "Village Development Action Plan" with active assistance from Professor Bernard Dafflon Professor of the University of Fribourg, Switzerland to achieve this objective by further strengthening the decentralisation and empowerment programmes.
He said that a pilot village development action plan for Aritar GPU in East district has been prepared to realise the dream of the State govt and added that Aritar GPU has been awarded the national award for its achievements in this regard. He said that 70% of the state budget is provided for the development of rural areas in the state for the overall growth of these areas.
The Minister said that the state govt has ambitious plans to achieve "Poverty free Sikkim" by 2015 by attaching highest priority to the successful implementation of anti-poverty programmes and improving the quality and delivery of public services to increase rural prosperity in the state. He said that the state govt has provided substantial budgetary allocations to all 165 GPUs and 4 Zilla Panchayats in the state and various Government institutions have been brought under the administrative controls of the GPUs to bring transparency and accountability in Govt schemes by giving equal opportunity in the decision making process in all development activities of the village.
He said that 145 GPUs have their own state-of-the-art Gram Panchayat Kendras fitted with computers, village libraries and other amenities and rest 20 units will be equipped with the same facilities very shortly. He said that Panchayat Mahila Evam Yuva Shakti Abhiyan (PMEYSA) is organising awareness programmes on various social issues like HIV/AIDS, Legal Aid, Education and Child Right etc and conferences will be organised to discuss the issues affecting women representatives and youth under Panchayati Raj.
The Minister added that capacity building trainings have been imparted to all Panchayat Sabhapatis, Sachivs and rural development assistants besides exposure visits from time-to-time.

Experts recommend use of ‘green technologies’ for road constructions

GANGTOK, 24 April: The Green Mission Programme started by the Sikkim Government has helped the state achieve the status of one of the cleanest and greenest states in the country in the last six years. This has been possible due to the various innovative green initiatives taken by the State Government for past several years. Along with the protection and conservation of the rich biodiversity, the adoption of green rural roads in the State can play a vital role in the development of the state as well as achieve its Green Mission Programme, said experts at a workshop held on Tuesday.
Speaking at the workshop on ‘Need for Green Rural Roads in Sikkim’ today, Convenor of Fijeeha [Forum for Indian Journalists on Energy, Environment, Education, Health and Agriculture], Dr Navneet Anand  said “Sikkim under the leadership of the visionary Mr Pawan Chamling has scaled amazing heights in introducing environment-friendly programmes and it is time the state took progressive steps to ensure green rural roads which shall work as a model for the rest of the country”. The seminar was also presided over by Chief Scientist, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, CSIR and Central Road Research Institute [CRRI], PK Jain and CEO Bitchem, Rajeev Agarwal
Roads are integral to the growth of societies and it is imperative for North Eastern states to embrace the many new alternative and superior technologies of road construction including cold mix, public waste and jute. This would not only ensure enhanced rural connectivity-critical for growth but also give a much needed push to the central government funded scheme Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana [PMGSY], which aims to provide connectivity to all unconnected habitations in the rural areas in a time bound manner.
Chief scientist CRRI, the nodal body for roads research in India, PK Jain said “Today there are many new environment friendly and sustainable technologies available for road construction, which are specially suited to hilly, cold or rainy conditions like in the North East and it is imperative that we use these to enhance rural connectivity and prosperity by increasing the construction season”.
He said that the initial results of some such environment-friendly technologies including cold mix in Assam, which has been used to construct more than 1000 Kms in the last 3 years has yielded positive results which has helped the state gain substantial progress in the quality of rural and state roads.
CRRI has been constantly striving to push new and sustainable technologies in road construction across the country. Recently, it has given an exclusive license to Bitchem for cold mix technology in the North East region. Bitchem Asphalt Technologies is India’s pioneer in introducing and commercializing the cold mix technology in India. Rajeev Agarwal of Bitchem informed that Assam had taken a lead in introducing the environment-friendly cold mix technology in rural road construction and over 1000 km of rural roads have been built using this technology and the time is ripe for other states in the North East to follow.
Cold mix technology is considered greener, safer and facilitates faster roll-out suiting the climatic and terrain conditions of the north eastern region. According to National Rural Road Development Agency [NRRDA] of Ministry of Rural Development, road construction and repair work done using hot mix is often sub-standard and there is a need to use cold mix for the same, it was informed.
Bitumen Cold Mix is a simple mixture of unheated damp mineral aggregates and emulsified. Advantages  of the cold mix are versatile, economical and non-polluting, no heating of binder, no heating of aggregates, low capital cost on equipments, high rate of work progress, socio- economic benefit, it was mentioned.
The terrain in-and-around 70 percent of the North East Region is hilly and mountainous and the entire region gets very heavy rainfall ranging from 2500mm to 6000mm which makes communication difficult. Unlike plains, the construction of roads in hilly areas is different, extremely difficult and much expensive and hence it is important to innovate and use new technologies for faster and enduring roll out of roads.

Girish ’n the Chronicles get set to rock Hong Kong

GANGTOK, 25 April: Sikkim’s hard rock band, ‘Girish and the Chronicles’ is all set to take over Hong Kong after their success at the Suncane Skale Festival in Montenegro, Europe, in 2010. The band is relocating to Hong Kong in search of better prospects in the Asian music industry. The band has been signed by a local event management group from Hong Kong and left for Hong Kong today.
The four-member band has 26-year-old Girish Pradhan [lead vocal/guitar] as the front-man of the band, 24-year-old Suraz Karki [lead guitar], 23-year-old Yogesh Pradhan [guitars, bass & sound engineer] and 25-year-old Nagen Mongrati [drums/percussions]. The band has signed the contract with two pubs, Graphiti and Escape.
Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, band member, Yogesh said that Hong Kong has a very good market for rock music and also for other alternative music genres. He mentioned that the main reason behind the band’s relocation is not only that Hong Kong has a good rock music market to offer, but the band is also targeting the neighbouring Asian nations, keeping Hong Kong as the base and hence mark an Asia tour within this year. The band members mentioned that this way the band not only carries on the legacy of rock music but also paves a way for all the aspiring musicians here and creates a market for career-oriented music scene.
Band Manager, Shyam Pradhan highlighted that the band started off this year performing for international audiences in Montenegro and Hong Kong. In Hong Kong, which was the band’s second venture in a foreign nation, they performed in Escape and Players and were the headlining act at the annual rock event, “Alive III- Clash of the Titans’.
He informed that the front-man of the band, Girish had already performed at the Yamaha Asian beat finals held in Seoul, Korea, with his side project, Silver Tears and has also been a part of the pub rock culture in Hong Kong since November 2011.
Mr Pradhan mentioned that Girish’s presence helped the band to make their way into Hong Kong’s rock scene as well, however, with the help of the internet and its digital platforms such as Youtube, Facebook and such like, the band had already gained some reputation as one of the finest bands in the country and had a good fan-base amongst the rock fans from Hong Kong.
He informed that the band received an invitation from a local event management group from Hong Kong to play at the annual rock event, ‘Alive III-Clash of the Titans’ on 12 February 2012. This event had Blue Beat [Japan], Jukator [Hong Kong, winner of the Yamaha Asian Beat finals], Innercore [Hong Kong], Intellectual Morons [Hong Kong] and Girish and the Chronicles. It was informed that apart from this event, the band also performed in some of the most happening venues in Hong Kong such as Escape on 10 February 2012 and  and Players on 08 February 2012, where they were invited to perform as a guest band.
“Both the venues witnessed an hour of total rock and roll action and some hard rocking. The band was highly appreciated for their performance, versatility and presence, which fetched some more fans for the band,” Mr Pradhan informed.
Yogesh mentioned that the Hong Kong experience proved to be a real fruitful one, not only to the band, but also to the State and the budding talents from Sikkim and Girish and the Chronicles being the first band from Sikkim to perform at such venues in Hong Kong, has left a good impression on the hearts of music lovers and also the event organizers of Hong Kong.  “This has helped open a market and a demand for the talents from Sikkim and the neighboring territories as well and even the concept of making a career out of rock music living in India has found its place in the mainstream and opened possibilities for a talent to succeed in life making music,” he said.
However, the band members mentioned that the front-man of the band, Girish has played a very important role in making the band’s story a success and he along with his progressive metal side project, Silver Tears performed at the Yamaha Asian Beat national finals, where Girish grabbed the title of “the best vocalist in the country’. It is informed that they also entered the Asian finals held at Seoul, Korea, where Girish was highly appreciated for his outstanding performance.
Other two band members, Suraz and Nagen mentioned that they have also been receiving full support from their family members since childhood. They stated that earlier there was some pressure from their families to opt for government jobs but now, seeing their success in the field of music they are fully supporting them. They also expressed their happiness on choosing music as a career.
It was also informed that Girish and the Chronicles is also the first band from Sikkim to get empanelled in the Indian Council for Cultural Relations [ICCR]. The inclusion in the panel is essential to get assistance and sponsorship for foreign tours for the band.

