Friday, September 14, 2012

CM announces committee to restructure all cadres at par with State Civil Service

GANGTOK, 13 Sept [IPR]: Chief Minister Pawan Chamling today declared a committee will be constituted under the chairmanship of the Chief Secretary to restructure the cadre of various services of the state at par with the State Civil Service. This committee will submit the report to the government within three months, he informed. He was addressing a special meeting with officers of the State government at Manan Kendra today.
The Chief Minister is addressing a series of meetings with employees of the state at Manan Kendra, Gangtok starting today and scheduled to continue till 16 September. In the audience today were gazetted officers including Account Officers and above, Under Secretaries and above and Deputy Superintendents of Police and above. On Friday, he will be meeting Office Superintendents, Head Assistants, Senior Accountants, LDCs, UDCs, Muster Roll and Work-Charged employees. Likewise, all Principals, Headmasters and the officers of the rank of AEOs and above are scheduled to meet the CM on 15 September and then the Chief Minister will be addressing all engineers starting from JEs upto the Principal Chief Engineers from civil, mechanical and electronic wings.
While addressing the officers today, the CM also highlighted various schemes implemented by the government aimed for the betterment of the government officers and employees and said that the government employees should also reciprocate the gesture with the same earnestness towards the welfare of the people for whose service they are paid handsome salaries. “Our government has always kept the interest of the government employees in our mind,” the Chief Minister said.
In his address, the Chief Minister also talked about the administrative weaknesses in the government like poor monitoring leading to poor quality of execution which is creating great loss to the government as well as to the people for whom the schemes of the government are being implemented.
In this regard, he also urged the officers to frequently visit the rural areas so that they are well acquainted with the problems faced by the people of the villages. This will also guide the government officials in the implementing process, he stressed.
About coordination and cooperation among various departments of the state government the Chief Minister stressed that proper coordination and cooperation will avoid overlapping and duplication in the schemes being implemented. He also talked about the lack of responsibility and missing sense o ownership among the officers which were hampering the work culture in the state and asked the officers to fix responsibility and accountability amongst fellow officers and staff in the department.
The Chief Minister further said that an international environment has come to Sikkim for which the officers and employees should be well equipped. In this regard the Chief Minister encouraged the officers to go for exposure visits outside the country and learn from the outside world in order to adapt themselves to the international environment.
The Chief Minister also spoke on proper implementation of the Single Window System in the establishment of the state government which will benefit the people of the state and urged the officers to give due hearing and proper justification to the needs and aspirations of the people of the state.
He also asked the officers to be in office during office hours so that the people find the officers and staff in the office when they come for their work to be done and a fix day for meetings amongst the officers and staff after 2 pm preferably on Thursday and Friday. He also asked the officers to motivate the staff of the department to work for the state and its people and encourage team work at work place.
The Chief Minister also expressed dissatisfaction over the inordinate delay in the pace of progress in the implementation various projects sanctioned after the 18 September 2011 Earthquake and asked the officers to be more proactive in implementation of such projects in the interest of the state.
Earlier, the representatives of various service organizations placed written representations before the Chief Minister.

Sikkim to host the Paragliding Festival

GANGTOK, 13 Sept: Tourism & Civil Aviation Department will be organizing the first Sikkim Paragliding Festival 2012 in association with Paragliding Association of India [PAI] and Sikkim Paragliding Adventure Sports Co-operative Society Limited from 31 October to 03 November here in the capital.
The first ever paragliding festival in the state is scheduled to be held at the Sports Complex at Reshithang in Ranka. The pilots will take off from Bulbuley Dara [2200 meters] and land at the Sports Complex at Reshithang. The festival will be sponsored by the Ministry of Tourism and Tourism & Civil Aviation Department, Sikkim Government. The PAI will be providing the technical expertise and will also be publicizing the event through their websites and affiliates.
Around 60 Indian and International paragliding pilots are expected to participate in the festival, which includes events like Free Flying event, Spot Landing contest, Acro Show, Tandem Flights and Seminar on Paragliding for students, youth and cultural programmes. The organizers have also been trying to get the Indian Air Force Sky Diving Team Show and the proposal is presently lying with the Ministry of Defence for clearance.
Addressing a press conference today, Tourism & Civil Aviation Minister, Bhim Dhungel said that the state has come forward to organize this adventure event in an organized and massive way for the first time in the state. He informed that the festival will also showcase the art, culture and cuisine of Sikkim.
The festival will have more than 35 paragliding pilots from Sikkim, of which 4 have already participated at the international level. The festival is being organized by the state mainly to encourage these local pilots and for their bright future.
The Minister pointed out that barring some, Sikkim has the potential to conduct almost all kinds of adventure activities in the state which would not only help develop and promote adventure tourism but also provide immense employment opportunities to the local youth in the state.
Tourism & Civil Aviation Secretary, Nalini G Pradhan said that the festival will have Indian and foreign paragliding pilots including many local pilots from Sikkim. She added that the festival will also help to showcase the rich cultural heritage of the state.
PAI general secretary, Manoj Roy mentioned that the main idea of the festival is to promote paragliding along with local culture and art of the state. He informed that the first PAI annual paragliding festival was held at Kamshet, Maharastra last year and this time Gangtok has been chosen for the second edition of the festival due to encouraging responses and cooperation received from the state and added that local pilots also played an instrumental role in promoting Sikkim as the preferred venue.
Mr Roy added that this festival was mainly for free flying by pilots from across the world apart from few Tandem Flights.  He further informed that ace pilots, instructors and renowned celebrities of paragliding from across the world have been invited and many have already confirmed their participation in the festival. These invitees include Jocky Sanderson from the United Kingdom, who is also the PAI advisor, Sanu Babu Sunwar from Nepal, Ed Ewing from the United Kingdom.
Jockey Sanderson is a well known international paragliding training specialist from the United Kingdom.
Sano Babu Sunawar is the winner of National Geographic 2012 People’s Choice Adventurer of the Year for his epic feat of climbing Mount Everest and then paragliding down and continuing by kayaking all the way downstream to the shores of the Bay of Bengal.
Ed Ewing is the editor of an international popular magazine about free flight, Cross Country Magazine. He has also been flying since 1990 and has been a journalist in UK since 2000.
Likewise, the festival will also have the ace pilot of the country, Debu Choudhury along with Sanjay Pendurkar, Vijay Soni and other pilots of Team India.
People of the state will also be able to see the first woman paragliding pilot from Sikkim, 24-year-old, Rinzing Doma Bhutia of Sombaria, West Sikkim flying in the sky. This young lady is also the first woman pilot of the country to participate in a paragliding competition at the national level.
Speaking at the press conference, Ms Bhutia shared that this festival will give huge exposure to the state in the field of adventure sports and especially in paragliding and added that the state has great potential to do better in this field.

