Thursday, May 3, 2012

‘Spiderman’ and accomplice sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for life



GANGTOK, 30 April: The High Court of Sikkim has upheld the State’s appeal against the Sessions Court’s [South and West] acquittal of Rakesh “Spiderman” Rai and Tenzing Tamang in the West Sikkim double murder of 2003 and in a judgment pronounced on 20 April, 2012, quashed the acquittal and sentenced the accused to rigorous imprisonment for life and also fined them Rs. 20,000 each. The High Court has however upheld the acquittal of co-accused Praveen Subba and Abhishek Rai for want of any evidence against them. It may be clarified here that although the case was one of double-murder, the trial in Sikkim was only with regard to the murder committed in Sikkim [of Sonam Dadul Bhutia]. The second murder, although related to this incident, was carried out in Siiguri and will hence be tried there.
The case relates to the 27 November 2003 murders of Sonam Dadul Bhutia and Bina Subba by the accused. While Sonam Dadul Bhutia was battered to death with near Liching basti on the Dentam-Pelling Road [about 1 km from the BB Lall Suspension Bridge at Dentam] on 27 November, while the dead body of Bina Subba was recovered from near Coronation Bridge on NH 31A nearly a month later on 24 December 2003. Interestingly, the recovery of this dead body followed from Rakesh Rai’s alleged statement to the police while he was being escorted to Siliguri by Gangtok Police in connection with the recovery of some goods he had allegedly stolen and fenced.
Following his statement and recovery of the second dead body, he was booked for murder.
The Sessions Court acquitted the duo in May 2011 convinced that the prosecution had failed to build a strong enough case, had presented contradictory witness statements, failed to prove motive [behind the murders].
Overturning his acquittal, the two judge High Court bench of Chief Justice Permod Kholi and Judge SP Wangdi, observed in its judgment that: “We are rather inclined to accept that the Learned Trial Court has ignored admissible evidence which has given rise to compelling and substantial reason for this Court to interfere with the impugned judgment of the acquittal of the Respondents.”
The 124-page judgment order also addresses the failure of the prosecution to prove motive against the Respondents, expressing the view that “this deficiency by itself is not sufficient to weaken the case”. The High Court judgment adds that the “circumstances established by evidence are sufficient… to hold that the Respondents are guilty of the offence”.
“It is a settled position of law that motive is not an ingredient for any offence under Section 302 IPC,” the judgment points out further.

While deciding on the sentence which the conviction should attract, the judgment delves into substantial detail, recording: “As regards the sentence, on careful consideration of the entire facts and circumstances, we find that although the accused persons are quite young, they appear to be habitual offenders particularly, the Respondent No. 1, Rakesh Rai. The cold blooded and heartless manner in which the deceased was killed by them, in our view, renders them undeserving of any leniency. This is compounded by the fact that they have proved themselves to be undesirable influence to the young juvenile accused persons who have since been convicted by the Juvenile Justice Board.”
“Considering all these, interest of justice would be met if the Respondents-convicts are sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for life and to pay a fine of Rs. 20,000 each. Failure to pay the fine shall entail further imprisonment of six months against each of them.”
The High Court is convinced that the two convicts, accompanied by two juveniles, had come across Sonam Dadu Bhutia and Bina Subba at Changay near Dentam on 27 November 2011 and that there was an altercation between them which ended with the duo now convicted of murder, attacking Sonam Dadul Bhutia with a tyre wrench and battering him to death on the spot. They then fled to Siliguri taking Bina Subba with them and later murdering her as well.
The circumstances, the judgment observes, “stand proved beyond any reasonable doubt and those circumstances form a complete chain that unerringly leads to the only conclusion and none other than the Respondents [Rakesh Rai and Tenzing Tamang] along with the two juvenile convicts committed the murder of Sonam Dadul Bhutia in the evening of 27-11-2003”.

Authorities and public discuss Gangtok’s traffic woes at ‘Khulla Manch’

GANGTOK, 02 May: ‘Khulla Manch’ - an open forum to debate on traffic related issues was held today at 11:30 AM in front of the District Control Room, MG Marg. The event was organized by the Press Club of Sikkim in collaboration with Sikkim Police, East District.
Answering the queries of the public was a panel consisting of the GMC Mayor, KN Topgay, GMC Deputy Mayor, Shakti Singh, Senior Superintendent of Police [East], Dr MS Tuli, SDPO [Gangtok] Ongmu Bhutia, DSP [Traffic], Sonam P Bhutia and Senior RTO, PK Basnett from the Motor Vehicle Department.
Addressing the gathering of people, GMC Mayor, KN Topgay congratulated the Press Club of Sikkim and the Sikkim Police, East District for taking such an initiative. This is a good initiative but for such events public participation is a must, he added.
Gangtok is facing a lot of traffic related problems and they need to be addressed and the public should come forward and speak on the problems faced by them, the Mayor said.
On the queries related to challaning of licenses and checking road worthy vehicles, the Senior RTO informed that this was necessary because of late many drivers had been caught with fake driving licenses which had made their way into the state from across the border, which needed to be dealt with immediately. While the checking of vehicles and registration certificates was also necessary in order to ascertain the road worthiness of the vehicle and whether the person driving the vehicle had renewed the necessary papers or not as ‘human life is most precious’, he added.
Answering the question on traffic lights put up at Hospital Point, Senior SP [East], Dr MS Tuli stated that although much money had been spent to put up the lights, their location is such that it had become nearly impossible for them to function properly. Moreover the traffic at Hospital Point is so heavy that timing of changing the lights was also a very big problem, he added.
Speaking on the parking of VIP and senior police officers’ vehicles in front of Tourism, the SSP [East] informed that there was no special permission given to the vehicles, but they were allowed to park just to drop or pick up the VIPs or to park during functions held at MG Marg. He also made a request to all such vehicles to avoid parking their vehicles there for other reasons.
The GMC Mayor, KN Topgay, speaking on the queries of traffic congestion and traffic jams stated that the number of vehicles in the Capital was increasing day-by-day and building of car parks was not the only option, but there was a need to work on reducing vehicle usage by people. According to a survey conducted recently it was found that around 450 vehicles are sold in a month from the showrooms in and around Gangtok, he added.
It is time we started to think 20 years ahead and not just two or three years, so the GMC in its next City Development Plan to be put up soon proposes to construct ropeways for commuting from Ranipool to Gangtok and its vicinities, he stated.
The forum was actively participated by citizens from all walks of society, where problems, grievances and suggestions related to traffic management and road safety measures of Gangtok were openly discussed. People had also sent their problems and suggestions through e-mail and SMS, which were also addressed during the event.

SNT paid private construction company before completion of work, alleges Sikkim RTI Forum

GANGTOK, 02 May: The Sikkim RTI Forum has alleged that Sikkim National Transport [SNT] made full payment to Avery India Pvt Ltd for the construction of Electronic Weight Bridge at Rangpo Mining, East Sikkim and Melli Check Post, South Sikkim despite the work being incomplete.
A press release issued by the Forum’s general secretary, DK Chhetri states that according to information obtained through RTI, the work was awarded to Avery India by SNT at the cost of Rs 60 lakh and the payment has already been made. The said work was to be completed by April 2011 but is yet to be completed, the release alleges.
In an FIR lodged at Rangpo Police Station, the Forum has alleged that SNT officials responsible for the said work “favoured Avery India in bill payment violating the agreement of the said construction work”.
The release further claims that at Rangpo a sign board says that the Weight Bridge Construction work is an outcome of the Chief Minister's 100-day tour when actually the agreement with Avery India was signed in February 2011 by the Transport Department.

Bhaichung thanks students for supporting USFC’s I-League quest

GANGTOK, 02 May: The United Sikkim Football Club [USFC] co-owner Bhaichung Bhutia is visiting schools in-and-around the Capital to thank students for their passionate support for the club throughout the recently-held 2nd Division I-League Football Tournament held at Paljor Stadium. By winning the tournament, Bhiachung’s USFC has been promoted to the first division I-League.
Today, he visited his alma mater, Tashi Namgyal Academy [TNA], where he was given a warm welcome by the students. Present on the occasion were GMC Deputy Mayor, Shakti Singh, members of TNA Almuni, Principal TNA, Kuldeep Singh Haren, teachers and school children.
During his brief address, he urged students to study hard, but also to give priroty to sports, “for if one is good in sports there are chances that their talents can be nutured and used for better in the future”.
He also asked the students to remember the monogram that they wore on their chests, as it “defines who they are and to which school they belong”.
He also spoke of his days in the school, his stay in the hostel and of his teachers who taught and nutured him. He thanked all of them. In the end, he thanked the students and children for the huge support shown by them for the USFC during all their matches.
Meanwhile, Arjun Rai [senior Manager, USFC] informed that Bhaichung has already visited Modern Senior Secondary School and West Point Senior Secondary School and would be visiting Enchey Senior Secondary School in the afternoon. He will be visiting Tashi Namgyal Senior Secondary School and Paljor Namgyal Girls Secondary School tomorrow. He will be visiting all the schools in Gangtok in the coming days, it was further informed.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Increase number of trainees to 4,000 CM suggests SICB