Siliguri bikers on expedition to Cho Lhamu

GANGTOK, 25 April: Gangtok Deputy Mayor Shakti Singh flagged off a motorcycle expedition to Cho Lhamu (the highest lake in India located at 18,000 ft) from Gangtok this morning.
A 12-member team of Sky Watchers Association of North Bengal (SWAN) had reached Gangtok on Tuesday as part of their expedition which started from Siliguri.
“Our plan is to stop at every location throughout the route and interact with the locals and personnel of armed forces on how they contribute to keep the sky, and thus the environment, clean and green,” Santanu Chowdhary, the team leader told the reporters.
SWAN has been engaged in popularizing astronomy and allied sciences since 1987.
“We also carry out special projects and simultaneously conduct sky orientations, sky observations. SWAN is officially affiliated to the confederation of Indian Amateur Astronomers,” Debashish Sarkar, a team member said.
He said the team will also update the people about Venus Transit, a rare celestial event that would be sighted on June 6, 2012 and again on 2117. The motorcycle expedition will pass through Mangan, Chungthang, Lachen, Thangu and Gurudongmar lake en route to Cho Lhamu.

‘Khulla Manch’ called for 27 Apr to discuss traffic issues

GANGTOK, 24 April: Press Club of Sikkim is organising a ‘Khulla Manch’ - an open forum to debate on traffic related issues, in collaboration with Sikkim Police, East District on 27 April in front of the District Control Room, MG Marg, Gangtok.
A press release informs that the forum will be open for citizens of all walks of society from 4 pm to 5 pm. All stakeholders including the general public, drivers, students and other sections of the society can place their problems, grievances and suggestions related to traffic management and road safety measures of Gangtok.
Superintendent of Police (East), Dr MS Tuli and senior police officials would be present to respond to the queries and problems raised by the general public. Those who are unable to attend the said forum can also send their problems and suggestions through e-mails to,, and or through SMS on 98324-24750, the release informs.
Press Club of Sikkim hereby invites everyone to attend the said event and come forward to sort out the traffic related problems in the capital, the release adds.

Thank you Roads and Bridges Deptt

We would like to thank the Roads and Bridges Department, Government of Sikkim, Area MLA, concerned engineers and contractors for the construction of the PWD road from Marchak, Ghattey Dara to Samlik Rumtek via Marchak, Namli Tumlabong. We, the public of these areas express our heartfelt gratitude to all involved in the construction of this road.
Public of Marchak, Namli Tumlabong, Namin and Samlik, East Sikkim.

Road Safety Weak?

I was walking towards office yesterday morning. I could not help but notice the unusually long traffic jam that extended beyond Hospital Dara. I got very curious and ended up making enquiries. A friendly traffic cop informed me that an accident had taken place near Pani House. There is no denying the fact that road accidents have become commonplace in Sikkim. But ironically it was only two days back that I had been greeted with students carrying placards with messages for road safety. Aaah! It is the Road Safety Week I thought to myself! But then why do I get to read about road accidents every other day? Why are people losing their lives to road accidents? The blah blah was going on in my head and I was lost in my thoughts. And by default I was walking on the road and not on the footpath. Old habits refuse to die.
A school girl who was manning the traffic came up to me and said very politely “Eta bada jaaye dinos la’’ and she pointed towards the footpath (I felt irresponsible, useless, hopeless and like the scum of the earth, all at the same time). I immediately obliged and trust me I felt good about doing the right thing! Why did a schoolgirl have to educate me on road safety when I brag about being a responsible and a well informed citizen? Why are we so weak in following safety measures while on the road whether we are pedestrians or vehicle owners or drivers? Small things like using dipper at night or using foot over heard bridges and footpaths can make so much of a difference and make life easier and safer for all of us.
We always blame ‘reckless’ drivers for mishaps. But as pedestrians do we follow the dos and don’ts’ while on the road? Well I feel the answer is a big no! Why do we wait for Road Safety Week to educate us? Why can’t everyday be a Road Safety Day instead of Road Safety Week?
Jashoda Chettri [recvd on email]

Out of control truck rams 3 vehicles at Nam Nang-Deorali junction

GANGTOK, 25 April: In a mishap which could have ended much worse had it occurred even an hour later, a DCM truck rammed into three parked vehicles here at the Nam Nang-Deorali Road junction early this morning. The driver, handyboy and two labourers on board the vehicle were injured.
A 407 DCM truck [WB-73A-7394] coming down the Nam Nang road lost control at the junction with NH 31A at Deorali at around 5.40 A.M. and first hit a telephone pole, then rammed into a parked government Gypsy [SK-01G-1143], then hit another government vehicle, a Bolero [SK-01G-0643] before colliding with another utility [WB-73B-8059] vehicle coming up from Deorali, informed PI Tshering Sherpa [Officer Incharge, Sadar Police Station], today.
The vehicle also damaged the gate, wall and grill of Mount Carmel Academy situated right at the junction and the front portion of two houses.
An FIR has been lodged in the Sadar Police Station against the driver, Mani Noor Rehman [19], a resident of Coochbehar and currently staying at Salugara in Siliguri, West Bengal and he has been booked under sections 279/336/337/427 read with 177/184/CMV Act 1988.
This was an accident waiting to happen. It is a common sight to see trucks and smaller pick-ups drive at reckless speeds on the highway through town every morning, a time when most of the traffic on the roads is school-bound.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Shanku Radhu Khandu and Dentam GPUs prioritize list of earthquake damaged houses for reconstruction

GANGTOK, 23 April: Special Gram Sabhas for Shanku Radhu Khandu and Dentam gram panchayat units were held on 20 and 21 April respectively at the respective Gram Prashasanik Kendras, an official press release informs. These Gram Sabhas were held mainly to finalise the list of earthquake affected houses identified under collapsed and severe categories for the prioritization of their reconstruction.
The meetings also approved new proposals for the new schemes to be taken up under MG-NREGA 2012-13 in their respective units based on number of job card holders and 100 days of employment to them.
The gram sabha members were also informed about the commencement of trade license renewals and issuance of new trade licenses by both the panchayat units.
Although the licenses will be signed by the concerned Block Development Officer, a special mechanism has been instituted so that people don’t have to keep returning to the BAC for their licenses. At the meeting, the people were also informed about the delimitation of panchayat wards which has been notified as per the decision taken in the earlier gram sabhas.
At both gram sabhas, the people expressed satisfaction with the additions of new wards in the process of delimitation, the release informs.
Both Gram Sabhas were also attended by the Dentam Bock Development Officer, Assistant Project Coordinator-SSA, West District and other officials from various line departments.