Lack of manpower and awareness hindering proper implementation of CATCH

GANGTOK, 13 Sept: A coordination meeting to discuss the progress on Chief Minister’s Comprehensive Annual & Total Check up for Healthy Sikkim [CATCH] and National Rural Health Mission [NRHM] was held at the conference hall at the new Secretariat situated at Development Area today. The meeting was attended by Minister for Health DN Thakarpa, Chief Secretary Karma Gyatso, Additional Chief Secretary, Secretaries and Heads of Department of various government departments, doctors, officials of Health Department and officials of CATCH and NRHM programme.
Speaking during the programme, Minister for Health DN Thakarpa stated that CATCH was a flagship programme of the state started by the Chief Minister, while NRHM was a national programme of the central government. The main objective of the Chief Minister’s Comprehensive Annual & Total Check up for Healthy Sikkim [CATCH] is to prevent diseases, he added.
The rate of diseases in the state has come down quite drastically since the CATCH programme was implemented especially diseases related to hyper tension and diabetes, he said. “Problems will always be there while implementing any programme but we need to take them up as challenges”, the Minister added.
He also said that there is a lack of doctors and medical staff as we do not have the manpower for proper implementation of the programme and if the need arises, then he would take this matter up in the cabinet. If it becomes necessary to get more manpower then they consider appointing doctors and other required staff from outside the state on contractual basis of 3-5 years, he added.
Mentioning that the overall vision of the CATCH programme is to make Sikkim the healthiest state in India the Minister said, “We are on the track and will be able to reach the target by 2015 of being the second organic state in the country as well as fulfill the goal of implementing the CATCH programme in Sikkim”.
Speaking on the awareness needed for the CATCH programme, he stated that out of the 25 CATCH programmes held in the STNM Hospital till date and after spending Rs. 90,000, only 85 people turned up for the programme. Serious thinking needs to be done regarding bringing awareness about the programme amongst the people, he added.
Earlier in his address, the Director General cum Secretary Health Services, Dr K Bhandari informed that Sikkim was the only state in India where such a programme called CATCH has been envisioned and implemented. This is an annual feature started in August 2010 and in 2011 there were many problems initially, but now in 2012 things are looking better and everything is moving in the right direction, he added.
“The CATCH programme is more for prevention and collection of data rather than disease control as this will give us a clear picture of the diseases people of Sikkim suffer from with proper details”, he said and added that due to lack of manpower and doctors problems do arise now and then in implementation of the programme.
A briefing and presentation on the CATCH programme by Dr Keshri Rai [Joint Director, NCD] and another on NRHM by another doctor was also presented to the gathering. An open discussion regarding both the programmes was also held, wherein the Chief Secretary and the Additional Chief Secretary shared their views and opinions.

South Sikkim joins State in dedicating 18 Sept Earthquake anniv to awareness and preparedness

NAMCHI, 13 Sept: The first anniversary of the 18 September 2011 Earthquake will be dedicated to awareness and preparedness with the State Government declaring a series of awareness programmes in the run-up to 18 September 2012 throughout the state.
The main aim of such programmes is to generate awareness amongst the masses about earthquakes and its impact together with educating the masses on preparedness and mitigation measures in pre, during and post earthquake phases.
A National Level Conference is scheduled to be organized at Gangtok on 17-18 September 2012 along with mass rallies, essay competitions, putting up posters and banners, etc. Similar programmes will also be organized in all sub-divisions and the districts.
In this regard, South District Administration has decided to conduct training on first aid, fire safety, rescue operation, skits, plays, essay competitions and candle light rallies, etc. from 14 September 2012 at the Central Park of Namchi, South Sikkim. As informed by the DRM Cell, all the HODs of the district level are going to participate actively during this programme.

Financial assistance to WW II veterans and widows increased

GANGTOK, 13 Sept: The state government has revised the financial assistance being accorded to World War II veterans and also to the widows of such veterans.
The financial assistance to the war veterans has been enhanced from the existing Rs.1500 to Rs.3000 while the assistance to the widows has been enhanced from the existing Rs.800 to Rs.3000 per month. The enhanced financial assistance came into effect from the month of August, 2012.

National Flag Day for the Blind from 14 to 18 Sept

GANGTOK, 13 Sept: National Association for the Blind, Sikkim Branch is observing the National Flag Day for the Blind from 14 to 18 September, 2012 all over the state to raise funds for the cause of these children whose welfare and empowerment remains to be addressed largely, informs a press release from NAB Sikkim.
The primary aim here is to create awareness of the plight of the Visually Impaired children and to inculcate the noble habit of helping others among our society, the release mentions.
The National Association for the Blind has declared 14 to 18 September as All India Flag Day for the Blind. This is a nationwide event where every citizen of the country is expected to rededicate themselves for the service of the Visually Challenged people of the country.
“We humbly seek your support, encouragement and cooperation to this endeavor when a volunteer approaches you with a sticker”, the release adds.