KARFECTAR, 30 April [IPR]: Chief Minister Pawan Chamling, who is also the Chairperson of the State Institute of Capacity Building (SICB) Society, chaired the 2nd meeting of the SICB Society Governing Board here at the SICB mini conference hall today.
During the meet Member Secretary/ Chief Administrator, SD Dhakal made a presentation and placed the annual report of SICB for the year 2011-12 and also presented various agenda for discussion and made a demonstration of Management Information System.
As per the information received from Chief Administrator of SICB, Mr Dhakal, the Chief Minister during the closed door Governing Board meet suggested that the number of students availing training from the institution should be raised up to 3000 to 4000, which at present is up to 1800 to 2000.
He also assured full cooperation from the government to the Institution and assured that adequate fund will also be provided for the institution.
Mr. Chamling further added that work culture in the students who are being trained in this institution should be developed and counselling should be given. He appealed to the institution and its Chief Administrator to give more attention to the students of rural areas to build their capacity and make them skilled and self reliant individuals.
Various plans and schemes for the Institution were also passed and approved during the meet.
The establishment of a full fledged State Institute of Capacity Building at Karfectar with the purpose of imparting training and transfer of knowledge and building stronger capacities of the unemployed youth is perceived with a visionary intent, the Chief Minister added.
The annual report of 2011-12 which was presented during the meet had various activities of SICB from 01 April 2011 to 31 March 2012
The following are some of the main activities of the institution during the past one year.
MP Lok Sabha, PD Rai, Chairman BASIX- India, Vijay Mahajan, South Shore Bank USA, Mrs. Marie and Chief Executive Officer of Edelwis group of Finance, Rajesh Shah visited the Institute and examined the various activities going on therein.
Training of Trainers for selected Master Trainers and Assistant Trainers of Livelihood Schools was conducted to familiarize them with Management Information System to track the record of all the trainees of Livelihood Schools for three consecutive years.
The following livelihood schools were opened, which are Lachen- Mangan Livelihood School for Cooking and Catering ( Hotel Management) inaugurated on 02 July 2011, Martam- Rumtek Livelihood School for  Organic farming was inaugurated on 15 July 2011, Gnathang Machong Livelihood School for Motor Mechanic (Automobile Repairing) was inaugurated on 24 July 2011, Soreng- Chakhung Livelihood School for Construction trade (Plumber) was inaugurated on 27 July 2011, Gyalshing-Bernyak Livelihood School for Security Guard trade was inaugurated on 01 August 2011.
Chief Administrator, Mr Dhakal visited the Indian Institute of Entrepreneurship (IIE) in Lalmati, Guwahati, Assam to sign the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the officials of IIE to get registered as partner to conduct Entrepreneur Development Programme (EDP) and Entrepreneurship Skill Development Programme (ESDP) for the trainees of all Livelihood School on 11 August 2011.
An orientation session for officers and staff of SICB was held at the Institute regarding updating of official website ( of the Institute by Cyber InfoTech, Namchi.
The Trainees for apparel design/dress design course under West Pendam Livelihood School were taken for a month long Industrial training at Kolkata
The trainees of Dzongu Livelihood School were provided On Job Training (OJT) to bestow them tangible knowledge as Heads on Experience at Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), Sikkim Centre, Tadong for four days.
Second meeting of State Board of Livelihood Schools was held on 16 December 2011 under the chairmanship of HRDD Minister, NK Pradhan in the conference hall of Directorate of Capacity Building, Khadi Bhawan in the capital.
MP Lok Sabha, PD Rai visited the Institute on 02 February 2012 and interacted with the undergoing trainees of Driver cum Tour Guide, Beautician and Chef/Cook.
Under the chairmanship of Chief Administrator a day long workshop cum coordination meeting of all Centre heads, Master Trainers of all Livelihood school was held on 07 February 2012.

Speaker inaugurates children’s park at Tathangchen School

GANGTOK, 30 April: Speaker KT Gyaltsen inaugurated a Children’s Park at Tathangchen Secondary School this morning.
The programme began with a Bhutia song performance which was followed by the Headmistress, Yangchen Bhutia’s welcome speech wherein she said that the aim is to bring joy to the school’s kids. This school is facing difficulties due to lack of funds but despite all the difficulties still we are here and we will become better in the future, she added.
The programme was given a colorful touch by cultural programmes performed by the students of the school and ex-students as well.
The Speaker in his address thanked the Headmistress, teachers and students for organizing such a beautiful programme. This school was established in 1961 by Late Chogyal Palden Thendup Namgyal and has a very rich tradition and history, said the Speaker.
Congratulating the headmistress Mr Gyalsten said, “I have attended many programmes in different schools but this school’s programme is totally different and is reflective of its history”. He further added that the gift, a plant, presented to him on the day has touched his heart.
He also assured that he would extend all possible support to the school with regard to their demands. The Speaker promised to sponsor 5 students of the school from the BPL category and also expressed his desire to interact with the outgoing class ten students. He further added that he will organise a visit to the State Legislative Assembly for the students and also arrange for a bus to take the students for an excursion to Namchi.
Other guests present were Councillor Lassey Doma, Former MLA Kunga Zangpo Bhutia, Principal West Point School and other officials.

Nathula border trade to resume Tuesday

GANGTOK, 30 April: The Nathula border trade will resume on Tuesday and continue till 30 November this year. District Collector [East], D Anandan informed that his office has received a total of 301 applications so far, which was then sent to the Intelligence Bureau Office for clearance.
He further informed that out of 301 applications, 50 have received clearance from the IB Office and the remaining 251 are likely to get clearance within a week.
The DC mentioned that receiving 301 applications at the start of the season is a good sign and an increase in comparison to last year where 360 applications were received in the entire season.

East District gears up for oncoming monsoon

GANGTOK, 30 April: District Collector [East], D Anandan convened a district-level preparedness meeting for East Sikkim in view of the upcoming monsoon season with the line departments and concerned organizations here on 27 April. In the meeting, the various line departments and organizations have been instructed to take preventive measures immediately to mitigate the effects of natural calamities and also to be prepared with their manpower and machinery in case of any such occurrence during the monsoon.
The District Collector has also directed the district officials to submit the action plan or preparedness plan of their respective departments on the jobs assigned to them with the list of phone numbers of their officials by 05 May. He also directed the district officials to work in coordination and not to wait for instructions in case of any disaster. He also mentioned that in view of the 18 September earthquake, this year preparedness measures are being stepped up compared to last year.
Addressing a press conference today, the District Collector mentioned that the overflowing of roadside drains can cause landslides so this year the administration aims to clean up roadside drains and jhoras. He informed that GREF has been given directions that drains along the entire stretch of the 31A National Highway maintained by it should be cleaned up at frequent intervals. The GREF has also been directed to be ready with required manpower and machinery round-the-clock to tackle road blockages and that dumping of spoils along the road should be strictly avoided.
The DC informed that in urban areas, GMC has taken the responsibility of maintaining roadside drains and jhoras, while in rural areas the same task will be done by the Roads and Bridges Department. Likewise, apart from GMC areas, UD&HD will also clean the road side drains under its jurisdiction to ensure free flow of storm water in all the jhoras in the urban areas. These departments were also directed to be ready with the necessary man power and equipments for clearing landslides and removal of road blocks round-the-clock and to take immediate restoration works in the affected areas.
As part of the preventive measures, the Forest Department has also been directed to identify trees that are located precariously and are likely to fall during the monsoon and have them removed at the earliest. The DC informed that the DFO [Territorial] has been asked to identify such trees and to cut them down by 15 May.
However, the DC added, the DFO has been asked to be very judicious regarding this and to use other methods that would not require cutting down a tree if possible. In case of road blocks or damage to public property due to falling of trees, immediate deployment of men and machinery to cut and remove the tree should be the Forest Department’s primary concern and necessary manpower and equipment for cutting and disposal of trees should be kept on the alert.
While speaking on the response during calamities, the DC mentioned that the Police Department will be the first to respond in case of any calamity and the Control Room will be responsible for timely communication and information relating to occurrence of natural calamities and regular updates to the district officials. He further added that the Traffic Police will regulate the traffic at times of natural calamities and ensure unhindered movement of relief vehicles or Rescue Team, Quick Response Team, Ambulance, Fire Engines and others. The officer-in-charge of the concerned police station would be responsible for crowd control at the place of occurrence of natural calamities.
The Rescue Team and equipment of the Fire Department will be kept on alert at all times and Fire control room should immediately communicate the occurrence of any calamity to the district authorities and effective coordination with the traffic police is very essential, the DC mentioned.
The Power department has been directed to immediately restore power supply disrupted due to natural calamities along with provision of lighting and generator facilities for rescue and relief measures, regulation of power supply at the place of occurrence of natural calamities etc. The department has also been directed to be ready with the necessary manpower and equipment for restoration of power supply at all times.
Likewise, the Irrigation & Flood Control Department has been given the responsibility of cleaning up jhoras, irrigation channels, jhora training and restoration of blocked and damaged jhoras on priority basis.
The DC expressed that fresh excavation and hill cutting for PMGSY roads are the major reasons for landslides in rural areas and non-provision of protective walls along the roads leads to landslides and slush entering houses. The RMDD has been asked to look into preventive methods regarding this on priority basis.
PHE & Sewerage Department will be responsible for immediate restoration of water lines affected due to calamities. He stated that in many places, broken pipes worsen the situation so the department should undertake an exercise to fix broken pipelines at the earliest. He added that regulating the pipelines being laid along the roadside drains and jhoras is essential to ensure free flow of flood water along those water channels.
The DC stressed that a good communication network is very essential to ensure timely rescue and relief measures, so BSNL has been suggested to ensure that communication lines are always intact and for immediate restoration of telephone lines disrupted due to natural calamities should be BSNL’s priority.
He mentioned that the Food & Civil Supplies should ensure timely distribution of essential commodities especially in the rural areas during the natural calamities and in case of major road blocks, the essential commodities should be reached by transshipment or by an alternative route. The department has also been directed to undertake frequent checks to prevent over pricing of commodities.  The DC informed that the DCSO [East] has been asked to submit weekly reports on the status of availability of essential commodities.
Health & Family Welfare has been asked to provide a team of doctors and other staff for any health related emergency during natural calamities. The department should take preventive measures against any outbreak of communicable diseases, it was added.
Agriculture & Horticulture Department has been asked to undertake immediate assessment of loss of crops and its value. Apart from relief for NC fund, the Department has been asked to help farmers through the schemes implemented by the department.
Likewise, in case of any loss of livestock due to natural calamities, it should be reported to the Collectorate by the Animal Husbandry & Veterinary Services department. The department has also been asked to submit a complete report containing particulars of age, breed, cause of death of livestock and other required information for release of ex-gratia. The department will be responsible for expediting the submission of such report and schemes like distribution of livestock should be concentrated in areas where people have lost their livestock due to natural calamities.
IPR has received the responsibility to disseminate accurate and required information to the media during the occurrence of major natural calamities.
All concerned SDMs and BDOs are required to make round-the-clock arrangement to respond immediately in case of a natural calamity with close coordination with the line departments.