Students introduced to wonders of Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary

NAMCHI, 23 April: In a welcome move, efforts are underway to familiarise school students with the natural wealth of the State by taking them to nature reserves instead of limiting the introduction to lectures inside classrooms. Towards this end, two groups of students have been taken on excursions to the Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary in West Sikkim. While a 150-strong group from Govt. Secondary School Ribdi [West Sikkim] was at Barsey on 18 April, today, 31 students from Government Secondary School Rong [South Sikkim] enjoyed an outing there.
Today’s excursion was organised by the Land Use and Environment Division [South] of the Forest Department and included 22 class X students and 9 class toppers from classes V to IX.
The excursion was as much to familiarise students with Sikkim’s flora and fauna as it was to recognise their academic excellence with some co-curricular engagements, and was initiated by the Joint Director, Land Use and Environment South, Uday Gurung.
As he explains, the excursion aims to make students more aware of the bounties of nature in Sikkim and also ingrain the concept of clean and green Sikkim in their minds. During his interaction with the students, he also briefed them on the do’s and don’ts of being in the wild.
The excursion was flagged off by chairman, Sikkim Tea Board, Gagan Rai, from the Namchi Indoor Stadium today.
Last Wednesday, students from Govt. Secondary School Ribdi were on a daylong excursion-cum-educational tour at Barsey for a project work. They were accompanied by their Headmaster Santosh Kr. Chettri, teachers. The 150 students were from classes VI to X.
At Barsey, they were divided into ten groups of fifteen students each and assigned to collect plastic and biodegradable waste from the sanctuary.
A huge amount of garbage [comprising primarily of plastic bottles, snack packets, tobacco packets, sweet wrappers, liquor bottles] were hauled out of the sanctuary by the students. As part of their project work, the students made a detailed inventory of the waste collected and made noted on the potential hazard of such waste. The collected garbage was destroyed outside the Sanctuary by the students. Shocked by the amount of plastic waste recovered from the rhododendron sanctuary, the team has expressed serious concern over the irresponsible conduct of visitors to the reserve and called for a strict ban on littering and entry of plastic materials to the sanctuary.

Cipla recruits from CCCT

NAMCHI, 23 April: Ten students at CCCT here at Chisopani have been snapped up for employment by pharmaceutical company, Cipla, for its unit at Kumrek in South Sikkim. Their selection, a CCCT press release informs was confirmed on 19 April, coming exactly a month after two students were placed with IT major, HCL, on 19 March at an interview held in Siliguri,
The release adds that the students have been offered starting salary packages ranging from Rs. 1,12,000 to Rs. 1,20,000 per annum along with other perks and benefits.
Deepak Rasaily, the “Training and Placement Officer” at CCCT, adds that the feedback from the companies which have selected students from CCCT in the past has been “excellent due to the students’ academic standards and their willingness to work in all conditions throughout the country.” Some more good companies are in queue to hire CCCT students, adds Mr. Rasaily.

Governor speaks on Future of Democracy at Radhari Singh Dinker Memorial Lecture

GANGTOK, 23 April: Governor Balmiki Prasad Singh spoke on “The Future of Democracy” at the Ramdhari Singh Dinker Memorial Lecture before a packed audience in New Delhi today. The lecture was chaired by the Senior Parliamentarian, Dr. Karan Singh, and was also attended by the Governor of Bihar, Devanand Konwar, a press communiqué received from the Raj Bhavan informs.
Ramdhari Singh Dinker (September 23, 1908 – April 24, 1974) was a Hindi poet, essayist and academic of great repute. His patriotic and inspiring poetry earned him the title “Rashtrakavi”.
The Governor’s address focused on the evolution of democracy as a form of people’s government and whether it has been able to live up to its founding ideals. The address drew from the experiences of three events in the recent months: the Arab Spring; India Against Corruption; and Occupy Wall Street.
According to Mr. Singh, these three disparate events signify both, a yearning for democracy and a disillusionment with it. He said in his address: “It is quite evident that in several democratic countries, citizens have expressed disapproval of the way of working of the key democratic institutions like National Parliament, States Assemblies, Civil Service and Local Self Government bodies. Yet people continue to believe in the virtues of democracy and clamour for it even where dictatorial or monarchial dispensation prevails… Are alternatives to democracy being contemplated both in democratic countries and authoritarian ones?”
The recent anti-corruption protests in India have highlighted the inefficacy of our democratic system to curb corruption and provide succor to the marginalized sections of the population. Democracy has also failed to address the concerns of the poor and the rift between the rich and the downtrodden stands wider than ever before. In this charged environment of disenchantment with the existing system, Mr. Singh said, “…‘million mutinies’ are taking place almost on a daily basis in India. The need is to go for ‘million negotiations’ that would ensure that government, market and civil society work together for the empowerment of the poor and the dispossessed.”
In this context, the address also questioned “whether India’s democracy can rise up to the task of effecting improvement of its service delivery systems; accommodate the dispossessed and marginal communities in its policy making systems; and impart them skills to become beneficiaries of market mechanism? Is it possible for our democracy to enable us to invest more in the country’s long future? We have shown imagination during the Freedom Struggle and in the early years of the Republic in solving our major problems. Can we do this now as well?”
The future of democracy has been pushed into uncertainty owing the threat it faces from rising public dissent as also from religious fundamentalism and authoritarian rule. However, the lecture prophesied that “the democratic ideals of liberty, equality and justice will continue to be the guiding lights for mankind. And yet, it is realistic to hold the view that democracy cannot sustain itself on its own momentum.”
The Governor’s address concluded on an optimistic note with the assertion that “Democracy needs no astrologers. The time has thus come for political leaders, jurists, enlightened citizens and others who are concerned about the future of democracy to look closely at the challenges facing democracy in their country, and devise ways and means to remedy the short-comings in the working and structure of democratic governments.”

New Secondary School brings a welcome first to South Sikkim- organises formal Investiture Ceremony for prefects

NAMCHI, 23 April: In a welcome first for government schools in South district, a formal Investiture Ceremony was held today for school prefects of Government New Secondary School for the academic session 2012. A smart batch of 22 students selected as school prefect, house prefects and vice prefects of all sections along with prefects of different sections took oath and were pinned their respective badges by the special guests.
The ceremony was held in the school hall with chairman, Namchi Municipal Council, BT Tamang, as chief guest accompanied by the HRDD Joint Director Bimla Rai and NMC vice-chairman NH Ansari as special guests.
Headmistress Rukmani Rai, in her welcome address, highlighted that the ceremony was being held with the aim to empower students and ingrain leadership among them. She added that a formal investiture ceremony hopes to inculcate positive values among students and prepare them for the days ahead while also making them accept their responsibilities with a stronger sense of duty.
The chief guest, while congratulating the prefects on their selection and the school administration and School Management Committee on their initiative, urged the prefects to take to their duties with a strong sense of responsibility. He also briefed the students on the role and tasks of the Namchi Municipal Council.
Similarly, the NMC vice-chairman also welcomed the concept of hosting a grand investiture ceremony to instil pride and responsibility among the students and expressed hope that other schools will take the Government New Secondary School’s lead and organise similar celebrations of students’ empowerment.
The HRDD Joint Director similarly advised the prefects to understand their responsibilities well and deliver on them flawlessly. She also congratulated the school staff and SMC members on the work they have been carrying out at the school. In her address, she also detailed the guidelines and criteria for the Chief Minister’s Merit Scholarship Scheme.
The day’s programme included cultural presentations and a fashion show by the primary section and ended with the National Anthem. The programme was also attended by other members of the Namchi Municipal Council.

