Friday, August 31, 2012

Local talents to shine at MG Marg Pang Lhabsol

GANGTOK, 30 Aug: Gangtok is all set to celebrate Pang Lhabsol in a grand manner and a strong focus on cultural activities here at MG Marg on Friday. Speaker, Sikkim Legislative Assembly, KT Gyaltsen, is scheduled to attend the function as chief guest. Meanwhile, prayers at the Statue of Unity premises began this evening itself.
“This year the festival is dedicated to our local talents and we are giving more emphasis on prayers for peace in the state to ensure the wellness of people here in Sikkim. May this festival bring joy and happiness in their life always,” expressed Pang Lhabsol Celebration Committee president, T Lachungpa, while speaking to media persons today.
A total of 35 cultural troupes including schools, clubs and NGOs are scheduled to perform during the celebration tomorrow.
Mr Lachungpa added that Pang Lhabsol is one of its kind, celebrated only in Sikkim this festival represents unity, prosperity, peace and brotherhood of the people of the state. He further added that this festival is celebrated every year to bring peace, unity, prosperity and brotherhood in the state. This festival is not only of one or two communities but of every Sikkimese, said Mr Lachungpa.
On behalf of the celebration committee, Mr Lachungpa welcomed everyone to be part of the festival to promote peace, prosperity and unity among the people

HRDD South convenes coordination meeting

NAMCHI, 30 Aug: Human Resource Development Department, South District organized a coordination meeting with heads of different schools, chairpersons and School Managing Committees today here at Community Hall. Area MLA Binod Rai was present as the chief guest accompanied by Namchi Municipal Council vice chairman NH Ansari as special guest.
HRDD (S) Joint Director, Bimla Rai, explained that the meeting was organized to understand the problems in running of schools and the functioning of SMC and SMDC. She informed about the grants and aids from the government and said that these should be used in the proper manner.
She further informed that enrolment at the primary level of education in South district was decreasing by the year and that 14 primary schools of South district are on the verge of closing down due to low number of enrolments.
Though the government has provided every possible facility along with infrastructural development but the enrolment in primary level education is continuing to drop. This, she said is the biggest challenge for the school heads, teachers and the administration and the department needs full cooperation from the school heads, teachers and SMC members.
Chief guest MLA Binod Rai in his address said that the present state government has given high priority to Human Resource Development and is investing 20% of the state’s budget towards quality education in the state.
Speaking on poor enrolment in government primary schools, the MLA urged all teachers and administration to provide quality education at par with private schools. He further urged teachers to take their job seriously.
During the programme the heads of schools were also provided with grants from the department.
The programme was also addressed by VC NMC, NH Ansari, Adhakshya (S) BM Rai, Deputy Director HRDD (S), PR Bista while the programme was also attended by AEOs and officers from HRD Department.

Ravangla to crown 3-day event with Pangtoed chaam today

GANGTOK, 30 Aug: The 29th Pang Lhabsol Festival at Ravangla was inaugurated by the Tourism Minister, Bhim Dhungel yesterday. The festival is being celebrated from 29-31 August at Ravangla and after a series of sports and cultural events, the celebration will conclude Friday with the traditional Pangtoed chaam at the Maneychokerling complex there.
This year’s Pang Lhabsol celebration featured rural sports and cultural competitions besides the usual musical programmes.
Minister Mr Dhungel also inaugurated the Horticulture and Handicrafts and Handlooms stalls. One of the highlight of this year’s festivities is the volleyball tournament wherein a total of 26 teams participated.  The semifinal of the tourney was played on 29 August between Sumbuk Melli and Daramdin.
In the semi final, Daramdin outplayed its opponent 3-1 points to enter into the finals of the tournament. The winner of the tournament will be awarded with Rs. 50,000 while the runners up will receive Rs. 30,000 along with trophies.
On the occasion, the Minister in his address said that the Pang Lhabsol festival has become a tourist attraction giving visitors a taste of Sikkimese traditions like community lifestyle, food, rituals, etc. “May this festival bring peace and unity among us”, said the Minister extending his greetings to all the people of the state.

Eco-tourism service providers prepare for approaching tourist season

GANGTOK, 30 Aug: The Eco-tourism Service Provider Association of Yuksam conducted its Annual General Meeting 2012 here at KCC office, Yuksam on 29 August which was chaired by senior members of Yuksam and adjoining village.
A press release informs that the general secretary of the association presented a brief progress report for the year 2011-12 and also presented the financial statement. He further deliberated on the key issues that need to be discussed among the members during the AGM.
The association formed and registered with the Government of Sikkim in 2007 has been taking up various welfare programs of its members along with other initiatives like trail clean up campaign, trail repair and also runs a pack animal insurance scheme within its members. A total of 51 members who are all pack animal operators and are actively involved in tourism have decided to contribute Rs. 200 per member for the death of one pack animal, the release informs.
So when a pack animal of a member dies in an accident, members usually will have to bear a loss of close to Rs 25,000 while a small portion is recovered through the sale of meat. Hence in order to compensate the loss of a pack animal which supports their livelihood, each member of the association has agreed to contribute a premium of Rs. 200 per household for one animal casualty. So the owner of the dead pack animal gets a compensation amount of Rs. 10400 from the association. This idea of self help has been found useful by the members.
Since its inception more than 13 pack animal deaths have been compensated from the association’s fund. During the meeting the committee members also distributed a cheque of Rs. 10400 each to 7 members who have lost their pack animals during the last few months, the release mentions.
The Association has also been repairing trails and maintaining them every year and this year with the heavy monsoon and the last earth quake, the trail has suffered major damages from landslides and blockage. The Association decided to carry out repair work soon before the next tourist season.
Like the previous year, the Association has also decided to place forward the request for financial support to various Associations, Institutes and departments. All members of the association would voluntarily help in the trail repair while the financial support received would be utilized for purchase of hardware items, utensils, expenditure for food and logistic including expenditure to hire skilled carpenter. Thus the Association would approach various the department, TAAS, SAATO, HMI, DC (west) and other agencies for various kind of support. 
Further the members of the association also raised their concern about the fodder storage facility at Dzongri, Tshoka and Thangsing. The local communities have sacrificed a lot for conservation, be it the removal of grazing from KNP, relocation of village from Tshoka, ban on grazing, ban on use of firewood, ban on collection of medicinal plant, aromatic plants or helping check bio-piracy.
Thus lot of conservation efforts have been supported by the local communities over the past many years, now with the perspective of reducing further pressure on the natural resource, the pack animal operators purchase dry fodder and transport it all the way to Tshoka, Dzongri and Thangsing to feed their pack animals during tourist season. This is expensive and requires hard work but this fodder needs to be stored in a safe place to support the fodder need of their pack animals through out the season. The pack animal operators have managed to create small storage facilities at Dzongri, Tshoka and also use the existing facilities to store their fodder which the department claims as illegal construction.
The association thus decided to appeal to the concerned department and submit a memorandum to the Government to provide storage facilities at this campsite and look into their concerns. While in the past, more than 2000 herds of yaks grazed inside the National Park but today only about 400 Dzo / horse which are used as pack animals are grazed, the release states.
The association also decided to request the concerned department to provide them with facilities and also support in the endeavour. The department has been supporting various initiatives like cattle immunization, tourism promotion in various places around KNP / KBR. Grazing inside Sanctuary and Reserve Forest is still prevalent in North and East district of Sikkim and thus the association has appealed the concerned department to support such cause which are genuine and need based for the pack animal operators.
The association has further thanked the concern Area MLA, DC West, various departments, Zilla Adakshaya, West, KCC, TMI, WWF, TAAS for providing various kinds of support.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Panchayat polls will be completed before 05 Nov: RMDD Minister


GANGTOK, 29 Aug: Dismissing speculations that the Panchayat elections will be postponed beyond the expected schedule of sometime in October, senior government officials inform that there is no question of postponing the panchayat elections and that there is ample time for the required amendments concerning the reservation percentage of the Scheduled Tribe communities in the state to be completed in time.
Confirming this, RMDD Minister CB Karki, when contacted, said that the panchayat elections should be held within the projected time-frame.
“The first panchayat meetings of the new term panchayats are due to be held on or before 05 November, 2012, so the elections should be held before that,” he said. He also said that the State government has not yet taken any decision to postpone the elections and was trying to hold the elections as per schedule.
The only procedure left is for the amendment to the Sikkim Panchayat Act to be cleared by the Legislative Assembly finalizing the reserved seats share of the different ST communities in the State. There has been a demand that the Scheduled Tribe seats be categorized by the community [Limboo, Tamang, Bhutia and Lepcha]. The earlier proposal of the RMD department had clubbed all the STs together. This now requires to be modified and necessitates an amendment to the Panchayat Act itself.
The RMDD Minister also informed that percentage of seats reserved for the different ST communities will be according to the ratio of their population. Officially, STs make up just over 40% of the state’s population.
Although the poll dates have not yet been announced, the State Government has cleared the reservation pattern for the upcoming two-tier Panchayat election. This was passed by the Cabinet in a sitting held on 28 August.
The reservation pattern is to segregate the different segments of the Tribal community, namely the Bhutia, Lepcha, Limboo and Tamang, informed Secretary, Rural Management & Development Department, DR Nepal while speaking to NOW! today. Earlier under the Sikkim Panchayat Act all of them were clubbed together as Tribals, but with this segregation they will be clubbed in different tribal communities, he added.
The reservation has been done as per the population of each tribal community taking the census and population of each tribal community into account, he further stated.
Also, starting with the upcoming panchayat polls, 50% of the panchayat seats will be reserved for women of all communities. The nodal department, RM&DD, in consultation with the State Election Commission, had finalized the reservation distribution pattern, the Secretary informed and added that this was the first time this was being done.
The delimitation of seats was also carried out by the RM&DD as per the guidelines and under the supervision of the State Election Commission after the urban areas were carved out from the rural bodies and notified for local bodies.
The department has also decided to place the reservation system approved by the Cabinet in the forthcoming summer session of the Sikkim Legislative Assembly expected to be held in the second week of September, he added.
The RM&DD has proposed an amendment to the Sikkim Panchayat Act, 1993 to reflect the nature and extent of reservation of different segments of the Scheduled Tribe community - namely, Bhutia, Lepcha, Limboo and Tamang under the ambit of reservation for Scheduled Tribe community.