SNT revises bus fares

GANGTOK, 13 Sept: The Sikkim Nationalized Transport [SNT] has revised its passenger fare for the SNT buses.
As per the new rates the charge is Rs 1.50 per passenger per kilometer for a distance upto 20 km; for distances above 20 km, the charge is to be Rs.1.20 per passenger per kilometer. The minimum chargeable amount will now be Rs.5 per passenger.
The new rates will become applicable from the month of October, 2012.


We, the students of Dikchu Senior Secondary School, East Sikkim would like to extend our gratitude to the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Sikkim and Hon’ble area MLA, 16-Tumin-Lingee constituency for upgrading our school to Senior Secondary level which has made it possible for us to pursue our higher studies in our own village and also provides a quality education at large.  As such, all the sections of the society will be benefited and also facilitate the development.
Once again we heartily thank you.
HB Limboo (Student DSS), On behalf of all the students of DSSS

Editorial:Good CATCH

A recent update on the Chief Minister’s Comprehensive Annual & Total Health Check up for Healthy Sikkim [CATCH] informs that nearly 3/4th of the population of Sikkim has already been covered under this programme. There is no denying that CATCH is a well-intended programme and now that a majority of the people have received the basic health check-up, one hopes that the department releases a thorough update on the general health of the State. Such a health analysis will go a long way towards achieving the Mission Healthy Sikkim of the State Government because even from the initial hints coming out on the findings of the CATCH programme, it becomes reasonably clear that detection in time will ensure a healthier life for many Sikkimese who would otherwise get ambushed by health complications worsened because easily treatable conditions were not addressed in time. One must bear in mind that preventive healthcare does not figure very high in the list of healthcare priorities of our country and it is against this muddled backdrop that the CATCH programme becomes so impressive. Why this programme is so welcome can be better understood with an example. The programme implementers recently announced that high blood pressure was among the most common health issues detected in the camps held so far. It is also an established fact that high blood pressure usually gets detected in our country only after people become patients, in that after their hypertension manifests in the form of a debilitating suffering. Because preventive healthcare remains ignored in our country’s obviously overburdened and dysfunctional healthcare system, an easily cured condition [if detected in time] like high blood pressure receives medical prescriptions only after complications set in. The CATCH programme could correct this picture. The reasons why the programme should be made to deliver on such aspects are compelling. People with high blood pressure are four times more likely to die of stroke and three times more likely to die of heart disease than people with normal blood pressure. They are also prone to kidney failure. Health authorities recommend that people whose blood pressure reaches 140/90, a condition known as hypertension, take steps to bring it down by dietary changes, exercise or medications. But for that, their condition needs to be detected in time; but it doesn’t and is confirmed in a majority of the cases only after they have developed one of the complications mentioned above. With something like CATCH, if implemented well and followed-up responsibly, patients need no longer go on to suffer medical harm. The simple treatments which the system tends to overlook need not be ignored any more. For those who need statistics to convince them of even obvious merits, here’s one: Northern California in USA took a policy decision to track and cure hypertension in time. It increased the percentage of patients whose hypertension was under control from 44 percent in 2001 to 87 percent in 2010. Over approximately the same period, stroke mortality declined by 42 percent, heart attacks by 24 percent and the most serious type of heart attack by 62 percent. And that is why CATCH needs to be implemented effectively and its findings dovetailed intelligently into drafting future healthcare policies and facilities...

Amendment to provide community specific seat reservation within ST quota deferred due to lack of census figures on population break-up among communities


GANGTOK, 12 Sept: The two-day Assembly session concluded yesterday without the tabling of the amendment to the Sikkim Panchayat Act, 1993, which the Cabinet had cleared on 28 August and which had been announced to reflect the nature and extent of reservation for different segments of the Scheduled Tribes in Sikkim at the panchayat level with quotas set aside for Bhutia, Lepcha, Limboo and Tamang within the ST reserved seats. Needless to add, this has created some confusion as well as suspicion particularly among those in the opposition camp, generating speculations over the government’s intention to conduct the panchayat elections in October as earlier planned by the government. The RM&DD Minister has however assured that the panchayat polls will be held on schedule.
It has now come to light that the proposed amendment to the Sikkim Panchayat Act was withdrawn by the government as it did not have the population figures of the Limboo and Tamang communities of the state without which the proportionate segregation of seats within the ST quota cannot be worked out. While this is the stated position, it is also felt that the proposal of the state government to break up the seats reserved for the Scheduled Tribes for the panchayat polls among the ST communities was not sound in law and not in consonance with constitutional provisions.
Meanwhile, RMDD Minister, CB Karki, stated that the panchayat polls will be held in time in the month of October. He clarified that the proposed amendment to the Act was not brought forth as it would have required a census survey of the Limboo and Tamang population of the state so that the percentage of their seat share could be decided. Such a population survey would obviously have been time consuming.
The RMDD Minister further clarified that a census survey would have been required as the state government does not have the census figures of the two population groups. DESME, the concerned department, is reported to have informed the state government that it was not in possession of the latest census figures of the two communities.
“The amendment requires us to have the population figures of the two communities and it will not be possible to allocate earmarked seat share as planned without the census figures,” stated Mr. Karki.
In fact, such a move to allocate seat share without any sound basis would also be ‘illegal’. So, in such a situation the state has decided to use the same pattern of seat reservation as it did in the last Panchayat polls of 2007 the Minister informs.
“We have decided conduct the panchayat polls as per the notification issued in 2007 and will go according to the reservation pattern stated therein”, Mr. Karki stated.
This effectively means that there will be no separate seat allocation or reservation for LTs or BLs within the ST reserved seats and they will be contesting the reserved seats as reserved under the category of Scheduled Tribes [and not Limboo, Tamang, Bhutia and Lepcha].
While this has now been finalized, earlier the Cabinet had itself approved the proposal to demarcate separate seats for each ST community within the ST reserved seats.
The RMDD Minister further assured that the panchayat polls will be held as ‘scheduled’ in October. As per the notification of 2007 a total of 91% seats in panchayat polls are reserved for the various sections of the population which includes ST, SC, OBC etc.