Six more families move into pucca houses under CMRHM in Maneybong-Dentam

GANGTOK, 23 April: Six more families moved into pucca houses constructed under the Chief Minister’s Rural Housing Mission in Maneybong-Dentam constituency, West Sikkim, on 19 April. This new set of six houses are in the four Gram Panchayat Units of Shanku Radhu Khandu, Hee, Maneybong  Sopakha and Bongten Sapong under Dentam Block.
The six beneficiaries are Ganga Ram Panth, Manita Chettri, Kedar Nath Thapa, Birkha Bhadur Limboo, Dal Bahadur Limboo and Damber Bahadur Chettri. Apart from now having an RCC ropf over their heads, four of the six families also received a Rs. 10,000 incentive for having completed the constructions within the prescribed timeframe of six months.
An official press release informs that the pucca houses were handed over by the area MLA, Chandra Maya Subba, who is also the chairperson of the Block Rural House Construction Committee for CMRHM, Dentam BAC.
She was accompanied by the Dentam BDO Himmat Rai, AE Ramesh Shama, ADO JB Tamling, Panchayats and local gentry.
With this, the total number of completed Model-C RCC houses under CMRHM in Maneybong Dentam and Dentam BACs has reached nine. One of the panchayat wards, Upper Khandu under Shanku Radhu Khandu GPU has been able to complete both the pucca houses allotted under the first lot well within the time frame of six months despite the village of Bhalukhop where these pucca houses were constructed being very far from the nearest road-link, the release highlights.
Despite high cost of head loads, this panchayat ward has lived up to the essence of mission mode of CMRHM, the release adds. This Bhalukhop experience should serve as an inspiration for the construction of pucca houses in the remote villages of Ferek and Jhakridunga where relatively large number of pucca houses were allotted, the BDO adds.

Speeding vehicle loses control near Singtam, injures 5

GANGTOK, 23 April: Five people [including a nine-month-old child] along with the driver were injured in a road accident near Singtam on Sunday afternoon.
According to a written FIR lodged by Prem Lall Sharma [20], son of Abichandra Sharma, a resident of Temi Tarku in South Sikkim, on 22 April at around 1.45 PM the complainant alongwith three of his relatives were returning to Temi Tarku from Gangtok in an Alto Taxi [SK/04/T/0089] driven by Anju Sherpa [21] of Chuba Perbing, South Sikkim.
After crossing Gaidhara, the vehicle that was being driven at high speed suddenly came into the course of an approaching motorcycle on a bend. The driver lost control [due to over speeding, as per the complaint] and the vehicle skidded off the road and fell approximately 300 feet down into the jungle.
All five occupants, Bal Kumari Basnett [28] from Namchi, Savitri Basnett [22] from Temi Tarku, Samshriti Chettri [9 months old], along with the complainant and the driver were immediately taken to the Singtam District Hospital. The victims Bal Kumari Basnett and Savitri Basnett were then referred to the Central Referral Hospital at Tadong, while the others were discharged after being given first aid.
The alleged driver was arrested by the Singtam police and later released on bail. A case under section 279/337 [rash driving or riding on a public way and causing hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others] of the Indian Penal Code was registered against him at the Singtam Police Station. The case is under investigation.


Sikkim University, which is expected to work for the development and welfare of students, fails to provide basic facilities to its students. Every student from poor economic condition is provided with scholarship by both the Central and State governments in most of the government schools, colleges and universities. In contrast, Sikkim University is still not paying its students the due amounts which they deserve according to its scholarship schemes.
Under Section 30(1)(f) of the Sikkim University, 2006, Executive Council approved the Ordinance to provide financial assistance to students of Sikkim University from financially weak backgrounds and those who exhibit a good academic record. However, students who were selected for the scholarship under the scheme “earn as you learn” during 2010-11 academic session have only been paid Rs 6000. According to the university’s prospectus, students selected for this scheme are supposed to be paid Rs 12000 per semester, against the job provided by the university itself. Reality is university is neither providing jobs nor scholarship.
Suman Das Rai, 4th semester (one of the selected candidate for scholarship)
Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, Sikkim University


A local daily publication NOW dated Saturday, 21st April, 2012 carried the news-item as “Forest Clearance holds up progress on Sikkim Side” in connection with the “First motorable road from Sikkim to Nepal being developed through Uttarey” by the State Roads & Bridges Department. The proposal has been received by the Department from the User Agency recently in the month of March, 2012 last which indicates that the proposed road from Sopakha to Chewabhanjyang via Jorbotay passes through the Khanchendzonga Biosphere Reserve and 3.95 kms in the Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary, West Sikkim.
The proposal requires vetting by the State Board for Wildlife which is presently in the process of reconstitution and its recommendation for further clearances of the Standing Committee of the National Board for Wildlife and the Supreme Court. Once the clearances are obtained, the process for diversion of forest lands for non-forestry purpose shall have to follow the procedural formalities under the Forest (Conservation), Act 1980. At all stages, the User Agency will have to justify the necessity for the construction of the road through the Sanctuary and the forests outside. However, it is to mention that the Forest Department does not keep any proposal pending with it. There is no bureaucratic red tapism in the Department and it processes all the proposals in time bound manner.
Gut Lepcha, Conservator of Forests (Wildlife)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

EPCS Church declared State Heritage Building on Platinum Jubilee

GANGTOK, 22 April: Chief Minister Pawan Chamling declared the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, [EPCS] church as a state heritage building on Saturday on the occasion of the Platinum Jubilee of the Church. Assuring that another church will be constructed as per the demand, the CM stated that “The old church will be kept as a heritage site. Our government will try to include it in the world heritage site list as well.”
He made the declaration while addressing the huge gathering of believers at the Palzor Namgyal Girls Sr. Sec. School [PNGSS] as chief guest for the platinum jubilee celebration of the EPCS. The 75 years celebration, divided into two phases was held at Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Sikkim [EPCS] in the morning and PNGS School in the afternoon.
Making another important announcement, the Chief Minister said that the land under dispute will be handed over to PNGS School. There had been a long tussle going on between the government and school administration for the school land. The EPCS church of Gangtok, under which the school has been functioning, had been demanding the government to resolve the dispute.
The CM also announced the construction of the prayer tower which has been a long standing demand of the believers of the state. The CM further provided a grant of Rs. 2 lakh to PNGS School.
The CM released a new Bible on the occasion and also felicitated Rev CT Paju, Pastor Prabal Singh Rai and Bishnu Maya Pradhan [known popularly as Pastorni Ama].
“Sikkim has to be like Jerusalem”, said the CM and highlighting the work of all Christian Missionaries around the world added that Missionaries have contributed immensely in the Third World countries mostly in the field of education which is the case in Sikkim as well.
“History can testify that religious controversies have never occurred in the state during my 18 years in government; religion is above everything, it should not be mixed with politics”, he said.
“My government is determined to provide every support to all the section of people and has never compromised with the secular policies framed” said the CM and assured the believers that their demands will be fulfilled.
Addressing the students, the CM urged them to become good citizens and further spoke on the Chief Minister’s Comprehensive Annual and Total Health Check up [CATCH] programme mentioning that the government aims at making Sikkim an educated, rich and healthy state. The government also dreams of making Sikkim the state with the highest life expectancy rate at an average age of 80 years within a few years, he added.
MLA, Menlom Lepcha also addressed the gathering while Political Secretary to CM, KN Rai, Gangtok MLA  Dorjee Namgyal, Deputy Mayor, Shakti Singh, Minister HRDD, NK Pradhan, Secretary HRDD, CS Rao along with other officials were also present during the celebration.
Earlier, during the morning session at the EPCS church, Elder Andrew Rai, Chairman of Gangtok Church Platinum Jubilee celebration committee, while speaking on the history of the church said that Missionaries had a holistic contribution in the fields of education and health care.
“No body can ignore the historic role played by the missionaries in Sikkim in spreading education and awareness in health care. The base for present day quality education had been set up by Missionaries in Sikkim,” he said.
Prayers, Choir songs, singing of hymns by the congregation, bible reading were other activities that took place in the first half. The chief guest inaugurated the platinum jubilee hall at the church premises. The church also felicitated the Chief Minister and the Coordinator, Platinum Jubilee celebration committee, Phurba Lepcha expressed his gratitude to the Chief Minister for giving heritage status to the oldest church of the state.