Man drowns in TNA swimming pool

GANGTOK, 30 April: A case of accidental death was registered at the Sadar Police Station on 29 April on the death of a 44 year-old resident of Chandmari, Gangtok, East Sikkim.
As per police records, on 29 April at around 10.30 A.M. the deceased along with his eight year old son visited the swimming pool at Tashi Namgyal Academy here. They swam for a while, the deceased’s son then came out of the pool to dry himself while the deceased continued swimming.
The son soon noticed that his father could not be seen in the pool and raised an alarm whereupon a fellow swimmer searched in the deepest portion of the pool and retrieved the deceased from the pool. He was immediately rushed to the STNM Hospital where he was declared brought dead.

Editorial: They Labour. Do We Notice?

They power development with their sweat, plod away, are frequently humiliated, are ill-treated even more often, and yet they persevere. Had it not been for them, development plans would never have moved beyond the paper they are drafted on. Take a look around; the sewage lines do not get laid only because there is a budget for it, but because there are stomachs desperate enough to work through cold, wet nights to lay them. For all the urban woes of disrupted water supplies and poor road conditions, the fact that the disruptions are repaired and the potholes eventually levelled out is thanks to labour which is able and ready. Cardamom is not a cash crop because Sikkim has progressive farmers, but because there are backs willing to take the load by the maund. Trekking is possible not only because Sikkim is pretty, but because realities are quite ugly for some who bend their backs carrying loads wearing slippers and plastic shoes up trails where even the tougher trekkers slip despite their firmer soles. They do not figure anywhere in the pecking order, and, in most cases don’t even get to enjoy the infrastructure they build.
Unfortunately, they also make easy targets. Take for example the recent allegations levelled from distant Jharkhand by a group of escaped labourers who complained of inhuman treatment by BRO officials who had engaged them for work on Sikkim roads. This group did not even know where in Sikkim they were deployed. During the earthquake last year, while locals had their organisations and government available for assistance, shell-shocked hydel labourers were left to their own devices, fleeing Sikkim without even collecting, or being offered for that matter, their due wages. It was the desperation of the situations and the seriousness of the allegations which fetched these two episodes some media attention. During ‘normal’ times, the daily woes of labourers go largely unnoticed and hence also unreported. One can only hope that cases of extreme privation are rare. What is definitely not rare however is the general anonymity in which the labour force works and fades away. This again, is not a government’s failing, but a societal shortcoming. It is because we, as consumers, do not pay enough heed to basic human rights that the labour, as a class, gets denied. The West now has the luxury to pay attention to such issues which the developing world still looks at as distractions. When we celebrate laws banning bonded labour and child labour in India, we should perhaps thank buyers in the West who put pressure on producing nations to become more humane. In Sikkim, the societal distancing is made even easier because the government does everything to paint a rosy picture. The Government is the largest employer, so it can fix a minimum daily wage of Rs. 130 per day. Rs. 130 a day is subsistence wage, remunerations barely enough for a family to get by. How many private employers recognise this and pay their workers accordingly? How many domestic servants, even discounting meals, are offered such remuneration? And yet there are people willing to work for less, willing to look the other way despite a law [of minimum wage] being broken.
The labour force does not require a more compassionate government, it requires fellow citizens who notice them, listen to them, respect them and when the situation demands, speaks for them.

Aho youth repair road

GANGTOK, 29 April: A Ranipool-based NGO, Aho Basti Youth Association [ABYA] with the support of Panchayat members of the area has repaired the Aho-Manghim road here in East Sikkim on its own initiative today. More than 80 members of the organization worked together in the road repair task and have made it suitable for vehicular traffic.
An ABYA press release issued by its president, Roshan Subba, explains that the organization took the initiative inspired by the slogan “Afno Gaon Affai Banau”. The release mentions that the people of the village have been facing problems due to the poor condition of the road for the past many days and were apprehensive of what the monsoon would wreak if the need for repairs was left unattended.

CJ lays foundation stone of Alternative Dispute Redressal Centre building in Namchi

NAMCHI, 29 April: The foundation stone laying ceremony of the Alternative Dispute Redressal Centre building at Namchi was held on Saturday here at the premises of District & Sessions Court. This was organized by the Sikkim State Legal Services Authority in coordination with District Legal Service South/ West and in collaboration with Buildings and Housing Department.
The programme began with the arrival of the Chief Justice of Sikkim High Court, Justice Permod Kohli also the Patron-in-Chief Sikkim, Sikkim State Legal Services Authority accompanied by Justice SP Wangdi, Judge High Court of Sikkim and Executive Chairman, Sikkim State Legal Services Authority at the premises of District and Sessions Court Namchi.
In her welcome address, District and Sessions Judge (South &West), Meenakshi M Rai, explained the Alternative Dispute Redressal Centre (ADRC). She highlighted the historic importance and function of ADRC and the role it has played through time.
She detailed that ADRC aims to save time with many other positive factors and is a part of mediation with the main and basic concept to settle the cases/ pending cases outside the court which has gained popularity. She added that ADRC helps in delivering and gaining speedy justice and helps render social justice through outside the court settlement. She also mentioned its use and advantages.
The Chief Justice High Court of Sikkim and Judge High Court of Sikkim then laid the foundation stone of the Centre.
The ceremony was also attended by officials from High Court of Sikkim, DC South AK Singh, SP South Manoj Tiwari, Chairman and Vice Chairman of Namchi Municipal Council along with its members, members of Bar Association Namchi, Para Legal Trainees from different Gram Panchayat Units. Secretary PHE/Building TP Rajalim, Additional Chief Engineer PHE/Building S Karkidole along with the officials and staff of the department were also present.

National recognition due to good leadership and earnest efforts, says RMDD Minister on return with PRI awards

GANGTOK, 29 April: The five prestigious awards bagged by the State recently were possible due to good leadership and power decentralization at the grassroots level facilitated by the present government said RMDD Minister, CB Karki at a press conference held on Saturday at Janta Bhawan after his return from the awards ceremony at New Delhi.
The Minister was accompanied by RMDD Secretary, AK Ganeriwala at the press conference.  Mr Karki mentioned that a central team visited and inspected the different Panchayat units and selected these GPUs for the award. The cash awards received will be used for further strengthening of the Panchayati Raj in the State, said the Minister.
Mr Karki added that the Chief Minister had started work on power decentralization at the grassroots level since the second tenure of the present government.
He informed that after returning from New Delhi he had called on the CM on Friday. The CM has urged the political and non-political organizations, governmental and non-governmental organizations and the general public to contribute towards the State, the Minister informed.
RMDD has been working tirelessly to ensure qualitative and time-bound works under the CMRHM and Reconstruction of Earthquake Damaged Rural Houses [REDRH], Mr Karki stated further adding that the department is maintaining all transparency in these works. The department is undertaking construction based on the improved design which costs Rs 4.89 lakh per house in both these schemes.
He informed that the RMDD has received Rs 391 crore for the REDRH, in which around Rs 2 crore will be used for IEC and trainings and rest Rs 389 crore will be used to build 7972 houses of Rs 4.89 lakh each. It is highlighted that all these houses will be earthquake resistant.
Responding to media queries on the lack of sanitation facilities as per Census 2011 despite the State receiving the first Nirmal Rajya Puraskar in 2008, the Minister said that almost all houses in the state have proper sanitation facilities and it is perhaps the temporary labourer camps in the State which might have also been covered by the Census. He informed that the District Collectors have instructed private companies in their districts to have proper sanitation facilities in the labourer camps.
Similarly, on untreated drinking water in Census 2011, the RMDD Secretary mentioned that in rural areas the drinking water supply sources are from natural springs, which are suitable for drinking without treatment. He informed that however the government already provides filter and electronic chlorinator to the people and has even set up laboratories for water quality testing in all four districts. It was informed that field testing kits would be provided to all GPUs and if any impurities are found in the water then the sample would be brought to the laboratory.