Persistent rainfall stalls work at Pakyong Greenfield airport


GANGTOK, 29 Aug: Continuous and heavy rainfall in Pakyong and surrounding areas has led the Airport Authority of India (AAI) to temporarily suspend works at the Greenfield airport. However, with 63 percent of the work in the first phase already complete, the same is slated to be completed by the 2013 deadline.  
Speaking to NOW!, GM, AAI, SP Yadav informed that the first phase work will be completed by 2013 and that tenders for the second phase of construction have already been floated. “At present heavy rains have made us stop work but we will resume the same by the first week of October. The first phase of works estimated at Rs 254 crore will be completed within the specified time and works on the second phase estimated at Rs 45 to 50 crore will begin within two months,” he assured.
While stating that construction of the Sikkim airport has been a true example of how new technologies can be used to minimize impact on environment, cutting costs as well as speeding up construction work, he says that the first phase of works that actually started in October 2009 was in the advanced stages. The works include the construction of runway, apron, taxi track, retaining walls etc.
“We started work only in October 2009 which is when the Forest clearances came through. However, our pace has not slowed down at all and we are actually working on war-footing. We are confident that the whole airport complex including the second phase that has the technical block, terminal building, fire station and car park will all be completed by December 2014 or March 2015,” he stated.
The airport located at an altitude of 1700 meters [5577 feet] is being constructed by Punj Lloyd which is also building one of the tallest RE walls of the world, as high as 80.38 meters. It is informed by the GM, AAI at Pakyong that while executing this project, all efforts have been made to present a masterpiece with utmost emphasis on quality and safe working practices which are comparable to international standards and are worthy of being emulated by others.
It may be mentioned that the 2156 metre long tabletop airport with a basic width (strip) of 150 meters is planned to have a 1700 metre long and 30 metre wide runway. The airstrip is expected to cater to small turboprop aircraft like the ATR 72s in the beginning. When completed, it will be among the five highest airports of the country. The entire airport which will have Asia’s biggest Geogrid Reinforced Retaining Wall, is being constructed on a landing which is being created by building an 80.38 metre high embankment.
Sikkim is mainly formed by the oldest Pre-Cambrian rocks of Daling series and Darjeeling gneiss. They consist of phyllites and schists which make the slopes highly susceptible to weather and erosion. Excavation works for the runway made by cutting the Pakyong hill range between a height of 70m to 100m while the reinforced soil structures range between 70m-80m.
Punj Lloyd’s scope of work includes earthwork in cutting & filling, geogrid reinforced retaining walls, drainage system including box culverts and aerodrome pavements including apron, runway & taxiway. The material for the special reinforced wall which forms a major part of the construction and is expected to check soil erosion on the hill slopes, has been supplied by Maccaferri.
The official says that construction of an airport in Sikkim requires huge cutting and filling work. "Considering the geological conditions in Sikkim including seismic and environment, it was essential to adopt a design which not only meets the safety requirement but also blends well with the surroundings which are totally green," he said. Accordingly, new design and technology using local stones, earth vegetation and high strength geogrid was adopted which has proved not only environment friendly but has also resulted in speedy construction, flexibility and saving. The retaining walls were already constructed up to a 52-metre height and withstood the September 18 earthquake.
“We have also got the required land clearance from one Chunki Bhutia who vacated an acre of land for the project in May 2012. We are not experiencing any hiccups now and from here we will ensure smooth sailing,” stated the AAI GM.
It may also be informed that the Airports Authority of India (AAI) has bagged the Greentech Corporate Social Responsibility Award for its Greenfield airport at Pakyong in Sikkim. Greentech Foundation has selected AAI for Greentech CSR Award 2011 in Gold category in the aviation sector.

One Tribe Tour Live in Concert

GANGTOK, 29 Aug: With just a day to go before the One Tribe Tour Live in Concert plays out at Mayfair Resorts, Acoustic Traditional, the organisation behind the concert promise “A treat for music lovers, bringing together the best of rock in the hills with a touch of classic feel alongside the surreal and often guitar-led musical session of the storytellers”.
According to a press release, singer Neha Pradhan of ‘A-Live’ said, “Well, as a musician I’ve always believed that music speaks one language and it binds people together, no matter where they come from. Since Acoustic Traditional is an organisation which is bringing various musicians together to preserve our own indigenous heritage through music, I didn’t think twice! I just wanted to participate in this event. It'll be a great experience for me to learn stories about other cultures and also a chance to meet and perform with musicians from other regions.”
“This concert space we chose is comfortable. In fact, it accommodates just the size we felt we could cater to in terms of promotion and outreach, etc. As a small team, we have been studying, documenting and now engaging with artists from the region. We started out in a small way and it’s turning out to be great. The belief that we will find support along the way has been at the heart of our present work and it’s incredible how musicians of acclaim have come forward for this,” adds Abhishek Pradhan of Acoustic Traditional who has been filming the tour.
The concert, which is to be held on 31 August at Mayfair Hotels and Resorts, will witness performances from Adams Apple (featuring musicians from Mantra, Head Motif, Sinister Violence), Michelle Pradhan, A-Live and other independent artists, the release mentions.
The entry fee is priced at Rs. 550 for a single person, Rs. 1,200 for a single person with dinner and Rs. 2,200 for two with dinner. For booking please contact: 8972 313 930 / 95470 46200.

214 die of TB between 2008-10 in Sikkim

GANGTOK, 29 Aug: Union Minister of State for Health & Family Welfare, Sudip Bandyopadhyay in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha yesterday presented the state-wise figures of TB cases detected and deaths reported in the years 2008, 2009 and 2010 in the North Eastern Region.
In Sikkim, 1,641 TB cases were registered and 61 deaths reported in 2008. In 2009, 1,720 TB cases were detected and 87 deaths reported while in 2010, 1,646 TB cases were registered and 66 deaths reported. The figures total upto 5007 cases of TB being reported in the three years while the number of deaths reported totals to 214 for Sikkim.
According to the figures provided, in the North East, Assam has the highest number of TB cases detected and deaths reported followed by Meghalaya.

Fire-Wheel Tree blooms; late but flamboyantly

Has it really?  Here’s what Sikkim’s famous forester KC Pradhan said earlier:  “It is Stenocarpus sinuatus - Proteaceae-from Australia- Firewheel Tree- scarlet (orange-red) umbels of 12-20 flowers arranged like rays of a wheel. Watch the magnificent medium sized tree at Late PS Moktan's house in June or so. I was dazed to see the tree smothered with vibrant scarlet-red flowers some years back. Hope it is still there. It was he who got it planted at the Forest Secretariat. I sourced some 100 plants from LB Pradhan & Sons Nursery at Kalimpong in the late 1970s and asked HC Mukhia to get them distributed. I have two but being in a shady corner fail to bloom though they did well on earlier days. They like open sunny places. All garden grown plants are around 30 ft. height but in its native condition the tree attains as high as 100 feet. I wonder if it does flower at Deorali - looks like it is rather in shady place.  It is mostly grown as a pot plant for its ornamental value. All raised from seeds.”
The photograph is of one of the five young-looking trees planted by Late PS Moktan IFS PCCF/ Secretary Forests behind the Forest Secretariat at Deorali, Gangtok.  Yes, the area does not receive much sun.  However the flowering has happened in August, which seems late.  The unusual and large leaf was brought in for identification by an engineer under the SBFP-JICA project of the department during a survey of the complex last year. It was kindly identified by KC Pradhan.
This species is only one of many exotic (not indigenous) tree species imported to Sikkim to add further glamour to our biodiversity hotspot by well-meaning people. Some are planted along roadsides as avenue plantations by Forest Department and have grown into large stately trees such as the orange-flowered Streculias along NH 31A.  It would be good if a listing was made of others like it so as to spread awareness among the younger generation, during this International Decade on Biodiversity 2011-2020.
Anyone with such information is requested to share it along with relevant data like locations, dates, photographs, any interesting observations, etc., so that it can be documented appropriately.