Kazi Sherpa crosses Khumbu Icefall en route to Everest summit

GANGTOK, 22 April: Sikkimese mountaineer, Kazi Sherpa, who is on a Mt. Everest Expedition at present, after reaching the base camp of Mt. Everest on 08 April halted there till 15 April to acclimatize himself. On 16 April before heading for the real expedition, the team offered prayers to the Mountain Gods in a special ceremony conducted by monks and hoisted prayers flags, informs the leader of 2008 Mt. Everest Expedition, GT Bhutia, the Director Indian Himalayan Center for Adventure and Eco- Tourism, Chemchey.
Mr Bhutia mentioned that on 17 April Kazi Sherpa crossed the Khumbu Glacier, the trickiest part of the Everest expedition and established camp-1 at an altitude of 19,500 feet. To climb ‘Khumbu Glacier’ it takes about 4-5 hours from the base camp for a fit climber or else the time consumed can even extend up till 6 to 7 hours. Sherpa after establishing the first camp has returned back to the base camp to acclimatize and rejuvenate himself and till 19 April the team is expected to rest.
On 20 April, the team was to again march from the base camp to establish the second camp at an altitude of 21,200 feet but for the same the climbers will halt a night at camp-1 and then head for the establishment of camp-2, he mentioned.
Sharing his expedition experience, Mr Bhutia said that ‘Khumbu Glacier’ is said to be one of the trickiest and most dangerous areas to negotiate during the climb as it consists of shifting ice, huge ice walls along with deep crevasses.  The climbing can only be negotiated by fixing ladders across the stiff ice slopes and deep crevasses.
Likewise, with respect to establishment of camp-1, Mr Bhutia mentioned that camp one is located on the shoulder of Khumbu ice fall. It may be recalled that Chief Minister Pawan Chamling had flagged off Kazi Sherpa on his Everest Expedition from Gangtok on 27 March.

Reloaded: Still Waters performs with new vocalist

GANGTOK, 22 April: The much anticipated rock concert, “Reloaded” featuring Still Waters from Gangtok, was held here at Cafe Live and Loud, Gangtok on 21 April. Produced and managed by The Alpine Attitude, an event Management Company based in Sikkim, the concert was originally planned as an open-air concert at MG Marg, but due to incessant rain and bad weather, the venue was changed.
Although Still Waters are one of the pioneers of rock music in Sikkim, who have been performing in major rock concerts all over India since 2001 and have also been specially featured in MTV Roots, the concert was all the more important for the band as they were playing their very first gig in Sikkim with their new vocalist, Abhisek Lemo Gurung. Secondly, for the first ever time in Sikkim and probably in the entire north east region of India, the organizers were streaming the concert live on internet.
Amidst a mix of speculations and excitement, the show started at 7:00 PM to a packed audience. Abhisek’s powerful vocals blended very well with the music of the band and they delivered a real tight performance with every song and every note. The band performed two of their originals, ‘Live a little’ and ‘Happy go lucky’ from their 1st album and there were calls for encore both the times. The band covered songs from AC/DC, Iron Maiden, Guns & Roses, Pink Floyd, among others and the crowd was left asking for more. The show being streamed live online was viewed from as far as Dubai, Nepal, Australia, Bhutan, etc. (Quality videos will be uploaded to the official youtube channel of The Alpine Attitude.)
Still Waters is currently being managed by The Alpine Attitude which plans to have an open air concert on 20 May at MG Marg, Gangtok. It would be a great treat for all rock fans as the entry would be free.

Art by students on Road Safety

GANGTOK, 22 April: A total of 205 students from 18 schools from and around the capital expressed themselves through colors in the Road Safety Painting Competition on the theme “Causes of Road Accidents and its Prevention” here at Sir Tashi Namgyal Senior Secondary School on Saturday.
The competition was organized by Sikkim Traffic Police, East District as part of the 23rd Road Safety Awareness Week 2012.  The participating students were divided into junior [Class I to V], middle [Class V to VIII] and senior [Class IX to XII] categories, who painted on the theme. The paintings were judged by artists, Pankaj Thapa, Passang Dorjee and Karma Tenrab.
In the junior category, Sashi Saumya from Holy Cross stood on the first position followed by Abrajit Roy of Holy Cross on second and Manish Pradhan of Kye-di-Khang on third position. The consolation prizes were given to Marmit Lepcha of Modern SS and Jenus Rai of Tadong SSS.
Ratik Kumar Das of Holy Cross, Tulsi Karkidoli and Tsewang Tashi Bhutia of Kyi-de-Khang stood on the first, second and third positions respectively in the middle category. The consolation prizes were received by Chogyal Lama of Modern SS, Shristi Pradhan of Deorali Girls SSS and Hangchha of Bahai School.
In the senior category, Shiva Chettri of TNSSS, Rohit Gupta of Bahai School and Ashish Rai of Kyi-de-Khang were awarded the first, second and third prize respectively, while Jyotika Sharma of Holy Cross, Saumya Bhattacharjee of Army Public School and Sonam Chewang Bhutia of TNA received the consolation prizes.
Speaking to students, Mr Tenrab stressed that art should not be judged but should be understood instead. He encouraged students to pursue their interest in art without worrying about losing or winning. Likewise, Mr Dorjee encouraged young students to continue their efforts to express themselves through art even if people do not acknowledge these expressions. Mr Thapa also encouraged the students to continue with their artistic endeavours to be a successful artist in the coming days.
Speaking to media persons, Superintendent of Police [East], Dr MS Tuli mentioned that the painting competition was among the various activities to be conducted in the Road Safety Week by involving most of the stakeholders like students, drivers and others to create awareness on road safety. He informed that 24 April onwards they will conduct Road Safety patrols and invite the stakeholders to participate in it. The SP further informed that there will also be debates and open forums for free and fair discussions to understand problems and take suggestions from the public.