31-yr-old killed in road mishap near Ranipool

GANGTOK, 12 Sep: A 31-year-old youth was crushed and killed on the spot by a moving truck after his motorcycle crashed at Marchak a few kilometers short of Ranipool this morning.
As per the OC, Ranipool, the deceased, Baichung Subba a resident of Tumlabong who works as a peon in the RM&D department was on his way to office when he was first allegedly hit by a passing Toyota Innova luxury taxi and while he was lying on the road, run over by a passing truck.
The accident is reported to have occurred between 9:30 and 10 AM this morning. All the three vehicles were on the way to Gangtok.
The OC informs that both the drivers - of the truck and the Innova - have been taken into custody by the Ranipool Police and the dead body has been sent for post-mortem at STNM Hospital. Both the vehicles have also been seized by the cops.
As of now the case is still under investigation and the police are looking at all angles to learn about the actual cause of the accident.

14-yr-old promising footballer dies in road mishap at Namthang

NAMCHI, 12 Sept: A road mishap at Namthang, South Sikkim claimed the life of a 14-year-old promising footballer, Andrew Lepcha, today.
Andrew was a student at the Namthang Football Academy and had been selected to play at the ongoing TFA Shield tourney in Chennai organised by the Tamil Nadu Football Association.
The team was preparing to leave for NJP from Namthang this morning to participate in the tourney. Andrew’s uncle, Dawa Lepcha, was driving him to join his team on his scooter at around 6 AM this morning. As they approached Namthang, his uncle lost control over the two-wheeler and collided with a truck coming from Namthang.
In the collision, Andrew sustained serious injuries while his uncle sustained minor injuries. The uncle immediately contacted Andrew’s family and informed them about the accident. Family members along with the police reached the spot and took him to Namthang PHC where he was given first aid and referred to Namchi District Hospital. Unfortunately, Andrew was declared dead at Namchi hospital.
The body was handed over to the deceased’s family after autopsy.
The Namthang Football Academy has cancelled its participation in the TFA Shield tourney at Chennai. The entire team member along with the locals and panchayats assembled at the party office of Namthang and conducted peace prayers for the departed soul.
Police sources informed that the case has been registered at Namchi PS against the driver of the Truck under section 279, 304 A IPC and the case is under investigation.

SFA mourns demise of young footballer

GANGTOK, 12 Sept: Sikkim Football Association (SFA) held a condolence meeting at Gangtok today to mourn the sad and untimely demise of a football player of Namthang Football Academy, Tsheten Andrew Lepcha in a road accident at Namthang today.
An SFA release states that the deceased was “a budding young footballer” and was part of the Namthang Football Academy's football team which was to leave for Chennai today to play in a championship.
The meeting observed two minutes silence as a mark of respect for the departed soul. Tamil Nadu Football Association also contacted SFA General Secretary over the phone to convey their condolences, the release adds.

SPSC Chairman to get benefits at par with CS, directs High Court

GANGTOK, 12 Sept: The division bench of Sikkim High Court has directed the State Government to pay the Sikkim Public Service Commission chairman monetary benefits and other statutory benefits at par with the Chief Secretary. The SPSC is a statutory organisation consisting of two Members and one Chairman as prescribed under the Sikkim Public Service Commission (Member) Regulations, 1983.
Former SPSC Chairman, KN Sharma, had filed a Writ demanding various benefits as Member and Chairman of the Commission, including the North-East Allowances, after his retirement from the post of Chairman. Some benefits were paid to the petitioner before the filing of this petition and some of the benefits were released during the pendency of this petition except the North-East Allowance.
Mr Sharma was appointed as a member of the SPSC on 02 November 2007 and worked in various capacities [as Acting Chairman and Chairman] till he attained superannuation at the age of 62 years.
The division Bench of High Court in its judgment directed the State respondents to grant North-East Allowance as receivable by the Chief Secretary of the State to the petitioner for the period he has served as a Chairman of the Sikkim Public Service Commission. It was stated that the benefit should be calculated and paid to the petitioner within a period of 3 months, failing which the petitioner shall be entitled to the interest @ 6% till the amount is actually paid.
The High Court has rejected the State’s contention that the North-East Allowance are only payable to the All India Service members belonging to the State cadre posted in the State and not to the Chairman of the Commission as being “bereft of any logic or legal sanctity”.
The High Court further said that a bare perusal of Regulation 13 wherein unequivocal and unqualified emphasis is on equation of conditions of service of the Chairman with the Chief Secretary of the State in respect to all matters for which the regulations are silent.
The judgment stated that “…if any benefit is available to the Chief Secretary under any rule or order, the Chairman shall be entitled to such benefit if not disadvantageous subject to regulations framed under Article 318. It is not in dispute that the Chief Secretary of the State is entitled and is receiving North-East Allowance by virtue of the Office Memoranda’s.”
The Court observed that in the absence of any express provision under the regulations disentitling him, the petitioner is entitled to North-East Allowance under the same rule and order as are applicable to the Chief Secretary by virtue of parity of conditions of service with that of the Chief Secretary of the State. Any other interpretation would impinge upon and do violence to the provisions of Regulation 13, it was noted.

Six-month training on Angora Shawl Weaving begins at Gnathang

GANGTOK, 12 Sept: Six-month capacity building in Angora Shawl Weaving under Border Area Development Programme 2012-13 at Gnathang, East Sikkim was inaugurated by Panchayat President of Gnathang, Sonam Uden Bhutia on Tuesday.
The programme, which has 20 trainees, is sponsored by Office of the Border Area Management, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, New Delhi and organised by Directorate of Handicrafts & Handloom, Government of Sikkim
The programme was also attended by Director, DHH, Ganga D. Pradhan, Assistant Director (Production) I, Jigme Pintso Bhutia, Assistant Director, Pema Sangmo.
As per a press release, Director, DHH while addressing the beneficiaries mentioned the need of the weaving training and informed the beneficiaries to avail the opportunity extended by department. The knowledge acquired from the training would not only benefit them but will benefit others as well, she said.
The Assistant Director, Jigme Pintso Bhutia (Production) informed about the admission under Health Insurance Scheme and Life Insurance Schemes of the weavers provided by Government of India, Ministry of Textiles. He also mentioned that this kind of scheme is particularly meant for the weavers and artisans in the state.
Chief guest, Sonam Uden Bhutia called upon the gathering to avail the facilities and opportunity extended by the department and also thanked the government and department. She urged the local women to learn something valuable from the training and further added that this kind of scheme would be of immense help for the women in the future, the release adds.