Two recent developments have caught my attention. One was the distribution of a pamphlet by two people from West Sikkim. The duo alleged the Chief Minister of having meted out step-motherly treatment towards Limboo-Tamang community. They have posed a volley of questions to the Chief Minister regarding different issues right from reservation for Limboo community in the Assembly to reservation in jobs. They want to know why some people from their community were singled out for Vigilance raids and investigation. The Chief Minister has also been accused of trying to bring all the Limboo associations and organisations under one umbrella. But any sane person would know that it is always better to have one strong body than a number of less effective bodies. I do not see or smell any conspiracy in the intention of the Chief Minister.
It has also been mentioned that the number of Limboos working in higher posts is very few. But why do we forget that community or caste has nothing to do with such things. What matters is how much you can contribute to the state and the country irrespective of which community you belong to. The majority of the population in Silicon Valley is American, but it is the handful of Indian software engineers (in minority) who have made all the difference. The rest is history. I see no reason why any community should feel insecure about such things. We must unite and not divide.
With due apologies to the duo, I am a little tired, like most of you reading such pamphlets. There was a time when such things were taken very seriously. But now they just serve as a pastime. We read them and forget about them because we know that such mediums are being used to settle personal scores. Facts are distorted and statistics are twisted. All the ingredients are added to make it as sensational as possible. I have nothing against anyone. But what I would like to request you all is to strive to sift chaff from the wheat.
On the other hand, I read a news report in a Nepali daily regarding eviction of a Limboo family of an old mother and her only son in Sipsu in South Sikkim. The Court has ordered them to vacate the house in which they have been staying for decades. The family has nowhere to go. According to the report, they are awaiting intervention by the State Government. Unfortunately, none of the so called associations or the Limboo Association have come to their rescue, at least till now. Isn’t this the time when the community should raise their collective voice? Why is the Limboo community silent? Where are all the leaders? Why are they not raising any voice? Is it because the case does not have any political worth? Or is it that the case does not come under the ambit of their ‘agenda’? Anybody can print a pamphlet and malign someone. But it takes a lot of humanity to extend a helping hand without any expectation, especially when you know that your help will never make it to the front page of the newspaper, it will never find credit in any of the records nor will it be mentioned anywhere. A random, unplanned act of kindness is always better than a well planned, well designed conspiracy aimed at defaming someone.
Passang Sherpa, Sombarey, West Sikkim [recvd on email]

Editorial: Too Young to Die

A 10-year-old committing suicide is an aberration. An aberration which should be so rare that one never gets to hear of such incidents. Unfortunately, the aberration has occurred and made it to the news yesterday. The incident is too shocking to even allow speculations on what could have caused it; a suicide by someone so young can never be really understood, explained or settled. But does that mean that even this casualty is allowed to join the poorly maintained roll of statistics on suicides in Sikkim? That is probably what will happen, and it will be in this detached insensitivity that someone in the future will find the reasons why Sikkim lost so many to suicides. Admittedly, there was much chest beating here when Sikkim topped the nation in suicide rates last year and even politics sought to score some points off it. Shallow commentary followed for some time and some lip service was paid to the problem. And then, like always, nothing. Suicides continue being reported and the civil society, which can play an instrumental role in curbing suicides, continues to remain oblivious to its role. It is unlikely that the civil society will still respond. The death of a ten year old brings to focus suicides by the young in Sikkim [and it is not just the young who are ending their lives here]. For all that one may say about the confusion of growing up and befuddlement of hormonal changes, one does not associate such problems as depression and stress with the teen years. Yet, a disturbing number of Sikkimese teens have ended their lives; and there will be even more who have survived a suicide attempt. The situation is now so dire that it is already too late to work on theories to explain the trend; the situation is now critical and it is urgent to start caring more for the young. Sikkim has already wasted too much time waiting for experts to study the situation and offer explanations and solutions to its suicide challenge. It will be wasting even more time and sacrificing more lives if it waits for the civil society to measure up to the challenge. So, the only option left, like with most other challenges, is for the State Government to initiate a proactive policy intervention. To start with, the Health Department, perhaps in association with the Social Welfare Department, should prepare an effective awareness module to sensitise teachers on recognising and handling psychiatric symptoms triggered by stress, depression and trauma in school-going children. Something similar should also be prepared for the students so that there is peer support available to deter suicidal thoughts among the young in time. It is important that the stigma, still associated with psychiatric help is ended because that, at the end of the day, is the only defence against the rash of suicides in Sikkim. Instead of blindsiding the obvious, the society at large needs to recognise that the younger generation is growing in conditions much different from earlier times. They need special care and understanding. On our part, as teachers, parents and elders, we have to change our approach towards addressing juvenile issues.

Cabinet clears reservation distribution for Panchayat polls


GANGTOK, 28 Aug: The Cabinet, in its sitting today, cleared the reservation pattern for the upcoming two-tier Panchayat election due for later this year. The earmarking on various wards and territorial constituencies as per the reservation roster was thoroughly discussed.
Starting with the upcoming panchayat polls, 50% of the panchayat seats will be reserved for women. The nodal department, Rural Management & Development Department, in consultation with the State Election Commission, had finalized the reservation distribution pattern green flagged by the Cabinet today.
The delimitation of seats was also carried by the RM&DD as per the guidelines and under the supervision of the State Election Commission after the urban areas were carved out from the rural bodies and notified for local bodies.
The Cabinet has also decided to place the reservation system approved by the Cabinet in the forthcoming summer session of the Sikkim Legislative Assembly expected to be held in the second week of September.
The RM&DD has proposed an amendment to the Sikkim Panchayat Act, 1993 to reflect the nature and extent of reservation of different segments of the Scheduled Tribe community - namely, Bhutia, Lepcha, Limboo and Tamang under the ambit of reservation of Schedule Tribe Community.
This time, after the delimitation for Territorial (Zilla Panchayat) and Gram Panchayat Units, there has been a 10 percent increase in the number of rural seats. The territorial wards for Zilla Panchayat have increased to 110 from 93 [32 for East, 28 each for South and West and 22 for North District] in comparison to 2007. Nine seats have been added in East, 3 in South, one seat in West and four seats in North district.
SK Gautam, State Election Commissioner, while speaking to NOW! on Monday, informed that the Commission has completed the entire exercise with the help of nodal department, RMDD, “independently, and without any political or government interference”.
Earlier, Mr. Gautam had explained that “After carving out Bazaar areas into notified urban areas under Gangtok Municipal Corporation and the five Nagar Panchayats, the State Election Commission with the cooperation of RMDD carried out fresh delimitation for rural areas for both Territorial and Gram Panchayat Units in Sikkim.”
He said that State Election Commission is ready to hold the election in time, adding that once the reservation for reserved categories and 50 percent within the reserved and open categories for women, the poll date will be announced, Mr. Gautam said.

Cabinet meets and sanctions

GANGTOK, 28 Aug [IPR]: The State Cabinet meeting was held today at the Cabinet hall of Samman Bhawan, Gangtok, under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Pawan Chamling.
The Cabinet passed the proposals pertaining to various departments of the state government.
LABOUR DEPARTMENT: The proposal seeking approval and en bloc sanction of Rs 1,080 lakh and Rs. 500 lakh to be transferred to SIDICO on quarterly basis to clear the committed liabilities with Manipal Institutes and Hotel Management, Sajong in respect of previously sponsored students. The proposal for seeking confirmation of the approval and sanction of Rs 450 lakh only to be transferred to the SICB, Karfectar.
HEALTH CARE, HUMAN SERVICES & FW DEPARTMENT: The proposal seeking approval and sanction of Rs. 9,59,89,292 towards the annual procurement of medicines and consumables for the financial year 2012-13.
DEPARTMENT OF TOURISM AND CIVIL AVIATION: The proposal for according en bloc sanction of Rs 1,11,19,105 for payment of land compensation for land proposed to be acquired  for construction of Tourism infrastructure for Ekantabas and Agyatabas in Sumick and Tumin blocks, East Sikkim.
DEPARTMENT OF PERSONNEL, ADM. REFORMS, TRAINING AND PUBLIC GRIEVANCES: The proposal seeking confirmation of the approval for enhancement of the post of Secretary from 07 to 12 and Special Secretary from 20 to 25 and identification of cadre posts for State Civil Services under various departments under Government of Sikkim as well as various Public Undertakings/organizations / offices.
HOME DEPARTMENT: The proposal seeking approval and sanction of Rs 1.58 crore for payment of land compensation for land acquired for construction of 2nd and 3rd IRBn headquarter at Ben (Simchuthang Mangalay Dumra)block, South Sikkim.
WATER SECURITY AND PHE DEPARTMENT: The proposal seeking administrative approval of Rs 530 lakh and financial sanction of Rs 15.58 lakh for the work of Augmentation of Water Supply Scheme for Dikling and surrounding areas in East Sikkim.
The proposal seeking approval and sanction of Rs 3,011.13 lakh for the work of Post Earthquake reconstruction of damaged infrastructure on Water Supply and Sewerage System in Urban Towns of Sikkim under Prime Minister’s Relief Special Package.
The proposal seeking approval and sanction of Rs 50 lakh for the work of Augmentation of Water Supply Scheme to Saramsa Garden East Sikkim.
ROADS AND BRIDGES DEPARTMENT: The proposal seeking approval to award the work to M/s BSR Constructions Pvt. Limited, Hyderabad, India for an amount of Rs 69.68 crore for the work improvement, upgradation and reconstruction and development of Road sections (i) Melli (Manpur) – Nayabazar  (Section km 17.10) to Nayabazar (SK01) (ii) SK02 – Nayabazar to Namchi under ADB funded project.
The proposal seeking approval to take up drainage and protective works and premix carpeting along Reshi Mangalbaria road in West Sikkim to the tune of Rs 982.10 lakh only.
The proposal seeking administrative approval and financial sanction of Rs 32.69 crore for upgradation, widening and improvement of Budang-Chumbong-Chakhung-Soreong road in West Sikkim (22.36km) under ISC 100% CSS.
The proposal seeking administrative approval and financial sanction of Rs 25.90 crore for upgradation, widening and carpeting of Namchi Sikip Wok road in South Sikkim (22.80km) under ISC 100% CSS.
The proposal seeking administrative approval and financial sanction of Rs 29.52 crore for upgradation of single lane to intermediate lane from Ramam Bridge to Sombaria under Inter State Connectivity in West Sikkim (29 km).
LAND REVENUE AND DISASTER MANAGEMENT DEPARTMENT: The proposal seeking approval to create one post of Assistant Information Technology Specialist, four post of Assistant Disaster management Specialist cum training Officer, one post of Assistant Urban Planner and three post of Technical Assistant under Sikkim State Disaster management Authority (SSDMA).
RURAL MANAGEMENT AND DEVELOPMENT DEPARTMENT: The proposal seeking approval to place the draft bill for amendment of Sikkim Panchayat Act, 1993 to reflect the nature and extent of reservation of different segment of the Tribal Community namely, Bhutia, Lepcha, Limboo and Tamang under the ambit of reservation of Schedule Tribe Community in the next sitting of the Assembly.