Lachung public thankful for reopening of Yumthang road

We, the Pipon, Hotel and Lodge Operators of Lachung and the general public of Lachung Dzumsa would like to express our sincere thanks and appreciation to the Hon’ble Tourism Minister Shri Bhim Dhungel, Hon’ble MLA Lachen-Mangan Shri Tshering Wangdi Lepcha, Chief Secretary Shri Karma Gyatso and the Tourism Secretary Shri R. Telang, for their personal intervention and prompt action in getting the Yumthang road reopened after it was blocked by heavy snowfall and avalanches.
While initially the public of the surrounding areas participated in clearing the road, it would not have been possible for the normal traffic to flow to-and-fro from Yumthang valley without the personal intervention of the Hon’ble Minister, Area MLA, the Chief Secretary and the Tourism Secretary who issued necessary directions to the concerned agencies to have the road cleared at the earliest for the convenience of the local people and the tourists alike.
Tourism is one of the major source of livelihood for the people of the area and the prompt action taken by the above mentioned officials have helped the industry which had been slowly picking up after it was already hit hard by the September 18 earthquake.
We would also like to acknowledge the sincere efforts of the above officials in helping the people of this region who have been affected by the September 18 earthquake, recover from the calamity with smooth relief measures.
We would also like to thank the Department of Food and Civil Supplies for uninterrupted supply of food and other essential items to the area and also for making arrangements to store buffer stock for difficult times. Our acknowledgements also to the Check Posts division of Sikkim Police for making arrangements to issue separate permits for tourists to North Sikkim.
Further, with the onset of monsoons and spell of bad weather we continue to look forward to their intervention in keeping the usual trouble spots in the area in check regularly by the concerned agencies and necessary directions issued for the same.
Karma Lachungpa, Pipon, Lachung Dzumsa
And Tshering Lachungpa, President, Hotel & Lodge Operators Association, Lachung, North Sikkim

Himveer-50, ITBP’s Long Range Patrol reaches Nathula

GANGTOK, 22 April: To commemorate it’s Golden Jubilee Celebrations [1962-2012], the Indo- Tibetan Border Police [ITBP] is conducting a special Relay Long Range Patrol [LRP] code name ‘Himveer- 50’ covering the AOR of force from Kibithu [Arunachal Pradesh] upto Daulat Beg Oldi [Ladakh] in North Western Frontier. It was flagged off on 14 February, 2012 from Kibithu [Arunachal Pradesh].
The 13th Battalion of the ITBP posted in Sikkim continued the Sikkim leg of the Relay [LRP] which was flagged off from Salugara, Siliguri in West Bengal on 18 April and on 20 April the LRP party reached Nathula. On the occasion the 13th Bn ITBP had organised a Civic Action Medical Camp and a Hepatitis B vaccination camp at Yakla village. On 20 April, the relay LRP before departing for Nathula stopped at Serathang ITBP Camp where a function was held. The ceremony was attended by Brigadier Ravi Jhaldiyal [Commander, 63 Mountain Brigade] as the chief guest, while also present were Colonel Rajneesh Singh [Commandant, 12 Grenadiers] as the guest of honour, other army officers and ITBP personnel.
Speaking on the occasion, Commander, 63 Mountain Brigade stated that he had a long association with ITBP during his postings at Ladakh, Uttarakhand and Sikkim and has seen them operating at close hands. We can sleep peacefully because the ITBP Himveers are guarding the Northern Frontier and the Nathula border, he added.
The ITBP has been performing its duties effectively, safeguarding the India-China border starting from Karakoram Pass in Jammu and Kashmir to Jelep La in Arunachal Pradesh, which covers almost 3,488 kilometers, he said and added that members of this force are deservedly known as Himveers because it is manning border outposts ranging from 9,000 feet to 18,600 feet.
The challenges facing our nation are many, it lays extra responsibilities on the shoulders of men and women in uniform to show the way through discipline and dedication, he stated.
Shendil Kumar [Commandant, 13th Bn ITBP], addressing the gathering stated that ITBP is essentially a border guarding force and Serathang being a Trade-Mart for Indo-China border trade, the ITBP was manning this region. Many changes have taken place since inception in 1962 till now but conditions today are still difficult in many places, he added.
The force has good reputation within the country in fighting the insurgents, naxals and Maoists, providing security to the VIPs and VVIPs, he informed and added that ITBP also provided security to the Embassy of India and Consulates in Afganistan and in Various UN Missions in trouble torn regions of the world. ITBP is also the first responder for Disaster Management [02 battalions] in the Himalayan region and trains troops for National Disaster Reserve Force [NDRF].
He further informed about the other works of ITBP such as relief and rescue operations during the 18 September earthquake in North Sikkim, adopting of villages, carrying out medical and vet camps, helping in education of children, providing computers and construction of playground through their Civic Action Programme [CAP] and Border Area Development Programme [BADP].
The Relay [LRP] will be handed over to the 11th Bn of ITBP at Rang Rang in North Sikkim to be taken to the border areas and passes in its area of responsibility on 22 April. The LRP will end its North Eastern Frontier journey in Sikkim on 05 May and will finally be handed over to Bareilly Sector on 08 May at Bareilly.

Editorial: Talk More About the Weather

The nation requires 33 per cent of its land mass to be under forest cover. At present, vegetation cover in the country stands at 23.68%. If one keeps the Indian landmass in mind, the 10% shortfall that the country needs to cover becomes a monumental task, especially when not much is being done to meet this target. Given the national average and targets, some might say that Sikkim need not have undertaken the State Green Mission given the fact that nearly 46% of the State is already under forest cover. And yet it did. The Green Mission has runs its course, and within a year or thereabouts the level of its achievement will become clear for all to see. The earthquake disruption notwithstanding, should the Mission come out with good marks, the State will be all the richer from the initiative. If nothing else, with the concept of Green Mission and the 10 Minutes to Earth initiatives, the State has seeded the concept in young minds and the success of government schools from Sikkim in the national Green School effort is a direct result. National targets and averages are kept too optimistically low and are too metro-centric to be true to ground realities, seldom moving beyond the token plantation drives on earmarked Days. The metros already live in environmental devastation, but the utter unpredictability of our weather systems and the existing and potential havoc of climate change should make Sikkim stay the course and make Sikkim greener. Irrespective of data challenging climate change projections, ice caps everywhere are showing signs of stress, harking a possible collapse which could change the way life exists on the planet. Sikkim knows the phenomenon too well with too many natural springs having dried up and too many lakes reduced to puddles in recent times for the stress on natural resources not to be perceptible. One must bear in mind that Sikkim’s high mountains and glaciers, because they are closer to the Tropic of Cancer than any other segment of the Himalaya, is more susceptible to even the most minor fluctuations. The current spate of thunderstorms draws its strength directly from pressure fluctuations over the Bay of Bengal, for example. But even as Sikkim has undertaken massive state-sponsored plantation drives and has even added “climate change” to the nomenclature of the Department of Science & Technology, not enough is being done to study the impact of climate change on Sikkim. While an improved green cover is the safest option for Sikkim in the cushion it provides to the catchment areas, a long-term effort will require better understanding of climate change and its effect of Sikkim. What some experts should also start doing is collating and studying the metereological data in more detail to uncover whether there is a pattern in which the climate is changing in Sikkim. That will help guide future initiatives and its findings may also have the people ask after the weather more often. The seasons have changed noticeably even in recent years. The concern should now graduate from passing remarks to concerted studies, not just by the experts, but also by school students from whatever survives by way of traditional knowledge base.

Litterateurs felicitated at Prakriya Prakashan’s silver jubilee celebration

GANGTOK, 22 April: Chief Minister Pawan Chamling felicitated 25 litterateurs from Nepal, Kuwait, America, Darjeeling, Assam, Mizoram and Sikkim for their contribution in the field of literature with the “Prakriya Award” on the occasion of Prakriya Prakashan’s silver jubilee celebration today at Chintan Bhawan. The international special edition of the magazine “Prakriya” was also released on the occasion.
The Chief Minister was present as the chief guest, accompanied by Power Minister Sonam Gyatso Lepcha, Press Advisor Bhim Dahal , vice president of State Planning Commission, Sanchaman Limboo and the publication’s chief patron, Nandaram Bhattarai.
Stating that change in the mindset of the people with the times is important for progress, the Chief Minister urged the intellectuals to lead the Sikkimese society towards change. Nepali language can be developed further but we have to be open-minded because there are many other regional languages in the state like Rai, Mangar, Gurung, etc which also need to be developed, said the CM.
Out of the 25 who were to be felicitated  only 11 were present on the occasion, they were: Upman Basnett [Sakyong], Uday Chettri [Gangtok college], Birkha Subba [Rumbuk], Amar Baniya [West Sikkim], Damber Dahal [Assam], Bhakta Singh Thakuri [Assam], Badri Goragai [Assam], Laxmi Meenu [Mizoram], Dr Naresh Chandra Khati [Assam], Tejman Baraily [Assam] and Indra Mani Darnal [Assam].