Three suicides

GANGTOK, 12 Sept: Three suicides have been reported in the last 24 hours.
A 17-year-old school student committed suicide by hanging on 11 September at Soreng in West Sikkim. He along with a friend had stayed back home from school that day. Nothing is known as to what transpired but the deceased student had stayed over at his friend’s place that night. His body was found hanging at his friend’s residence.
In Temi police jurisdiction a 67-year-old man of Daragoan, is reported to have committed suicide by hanging on 11 September. In another incident a 39-year-old woman of 5th Mile Budang under Nayabazaar police jurisdiction, reportedly committed suicide by hanging. She had made a suicide attempt earlier as well, it is reported.

Police nab two peddling brown sugar

GANGTOK, 12 Sept: Two persons have been arrested by the Nayabazaar police on charges of possessing and peddling brown sugar. The two accused, Bikash Rai, 27 of Chumbung and Kiran Chettri, 25 of Daragoan, Nayabazaar were picked up on 11 September at around 10 AM by the police.
They were suspected of consuming as well as peddling psychotropic substances and on 11 September the police reportedly received information that the two were at Sisney ‘S’ turning Nayabazaar. A police team picked them up from there and later during a search 13 packets of brown sugar were reportedly recovered from their possession. A motorcycle belonging to Kiran Chettri, which as per police reports, was used in the ferrying of such substances was also seized.

Early detection saves lives

Dr TSULTEM DOMA BHUTIA beat Thyroid Cancer because it was detected early enough. Recognizing that Thyroid cancer has had the fastest increase in incidence of all cancers in recent years, she shares her experience of the illness and explains what this strain of cancer is all about, underlining that increased public awareness could lead to early detections and save more lives…

Being a final year medical student, I had a tendency of reading about some disease and then fitting the symptoms in myself and worrying that I was affected by that disease. Anxious that I was turning into a hypochondriac, I forced myself to shake off the aforementioned habit. I was successful in doing so and by the time I joined my internship in October 2006, I was no longer worried about suffering from any illness of any kind.
Sometime in August 2007, however, while washing my face, I noticed a small swelling in my neck in the region of the thyroid. As had become my habit, I quickly pushed the thought away of it being anything significant. However everyday in the mirror I could see something staring back at me from the region of my neck and I did not feel like it belonged there. After a few weeks of fighting with my own thoughts, I casually mentioned it to my friend apprehensive that she would mock me and point out that I was becoming hypochondriacal again.
Today, I thank God for the sudden realization that I should get a second opinion about the presence of the swelling from my friend. I am also grateful to my friend who felt the swelling, did not make fun of me, and after a few days literally dragged me to the Surgery OPD to get myself checked by a surgeon.
Even when the surgeon confirmed the presence of a nodule and asked me to get a few tests done I still felt like it was nothing and that all the tests would only confirm that I was normal. The test reports came back as Thyroid Cancer. I underwent a surgery for removal of my thyroid gland on the last day of my internship in October 2007. After 6 weeks a scan was planned to see for any remaining cancer in my body. I received radioiodine therapy for the residual disease. Till that time all the people who knew me and my disease commented that I was taking things very well and not complaining about why it happened to me, but when I look in retrospect I realize I was in shock at that time, not fully comprehending what was happening to me. Only when the doctor told me that I would have to repeat a scan after 6 months to see for any recurrence did I realize that this was going to be a part of me always.
My surgery scar looked terrible and that was exactly how I was feeling. However because my cancer was detected early and was treated promptly, I was declared CANCER FREE after my second scan in May 2008. With the healing of my scar, which is barely visible now and the passage of time my mind is healing too from the shock. As a Cancer survivor I feel the need to spread awareness about this illness.
September is Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month, a worldwide observance initiated by ThyCa: Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Association. Thyroid cancer has had the fastest increase in incidence of any cancer in recent years. So it is apt that we know a little more about this problem.
The thyroid gland is a vital organ present in all human beings. It is a small, butterfly-shaped gland located in the lower front of the neck, above the collarbones, and below the voice box (larynx). Our thyroid gland makes hormones that help control the function of many of our body’s organs, including our heart, brain, liver, kidneys, and skin. Making sure that our thyroid gland is healthy is important to our body’s overall well-being.
Sometimes the thyroid gland undergoes malignant changes and develops cancer.Thyroid Cancer can occur in anyone right from childhood to old age, both in males and females. The symptoms may be a finding of a swelling in the region of the thyroid or the neck. Some people may also detect a change in their voice or difficulty in swallowing or breathing. However these findings may occur quite late in the course of the disease and not everybody can make out a swelling in their neckhence it is necessary that you get yourself screened by a doctor.
You can also do a self-check. It is an easy procedure in which you need a handheld mirror and a glass of water. Simply follow these steps.
1. Hold the mirror in your hand, focusing on thelower front area of your neck, above the collarbones, and below the voice box (larynx). Your thyroid gland is located in this area of your neck.
2. While focusing on this area in the mirror, tip your head back.
3. Take a drink of water and swallow.
4. As you swallow, look at your neck. Check for any bulges or protrusions in this area when you swallow. Reminder: Don’t confuse the Adam’s apple with the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is located further down on your neck, closer to the collarbone. You may want to repeat this process several times.
5. If you do see any bulges or protrusions in this area, see your physician. You may have an enlarged thyroid gland or a thyroid nodule that should be checked to determine whether further evaluation is needed.
It is important to understand that most thyroid nodules are benign and not cancer. However they need to be evaluated to confirm their benign nature. Thyroid cancer is of various kinds and its treatment is tailored to the type of cancer and the individual who is affected. Although when found early, thyroid cancer is usually treatable itis life-disrupting, expensive, and stressful for patients and loved ones.In addition, some thyroid cancer can be aggressive and difficult to treat.
Do you wonder sometimes what if you found a crack before the whole wall collapsed? What if you found a leak before the tyre went completely flat? It’s better to find it early and the same is true for cancer. Early detection saves lives. So does prompt treatment plus lifelong follow-up. So, find thyroid cancer early. Ask for a neck check next time you see your doctor. A neck check takes only a minute. Tell your doctor if you have had voice changes or difficulty breathing or swallowing. Your awareness of this rapidly increasing cancer can save your life as well as that of your loved ones. Spread the message. Be aware and find cancer early
[The writer is a pediatrician at Central Referral Hospital, Tadong]