Sikkim boxers emerge zonal champs, punch up 8 medals

GANGTOK, 29 April: The Sikkim Amateur Boxing Association [SABA] squad has brought home 8 medals and the Team Championship trophy for Sikkim from the 4th edition of Senior Men’s East Zonal Boxing Championship held at Burnpur, Asansol in West Bengal. One more laurel to the State was added by Madan Rai who won the Best Boxer title in the Championship.
The gold medals were won by Madan Rai, Pappu Tamang and Gurpreet Singh in their respective weight categories, while the silver medalists were Prem Gurung and Naveen Cintury and the bronze medalists were Biswajit Bhowal, Sushil Tamang and Kunga Namgyal Bhutia.
Likewise, the other two pugilists in the team, Tenzing Sherpa and Pawan Singh, performed well in the championship but were not able to bag medals. The team was accompanied by Ganesh Basnet as team coach and Ongyal Sherpa as team manager.
The medalists and team members were felicitated by the SABA in a function today for their performance in the championship. On the occasion, the association also observed one minute silence on the sad demise of one of its members, Blacky Tsong recently.
Speaking on the occasion, the Best Boxer titleholder, the young promising pugilist, Madan mentioned that the gold medal and best boxer title have encouraged him to fight better in future competitions. However, he also mentioned that pugilists in the capital have been practicing without a boxing ring since the past one year, which has had a negative impact on their performances and stamina. If they are provided with the boxing ring then they could do much better in the future at the international level, said Madan.
SABA president, Praveen Gurung mentioned that the game of boxing is purely based on an individual’s hardwork and efforts to excel and the association is just a facilitator which provides a platform to pugilists in the State. The State has been producing many international and national pugilists and bringing medals constantly for the State for many years, he expressed.
Mr Gurung informed that this year the association has decided to conduct the State Championship at Gyalshing, West Sikkim in the month of June and is also preparing the state teams for the forthcoming national championships. He also mentioned that due to renovation work at White Hall where the boxing hall was demolished, the pugilists are practicing without the boxing ring.
The association has set up a temporary ring at Pangthang which is too far for everyone to go for practice daily, he further mentioned. Mr Gurung informed that the SABA will again approach the Sports and Youth Affairs Department to set up a boxing ring at Gangtok at the earliest.
On the demise of one of its active members, Blacky Tsong, he expressed that it is a great loss for the State’s pugilist fraternity and the society, as he always worked to support and encourage young pugilists.
Late Tsong was also the founder of the Boxing Association of Mangshila in North Sikkim.

PCS holds condolence meeting for late poet Ramdutta Lal Thakur

GANGTOK, 29 April: The Press Club of Sikkim under the banner of Vichar Kala Sangam organised a condolence meeting on the passing of Ramdutta Lal Thakur here in the capital in the presence of Advisor of Press Club of Sikkim [PCS], CD Rai and Padmashree Sanu Lama.
“Ramdutta Lal Thakur, a renowned poet and a simple person had contributed and played an important role in the Bhasha Manyata Aandolan. Born in 1927 in Bihar, his contribution to Nepali Literature is immense” said Padmashree Sanu Lama addressing the gathering today.
Mr. Lama informed that the late poet passed away on 22 March at Patna Hospital. Although he belonged to the Bihari community, he has done a lot for Nepali literature and the community, expressed Mr Lama.
During the meeting, Khusbu Chettri and Chandra Prasad Sharma read out poems dedicated to the Late Ramdutta Lal Thakur.
Social activist, Kiran Rasaily said that it was under late Thakur’s leadership that the Apatan Sahitya Council was formed in the state and his poems were rooted in the Nepali society.
Former Director of HRDD, Rudra Poudyal said that the late poet had helped create a literary environment in the state.
Also on the day, senior journalist Subash Deepak read out the biography of Lt. Thakur. Litterateurs Pradumna Shrestha, Chunilal Ghimirey, Sanu Bhai Sharma, Manoj Thakur were also present on the day.

CM inaugurates cold storage for Jarrong farmers

NAMCHI, 29 April: Chief Minister Pawan Chamling inaugurated a Cold Room cum Pack
House for Selep Orchid Growers Cooperative Society Ltd here at Jarrong today. This is the first cold
storage for the benefit of the horticultural farmers of this area. Agriculture Minister DN Thakarpa and Secretary Vishal Chauhan and other officials of the department were also present for the inaugural programme.

Editorial:When the Monsoon Arrives

It’s that time of the year again. The time of living in fear, planning ahead, and stocking well. Monsoons are still some time away [and if the Met projections are to be believed, will be ‘normal’ this year] but the jitters have arrived with the rather boisterous showers over parts of East and North Sikkim, and although slides and road blocks [save the ever-ready to slush out roads to Nathula and North Sikkim] have not occurred yet, once the monsoon sweeps in, even such disruptions will become routine and no matter how inured the people might have become to news of landslides and road blocks, such occurrences continue to irritate. They should shock, but irritation is all that they achieve in Sikkim. The weather has become a matter for concern again in Gangtok, with every evening that the skies open up creating apprehension over the status of water supply the next day. The dangerous conditions through which workers toil to keep the Selep reservoir supplied is quickly forgotten when the taps run dry and complaints and criticisms pour out. That said, while the workers deployed to maintain the supply lines coming from Ratey Chu to Selep deserve medals for their toil, what needs deeper criticism/ analysis is the role played by engineers and senior officials tasked with the responsibility to keep water supply flowing in the capital. It is accepted that the terrain is difficult and the weather temperamental, but this was always the case. Once the slopes started acting up, better engineering options should have been deployed and clearer planning implemented more in advance to mitigate the impact of nature with solutions offered by science. That has obviously not happened, and the situation continues to be grappled one shower at a time. A similar short-sightedness also plagues the emergency water distribution system which moves along roads, conveniently forgetting that Gangtok sits on a hill and a substantial number of people live too many flights of steps away from the roads to be able to run up and down with buckets of water. And while the water supply woes ebb and flow in the capital, the status of the national highway and the state roads slips away from the priority lists. The roads are prone to collapse big time with every monsoon, more so this season given their unsettling by the September 2011 earthquake; and despite the crores which one is told have been spent on restoration there is still no guarantee that travel will remain smooth this monsoon. The State roads will definitely remain temperamental and landslides will definitely occur. Sikkim lives in a terrain where this is bound to happen, but what makes it a certain is the annual ritual of knee-jerkism that defines Sikkim’s response to a cyclical phenomenon. Many retaining walls have been commissioned, several lakhs paid out for rehabilitation and relief, but when it comes to concrete policy decisions, the State is still feeling its way around. The Departments have not changed their style of working and the people continue devising new ways of putting more lives and property at risk. The jhoras, despite the now peeling signages making dumping in them illegal, still attract enough garbage every evening to clog and spill; the drainage patterns and sewage disposal still runoff on the streets, the catchment areas remain as denuded even as plantation drives get announced and undertaken. Everyone has forgotten Gangtok 1997 because NH31A 2007 was equally wrathful and not too many really ever cared for Yuksam 2004, which brings us to the present with laden clouds marching up to release their load on land willing and ready to slip away.

Ex-gratia released to wife of lineman killed in line of duty

GANGTOK, 29 April [IPR]: Late Deepak Tamang, who was working as a Line Man in the Energy & Power Department, Government of Sikkim had died due to electrocution on the night of 19 April 2012 when he was trying to disconnect the power line that was damaged due to the heavy rains and a fallen tree. Since the death was due to a natural calamity, the District Collectorate, East released Rs. 1.5 lakh to the deceased’s wife Meena Tamang on 23 April, as per the Natural Calamity [NC] norms

Monday, April 30, 2012

“Democracy has struck firm roots in mature Sikkim”



GANGTOK, 27 April: Chief Minister Pawan Chamling laid the foundation stone of the State Legal Services Authority building here at Development Area today. The function was also attended by Chief Justice, Sikkim High Court, Justice Permod Kohli, who is also the Patron-in-Chief of the SLSA and Justice SP Wangdi, Judge High Court of Sikkim and Executive Chairperson, SSLSA.
Addressing the function, the Chief Minister welcomed the latest development as “an indicator that democracy in the State has struck its roots firmly as a mature state in the Indian Union”.
The CM applauded SSLSA’s role in imparting justice without any cost to the poor and the weaker sections of the society.
Earlier, Justice Wangdi briefly outlined the role and activities of the SSLSA and of how the Authority has progressed from spreading legal awareness to different parts of the State to now having compiled text books on legal education for classes IX and XI in government schools.
The Chief Justice, in his address, shared that while the Courts in Sikkim were not overburdened like Courts elsewhere, there were still a few cases which have been going on for a decade and suggested that these be settled at the earliest.
He also commented that when the Courts pronounce a decision against the Government, government officials were quick in filing appeals in higher courts, many times even without sufficient grounds. Such instinctive appeals, he said, are made at the expense of the public exchequer and also imposed hardships on the litigants. On the same, Justice Kohli urged the Chief Minister to consider constituting a committee to examine such appeals before they were filed.
Meanwhile, the CM, while speaking on the role of the various arms of a democracy in serving the larger interests of the people and the nation at large, he drew attention towards the role of the media. “The role of Fourth Estate is crucial for smooth functioning of democratic institutions,” he said.
“Media reporting is to be free from external pressure, wild speculations which spread discord and are intended to sow sensationalization, preach or brand or project inimical philosophy or subvert functioning of democratically elected governance,” he pointed out.
On this point, the CM highlighted the media response to the Sikkim Destruction of Documents and Records Bill passed in the last Assembly session. This State legislation was on the lines of the central law on Destruction of Records Act of 1917 providing for a proper procedure and system of destruction or disposal of documents in possession or in custody of courts and revenue and other public offices and this Central Act had not been extended to Sikkim, he explained.
The CM stated that there was no opposition to this existing Central Act in other states, but some groups here “with vested interests”, accused the Government of attempting to cover its misdeeds with this Act. Referring to media reports on the issue the CM said, “A rational person would have asked, is that press ethics? Or suppressed ethics?”
Citing the recent Sahara India Estate Corp case in which the Supreme Court maintained that right to freedom of speech and expression was “for the benefit of people and not the press”, the CM further underlined the role of the fourth estate.
The CM then went on to highlight what he sees as the “repeated misuse” of the Right to Information Act. “An organized racket is reported to be operating with regard to misuse of such Acts. And far from the genuine objectives, petty ambitions and cheap political calculations has greatly hampered the credential and the objective value of the Acts. In majority of cases, these Acts have been misused as instruments to target innocent people vitiating the peaceful ambience”, the CM stated.
He also spoke of infrastructure and welfare measures with regard to justice delivery that have been set up in the state in the last 18 years and thanked all the legal personalities and luminaries for their hard work and contribution made in the interest of the people of Sikkim.
On the suggestions made by Justice Permod Kohli and Justice SP Wangdi to further strengthen the judicial system in the State which include establishment of lower courts in different parts of the State and others, the CM said “I will take care to address all the judicial matters placed today from the State Government’s side and try our best to fulfil all requirements within the next financial year.”