Mangan lifts CM’s Gold Cup Archery Tournament 2012

GANGTOK, 22 April: Mangan has emerged as the champions of the 13th edition of the Chief Minister’s Gold Cup Archery Tournament- 2012 held at Sikkim Archery Association’s archery field here at Tathangchen.
In the final match played today, Mangan edged out Todey-Tangda by 56 points to 24 points. Mangan had reached the finals defeating Y12K Shooters in the semi-final, while in another semi-final Todey-Tandga had defeated Thimpu United.
Lakey Dorjee of Todey-Tangda was adjudged as the Man of the Tournament for his 52 targets in the tournament, while Gem Tshering of Mangan received the Man of the Final Match trophy for his 16 targets.
The tournament was organized by the Sikkim Archery Association [SAA] from 01 April. Seventeen teams from Bhutan, Kalimpong and different parts of the State had taken part in the tournament.
Sikkim Legislative Assembly Speaker, KT Gyaltsen was present as the chief guest of the final day and was accompanied by SAA president, PHE Minister, TT Bhutia and executive members of SAA.
In his address, Mr Gyaltsen stressed that in order to preserve the identity and existence of any community it was important to save language, culture and tradition. He urged the people to participate and work to preserve the culture, tradition and language through different activities. He congratulated the SAA for consistently conducting tournaments to save the traditional form of archery in the State.
SAA general secretary, Dr KB Gurung presented the annual report of the association.
On the occasion, SAA felicitated Tika Ram Regmi of Upper Samdong in East Sikkim for his contribution in promoting and preserving traditional archery in the State. He played for Snow Lion Club and Dacgayargay Club of Samdong from 1985 to 2009 and at present, he is the coach of the oldest and renowned club of Samdong, Snow Lion Club.
The chief guest handed over the trophies, cash prizes, medals and certificates to winners and runners-up teams and other individual winners. The winning team received Rs 60,000, while Rs 30,000 was awarded to the runner-up team.
The final day also saw cultural presentations by artists of Thonglay Dranyang Company of Phuentsholing, Bhutan and Hamro Pariwar of Decheling.
The first edition of the tournament was lifted by Tadong team in 2000 followed by Ranka for two consecutive times in 2001 and 2002 and in 2003 Pedong from Kalimpong lifted the tournament. Todey-Tangda won the tournament for three consecutive times from 2004 to 2006 and then Ranka again became the champions in 2007. Kabi-Lungchok took the champions title in 2008 and 2009 which was bagged by Tathangchen in 2010. Bhutan United was the champion of the last edition of the tournament.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

First motorable road from Sikkim to Nepal being developed through Uttarey

GANGTOK, 18 April: Sikkim’s border with Nepal in West district, a traditional highway of sorts in the days of past, will now be spanned with a link road across Chewa-Bhanjhyang above Uttarey in West Sikkim. When this project, already in an advanced stage from either side, is completed, it will become the first motorable road from Sikkim into Nepal.
The road, it is learnt, is being constructed by both countries from their respective sides. While construction on the Sikkim side is still in its initial stages, the road on the Nepal side is almost complete, having reached 2.5 km off the Sikkim border. While there may be some strategic reasons for the construction of such a permanent link, the road is also being seen as one which will facilitate tourism in a big way in the form of making trekking easier and appeal to international tourists as well.
On the Sikkim side, the last hamlet en route to the pass is Uttarey, about 12 km from the border. The final 12 km span is being constructed under the Border Area Development Programme (BADP).
The pass is a much frequented one with people from either side crossing over frequently. It is not uncommon from youth from Sikkim to even travel into Nepal during festivals to participate in village level sports events there. This traditional linkage has been hampered to some extent with SSB having replaced SAP at the pass, but the bond remain close. The pass also straddles the Singalila trek along the border and Uttarey has developed as an important trekking launch point in the recent years.
While Uttarey is accessible only on foot from the pass, three large excavators have been on the job at the route for the past three months, scratching out an alignment for a motorable road to replace the trekking trail.
The road on the Nepal side, it is informed, has already reached Chanpathuk, the Nepal army check post which is around 2 kilometers from Chewa Bhanjhyang and has a population of around 1,500 people, mostly Nepal army personnel stationed there. It is also informed that the road construction has already crossed Torkey village which is 5 kilometers just a couple of days back.
The West Sikkim District Collector, Santa Pradhan informs that the proposal for the road from Uttarey to Chewa Bhangyang was sanctioned around five months back and that work on it has already been commissioned and is under progress.
The DC informs that since the only route to Chewa Bhangyang and other “incredible tourist locations” like Kalijhar and Phoktey Dara along the Singalila range is a trekking trail, there is a section of national and international tourists who can never get to experience the beauty of this area because of the 12 kilometer steep uphill trek which they cannot negotiate.
“With the development of the motorable road, the number of tourists to these areas will grow because of the convenient accessibility. Work is underway but there are still some issues that need to be worked out for the road to be completed, the importance of this strategic location cannot be ruled out which is also why the road is being constructed,” informs the DC.

Forest clearance holds up progress on Sikkim side
GANGTOK, 20 April: Bureaucratic red tape is reportedly proving to be a hindrance in the progress of the Sikim-Nepal road project. As of now only 5 kilometers of road from Sotakha to Chewa Bhangyang via Jorebhotey has been constructed. Forest Clearance is the cause of the delay for the development of the remaining 13 kilometers, it is informed.
Speaking to NOW! , SE, Roads & Bridges Department, Mr. Subba informed that 13 kilometers of the road will have to be constructed through the Kanchenjunga Biosphere Wildlife sanctuary for which the clearance is yet to come from the department.
“A majority of the road falls inside the sanctuary, the clearance for which is causing the delay. We are hopeful though that the clearance will come through after which we will begin construction from our side of the border. I know it will take time but we have already submitted all relevant documents and our proposal,” stated Mr. Subba.
Meanwhile, the road coming up from the Nepal side is expected to be completed within a week. What worries the Uttarey residents is that if the Nepal side reaches the pass much ahead of them, they will have that much more time to take the lead in promoting the locations for tourism and get exclusive access to interested travellers.

Devastating fire breaks out in Darjeeling market

Darjeeling, 20 April: A devastating fire raged through the main market square of Darjeeling town in West Bengal last night, bringing back memories of the horror of 1971 when the same stretch was razed to the ground.
The fire broke out at around 2.15 am at MP Road today.
Local residents believe that the fire started from a wooden shop, the floor of which gave way and spread rapidly after two LPG cylinders burst in the restaurant on the ground floor of the same building. With the area densely crowded with wooden shops, the fire spread quick and fast.
Local residents; Fire tenders from Darjeeling, Kurseong, Kalimpong, Bijanbari; Green Force of the Dera Saccha Sauda; Army (21 Madras and 11 Gorkha Regiment) together managed to contain the fire by 7am. With acute water scarcity, private water tankers pitched in to help.
“Around 90 shops have been gutted. Though estimates have not been made of the loss, it would be to the tune of above Rs. 2 Crores,” said Saumitra Mohan, District Magistrate, Darjeeling. Most of the schools remained closed today.
“The cause of the fire has not been ascertained. Prima facie it could be from a short circuit,” stated a fire officer. “I remember the fire in 1971. The same stretch had been gutted. I had then helped as a student,” added Sher Bahadur Rai, a retired army personnel.