Editorial: Heal and Restore Lost Youth

A young boy who could not be a day over 17 was picked up at the Tadong police out-post in the capital on Tuesday night. He was holding on to a consignment of Spasmo-Proxyvon, but this was detected only after he was taken to the OP. He was initially picked up when he was caught sneaking into an unlocked car. This was around 11 in the night, not an hour when a teenager should be out on a week-day. He was just loitering, perhaps trying to figure out how to get past the police outpost below, and noticed when a car pulled up and the driver left it unlocked. The moment the driver was out of sight, the kid slipped into the car, but was noticed by a resident. When approached, the youth took to his heels. Nothing was missing from the car. Shortly after, he stepped out of one of the bylanes where he had been hiding and was recognised and handed over to a police patrolling team. A body search led to the recovery of around 75 capsules of Spasmo Proxyvon – about four days worth of supplies for an advanced addict. Whether he himself was under the influence of this much abused prescription drug, only a proper medical check could have established. He insisted that he was not from Gangtok and received a call on his mobile phone and beseeched the caller, whom he called “Agya”, to get him out of the ‘problem’ he had landed into. No Agya showed up, and Sikkim now has one more booking under the Sikkim Anti-Drugs Act.
The incident is shared in detail because it flags the several issues which confront Sikkim at present, none of which are being addressed in earnest or with any success. The youth was obviously holding the consignment for someone and is in all probability addicted himself. There is also obviously someone [not necessarily one person but could be a series of ‘seniors’] who initiated him into the maze of addiction, may be even sponsored the habit initially and now uses the control to even use the kid as a mule in a stereotypical process of the young are sucked in and then left trapped in the vortex of addiction and then criminality. The near instinctive reflex to seize an opportunity for petty crime, as displayed by the youth when he slipped into the unlocked vehicle also suggests that he does not have the resources to feed his addiction – whether to drugs or gadgets. Over interpretation? Perhaps. But definitely close enough to the ground reality for a sizeable chunk of the youth in the region to warrant a concerted societal engagement. Petty crimes by young delinquents have noticeable increased in Sikkim and addiction has been building up as a major malady for a while now; and yet, at the non-governmental, non-police level there has been no response. This is not about fixing blame, but an appeal to begin a social engagement to address the problem. It is also important that instead of pointing fingers, a collaborative effort is attempted to save the young. The present response to the situation punishes and excludes people, who, because of their young age, should be seen as victims in need of healing and inclusion. It is time to stop dealing with the symptoms of youth crime and put some community-based participatory effort into solving the underlying problems.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

2-day Assembly session concludes with one new and 3 amendment Bills passed

GANGTOK, 11 Sept:  The two-day Sikkim Legislative Assembly session concluded today with the passing of one new bill and three amendment bills.
Today, the Assembly unanimously passed the Salaries and Allowances of Ministers and MLAs of Sikkim Legislative Assembly amendment bill placed during the first day of the monsoon session on 10 September.
The Amendment Bill first proposed in 2010 was sent back by Governor BP Singh for reconsideration stating that the rate of hike was not proportionate. The Cabinet after dealing with all the queries made by the Governor reduced the proposed rate of increase to 15 percent to which the Governor gave his assent.
Minister in-charge of Parliamentary Affairs, Dawa Norbu Thakarpa told NOW! during the tea-break that the present form of the Bill has already got the green signal from the Governor and the Cabinet has justified the present form of amendment bill.
The salary hike is proposed to come into force with immediate effect and imposes an additional burden of Rs. 38.70 lakh on the state exchequer for the current financial year and from the next financial year [2013-14],  the Consolidated fund of the state will pay out Rs. 77.40 lakh more.
With this amendment, the Chief Minister will get a salary of Rs. 50,000 with Sumptuary Allowances of Rs.45,000 per month while the Speaker will be entitled to a monthly salary of Rs. 45,000 and Sumptuary Allowances of Rs. 40,000.
Ministers and the Deputy Speaker will be entitled to a monthly salary of Rs. 40,000 with Sumptuary Allowances of Rs. 35,000, Minister of State a salary of Rs. 35,000 with Sumptuary Allowances of Rs. 30,000 and the Deputy Minister of State a monthly salary of Rs. 33,000 with Sumptuary Allowances of Rs. 30,000.
On Monday, Mr Thakarpa in the statement of object and reasons had given price rise and inflation as the reason for the proposed hike in salaries and allowances.
Besides this, the Sikkim Lokayukta (Amendment) Bill and Sikkim Rolep Hydro Electric Power Project (Transfer and Vesting of Land) Bill were also unanimously passed by the Sikkim Legislative Assembly today.
The Leader of the House thanked all members for their contribution in the smooth functioning of the two days session of the house. The House was adjourned Sine-die by the Speaker of the House after his vote of thanks.