Sikkim’s first seed testing lab set up in Jorethang

NAMCHI, 27 April: The Food Security and Agriculture Department inaugurated the first Seed Testing laboratory here at Jorethang, South Sikkim which will provide seeds to South and West Districts. Minister Food Security & Agriculture, DN Thakarpa was the chief guest of the programme and was accompanied by MLA, Madan Cintury and Chairman Jorethang Nagar Panchayat, Purosuttan Agarwal.
Addressing the function Minister, DN Thakarpa said that it is the vision of Sikkim to become the country’s first organic state by 2015 and this laboratory plays an important role in this mission. He said that this laboratory must be fully functional and can be an important source of income for the farmers of the South and West districts. He urged the officers to take this laboratory as their responsibility.
Although Sikkim has limited cultivating land, the Government of Sikkim is striving towards making it a completely organic land, said the Minister. Till today 8000 hectare of land has been certified as organic land but the import of seeds from other states has lowered the value of production but with this testing unit farmers will be provided with organic seeds which will increase the value of production, he said.
He also informed that the department will soon make organic seeds available in every market of Sikkim from where the farmers can get the seeds.
MLA, Madan Cintury in his address said that agriculture, horticulture and animal husbandry are the main sources of income for 75% of the state’s population and the government is giving maximum priority to these sectors.
During the programme Principal Director SPU, PK Dewan placed his technical report of this seed testing unit. The programme was also addressed by the Additional Director, DK Rai who said that this seed testing unit has been opened with the objective of providing better quality seed to the farmers. With this unit the department can now prepare better seeds here in Sikkim which will not only help the farmers but also help in improving the quality and quantity of production, he added.
The programme was also attended by Principal Director, Phetuk Tsh. Bhutia, JD (S) FS & AD, Sonkil Lepcha, Chief Engineer, SK Pal and other officers from the department.
Earlier the Minister, MLA, Secretary and other officers also visited the seed testing laboratory and the entire unit.

Hamstrung banking services and poor lending performance discussed

GANGTOK, 27 April: The District Consultative Committee meeting for North Sikkim was held at Mangan on 24 April. An official press release informs that during the meeting chaired by DC North, TN Kazi, all the banking and developmental activities of the district were reviewed for the quarter ended 31 December, 2011.
During the deliberations the DC informed the house about the connectivity problem being faced at Chungthang due to which State Bank of India’s Chungthang branch was not being able to provide satisfactory sevices to its customers. The DC suggested that SBI consider installing a V-SAT at Chungthang so that all the customers could enjoy uninteruppted service. He also put forward the idea of SBI extending “non-home transactions” immediately till an alternative arrangement is made by them at the branch.
The LDM, SBI, noted his suggestions and assured to take it up with his controlling office. The DC also expressed the need to have an SBI ATM installed at Mangan which continues to have an incongruous situation where the bank was issuing ATM-cum-Debit cards to customers here but had no ATM of the bank at Mangan or anywhere else in North Sikkim.
The release further mentions that on the Credit-Deposit Ratio (CDR) in the district, the AGM, RBI, Anil Kumar Yadav, expressed concern over the poor offtake of credit in the district. He informed the house that the C-D Ratio in the district was just 47.8 as on December 31, 2011. He urged the bankers to explore viable ventures in the district to lend and added that the Line Departments such as Agriculture, Animal Husbandry, SRDA etc can play a constructive role in identifying the beneficaries.
He also requested the DC, North to ensure healthy attendance of Line Departments in all DCC meetings as it would lead to fruitful deliberations and pave the way for the economic development of the district. Mr Yadav also exhorted the bankers to extend credit to agriculture, dairy and other allied sectors in the district which have huge potential in the district, which would increase the CD ratio in North Sikkim, the release adds.
The meeting also deliberated upon other agenda items pertaining to PMEGP, SGSY, SJSRY, KCC etc. Joint Director of  Animal Husbandry department apprised the house about the potential of milk production in the district and urged the bankers to finance this sector.
The DCC meetings are held on a quarterly basis in each district of the State to review the achievement of the Annual Credit Plan (ACP) targets by different banks located in each distict. District Collector is the Chairman of these meetings and the Lead Banks convene the DCC meetings with representatives from RBI, NABARD, SRDA, DIC, SKVIB, KVIC and other line departments of the State Government as members. In North Sikkim at present there are 6 branches of SBI at Mangan, Chungthang, Phodong, Kabi, Lachung and Dikchu and one branch each of Union Bank of India and Sikkim State Co-operative Bank (SISCO Bank) at Mangan.

Khulla Manch on traffic issues postponed

GANGTOK, 27 April: ‘Khulla Manch’ - an open forum to debate on traffic related issues, scheduled for this evening has been postponed to 02 May [Wednesday] at 11:30 AM in front of the District Control Room, MG Marg. Heavy rainfall in the evening made it difficult for the organizers to conduct the programme which was to be held from 4-5 PM today.
The event is being organized by the Press Club of Sikkim in collaboration with Sikkim Police, East District. People can also send their problems and suggestions through e-mail to,, and or through SMS on 98324-24750, which will be addressed during the event.

Editorial: Include Passengers in Discussions on Traffic Issues

The weather played foul and the open forum facilitated by the Press Club of Sikkim between traffic and motor vehicles personnel and road users could not be held on Friday. The ‘Khulla Manch” has now been rescheduled for Wednesday, and this time called for a weather-safe time slot starting 11:30 a.m. at MG Marg. Hopefully, the meeting will be well attended, thus allowing the roads to breathe slightly easier during this peak rush-hour phase. On a more serious note though, one hopes that the open forum sees some clear deliberations on how the battered roads of the State can at least be made safer. There is an outside chance that this might just happen, but not unless commuters [and not just drivers and traffic and vehicle management personnel] also decide to attend the meeting. If the forum becomes just an interactive session between drivers/ vehicle owners and traffic and Motor Vehicles officers, then they will end up discussing primarily parking and paperwork issues. These are not unimportant, but it would be a waste of the opportunity created if road safety was not adequately addressed. Past experience shows that unless commuters - hopefully also some who have suffered in an accident caused by either reckless driving or poor road-worthiness of a vehicle - either make time to attend or are expressly invited to the Khulla Manch, this important issue will be only superficially addressed. This “third-party” presence is also necessary to temper the proceedings because there is a very strong possibility that the public nature of an open forum will embolden groups on both sides to hijack the platform to exchange allegations or spill personal woes and chew up the time. The presence of ‘passengers’ at such a forum is also necessary to address issues like taxi fares and the still unaddressed complaint of taxis often refusing to pick up passengers when the destination does not suit them.
The most important issue that needs deliberation at a gathering which has all concerned parties – traffic cops, motor vehicles personnel and drivers – has to be road safety. Even accepting the poor road conditions and difficult terrain of the State, there are a huge number of accidents which could have been avoided if safer driving habits were instilled through effective and diligent policing. Also, it is often times claimed that a mishap was caused by “brake fail” or some other mechanical error, and yet, one has not heard of any traffic intervention bothering to check the road-worthiness of vehicles. While engine health and other technical issues will require time, training and equipment, some obvious signs are plain for all to notice – like bald tyres or sputtering engines. There should be no excuse for vehicles profiting from passengers or goods to not be in safe health, and yet, for all the surprise checks and impromptu verifications, this aspect remains ignored. The entire focus of traffic personnel and motor vehicles’ wing seems invested on checking documents and parking violations. Neither of these makes the roads any safer. Dangerous driving gets flagged only after an accident has occurred. The commuters will be much better served if speeding and reckless driving are challaned more often. Admittedly, this presents a technical problem in that it is difficult to make such charges stick, but perhaps acquisitions like speed guns and breath analysers will make such action possible. After all, the road-worthiness of a vehicle is wasted if the hands on the wheels are driving “under the influence” - more of chemicals nowadays than alcohol. In this regard, some basic training for traffic cops on recognising signs of drug-induced inebriation could be considered as well. Perhaps even some more training and coordination so that the traffic police and motor vehicle inspectors do not keep essaying out each other’s roles and can thus deliver better on their respective responsibilities. One could go on about the various issues which could be taken up at the Khulla Manch, but these are best taken up when the open forum finally takes place and is used as effectively by those already lined up for it as by those [commuters] overlooked thus far but still with time to be included in it…