Dentam’s Amar Subba runs in 9th at Hyderabad Marathon

GANGTOK, 28 Aug: Sikkim’s Marathon Man Amar Subba of Dentam, West Sikkim, secured the 9th place at the Airtel Hyderabad Marathon 2012 held at Hyderabad GMC Balayogi stadium on 26 August.
The 42-year-old father of two, completed his 42 km run in 3 hrs 19 min.
The first place was secured by an Indian Army’s Anil Thakur clocking in at 2 hrs 52 mins, followed by Scottish Richard McDowell at 2 hrs 59 min and another Indian Jagadeshan Munisamy finishing third place with a time of 3 hrs 1 mins.
“I am happy and proud to represent Sikkim at the national level,” said the Limca Book of Record holder. Before leaving Sikkim, addressing a press meet at Darap, West Sikkim, he had said that his aim was to be in the top-10 at the prestigious marathon.
“There was also an announcement prior to the race that a participant from Sikkim was also taking part in the run, which boosted me up further,” said Mr. Subba. Speaking over the phone from Hyderabad, Mr. Subba said that it was an honour to receive a medal and certificate at the closing function which also saw the presence of the Governor of Andhra Pradesh Governor ELS Narashimhan.
There were participants from all across the country and also from the US and UK. Participants from all walks of life and all age groups got medals he added.
Mr. Subba said that the marathon has encouraged him to compete with athletes of national and international repute. “It’s also a message for the youngsters of Sikkim that if a 42-year-old man can do it why not you,” said Subba.
Winning is not important but to involve oneself and to learn from such great event is much more important, he said.
Mr. Subba is now waiting for confirmation of his participation in Delhi and Mumbai marathons. His dream is to run a high altitude solo marathon from Gangtok to Gurudongmar (17800ft) next year. [from SILASH TAMANG]

10-yr-old commits suicide

GANGTOK, 28 Aug: In an unfortunate incident, a 10-year-old boy committed suicide by hanging on 27 August near Temi in South Sikkim. As per police records, on Monday, the deceased, a class IV student, hung himself with the help of his school tie from the ‘bhar’ above the fire place in the kitchen. His sister who was also at home, tried to save him by cutting the tie but it was too late. The deceased’s parents were not at home at the time of the incident.

Justice RK Patra’s tenure extended by 5 yrs

GANGTOK, 28 Aug: The state government has extended the tenure of Justice RK Patra, as Chairman, Law Commission for a period of 5 years. A notification to this effect has been issued by the Law Department which informs that the extension will be in effect from 25 August, 2012. Justice Patra has been given extension of 5 years as Law Commission, Chairman under the same terms and conditions as when he was first appointed as Chairman in the year 2004.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Sikkim Lokayukta Bill receives Presidential assent

GANGTOK, 27 Aug: The Sikkim Lokayukta Bill is now an Act. For the past nearly two years [20 months] since it was passed by the State Legislative Assembly, the Bill had been languishing and awaiting President’s assent. This nod has finally arrived and the State government can now establish its own Lokayukta. With the entire Lokpal/ Lokayukta issue in controversy for the past 2 years the Governor had forwarded the Bill to the President of India soon after it had been passed by the Sikkim Assembly in December, 2010. While the controversy over Lokpal raged on in other parts of India, Sikkim’s Lokayukta Bill was kept pending by the President. However, on 16 July, 2012, in what must be among her final orders of business, still the President of India Pratibha Devi Patil Singh cleared the Bill allowing it to become an Act.
The Sikkim Lokayukta Bill, Bill No. 21 of 2010, was passed by the Legislative Assembly on 29 December, 2010 and sent for the Governor’s assent the same day. The Governor, in turn, forwarded the Bill to the Union government on 13 January, 2011 where it was pending with the Public Affairs Department since.
The Bill deals with subject matters which come under the Concurrent List and that the approval of the Union government was thus felt necessary. Normally, if there are any inconsistencies noticed in a State Bill the Centre forwards its comments and suggestions to be accommodated in the Bill. However, no such comments were received in connection with the Lokayukta Bill.
Earlier, it had been informed that the long pendency of the Bill with the centre was due to the fact that the Central government was also in the process of formulating and passing a central Lokpal Bill. Had the Parliament passed such a Bill it might have required the Sikkim Assembly to reframe its Bill according to the provisions of the central Act. While the Lokpal Bill had been placed in Parliament last December, it could not be passed.
The opposition parties in the state will not be too happy with the President according approval to the Sikkim Lokayukta Act as both the State Congress and the State BJP had opposed the Bill. In fact, SPCC president Nar Bahadur Bhandari had petitioned the Governor not to accord his assent to the Bill. Mr Bhandari claimed that the bill had been motivated by wrong reasons. The state BJP had claimed that the bill was intended at erasing all evidence of corruption in the government departments.
The Sikkim Lokayukta Bill, now an Act, seeks to subscribe accountability on public authorities and check corruption. The primary motive of the Act is to take up and redress citizens’ grievances, especially those related to corruption in the functioning of public bodies or authorities including that of favouritism.
As per the Act the Lokayukta is to be appointed by the Governor and be given the responsibility to conduct enquiry and investigations after consultations with the Chief Justice of the Sikkim High Court, the Speaker of the Assembly and the Leader of Opposition. It also provides that the Lokayukta initiate enquiry on the receipt of complaints and after the approval of a Minister, Chief Secretary or Secretary.

Process begins to relocate earthquake ravaged Bey to Chandey

MANGAN, 27 Aug: Almost a year since the 18 September earthquake destroyed the villages of Bey and Mantam in Upper Dzongu, the process has begun for villagers from the two villages to relocate to Chandey in Mangan, some 26-27 km away from their original village.
A total of 21 displaced families [9 from Bey and 12 from Mantam] were handed over home construction plots and allotment orders under the Reconstruction of Earthquake Damaged Rural Houses [REDRH] Project at a function held at Chandey yesterday.
Their area MLA, Power Minister Sonam Gyatso Lepcha, handed over the documents to the beneficiaries and also laid the foundation stone for a house construction for these families, eachof whom will receive a one-slab RCC structure under REDRH.
It may be mentioned here that Bey had been badly hit by last year’s earthquake, when a landslide triggered by the temblor had wiped out all 9 houses in the village. Seven people had been killed in the mishap. Around 120 villagers were evacuated from the village the next day and shifted to Lingzya in Upper Dzongu where they have been staying till now.
Speaking at the function, Minister Sonam Gyatso appealed to all government officials and panchayat members to take up the project in earnest and ensure quality work and further added that the displaced families had been given priority in the first phase of REDRH implementation in the district.
Likewise, the DDO North, Chewang Gyatso Bhutia highlighted that the construction will be completed in phases in order to ensure good quality work with 10 houses being taken up initially.  He urged the beneficiaries to also involve themselves in ensuring the quality as well as quantity of the work and further added that Sikkim was the only state where people have been provided with such facilities.
Later, while speaking to NOW!, the Minister informed that the constructions will be completed within eight months as informed by the technical experts and engineers.  He further added that land under the UDHD has been provided for the resettlement of these families at Chandey.
Meanwhile, on the progress of CMRHM in Dzongu, he informed that there is good progress in 10 GPUs out of 11 in Dzongu with only Sakyong-Pentong GPU lagging behind owing to problems in road connectivity.  Similarly, on the status of two schools - Pentong Primary School and Lingzya School which had collapsed during the earthquake, the Minister stated that Rs. 90 lakh has been sanctioned for the reconstruction of Pentong School which will start as soon as road connectivity of Lingzya-Bey is restored.  He further informed that other remaining restoration works were in progress under the respective departments.
“I’m very happy and satisfied as I have been compensated for the loss of my property,” said Rikden Lepcha, one of the displaced Bey residents while speaking to NOW! after receiving the home construction plot and site allotment order. He also expressed his gratitude to the Chief Minister and area MLA for the resettlement and construction project.