4.28 lakh covered under CATCH so far

GANGTOK, 11 Sept: Chief Minister`s Comprehensive Annual and Total Check-up for Healthy Sikkim (CATCH) programme has been initiated in the state of Sikkim to achieve Mission Healthy Sikkim. Under the programme, various camps are being continuously held in all the district hospitals, health centers and in the Gangtok area where a thorough health check-up of every individual is being carried out.
A press release informs that as per the latest report, 4.28 lakh people have undergone basic health checkup where the medical staff conducted door-to-door survey, checking the Blood Pressure, sugar test and collected individual health profiles.
In the second phase, 2.20 lakh have undergone health check up and especially in Gangtok 38,419 benefitted from such camps.
With time people have learnt about the benefits of this programme and now people are actively participating, in fact, there have been times when people have been requested to come for the check-up the next day since it became impossible to cover all in one day, the release mentions.
Blood grouping, Hemoglobin, Serum cholesterol and Random Blood Sugar tests are being conducted during the camps while photographs of patients are also being taken for the health cards.
So far, the release mentions, 4.75 lakh lab tests have been conducted. One important test which is being conducted in the camp organized under the NCD, Division Health Services is the VIA test for married women above 30 years of age for cervical cancer.
In the said camp, the most common diseases found were high Blood Pressure, diabetes, stroke, skin diseases, cavities, sinusitis and alcoholism. Free medicine and counseling were also given during the camps.
This programme has been initiated in the interest of the public therefore it is an appeal to all the people of Sikkim to kindly attend the programme and take the benefit and help make Sikkim a healthy and disease-free state, the release further adds.

Suspended bridge project adds to traffic woes on Singtam-Mangan highway

MANGAN, 11 Sept: The under construction Marchak bridge on the Mangan-Singtam axis has become a nuisance for vehicles and commuters on this route. The delay in construction has turned it into a trouble spot with the road formation becoming very narrower due to the ongoing construction of the bridge.
Construction had begun a couple of years ago but is now abandoned. It has been almost a year since construction work was discontinued and the local public here are not aware of the reasons behind this.
Work on the bridge, which falls under BRO, was awarded to a sub-contractor, it is learnt.
At the same time, the Kali Khola bridge near Makha, also on the Mangan-Singtam highway, which receives high volume traffic including heavy vehicles, also lies abandoned. It is learnt that construction of this bridge was completed a year ago and the contractor had handed over the bridge to the BRO.
However, filling of the walls at the two ends of the bridge was left to be done which has not been carried out. The public have appealed to the BRO to complete construction of both the bridges at the earliest.

Secretary Forest to take charge as Principal Investment Commissioner

GANGTOK, 11 Sept: The State Government has re-designated Arvind Kumar, Principal Secretary-cum-Principal Chief Conservator of Forest, as Principal Investment Commissioner, Government of Sikkim. He has also been entrusted additional charge in addition to his existing assignment in New Delhi as Principal Resident Commissioner, Sikkim House, New Delhi.
Similarly, Monalisa Dash, DFO, (Working  Plan), Forest, Environment  and Wildlife Management, Department has been transferred and posted as Joint Secretary to the Chief Minister, Chief Minister’s Office, Gangtok on deputation.

Advance Coaches Training Prog by SOB Sikkim Chapter begins at Paljor Stadium

GANGTOK, 11 Sept: A seven-day Advance Coaches Training Programme in football, athletics and volleyball is being held here at Paljor Stadium from 10 -16 September, which is organized by Special Olympics Bharat [SOB], Sikkim Chapter and sponsored by Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Government of India.
Addressing a press conference today, SOB Sikkim Area Director, Dr BP Dhakal briefed about the Sikkim Chapter of SOB which started in the year 2005. “Special Olympics Bharat is an organization which aims to empower differently-abled children through sports”, said Dr Dhakal.
Dr Dhakal also appealed to the coaches to keep the flame of Special Olympics alive. The first agenda of the coaches should be service, he said.
“We are here for a noble cause to promote the vast area of Special Olympics through the medium of sports by organizing this Advance Coach Training Programme in these 3 disciplines; football, athletics and volleyball”, said Asia Pacific Coach, NK Chettri.
This 7-day training will cover orientation, basic rules and Panchayat Yuva aur Khel Krida Abhiyan [PYKKA] scheme for all the disabilities. This will also include the aims and objectives of project ‘Unify’ wherein some schools will be involved. “This is the new chapter we are adding this time”, said Mr Chettri.
He further informed that they are also thinking of adopting the Game Management System. GMS (Games Management System) is a database program designed to manage and record registration data, games, events, entries, divisioning, scores, and reports of a sport event. The software is especially useful for the purposes of running meets in individual sports involving timed events as it handles the process of divisioning automatically and without need for manual calculation and provides comprehensive reporting of results for athletes, coaches and spectators.
The training programme, which started yesterday, has a total number of 50 participants from Jharkhand, Bihar, Assam and also from Bhutan. During the formal inaugural function, Mr Chettri also thanked the Sports and Youth Affairs Department for providing them with various facilities.
Chief guest, Chairperson [Sikkim Olympic Bharat] Manita Pradhan welcomed all the coaches who have come from different states, representatives from Bhutan as well as the resource persons.
It is a difficult task to guide someone with a disability and the coaches play a vital role in guiding as well as training the differently-abled athletes, said Ms Pradhan.
“Special Olympics is not just an event these days but it has become a movement and we are trying to get other sections of the society to join this movement”, said Ms Pradhan.
Mentioning that the ratio of coaches and athletes is 1:6 she said that now coaches from PYKKA can also be brought in for this purpose. PYKKA aims to promote sports at the village level amongst both the differently-abled and normal persons, she added.
Ms Pradhan further urged all the coaches to dedicate themselves towards the cause during the training. She also highlighted that more women should be encouraged to participate in the Special Olympics Sikkim Chapter.
Also present on the day were Arjuna Awardee Jaslal Pradhan, Deputy Director Sports Department Ram Biswakarma, Deputy Director Sports Department Thupden Bhutia, Treasurer CP Dhakal and Coach Ram.