Sunday, April 29, 2012

“No illusion that I will be the one who can survive cancer”



Intro: Tseten Lepcha, a founder-member and working president of the Affected Citizens of Teesta and also included as a member of the Plenary Board of the World Mountain People’s Association which has taken up the issue of hydel projects and climate change with the UN, speaks to NOW! about his continuing battles – against Cancer and hydel projects, and also addresses his involvement in the steering committee for the implementation of Teesta Stage-III…


NOW: You have been keeping unwell for a while now; your well wishers would be keen on an update. Could you share what has kept you out of circulation for the past few months?
TSETEN LEPCHA: Thanks for your concern. Yes, due to various reasons, I have been out of circulation for some time now. The primary reason has been due to issues concerning my health. The initial problem started last year when I had to undergo an appendix operation, due to which I was advised to stay away from strenuous activities for some time. Then, the devastating 18th September Earthquake destroyed my village [Chungthang] and confined me there for months and all my energy was focused on providing relief, restoring essential services and rebuilding the devastated area. Since the earthquake wrecked complete chaos on our lives and we were constantly running around to rebuild the lives of the affected people, health issues took a back seat and it was only after an incidental checkup that I was informed of worst possible problem - a tumor in the left kidney was suspected to be cancerous.
After a series of tests and consultations, the tumor was removed at the Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute & Research Centre, New Delhi on the 19th of March. Since then, I have been more or less confined indoors and of course preparing for the 3-month deadline when I will have to go for review to see if the cancer has resurfaced and if it comes back, will have to start everything all over again and in case it doesn’t, then get time till the next checkup which will be after another three months.

Cancer has grown into a major health concern in Sikkim. Unfortunately, it is also very little understood. Did you and your family also confront confusion and fear when you were first diagnosed? How, if you did, did you overcome the anxiety?
Cancer has definitely grown in to major health issue, particularly for people of North Sikkim. In recent years, we have witnessed unexpected growth in the number of Cancer cases and numerous deaths. The news of cancer is one of the most shattering experiences in a person’s life and it was same with me; the only difference was that I knew it before my family members and so had shared the news gradually with them, lessening the impact. The lack of general awareness regarding cancer is a major problem, but since I was in New Delhi with a lot medical options and moreover internet provided a lot of valuable information as well. Handling the initial shock was relatively easy, but taking a decision in such situations is difficult. I had two options - one being radical nephrology (taking out the kidney) which reduces chances of the disease spreading or seeking other alternatives like the one I opted for, going in for surgery to remove only the tumor with the chances of reoccurrence of the disease. Whether the decision was right or wrong only time will tell.
As far as anxiety and the trauma are concerned, the first challenge is to accept the fact that you have the most dreaded disease and that there is every chance of fatality. Since cancer is a freak case not necessarily brought on due to an unhealthy lifestyle, we took it as our own Karma and accepted to face the consequences. We have no illusion that I will be the one who can survive cancer, in that sense we are prepared for the worst, and yet, at the same time moving ahead with positive expectations.

Could you also walk us through the medical procedure from the diagnosis to the path of recovery? How difficult is the process? 
Initially it was detected as a cyst/ tumor in ultrasound and since the growth was suspicious, an ultrasound contrast was done by injecting a fluid in the body, then further blood tests, chest x-rays, kidney function tests, CT scan, ECG & ECO cardiogram etc followed. These tests more or less confirmed that the growth was cancerous.  The doctors at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital [New Delhi] advised me that the best option was to remove the kidney as it rules out any chances of the disease spreading and since priority was to contain it, we wanted to opt for it but the test also showed presence of small calcus (stone) in the right kidney which posed a problem.  After completing all pre-surgery tests and formalities for admission, I broke the news to my friends and they, one after another, refrained me from taking a drastic step and insisted that I take other opinions and options.
Thereafter, I went to AIIMS and managed to get an appointment with the urologist, but due to the massive crowd, it was practically impossible to get any treatment done in short period and since time was crucial, we went to Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute, also in Delhi. Fortunately, being an OPD day, all the senior specialists were present, including the Head of Department of Urology.  After examining my reports the Doctor said that the best option under the circumstance was to go for Left Robotic Nephron Sparing Surgery / Partial Radical Nephrectomy. He further assured me that there won’t be any need of chemotherapy as the disease was more or less in early stage. The final treatment process would be followed after the (histological) Biopsy report. Since this option was much better, we took it and with support of the family, well wishers and the IRB Personnel from Sikkim stationed in New Delhi who donated much-needed blood, the surgery was done within two days and I was discharged after seven days.
The Biopsy report confirmed that it was conventional Renal carcinoma, clear cell type furhman Nuclear Grade-II (cancer) but localized and had not spread. As a further confirmation a bone scan was done which fortunately came in negative. After that I was told to report after every three months and since then having treatment to flush out the stones to make the right kidney in proper working condition in the event that I have to remove the infected one.
The most difficult part of the treatment is the time in the ICU, with numerous tubes and monitoring equipment attached to the body. Moreover, this is the most trying time for the family as they have to wait outside for days on end. It is while in the ICU with Ryles Tube in my nose that I wondered how Irom Sharmila of Manipur must be enduring it. I also wondered how our own ACT members, Dawa, Tenzing, Ongchu and Tashi Namgyal must have spent so many days under such, most frustrating and helpless conditions. It gave me the strength to get over it as I was in much better condition with doctors everywhere.

Since there are so many Cancer cases in Sikkim nowadays, drawing from your own experience, do you think there is need for a fresh policy initiative in the healthcare system here to assist patients better?
Honestly, I am just starting to understand the situation in Sikkim and found out that there is actually nothing much in form of support for private individuals except for some monetary support not exceeding Rs 50,000. I wish a campaign was launched like the one done for HIV/ AIDS and other diseases so that the people could be better prepared; moreover, since the treatment of cancer and other critical illness  is a very long drawn and expensive affair, I wish that  govt could provide more financial and logistic support on priority.

Since you have gone through the entire process yourself, what would be your advice to other patients with similar diagnosis and for their families as well? 
Through my own experience I found that the most essential step is to have timely medical checkup for all ages. The best thing about early detection of any ailment is that the condition of the person is not totally inflicted and treatment is much easier, particularly if one has to go to big cities, being bedridden and then going through the process in hot and humid conditions is not only frustrating but torturous both for the patient and the family.
Further, it is very important to be health conscious and maintain good physical condition by exercising and maintaining a healthy balanced diet. A healthy person is much easier to operate on as all other vital parameters are functioning well and recovery is also much faster and less stressful. Personally, I feel restricting consumption of alcohol, smoking and chewing of tobacco etc, though it may deprive some fun from life, proves a major factor in combating serious diseases. The feel-good factor is an added incentive.
As far as my personal opinion or advice to other person inflicted with cancer or other critical illness is concerned, it is very important to accept the fact that something serious has happened, secondly share it with family, relatives and well wishers. Once others know about the problem, lot of support comes in various forms like medical advice, logistics, financial support etc. It is critical to take the right decision after due consultations and considerations.
Further, do not shy away from asking for help, there are good and generous people who will help, of course, one should not forget about it even if we cannot repay the same.

You are also actively involved in the hydel protest through ACT and also overseeing the implementation of conditions imposed on Teesta Stage-III as part of the monitoring committee in Chungthang. How has the illness impacted you involvement in these issues?
Being a founder-member of Affected Citizens of Teesta, we are happy that we managed to launch the most vibrant and long drawn civil society movement in the History of Sikkim. Though the struggle is far from over and is rather an unfinished or unrealized Agenda. The fact that we awakened the consciousness of the Sikkimese people and managed to scrap four projects in Dzongu has been our biggest achievement. It does give us lot of satisfaction when we see people from all walks of life from different communities and backgrounds now being involved and raising their voices against destructive projects in the State. The recent boycott call of the Public Hearing of Teesta HEP Stage IV by the Government is also a positive sign and vindication of our stand, not forgetting the scrapping of two projects in west Sikkim.
Since the movement managed to groom many young persons, my own role is now not so important.
Further, my role as the President of the Steering committee for Teesta III is  equally challenging and requires lot of effort, there are many issues that have not been resolved, and since it entails my presence in the field, it will be difficult for me to carry on like before. There is no doubt, this illness has certainly affected my functioning capacity and I have hence requested the younger generation in ACT and the Steering committee to take over the responsibilities.