Dist admn and Railway reps meet affected landowners

GANGTOK, 27 Aug: A meeting between the District Administration [East], North East Frontier Railway executing agency, IRCON International Limited, and representatives of land owners of the proposed project site of the Sevoke-Rangpo Railway line of Khani Khola, Rangpo was held at District Administration Centre conference hall today.
After a thorough discussion on various issues raised by all sides, the representatives of the land owners decided to convene a meeting with the people of the area on 02 September [Sunday] to convince them to allow the survey on the new finalized alignment in the proposed area from 10 September onwards. It is informed that during the survey, the company representatives will also be accompanied by officials from concerned government departments and DAC [East].
The meeting was also attended by the Minister Neeru Sewa, who is also the area MLA, Transport Department Secretary, Tsegyal Tashi, District Collector [East], D Anandan, SDM [East], Dr AB Karki and representatives of land owners.
The DC informed that after the laying of the foundation stone in Rangpo in 2009, the executing company had approached the district administration for land acquisition but following protest from the affected people of the area the whole process was totally stopped. He further informed that a committee of the land owners was also formed and different issues and aspects of the project were discussed. The administration had asked the railways to look into the matter again.
The DC informed that after working out the latest railway alignment this meeting has been called to inform the people about the same. He mentioned that the administration intends to acquire as little of private land as possible for this project. He pointed out that due to objections raised by the people on conducting a survey the whole project has been pending from the Sikkim side.
The DC urged the people to allow for survey first to have a clearer picture of the affected land. He stated that even the administration has been requesting for lesser acquisition of private land.
IRCON International Limited General Manager, KK Gupta gave a brief presentation on the construction of Sevoke-Rangpo New Broad Gauge Rail line project. He informed that the work of alignment design was awarded to an international consultant, GEODATA of Italy, WHICH, after satellite survey, suggested seven corridors for this project. He further informed that out of these seven suggested corridors the best and most suitable was finalized.
The General Manager also presented the salient features and other technical details of the project.
He mentioned that till date only satellite survey of the area has been done and a clear picture can be arrived at only after a physical survey.
During the meeting, land owners of the proposed project site raised various queries, grievances and issues in the meeting. On the same, the GM assured full cooperation to the people and to take them into the confidence in the work.
The Minister mentioned that the State government has been working on sorting out the connectivity problem for the state and this railway line will help address this issue along with supporting further developmental activities in the state. However, she stated that without the people’s support, the government cannot do anything.
The Minister clarified that the survey is only the initial phase and land acquisition would follow thereafter. She urged the people to let the survey be conducted in order to get a clear picture and also added that the centre has been enquiring on the delay in the project. The area MLA also extended her help and support to the people.

Culture Deptt proposes high-level meeting to discuss Dubdi Monastery protest against ASI control

GANGTOK, 27 August: The persistent demands made by the Dubdi Monastery Duchi and the monk body there to de-notify the management of the monastery from the control of the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) is being taken up seriously for immediate attention by the Cultural Affairs & Heritage Department.
Recent appeals made by the Duchi in this regard had made media headlines and considering the fact that the matter needs to be resolved immediately, the Department has proposed to hold a high level meeting between the Chief Secretary’s office, heads of all line departments, representatives from the ASI, officials from the central government and members of the Dubdi Monastery Duchi. The monastery, among the oldest in Sikkim, has been placed under the care of the ASI and the monk body there is now complaining of too much interference by ASI officials with even day to day prayers and other rituals around the monastery requiring ASI permission creating undue harassment.
The Secretary, Cultural Affairs Department, Nalini G Pradhan, presented the proposal recommending the same to the Chief Secretary, Karma Gyatso, today.
Speaking to NOW!, the Secretary informed that the state government had followed-up on all the demands made by the Duchi and the reports published by the media had also been attached in the proposal submitted to the CS today.
Speaking on the steps taken by the Department in follow-up to these demands made by the Duchi, she stated, “The department is taking this issue seriously since the first day the Duchi started raising the demands. The first major meeting regarding the same was held in January this year when the Director General of the ASI had come to Sikkim with his team of conservationists and archeologists from New Delhi.”
She further informed that subsequently a meeting was held in the Chief Secretary’s chamber between the DG, the District Collector, West and representatives of line departments. It was during this meeting that the State government clearly pointed out to the ASI, Director General about the problems that were arising and the discontent within the monk body regarding the same.
It was further informed that the DG had during the time clearly stated, “The work of the ASI is only to conserve the monument and ensure historical continuity of the same.” The DG is also stated to have said that the ASI did not have any restrictions imposed on the day-to-day pujas and functions of the monastery.
It was during this meeting in January that the Chief Secretary is said to have directed that continuing religious rituals and flavour should not be lost during restoration works after the damage caused by the September 18 earthquake on the monastery and that all works should be carried out in consultation with the Duchi.
In reply to this direction the ASI, Director General had assured that the District Collectorate, West and the Duchi would be kept in confidence and local workers and artisans used since skilled manpower already existed within the monk body.
The Culture Secretary further informed that in the month of April, an IAS officer, TS Ramdas from the Culture Ministry, GoI, also visited the monastery and participated in a joint meeting with members of Yuksom GPU, Zilla Adhakshya and representatives of the Duchi that was conducted by the DC, West. It was during this meeting that the points raised by the Duchi regarding the “hurting of religious sentiments” were discussed thoroughly.
“The Duchi wanted Norbu Gang and Dubdi monastery to be de-notified from the purview of the ASI but the ASI representative in turn had assured that these issues could be amicably worked out; however it was not possible for the ASI to de-notify the same as it could not bear any further damage to the historically significant monument.”
It is during this meeting that the ASI representative is said to have stated that no state could be given any distinction in this regard as there were no state specific laws put in place and the notification of Dubdi monastery under the Archeological Survey of India was done under the Ancient Monument and Archeological Sites and Remains Act of 1958 and the Ancient Monument and Archeological Sites and remains (Amendment and Validation) Act of 2010.
It was informed that under the existing circumstances it was strongly recommended that the ASI take local artisans for all restoration including the frescos etc. The DC, West was intimated to monitor all works and further action regarding the same.
Further, in July representatives from the Dubdi Duchi are informed to have made a representation to KN Daruwala of the GoI who in turn had written to the Principal Secretary, Social Welfare department, GoS to resolve the issue and work out a via-media talk with ASI Kolkata National Monument Authority for relaxation of regulations.
“Now, after a detailed study on the entire issue I have submitted a proposal to the CS and the department and the state government are serious on this issue. We will discuss all these matters openly and in depth during the meeting which we think is required at the moment. If there are amendments that need to be made then these points have to be raised and we have to notify GoI,” stated the Secretary.

7 Special Secretaries promoted to Secy rank

GANGTOK, 27 Aug: The State government on Saturday promoted seven special secretaries to the officiating rank of Secretary with immediate effect.
Special Secretary Geeta Bhutia, presently posted as Secretary in the State Election Commission has been promoted in the rank of Secretary in the PB-5 of Rs.37400-67000 and GP of Rs.9500 in an officiating capacity and continues as Secretary, State Election Commission.
Special Secretary, Social Justice, Empowerment and Welfare Department, SK Shilal has also been promoted to the rank of Secretary in an officiating capacity and posted as Managing Director, State Bank of Sikkim, Gangtok, on deputation.
Similarly, Special Secretary SB Pradhan presently posted as District Collector [West] under Land Revenue and Disaster Management Department has been promoted as Secretary in an officiating capacity and posted as Secretary, Food Security & Agriculture Development Department and Horticulture and Cash Crops Development Department.
Special Secretary, Energy & Power Department, Tenzing Bhutia has also been promoted to the rank of Secretary in an officiating capacity and posted as Secretary, Sikkim Public Service Commission, on deputation.
Special Secretary DR Nepal presently posted to act as Secretary, Rural Management and Development Department has been promoted to the rank of Secretary in an officiating capacity and asked to continue as Secretary, RMDD.
Special Secretary SK Pradhan presently posted as Secretary in Sikkim Public Service Commission on deputation has been repatriated and posted as Project Director, SRDA, on deputation under RMDD. Similarly, LP Chettri, Project Director, SRDA under RMDD has been repatriated and posted as District Collector, West, under Land Revenue and Disaster Management Department.
On the other hand, seven Police Inspectors have been transferred and posted with the approval of the State Police Establishment Committee. PI Moti Lall Pradhan, Officer In-charge of Nayabazar Police Station has been posted as 2nd Officer In-charge of Sadar Police Station at Gangtok. Similarly, Police Inspector, Sonam Choppel Bhutia 2nd Officer In-charge of Sadar PS has been posted to the Vigilance Department.
Police Inspector DK Pradhan of Lachen Check Post and Police Station has been posted to the Criminal Investigation Department [CID], Sub-Inspector, Chewang Bhutia, Officer In-charge of Sombaria Police Station has been transferred and posted as Officer In-charge of Nayabazar Police Station and Roshan Gurung of Nayabazaar Police Station has been transferred and posted as Officer In-charge of Sombaria Police Station.
Similarly, Dorjee Bhutia of CID has been posted as Officer In-charge of Lachen Checkpost and Police Station, whereas Sub-Inspector Bishnu Kumar Pradhan of CID has been transferred and posted to Nayabazaar Police Station.