Three factors come together to inundate Gangtok with pre-monsoon thunderstorms

GANGTOK, 20 April: A bright and sunny day suddenly turns into a gloomy evening and as heavy showers hit the capital accompanied by thunder, lightning and even hail at times, a slight chill in the air can be felt.
Speaking to NOW!, Gangtok Meteorological Centre In-charge, GN Raha, informed that the period between 01 March to 31 May is the pre-monsoon season and thunderstorms usually occur during this time. He explained that three factors lead to thunderstorms - solar heating or insulation, moisture incursion and triggering forces like some systems of trough, cyclone, low pressure etc.
Mr Raha mentioned that at present, Gangtok is recording temperatures slightly more than 20 degree Celsius everyday so there is good insulation, and good moisture coming from the Bay of Bengal and North-South trough is present over the Sub-Himalayan West Bengal and Sikkim to North Bay of Bengal. He further explained that due to the presence of all three favorable factors, Gangtok has been experiencing regular rainfall along with heavy rainfall and hail on some days.
The Met Centre has recorded 53 mm rainfall over Gangtok and 54 mm rainfall over Tadong between 13 April night to 14 April morning. Another good rainfall of 60 mm over Gangtok and 45 mm over Tadong was recorded between 16 April night to 17 April morning and then between 18 April night to 19 April morning Gangtok recorded 53 mm rainfall while Tadong had 62 mm rainfall. Likewise, rainfall recorded between 19 April morning to 20 April morning was of 36 mm over Gangtok and 74 mm over Tadong. More than 65 mm of rainfall is termed as heavy rainfall.
Mr Raha further explained that due to a local phenomenon there has been rainfall in Gangtok, Mangan and some other parts and not the entire state.


GANGTOK, 20 April: Sludge from the Army compound just above National Highway 31A near Sikkim Jewels in Tadong last evening disturbed traffic flow along the stretch last night and early this morning. A joint effort by Tadong Outpost personnel, Traffic Police personnel and GREF workers managed to clear some of the sludge on the road to allow vehicular movement at around 8 AM. Traffic, however, remained affected throughout the day.

Bad weather disrupts power supply to Rumtek, Pakyong and surroundings

GANGTOK, 20 April: Heavy rain, hailstones, high intensity wind and lightning have damaged power overhead lines and control equipment in Rumtek, Pakyong and the adjoining areas resulting in power failure in the area for the last 48 hours, the Energy and Power Department informs.
A press release issued by Executive Engineer, Power Department, Sonam Tshering Bhutia adds that the officers and staff of the department are on the field trying to restore the damaged lines. The Department regrets the inconvenience caused to the consumers, the release adds.

Lingzya road mishap claims two lives

MANGAN, 20 April: Two persons were killed on the spot in a road mishap here at Lingzya in Upper Dzongu, North Sikkim on Thursday at around 4.30 p.m. when a Mahindra Commander vehicle bearing registration number SK-04-1872 plunged down around 200 feet below the road. Thendup Lepcha and Ugen Tshering Lepcha, residents of Rongdol Basti, Lower Dzongu, died on the spot.
There were a total of six occupants in the vehicle among whom Tshering Ongmu Lepcha, wife of Ugen Tshering Lepcha, Nim Lhamu Lepcha, Tseten Lepcha and the driver, Yamba Lepcha, were injured. The three injured Nim Lhamu Lepcha, Tseten Lepcha and Yamba Lepcha have been referred to the Central Referral Hospital, Gangtok following emergency first aid provided at District Hospital Mangan. The DTO District Hospital Mangan, Dr. PK Dadul informed that the injured are out of danger.
The vehicle is from Gnon-Sangdong, Lower Dzongu and was returning from a funeral at Lingzya, it is learnt. The dead bodies have been handed over to the family after post mortem at the District hospital, Mangan.
Sr. SP North, BK Lama, while speaking to NOW! informed that the cause of the accident is being investigated and section 279, 337, 338 304 (A) have been registered against the driver with case FIR No. 08(4)12 dated. 19/04/2012.

Priming for a cave-in

The above photograph is of a section of the NH 31A in Gangtok. It is not just a ditch common to the stretches where the fresh black-topping has not reached yet and is one which a superficial layer of tarmac will not save. This is a cave-in in the making at Tadong near the Police Check-Post. The sink sits directly above a major jhora and is already deep enough to trouble even a bus engine. When the bottom gives away here, it will leave a gaping hole staring straight into the jhora below. Thus far, no agency appears to even have noticed it, repairs thus are still awaited....

Editorial: Infantilizing Youth with Our Arrogance

A 25-year-old MA student, already ‘adult’ enough in the 2009 assembly elections to participate in the process to elect a government for Sikkim, was recently served a notice by the Sikkim University. This notice, signed by the Registrar, irrespective of what the student in being officially charged with, was clearly because of a letter he had written [published in this newspaper] commenting on how the students will dearly miss some of the teachers passed over in the regularisation process. It is offensive enough that an institution of higher learning should dredge the barrel so arrogantly when it comes to accommodating voices that are not sycophantically celebratory. It goes without saying that the decision to harass a student because he holds an opinion different from the university administration is reprehensible. Those who seek to justify the SU administration’s actions on the grounds that it was required to “maintain discipline” or under some clause of the elaborate “Act of Parliament” which instituted the University, are either trying to cover up for their own lack of spine for having failed to protest the hounding of students, or they just don’t care. It must be borne in mind that at worst, the students being charged have complained and questioned, not levelled allegations. Now, with their teachers and even fellow students having distanced themselves from the situation, one hopes that other groups will speak up for them. Pre-empting comments of “politicisation” which might follow when some groups do speak up, as the Students Union of Sikkim has done, one is forced to point out that when agencies and representative groups like the concerned teachers and the civil society prefer to hold their silence and do not engage, the space is bound to be occupied by other groups, even those inflected with ‘politics’.
But this is not just about the disciplinary action being taken, it’s more importantly about how it is being done. No one denies the university its right to take administrative action whether against teacher or students, but when it comes to dealing with students, one expects better educated minds to rise above stereotypes and engage students as individuals, not try and browbeat them by talking down to them. We already have enough of that with politicians sermonising about proper conduct expected of students. And the University has stepped down several more rungs by behaving like a gaggle of sulking toddlers and threatening to “tell” the parents. This is where the reference to the age of one of the students made earlier comes in. This 25 year old has been directed to bring his parents to meet the Registrar to discuss his “indiscipline”. The allegation of “indiscipline” is in itself in conflict with everything a University should stand for and an obvious overreaching of whatever powers are invested in the various positions at the institution. It is bad enough if the officers in the university are only shadow-boxing, but extremely worrying if they themselves believe that parents need to be brought in to “discipline” a 25-year-old or even be tattled to. We are already a country of people who see nothing wrong in over-parenting. When our children finally go to college, it as much to learn more as it is to finally grow up. In Sikkim, however, the process of infantilizing them continues with the imposition of a dress code [an actual uniform in college] and a course schedule structured to keep them too occupied to become their own persons. Now, the arrogance does not go away in university either. A person old enough to vote, decide whether he wants to drink and smoke, marry and take any other life-changing decision on his own is infantilized with orders to bring in his parents to discuss his conduct. Even cops, seldom credited with fine sensibilities, when they find a 25 year old on the wrong end of the law, do not ask the person to bring his/ her parents when s/he, say, processes a bail application. If the university feels it needs to ‘take action’ against the student, they should treat him as an individual responsible for his actions, not a toddler who needs to be talked through his parents. By taking the course they have taken, the authorities at the university have exposed their incompetence in delivering on the responsibility of providing higher education to the future of Sikkim.