Going back to your involvement with the monitoring committee for Stage III, many would see this as being in conflict with you stand against hydel projects as espoused by ACT. How do you explain this?
As far as my involvement in the steering committee for implementation of Teesta HEP Stage III (Damsite) is concerned, it all started after a large number of people of Chungthang requested me and our organization to help them fight against the ill treatment that they were facing. It was brought to our notice that most of the promises made by the company and the Government while taking the land were not complied with, there was total lack of transparency in awarding works, blasting was rampant, the locals were denied their right to work, the relief and rehabilitations was in chaos as it was managed by an NGO of the implementing Company itself. Over all, instead of Teesta Stage III being a developmental project it more or less became a way of creating more problems for the people.
Since, it was my native village, and hailing from a family that has been traditionally leading the people, it was also a call from the very people who during our school days parted with the little money they had to give to us, not forgetting the whatever grains or livestock that they presented to us, expecting us to study well and since it was the time when these people needed us the most, as an informed citizens as well as an activist I had to accept the new role. It was very difficult to shy away from the responsibilities even if it was going to differ from my normal path.
There is no doubt that it was a very difficult decision not because it was in conflict of my role as a social activist but more so because of the perception of the people. Though it is my own personal opinion that everyone has the right to their perception and we have to face the consequences of positive and negative reactions. It is also a fact that the society is sometimes unfair and passes judgment without understanding the real issue and the constraint that someone has to face. There is also a problem in approach to dealing with issues; for many persons, the means is considered more important than the end, if anyone explores different ways to achieve the target, very often it is viewed with suspicion thus creating distrust and obstacles in functioning of the organization and as a result many important issues don’t get resolved and people keep on getting exploited and suffer.
Further, the expectations and the qualification of being an activist are sometimes not only unrealistic but absurd.  If anyone speaks of corruption then that person has to be like Anna Hazare, if one speaks of hydro project and environment one has to be like Medha Patkar so on and so forth...
The activists are expected to always live frugally, travel in third class train compartment, stay only in dharamsalas, eat only in dhabas, never fall sick, never take up any trade and possibly be without any family commitments but have to keep on fighting the Government, administration and the corporate world.
Another serious conflict in  the stand that a civil society group takes vis-à-vis  issues relating to Hydro Project or any other project is that if one opposes the implementation of the Project and in the event that it cannot be stopped and is implemented.  Then we abandon the entire issues and never make any effort to see what is really happening like in case of Teesta HEP stage V and other projects, where, due to lack of organized monitoring the people are deprived of their rights and are facing a lot of hardships. Normally, as a standard operating procedure we are supposed to stay away or else be seen as compromising and having sold out. However, I believe, we have to look at things beyond one’s own image; the larger issue of protecting our people and the environment cannot be totally discarded. If we do, we neglect the very issue for which we stand for. The issue of Teesta HEP stage-III was a classic case and needed intervention.
So, in the backdrop of such perceptions, I did lot of discussion with my friends and experts. It was collectively felt that it was very important for us to introspect, review and reinvent our own role and usefulness for a cause. It was also important to asses our effectiveness in combating not only the Government agencies but the enormously affluent corporate world. It needed a paradigm shift from the old approach to a new way and finally, it was with unanimous consent that I took up the cause of the people even if it appeared to be in conflict with our normal approach.
Then, after a meeting was held in the GPU and as per the wishes of the people, a Steering Committee was formed to monitor the implementation of the Project at the Stage-III damsite. However, we decided that none of the Members of the steering committee or their immediate family members should take up any contract or other work under the project.
Since then we have been able to bring to focus the rights of the indigenous people and now everyone in the project area is a legitimate stakeholder and their rights protected. If not anything else, then at least the dignity of the Sikkimese people was restored. A large number of the conditions have been complied though there is still a lot to be done. Further, the process of distribution of works has been streamlined and far as possible everyone was given a share of it. Many complicated pending issues relating to land compensation, employment and social impact issues were resolved.
However, since the Govt did not have any provisions in the MoU to provide protection in terms of socio-political-economic rights of the affected people, the benefits to the people are largely reduced.

Villagers unhappy with poor quality work on recently carpeted Samdong-Ipsing road

MANGAN, 26 April: The recently upgraded blacktopping work undertaken on the Raley-Upper Samdong road in East Sikkim is of very poor quality, allege residents of Kambal and Samdong villages. The up-gradation and maintenance of this 7 km stretch was carried out last month by the State PWD.
Members of Laxmi Prabha Sangh, a Kambal-based NGO, insist that they are not satisfied with the quality of work undertaken by the Department and highlight that the work should have been monitored properly. They also point out that the carpeting undertaken last month has already started peeling off.
The blacktopping undertaken was not even half an inch thick, they rue. The drain which was constructed along with the carpeting has also started breaking down at several places even though monsoon is yet to arrive, informed Karnakar Pokhrel, President Laxmi Prabha Sangh while speaking to NOW!
The residents here stress that the Department should inspect the area and carry out necessary repair works before it is further damaged. The Samdong-Ipsing road has been a lifeline for North Sikkim as the vehicles plying locals and tourists to North Sikkim depend on this road.

On becoming an I-League State

It did not happen overnight. The effort and determination of Mr. Baichung Bhutia in shaping the United Sikkim Football Club (USFC) into an I-League Team by roping in vibrant sponsors and launching the team in the arena of Professional Football greatly contributed to this maiden achievement. The persistent appeal to the All India Football Federation for the allotment I-League 2nd Division matches by the past and present President and General Secretary of Sikkim Football Association made it possible to happen ultimately.
The emergence of a number of football players from Sikkim at the national scene led by the likes of Sanju Pradhan, Nirmal Chettri, Ashish Chettri, Ong Tshering Lepcha, Bikash Jairu, Sanjay Chettri, Santu Subba, Raman Gurung, Sagar Rai, Nim Tshering Lepcha, Uttam Rai, Nim Dorjee Tamang all products of Namchi Sports Hostel proved that Sikkim has the talent and if nurtured correctly, has the potential to go to the top in the footsteps of the iconic Baichung Bhutia. The success story of these players at the national scene, supporting their families economically can be predominantly attributed to the Scheme “Search for more Baichungs” conceived and started by the author of this article by drawing inspiration from one of the speeches of the present Chief Minister. I must put on record the valuable contributions made by Mr. Hangu Norden Lepcha, Late Soloman Lepcha and Mr Suren Chettri for their untiring and dedicated service in shaping these boys.
Before dealing with the impact of being the I-League state let me briefly narrate the history of the football Association in Sikkim as Sikkim Football Association at the helm of affairs and as the major stake holder in this I-League venture.
Sikkim Football Association was formed in the year 1976 after Sikkim merged in the National mainstream and the legacy of the game of football is drawn from the erstwhile Gangtok Football Association which was synonymous with Kumar Sporting Club, predominantly a Football Club established by the then late Crown Prince of Sikkim during 1940s. This team won the first cup outside Sikkim in the year 1948.
The actual growth and popularity of football in Sikkim started with the launch of the All India Governor’s Gold Cup Football Tournament in the year 1979 with the blessings of the first Governor of the state Shri B.B. Lal. The Association has never looked back since then, facing challenges and confronting trials and tribulations.
Sikkim, the tiniest state of the Indian Union with a population of less than half a million has given some of the best football players to the country, such as late Pem Dorji, Kul Bahadur Chettri. Karma Lodey Bhutia is perhaps the first Sikkimese school boy to represent the country at the Asian International Football Championship in Seoul, South Korea. Baichung Bhutia, the legendary National Captain and as the days go by more and more players from the state are slowly but surely dominating the National scene. To name a few, Ong Tshering Lepcha who captained the India U-19, Sanju Pradhan and Nirmal Chettri are dominant part of the Golden Brigade- East Bengal, Michael Lepcha represented India in school football team in ASFC in Japan. Ashish Chettri represented India U-14 team in Iran. Bikash Jairu, Robin Gurung, Santu Subba, Sanjay Chettri, Nim Tshering Lepcha, Sagar Rai and Nim Dorjee Tamang are vibrant players donning the colors of various premier clubs in the country. The latest addition being Uttam Rai, a member of the India U-17 presently touring the USA as part of their exposure-training.
Sikkim girls are not far behind from their male counterparts either in spite of limited exposures. While Mrs. Pushpa Chettri represented the country way back in 1986 at the Asia Cup Women’s Football Championship held in Jakarta, Indonesia, Miss Anuradha Chettri played for the country in 2009 and Ms. Nima Lamu Bhutia represented India in FCA U-19 at Dhaka, Bangladesh.
SFA is committed towards the development and growth of Football in the state, which in the near future would feed the country with more players from the abundant resource of its upcoming rich talented young players.
Now that Sikkim has been elevated to the prestigious elite group of vibrant football states known as “The I-League States” with the qualification of United Sikkim Football Club to First Division I-League. The repercussions are enormous in terms of value added professional football from the point of the quality and standard of football that the state is open to witness, from meeting the infrastructural requirement for hosting the home Matches for USFC to testing the organizational skill of the state Association. Everyone connected with these important aspects of being the I-League State need to gear up and roll up their sleeves right away to accomplish and strive towards achieving a sustainable goal.
With this achievement Sikkim has been firmly placed on the Map of the Professional Football of the country of 1.2 billion population. Sikkim is now at par with the elite states like West Benga l(Kingfisher East Bengal, McDowell Mohun Bagan, Prayag United SC), Goa (Dempo SC Pvt. Ltd. Churchill Brothers SC, Salgaocar S.C, Sporting Clube de Goa), Maharashtra (Air India, Mumbai FC,Pune FC),Kerala(Chirag United), Karnataka (HAL Bangalore) and Meghalaya (Shillong Lajong FC) with regard to standard of the game, basic infrastructural requirements and the organizational capabilities. If we deal with these important aspects of being the I-League state, the responsibility of sustaining at the top distinctly lies with different agencies.
As regards the standard of the game and to maintain the I-League status, the responsibility lies with USFC and its Management, its promoters, its players, its Coach and support staff and above all Mr. Baichung Bhutia, his determination and charisma to galvanize home support for the home team. I wish the Team would look more homely with more players of Sikkimese origin which will surely help gain support not only moral support but financial support after all we have entered the arena of Professional Football. When we can spend lacs of rupees sending SMSes to make Prashant Tamang the Indian idol, there is no reason why the generous sports loving people will not come forward. You only need to create a fan based network that will reach every Sikkimese house hold. Its not that we do not have domestic players, there are scores of players like Sanju, Nirmal and others signed for other premier clubs in the country. However, it should be best left to the wisdom of the think tank of USFC who cannot afford to be carried away by emotions. They must work a strategy to sustain the status they have earned and be among the top and aim to beat the Golden Brigade and Mohun Bagan on their own turf.
Thanks to the visionary and innovative Chief Minister of Sikkim, the up gradation of the Paljor Stadium was undertaken at the right time understanding the need and aspirations of the sporting fraternity of Sikkim. The laying of the Astro Turf as the playing surface has brought in multi-faceted advantages from its utility point of view as well as a democratic protocol as a destination for the I-League matches. It made it possible for us to dare to bid for the recently concluded I-League 2nd Division and placed Sikkim at the highest level as far as football is concerned. Yet we cannot be optimistic, the challenges ahead are huge and time is running out. When the next season of I-League starts in September, 2012, we must be 100% ready with required infrastructural facilities. The Paljor Stadium will host 13 odd Home Matches for USFC against teams like East Bengal, Mohun Bagan, Churchil Brothers, Air India, Chirag United and so on. There will be a huge media presence both print & electronic and Live TV coverage of all the matches. The matches will be played partially day and night according to the television time slot allotted for these matches and hence the Paljor Stadium will have to be up graded with:
• Flood Lighting Systems.
• An exclusive Media Centre fully equipped to cater to the visiting media persons.
• Well placed TV Camera platforms in the stadium
• Commentary Boxes separately for TV and Radio.
• A well equipped Medical Centre within the stadium complex capable of handling emergencies.
• Well furnished Players’ and Referees’ Change Rooms with running hot and cold water.
• Will the Digital Score Board ever become functional.
I am sure the Department of Sports and Youth Affairs must be gearing up as it understands the urgency and importance of the above facilities.
Provided all the wishes are fulfilled, the gigantic responsibility lies with the Sikkim Football Association as the major stake holder of the entire event. It is time that it regroups under its new leadership and cannot afford to be complacent. It must gear up and show the organizational capabilities and skills to its best and in a professional touch by taking lessons from the errors and omissions of the recently concluded I-League 2n Division at the Paljor stadium
The I-League is not just a high standard football matches confined to the Paljor Stadium alone. The amount of media coverage and their very presence in the Capital will help Sikkim’s exposure in terms of Tourism, trade and industry and its overall development as a happening state.
[The writer is a retired Joint Director, Department of Sports & Youth Affairs]