Editorial: History Lessons

Recently, when people from the North East and their fears in South India were making headlines, the debates and discussions on the issues of the marginalised frequently touched on aspects of how the country at large is plagued by an embarrassing ignorance about its own people. There were many sniggers when Amitabh Bachchan mistakenly referred to Mary Kom as being from Assam [a mistake he quickly corrected], but can he really be faulted for not knowing his Assam from his Manipur? Just as the North East grows up largely unaware of what cultures, languages of people make up South India, so does the rest of India mature without learning anything about the northeast. Cable Television might have replaced books for the young, but school text books still remain the source of much of what Indians grow up learning. And the curriculum is woefully incomplete when it comes to projecting what makes up India.
History, they say is always written by the victor who decides which aspects of the vanquished history suit his greater plans and which bits are best left untold. The same has held true for the history taught in schools in India. The curriculum is embarrassingly North India-centric, so much so that even though students learn by rote the names of all those who made it emperor in the Slave Dynasty, ask them about what the northeast was up to in the meantime and they draw a blank. It is accepted that prior to the advent of the East India Company, there was no concept called India, but the school text books are not of that vintage and should have been compiled to tell stories from all parts of what is now India so that a connect was established early enough in life. The history we study in school is actually the composite histories of the areas which came together to form the Union of India in 1947 and later. Well, that should have been how things were, but that is not the case. The focus is too limited to the areas which were on the ascendent in the 19th century and beyond. Take a close look at the number of MPs each state has and the number of pages devoted to those areas in books teaching Indian History will be directly proportional to that number. But that’s not history. The blind-spotting of areas that got cut off with partition is even worse. The Muslim League for example was a part of the Indian Freedom Struggle and the demand for creation of Pakistan came much after the movement had progressed. We, however, read very little of the role played by this group. Icons like Subhas Chandra Bose and Bhagat Singh too are glossed over. But that’s another debate.
Before progressing further it is important to make clear why we study history at all. The main reason is to get a better understanding of where we belong - where we fit into the larger scheme of things. There has been much talk about making Sikkim join the mainstream [as also the rest of the northeast] which is why it is not enough to just study Sikkimese history in schools in Sikkim. Sikkim needs to figure in the history books studied elsewhere in the country. In junior school, students learn of what Confucius meant to China even before they are taught when and how Sikkim joined India. Ask a child, even in Sikkim, which dynasty ruled Sikkim and chances are that you will get the wrong answer. One is not suggesting going parochial here, but Sikkim does have a history that’s worth learning. Few dynasties have ruled for the 331 years [two more than even the Mughals] that the Namgyal dynasty has to its credit. The British rule which hogs the history books lasted less than a hundred years and stretched 200 years if we include the East India Company’s presence on Indian shores. Surely the Company’s intrigues with Tibet should make for interesting reading as should the Gorkha misadventures in Sikkim. There are some who might argue that most of what is passed off as Sikkimese history is actually myth. Well, it will remain so till some serious study is conducted on it. It might not be out of place to even suggest here that Sikkim should prepare two chapters on Sikkimese history to fit into text books for schools all over the country and take it to the Centre for whetting by the text book boards for inclusion in the syllabi. In fact this is something that all Northeastern States should do. The recent string of events might even pave the way for these chapters to get included in the national curriculum and this could be the one silver lining that the nation draws from the episode...

Monday, August 27, 2012

Under construction high tension tower collapses at Phongla, 16 labourers injured

NAMCHI, 26 Aug: In a major mishap reported in the Lower Phongla area, a high tension electricity tower of the Energy & Power Department being constructed by HPCL [Hythra Power Corporation Limited] collapsed injuring 16 labourers. One of the labourers was referred to Siliguri as his condition was critical.
The incident occurred at around noon today.
Immediately after the incident SP South Manoj Tiwari, Namchi SDPO DSP Gegee Norbu and PI Namchi, CB Basnett visited the spot. The cause of the accident, as per preliminary investigation sources inform, is suspected to be the use of substandard materials in the construction of the tower and also negligence on the part of the site in-charge. These, officials add, will however be established only after a more detailed enquiry into the case.
HPCL representatives however insist that the no compromises were made in quality and add that a clearer picture will emerge after experts investigate the reasons, which will include verification of the quality of materials used.
The entire tower collapsed and due to this another power distribution line was also affected and cut off by the falling tower. All the four pillars of the tower are bent, raising suspicions on the quality of materials used.
Meanwhile, after preliminary inquiry, a case was registered at Namchi Police Station today under sections 285/ 336/ 338/ 34 of the Indian Penal Code read with under section prevention of damaging public property Act against site in-charge, site engineer of HPCL and others.
The injured laborers are admitted at the District Hospital here.

Ensure availability of lifesaving drugs at6 all health centres within 2 weeks, HC directs State Govt

GANGTOK, 26 Aug: Apart from having issued notices to the state and union government respondents on the charges of inefficient and deficient health care services in the state and in the implementation of the National Rural Health Mission among other schemes the High Court of Sikkim has also issued an interim direction.
The Division Bench of the high court comprising Chief Justice P Kohli and Justice SP Wangdi has directed that “…the state shall ensure availability of life saving drugs in all hospitals/ health centres within a period of 2 weeks, if not already available.”  This direction is on the charge made in the Public Interest Litigation that live saving drugs including blood units and oxygen are often unavailable at the health centres which is required as under the guidelines of the NRHM.
On the other hand the division bench of the high court has also found, from the averments made in the petition, that various government sponsored schemes, namely the NRHM, Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY) and other schemes have not been implemented in the right spirit. The court also took note of the charge of the non-availability of life saving drugs at most of the government hospitals and health centres both at the district and sub divisional level. On this matter the court has directed the state respondents to furnish details of the facilities available at the district and sub divisional hospitals, the primary health centres including dispensaries with details of the number of such centres.
Furthermore the High Court has directed that the state furnish details on the availability of life saving drugs with their name / brand and quantity along with expiry dates and for which the respondents have been allowed a time period of 6 weeks.
Receiving notice on behalf of the state respondents was Additional Advocate General, JB Pradhan; for the Ministry of Health was present Advocate, Central Government, Karma Thinlay and appearing for the petitioner, Rinzing Chewang Kazi was Advocate, Dr. Doma Bhutia.

B.R.E.W... definitely not just a café

GANGTOK, 26 Aug: “Brew is more than just a café,” says Tenzing Nyentsey, who, along with his wife Alpana, set up what they like to call, “A platform for people to explore and experiment”.
Located on the way to the DC Office, Brew opened its doors to Gangtokians on 05 August earlier this month. Steps put together with mud and bamboo lead you to a small garden next to which is a casually set up space for guests to lounge in. Bamboo dominates the theme of the décor which as the owners explain was an easy choice since there is a bamboo grove nearby. The choice, however, also manifests what BREW is about - making the best of available resources with the help of innovative ideas. All the furniture that makes up the place has been designed and created by BREW.
BREW draws its resources from Echostream, a multi-disciplinary design studio based here in Gangtok.
“The idea had been playing on our minds since last year,” says Tenzing, who is part of Echostream, on this effort to merge the design studio with providing a creative platform where people can use the resources of the studio to experiment and create. The café, he informs, is part of the concept and is more geared towards sustaining the whole initiative financially. “We are not really looking at making a whole lot of money”, quips Tenzing. The idea being more about people with shared interests coming together over a cup of coffee or waffles that the bakery has to offer. If something comes out of such collaboration that can be sold, it will be put on sale at BREW which stands for Bakery, Retail, Events, Workshop.
What also makes up the retail aspect is the idea to encourage people to reuse, recycle, reduce waste and replenish resources. On these lines, the duo is also planning to set up a flea market at the joint in the near future where old or discarded items could be re-sold.
BREW seeks to provide space for artists and social organisations to meet, interact and present their work. Exhibitions and workshops will therefore be a regular feature at the cafe which hosted its first event, Abbatoir - a photo exhibition by Sikkimese photographer, Tashi Norden on 05-06 August. This was followed by a 3-day workshop for kids from 18-20 August where they were taught how to make cookies and cakes, toy sculptures, drawing and painting, carpentry and soft toys. Sixteen children took part in this workshop which was especially appreciated by the parents.
“They wanted such workshops to be organised on a more regular basis and we definitely plan to hold more of such events in the future,” informs Alpana.
The open kitchen offers guests not just a peek but also an opportunity to try their hand at cooking or baking if they choose to. On the menu are pancakes, waffles, cheese buns, pasta, steak, etc. “Although most of these are available on all days we keep trying out new recipes which might not be on the menu,” informs Alpana highlighting that experimenting also extends to the open kitchen.
Speaking on the run-up to the formal opening, Alpana shares that it was all about ‘josh’ as things seemed to fall into place and all involved in setting up the joint were fired up and excited to get things done. However, she adds that it was more difficult than she had earlier thought. Cost-cutting led to some innovative ideas as glass or wood were replaced by bamboo, the old got revamped and waste reused.
Meanwhile, also on the cards, is the concept of BREW as an artists’ residency where artists from within and outside the country would be welcome. From their own vegetable patch, range of products, a community library and introduction of bruschetta on the menu, Alpana and Tenzing plan an interesting BREW of ideas … definitely not just a café.


Members of Acoustic Traditional [a Bengaluru-based NGO] create the Earth symbol using candles and chart papers to promote the upcoming One Tribe Concert to be held at Mayfair Resorts here on 31 August. The team was joined by many pedestrians in making the symbol and also received queried about the upcoming event. The symbol of the Earth (ancient symbol) was used by the team to indicate the "oneness" of the tour and how it relates to all of us.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

PIL filed against condition of healthcare facilities in the State


GANGTOK, 24 Aug: Healthcare and health services in the state have always been contentious issues plagued with complaints about unavailability of basic drugs or even medical personnel. However the ground situation in the rural and remote areas of Sikkim has not always been accurately or adequately reported in the press.
Now, Healthcare in Sikkim is all set to receive its share of attention and effort with a Public Interest Litigation filed in the High Court today by a resident of Chungthang, Rinzing Chewang and taken up by counsel Dr. Doma Bhutia of the Human Rights Law Network, Sikkim.
The petition came up for hearing today in which some serious allegations over inadequate and deplorable conditions of health centres have been made. Unavailability of basic life-saving drugs, inadequate conditions of the health centres, inadequacy and frequent unavailability of health staff at the centres, violation of NRHM guidelines and other schemes and norms including the tendency of doctors to prescribe branded drugs over generic drugs apart from others have been made.
The Division bench of the High Court comprising Chief Justice P Kohli and Justice SP Wangdi have issued a notice and also issued a direction that life saving drugs, which are not available at the health centers at present, be made available soon. Among the respondents are the state government and the Union Health Ministry.
The petition alleges serious deficiencies in the implementation of the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) and its umbrella schemes such as the Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY) and the Reproductive Child Health scheme. Among the deviations in the implementation of NRHM, as alleged is the non compliance to the provision of a health centre required to be operational 24 hours a day and also the availability of 24 hour-a-day emergency services.
It is also informed that as per the account of the general public, at most times medical staff are not available in the health centres in the rural areas, which goes against the basic stipulations of the guidelines. In addition to this it is alleged that life saving and essential drugs especially blood and oxygen are not often available.
As a case in example, the plight of a woman of Lachen has been highlighted whose child reportedly died in her womb due to lack of oxygen at the health centre. The PIL in fact highlights that the plight of rural women, especially expecting mothers, in terms of access to health care is particularly sad.
The petition also highlights the finding of the 5th Common Review Mission Report which is a report compiled on the status of NRHM in Sikkim by a team of central doctors last November from their visits in North and East districts. It is informed that several lacunae in the implementation of NRHM have been highlighted in this report.
This includes the finding that patients are often referred to Gangtok, under small doubts, for minor tests which is a burden for the rural folk especially women. The report also states that doctors in the North district hospital may largely be prescribing branded drugs as opposed to generic drugs which are cheaper.
The petition also seeks that the health sub centres at Lachen and Lachung be upgraded and made fully functional; besides it is also sought that trafficked women in the short-stay homes and rape victims who become pregnant also be included in the Janani Suraksha Yojana.

Road to Lachung to be restored within 12 days

MANGAN, 24 Aug:  The road to Lachung [yes, there needs to be a road somewhere in the landslide shown above] will be restored within the next 12 days informed Chief Engineer BRO, Rajiv Sawney while speaking to NOW! today.
Around 150 metres of road formation a few kilometres short of Lachung has been washed away by a landslide and undertaking restoration work has been very difficult, the CE said.
BRO is carrying out restoration with the deployment of more excavators and JCBs at the spot to reconstruct the road formation.  The road here at Khedum was blocked by new landslides that occurred here on 06 August this month due to heavy rain.
The people of Lachung have to undertake transhipment at this spot with a one-hour walk on foot above the slide and there are further difficulties in transhipment of essential commodities, informed the Pipon of Lachung, Karma Lachungpa.
It may be mentioned here that around 500 metres of road here was damaged by a slide triggered by last year’s earthquake and this year the road has been blocked by a new slide that has occurred next to the previous slide.
Meanwhile, the people of Lachung have demanded the construction of an alternate road towards the left bank of the river.

Minister visits Thangu Micro Hydel Project site

GANGTOK, 24 Aug [IPR]: Minister Science & Technology Department, Bhim Dhungel visited the 2 x 100 KW micro hydel project at Thangu , North Sikkim on 22 -23 August.
The 2 x 100 KW micro hydel project was sanctioned by the Department of Science & Technology, Government of India to the Sikkim State Council of Science & Technology. The project is being executed at Thangu at an altitude of around 14000 feet above mean sea level.
The project is being constructed by the Constructional and Power Generation Cooperative Society of Thangu, Lachen, North Sikkim while the technical back up is being provided by the Sikkim Power Development Corporation Limited (SPDCL)            .
The Minister during his visit was accompanied by Secretary, Department of Science and Technology (DST), PT Euthenpa, Additional Secretary, DST, Sarala Rai, Additional Director, State Council of S&T, DG Shrestha, Sr. Manager (Civil) SPDCL, Palchen D. Chakatha and members of the Constructional Society.
The team inspected all the under construction civil structures like de-silt tank, forebay tank, spill over channel and the power house. During the inspection, the Minister interacted with the technical expert and members of the Constructional Society and expressed his satisfaction over the progress and quality of work done.  He reiterated that the project being undertaken at the highest altitude in Sikkim, care must be taken at each stage and the quality maintained at all levels.
The Minister directed all concerned to complete the project without further loss of time. Since most of the pipes and machinery have already reached the site, he directed that the remaining civil work and electromechanical components be taken up simultaneously, so that the project, in all respects is completed by October 2012, the time prescribed by the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India.
On successful completion, the project shall have multiple benefits in the area. The generated electricity will not only ensure uninterrupted power supply to the local people and army but it will also reduce pressure on the forest resources for fuel wood. He further said that there is vast potential for tourism development in this belt and the development of the micro hydel project would certainly facilitate the overall growth of the region.
In the evening, the local gentry of Lachen led by the Pipon Chonduk Lachenpa called on the Minister and expressed their gratitude to the Government of Sikkim for implementing a number of tourism related projects at Chungthang-Lachen-Thangu area. They also assured the Minister that they would extend all possible cooperation for completion of the 2 x 100 KW micro hydel project at Thangu.
On his return from Lachen on 23 August, the Minister also visited the Angora breeding plant at Munsithang near Chungthang, the way side amenities at Bakthang and at Kabi North Sikkim.

CS lays foundation stone for Ringhem Monastery reconstruction

MANGAN, 24 Aug:  Chief Secretary Karma Gyatso laid the foundation stone of Ringhem monastery here at Mangan today on the second day of his two-day tour of North Sikkim.  The CS was given a warm welcome by the monks and the Gumpa committee of the monastery.  The foundation stone was laid with special prayers performed by the monks and head lamas of the monastery.
It may be mentioned here that 80% of the monastery had been damaged by last year’s earthquake.   Representatives of the Ecclesiastical Deptt explained the details of the reconstruction project to the CS.  It is informed that, in the first phase Rs. 1 crore has been sanctioned for the reconstruction of the monastery.
The CS was accompanied by the Secretaries from Ecclesiastical Department, Food & Civil Supplies, Road & Bridge, Land & Revenue and the chief engineers from Energy & Power Deptt., RMDD, Building and Housing and the DC North.

New Jalpaiguri and Sikkim police nab murder accused

GANGTOK, 24 Aug: The New Jalpaiguri [NJP] Police assisted by Sikkim Police picked up one Bhaichung Sherpa and his friend from middle Arithang here in Gangtok at around 9.30 PM last night in connection with the murder of Sidharth Gurung [22], who was strangled to death in a hotel in New Jalpaiguri on 22 August.
According to police sources, a team led by SI BD Sarkar from NJP police Out Post had come to Gangtok regarding a case registered at the Bhakti Nagar Police Station [case no. 1040/12, dt. 22/08/12, u/s 302/201 IPC] to apprehend the accused. “They asked for help and assistance in apprehending the culprits and we assisted them”, informed an Officer at the Sadar Police Station, while speaking to NOW! today. The Investigating Officer [IO] of the case is SI Ajay Subba of Bhakti Nagar Police Station.
Sidharth, Bhaichung, along with a friend and one other person from Siliguri [who has also been arrested] had checked in at the Laxmi Hotel in NJP on the night of 21 August and the next morning, at around 7.30 AM, the hotel staff found Sidharth murdered in his room.
According to police sources, Sidharth had been strangled with a wire.
It is informed that the NJP police has asked for transit remand for the two arrested and will be taking them down to NJP later today. They have been booked under section 302/201 [punishment for murder and causing disappearance of evidence, or giving false information to screen offender] of the Indian Penal Code.
The deceased Sidharth Gurung, originally from Samsing, Dooars in West Bengal was residing in middle Arithang at Gangtok.

Repairs to affect drinking water supply in Namchi for 10 days

NAMCHI, 24 Aug: The supply of drinking water in Namchi and surrounding areas is likely to be affected for around 10 days due to major repair works being carried out along the main line at various places.
Repair work is being undertaken at different locations from Damthang to Namchi wherein repair of damaged and old pipelines is underway. The repair and restoration of damaged water supply lines is being carried out by PHED South from 25 August onwards.