Cancellation of work order not enough, says Delay Namgyal demanding that illegal allocation of road project be investigated

GANGTOK, 26 April: Delay Namgyal Barfungpa has claimed victory in the State Government’s cancellation of a road project which he had challenged in the Sikkim High Court. Informing that he had come upon the illegality from an RTI application, he also held it up as proof of the effectiveness of RTI Act, stating that this was the first time that information gathered from an RTI application had come to a logical end in Sikkim. However, he has now demanded the Chief Minister and his government not end the process with the cancellation of the work order, but also initiate strict action against the officials involved.
It may be mentioned here that the Road and Bridges Department had issued a work order for up-gradation, carpeting including protective works and drainage along Sangkhola Sumin Road of 6th to 12th KM at a total cost of Rs 7.08 crore to a Singtam-based contractor. This work was amiss in two facets, one, the same work had already been done by RMDD under PMGSY and second, no tenders were called for it.
Addressing a press conference today, Mr Barfungpa informed that when he came to know about it he filed an RTI application and then a petition to the High Court.
Following this, a legal notice was served to the concerned department on 18 July 2011. On 16 April 2012, the Roads and Bridges Department took out an order cancelling the work order.
Mr Barfungpa mentioned that the work was awarded without any tendering process. He further said that the initial cost of the work was Rs 6.16 crore but then the rate was increased by 15% and total cost of the work then went up to Rs 7.08 crore. On the same, he questioned that without any tendering process how was the cost of work even worked out in the first place and then increased.
Thanking the High Court, Mr Barfungpa stressed that he was not against development in the State but definitely against corrupt practices in the name of development.
He stressed that the contractor is not accountable for such practices but those who issue work orders are to be held responsible. Adding that it is a serious issue he stated that the government needs to take strict legal action against such individuals.

Tobacco Control Cell inspects shops MG Marg, returns with haul of banned Gutka and Paan Masala

GANGTOK, 26 April: A team of State Tobacco Control Cell and Non Communicable Diseases Division of Health Department began an inspection drive in-and-around Gangtok which began from MG Marg today. While the inspection was essentially to check whether the no-smoking rule were being adequately followed and advertised or not, it took the shape of a raid when huge amounts of banned Gutka and Paan Masala packets were recovered from shops around town.
The team started with the discovery of Gutka and Paan Masala packets from a paan shop at MG Marg, which was seized. The team also seized ash trays from some hotels and restaurants and also checked public toilets.
The team members mentioned that some hotels had separate smoking zones but they were not as per the provisions. Except imposition of normal fine in some places, rest of the places was let off with a warning.
It is learnt that the inspection will continue till 30 April covering provisional shops, paan shops, hotels and restaurants in-and-around the capital.
The team is being led by Deputy Director, C Khewa, Assistant Director, T Targain, Sanitation Inspector, R Bhutia and other staff of the department accompanied by Sikkim Police personnel.
It is informed that the team will also check No Smoking signage as per the specimen, ash trays in hotels and restaurants, cigarettes not having statutory warning displays, gutka and pan masala and etc.

Kazi Sherpa prepares to push for Camp-III on Mt Everest

GANGTOK, 26 April: Mountaineer Kazi Sherpa of Indian Himalayan Centre for Adventure and Ecotourism [IHCAE], Chemchey, is currently at the base camp of the Mount Everest after establishing Camp-2 [at 21,500 feet] for height gain and acclimatization. He returned to the base camp a few days back.
IHCAE Director, GT Bhutia got in touch with Mr Sherpa this morning. Mr Bhutia informed that Mr Sherpa is currently at the base camp with his team members and added that the routes to camp 1 and camp 2 have been opened by Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee.
He informed that a meeting was held between all team members and Sherpa at the base camp on Wednesday. There are a total of 41 climbing teams with 329 climbing members this time. Mr Bhutia informed that in the meeting it was decided that now high altitude porters will open the route to camp-3, camp 4 [Summit Camp] and for the summit. He informed that now the climbers are likely to make their way towards camp-3 on 28 April, from where the climbers would again come back to the base camp.
Mr Sherpa is representing Sikkim as a member of the Mount Everest Expedition 2012 from South Col, Nepal and has been sponsored by the State Government of Sikkim. The expedition is scheduled to launch later this month and expected to summit Mount Everest by May-end. He was flagged off by the Chief Minister Pawan Chamling from here on 27 March.

Suicide in North Sikkim

GANGTOK, 26 April: An Unnatural Death [UD] case has been registered on the death of a 28-year-old of Lower Jhusing, Mangshila in North Sikkim at the Mangan Police Station on 25 April.
As per police records, on 25 April at around noon, the youth committed suicide by hanging inside his own bedroom.
As per the report, the wife of the deceased was busy in household chores when her husband went to his room saying that he was going to take a nap. Later, as there was no response when the wife knocked on the door several times, the door was found locked from inside. On breaking the door open she found her husband hanging from the ceiling with the help of a nylon rope. Subsequently she notified the local Panchayat in this regard. No foul play has been detected yet.

Burglary in Tadong

GANGTOK, 26 April: A case of theft and house trespassing has been registered against unknown persons at the Sadar Police Station on 25 April.
According to a written FIR filed by one Uma Sharma of Krishi Bhawan, Tadong, on 25 April between 8.00 A.M. and 3.40 P.M. some unknown persons entered her rented house at Krishi Bhawan through the window and made away with some gold ornaments and cash Rs. 16,000.
Preliminary investigations reveal that on 25 April, after the complainant left for work, some unknown perpetrator (s) broke into her house through the bathroom window. Once inside, the perpetrator opened the steel almirah with its key kept in the room and took away some gold ornaments and cash approximately Rs. 16,000 and exited through the same window leaving behind no clues whatsoever. The complainant found out about the burglary when she returned home after work at about 3.40 PM.
Sources have been sensitised to gather credible information having any bearing on the case. A case under section 454/380 [lurking house-trespass or house-breaking in order to commit offence punishable with imprisonment and theft in dwelling house] of the Indian Penal Code has been registered at the Sadar Police Station and the case is under investigation.

One killed at Sikkim Breweries construction site

GANGTOK, 26 April: A case of causing death by negligence has been registered against the management of Sikkim Breweries Pvt Ltd of Paiyong, Melli at the Melli Police Station on 25 April.
According to a FIR lodged by Dhan Bahadur Karki of Upper Suntaley on 25 April at around 9.00 A.M. his son Sunil Karki [20] was working at the construction site, suddenly a mud slide occurred and he was buried under it. Immediately he was taken out by the workers and evacuated to Melli PHC, where he succumbed to his injuries.
A case under section 304 ‘A’ [causing death by negligence] has been registered at the Melli Police Station and the case is under investigation.