Chief Secretary begins two-day tour of North district

MANGAN, 23 Aug: Chief Secretary Karma Gyatso Bhutia started his two-day tour of North district today accompanied by the Land Revenue, Ecclesiastical, Road & Bridges and Food & Civil Supplies Secretaries and Chief Engineers of Power Department, UD&HD and Buildings & Housing.
The entourage was given a warm reception at Hotel Tamarind in Mangan by DC North, TW Khangsarpa and other officials of the district including Sr. SP North, BK Tamang.  The CS first visited the slide spot at Khedum near Lachung where the road to Lachung has been blocked due to huge land slides.  Here, the Secretary was given a warm welcome by the public and Pipon of Lachung in a traditional way.
The CS also interacted here with the BRO officials headed by Chief Engineer, Rajiv Sawney who explained about the road conditions. The Chief Engineer Power department informed that the work for the restoration will start from tomorrow.
The Lachung Pipon, Karma Lachunpa and Tenchung Lachunpa placed a demand petition to the CS which includes the construction of alternate road at the spot at Khedum towards the left bank of the river, construction of log bridge at the river, the restoration of electricity which has been damaged by the slide at Khedum and settling the ITBP dispute with local people in entering Domang area in Lachung.  The CS directed the DC North to hold a meeting with ITBP officials on the matter and also directed that the Pipon and some representatives of Lachung should be involved in the meeting.
The CS also held a meeting at Chungthang monastery with the public of Chungthang Subdivision including Lachen people.  The panchayat president, Chungthang GPU, Lendup Lepcha while delivering his welcome speech highlighted about the order of dismantling 13 buildings at Chungthang Bazaar which has been declared as unsafe, construction of proper rim treatment at Chungthang by Teesta Urja, increase in disbursement of kerosene in Chungthang area, construction of SDM, SDPO and BDO quarters etc.
Speaking at the programme, Mr. Bhutia stated that the Government of Sikkim has accorded top priority to the development and reconstruction of all assets that have been damaged by last year’s earthquake. The Chief Secretary sanctioned Rs 20 lakh for the demolition of Chungthang food godown and further gave positive assurance regarding all the demands placed by the people of Chungthang.
At the same time, the CS has asked the concerned officials of the BRO to extend full support towards community and social development of Chungthang while officials of BSNL were asked to undertake immediate restoration of telecommunication system.
He also informed that the 1200 MW power plant by Teesta Urja would be completed by the year 2013. Assuring to transform Chungthang into a model town as it is the gateway to North Sikkim, he stated that the state shall leave no stone unturned in disbursing fair packages for reconstruction of entire assets that has been damaged by the earth quake.
Further he informed that till the date the state government has received only Rs 200 crore out of the Rs 1000 crore from the Government of India which was announced by the PM as Earthquake relief fund.
Representative from Chungthang public, Tseten Lepcha highlighted the demands for the compensation of houses damaged by excessive blasting carried out by Teesta Urja where a report of 170 houses at Chungthang has already been submitted by the DC and also the dispute regarding the Gurudongmar Lake. While responding to the dispute of Gurudongmar Lake, the CS informed that the government will take up necessary steps to resolve the issue.
Also, the Secretary Land & Revenue highlighted that Rs. 50 lakh has been sanctioned for the construction of SDM quarter while Secretary, Ecclesiastical Department informed that Rs 2 crore has been sanctioned by the state government for reconstruction of Chungthang Monastery and Rs 5 lakh has already been allotted to the members of the monastery as reconstruction token.
The Secretary Food & Civil Supplies informed that the government is making a provision for open market of kerosene to the people where the subsidy for the BPL family will be credited to the bank.  She also highlighted that the department has been providing buffer stock of essential commodities to the district.
Similarly, the Chief Engineer Power department informed that by the next 15 days proper electricity supply to Lachung will be provided while the GM BSNL informed that by the next 15 to 20 days the service will improve and the Chief Engineer BRO assured proper road condition within the next two months.
On his way back to Mangan, the CS also met with the public of Naga where he was informed about the under construction multi-purpose play ground by former chairman Nim Tshering Lepcha.
The panchayat members of Dzongu headed by Panchayat Secretary Lum/Gor/Sangtok GPU also placed a demand petition to the CS related to the timely disbursement of CMRHM funds and establishment of State Bank of Sikkim at BAC Passindang in Dzongu.

Chief Secretary’s service extended by 6 months

GANGTOK, 23 Aug: The State Government, with the approval of the Ministry of Personnel, PG & Pensions, Department of Personnel & Training, New Delhi, has extended the service of Chief Secretary Karma Gyatso for a period of six months from 01 September onwards.
The extension was given considering that the state government has constituted various committees under him to monitor the work, progress and reconstruction and rehabilitation process of damages sustained during last year’s earthquake.
The extension was given under Rule 16 of the All India Services (Death–cum- Retirement Benefits) Rules, 1958.

Assessment camps for differently-abled in all 4 districts

GANGTOK, 23 Aug: Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, under Human Resource Development Department, is organizing Medical/ Educational Assessment camps for Children with Special Needs (CWSN) in association with Sikkim Government Doctors’ Welfare Association in all four districts.
A press release informs that the camps will be held at Soreong PHC, West Sikkim on 01 Sept, District Hospital Namchi on 07 Sept, District Hospital Mangan on 15 Sept, Rhenock PHC, East Sikkim on 22 Sept and Paljor Stadium Gymnasium Hall, East Sikkim on 28 Sept.
All parent/guardians and NGOs are requested to bring their differently abled children falling in the age group 6 to 18 years to the nearest camp for Assessment, the release mentions.

Workshop shares findings of study on Poverty Pathways in Sikkim

GANGTOK, 23 Aug: Poverty is inherently dynamic and is the net result of escapes and descents of households into poverty. Poverty eradication requires actively accelerating escapes and blocking descents. Analyzing the reasons for escape and descent will assist in policy planning, as the escape pathways can then be broadened and the pathways for descent narrowed down.
Therefore, in order to identify the linkages between economic growth and poverty pathways a study was undertaken by RM&DD jointly with the Institute of Rural Development, Anand (IRMA), Gujarat which is a premier institute in the field of rural development in the country. An official communiqué informs that the study titled “Poverty Pathways and Welfare State in Sikkim” was taken up in case-study mode and a sharing workshop was organized to present the findings on 22 August at Chintan Bhawan.
The workshop was chaired by Chief Secretary, Karma Gyatso IAS and attended by dignitaries and guests from related Departments and academicians from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, IRMA and Central University (Gujarat). Secretary, RM&DD, DR Nepal welcomed all the guests and also provided details of how the study was conceptualized, introduction to IRMA and the benefits from the study.
This was followed by presentation of the case studies on poverty pathways in Sikkim by Dr. Ajay Dandekar, Dr. Pratik Modi and Dr. Reetu Sogani.
The release mentions that the findings of this study indicate that many of the escapes from poverty have been supported by government interventions. Also the rural economy of the state has evolved from a predominantly agrarian base, into a diversified multi-occupational one. Better education has helped the young workforce to secure jobs.
Also, farming practices such as floriculture in green houses, vegetable farming, dairy farming, tomato farming, poultry and employment opportunities in the transportation and construction sectors have helped households escape from poverty. Well-off and middle class households fell into poverty largely as a result of the breadwinner being afflicted by life threatening health ailments and alcoholism.
This presentation was followed by an open house discussion in which several participants contributed actively. The chief secretary in his concluding remarks highlighted upon the various Missions of the State Government. He also asked for incorporating SWOT analysis in the study framework and elaborated the various exemplary initiatives of the State Government to conserve the environment and rich biodiversity of the state.
The release adds that the learnings from the workshop will help to better understand the impacts of the development interventions and how they affect the socio-economic profile of the rural households. Better understanding the dynamics of poverty, will also help in the Mission: Poverty Free Sikkim. The workshop ended with a vote of thanks to the chief guest and all the participants.

Consultants visit Melli Dara GPU for Cyber Village Project

GANGTOK, 23 Aug: A team headed by Principal Director, Rajesh Verma and Joint Director, IT Department, Sangdup Bhutia along with consultants from Techno Identity Pvt. Ltd., a Hyderabad based firm specializing in e-governance paid a visit to 22-Melli Dara Paiyong GPU in connection with Cyber Village Project.
The idea of Cyber Village was conceptualized by the Chief Minister Pawan K. Chamling during his 40-day tour to the villages of Sikkim. The Principal Director highlighted the importance as well as components of Cyber Village. He iterated that 22-Melli Dara Paiyong GPU has been taking initiatives in the IT sector covering e-governance as well which motivated the Department to select the GPU for this project.
It was revealed that the project will ensure technology, broadband internet connectivity and e-governance at the grass root level. The President of the GPU Ganesh K. Rai expressed his gratitude to the department for taking such a good project and also thanked the Chief Minister for envisioning such a unique and service oriented concept, a first of its kind in India at this Micro Level which will be a boon for the public at large.
He also assured the department of providing all possible inputs and assistance for the smooth and early completion of the project. The Joint Director, Sangdup Bhutia shared his experiences from his visit to Korea about the best practices and sustainability of e-governance.

Now, a vehicle torched in Rumtek as well

GANGTOK, 23 Aug: Another case of arson has been reported, this time from Rumtek, East Sikkim. According to reports the vehicle, a Bolero belonging to one Passang of the Dharma Chakra Centre, Rumtek was set on fire by some miscreants.
The miscreants had smashed the window and then poured kerosene over the back seat. There was some damage to the Bolero. Furthermore the miscreants are also reported to have pasted posters on the wall of Passang’s house threatening him and his family. These have been seized by the police and a case registered in the Ranipool Thana. A dog squad and fingerprint expert from the Crime Branch have also been engaged.