SUS and EILLM students seek HRDD intervention on behalf of students

GANGTOK, 11 Sept: Student’s Union of Sikkim [SUS] and students of EILLM University today submitted a joint memorandum to the Human Resource and Development Department seeking the department’s intervention in the ongoing EILLM University problem.
The letter submitted has demanded a written assurance regarding the authenticity of the EIILM University from the department.
“Since a raid was conducted in the University, we feel that our career is at stake. We want the HRDD to make an intervention in solving the ongoing problem”, said a 3rd year B. Tech student, Ganesh Tamang.
According to the students, no classes have been conducted since the raid.
“We are worried as no classes have been held and the faculty too are saying that they will start teaching only after the issue is resolved”, said Amrit Rai, a BBA student.
The students and SUS members are also demanding that the Department conduct a joint press conference along with the EIILM Officials.
The letter has also demanded the resignation of the Registrar and the Director of the University.
On the other hand, the Secretary HRDD has said that the Department has taken the plea of the students seriously and will act on it.
“I have requested the students to give a month’s time to the University to submit the detailed report regarding the ongoing ruckus. HRDD director is constantly trying to reach the Vice-Chancellor of the EIILM University but has not been able to do so”, said Secretary HRDD, CS Rao.

3 booked on charges of peddling drugs

GANGTOK, 11 Sept: Three persons were arrested by the Gyalshing police when they were found to be in possession of contraband substances on 09 September.
The Gyalshing police received information that one Ajay Lohar and Puja Pradhan were travelling from Majhigaon, Jorethang towards Gyalshing in a vehicle [SK-04-0574], a Tata Spacio carrying contraband substances.
Upon receiving the tip-off, the police intercepted the vehicle at Legship Out Post and following a search, recovered 42 files [1,008 capsules] of Spasmo Proxyvon and 04 files [33 tablets] of Nitrosun-10 from the carry bag of the above accused persons.
The accused Ajay Lohar [26] and Puja Pradhan [20] were placed under arrest by the Gyalshing police. Another person, an alleged dealer at Majhigaon, Sachin Khati [26] who is reported to have supplied the contraband substances was also arrested. All three have been booked under section 9 of the SAD Act.

Editorial: Before a Lokayukta

The stage is now set for Sikkim to have an anticorruption ombudsman of its own in the form of a Lokayukta. When this happens, Sikkim will become the 19th State to have a Lokayukta in the country; the Centre is yet to allow itself a Lokpal. Things could have happened earlier for Sikkim, but the Bill, passed way back in December 2010, received presidential assent only recently, held up as controversy raged on the Lokpal being proposed by the Central Government and the version promoted by the India Against Corruption campaign and the move to make the institution of the Lokayukta uniform in all the States of the country. Since the deadlock at Delhi does not appear any closer to getting resolved, it is apt that decks have been cleared for Sikkim to go ahead with a Lokayukta of its own. The delay has been helpful is ironing out inconsistencies and possible confusion foisted by conflicting political considerations, and while many might have issues with the Lokayukta model which Sikkim will now get, it is best to give the agency a try before its effectiveness is brought into question. The controversy over the Lokpal [the Lokayukta for the Centre] has raged for a while now and in the aggressive posturing by all involved, the genesis of the institution itself has been forgotten. Corruption and abuse of office is mistakenly seen as a recent phenomenon, but fact remains that misuse of office is as old as the establishment of authority itself, efforts to ensure stronger checks and balances have hence been proposed and adopted since antiquity. As for the Lokayukta, the anticorruption ombudsman organization at the State-level, it is patterned on the institution of Ombudsman in Scandinavian countries and Parliamentary Commissioner for Investigation in New Zealand. It was first proposed 44 years ago by the Administrative Reforms Commission headed by Morarji Desai which submitted a special interim report on “Problems of Redressal of Citizen’s Grievances” in 1966. In this report, the ARC recommended the setting up of two special authorities designated as ‘Lokpal’ and ‘Lokayukta’ for the redressal of citizens’ grievances. In principle, the Lokayukta is expected to help people bring corruption and any misuse of office in the government to the fore. As for the Lokpal Bill, it was first proposed in Parliament by then Law Minister Ashoke Kumar Sen in the early 1960s. The first Jan Lokpal Bill was proposed by Shanti Bhushan in 1968 and passed in the 4th Lok Sabha in 1969, but did not pass through the Rajya Sabha. Subsequently, 'lokpal bills' were introduced in 1971, 1977, 1985, again by Ashoke Kumar Sen, while serving as Law Minister in the Rajiv Gandhi cabinet, and again in 1989, 1996, 1998, 2001, 2005 and in 2008, yet they were never passed.
The basic intent behind a Lokayukta is simple - to provide for a law to inquire or investigate administrative action taken by or on behalf of the Government or certain local and pubic authorities in certain cases involving acts of injustice, corruption and favouritism. Rules and laws addressing such excesses are already in place, and yet the need for a Lokayukta is keenly felt because unlike other agencies like the Courts which have many more responsibilities and the investigative agencies which are neither free from influence or bias nor very effective, a Lokayukta, in principle and is its name suggests – “delegated for the people”, is appointed specifically for the masses and to address their complaints against the elected representatives and public servants. This clear mandate is expected to expedite response to people’s complaints. Should the institution deliver, it will be to the benefit of all concerned because the waits will be shorter and the uncertainties not as stretched out as they are present. While the Lokayukta cannot hand out ‘punishment’, it can investigate and conduct raids and its final observations, even if they cannot punish the accused, will establish guilt or innocence in the people’s eyes. Its decisions will inherently have to be legally sound and for all speculations one may throw, once instituted, it can be expected to be fair as has been reasonably established in the experience of Lokayuktas in other states. Since one speaks of corruption and misuse of office here, it is important to bear in mind that laws or institutions like the Lokayukta [no matter how strong] cannot effectively contain these aberrations until the societal response to them changes. In a vacuity that is shocking, it generally considered okay to skim the cream so long as one is not caught. And even “caught” comes with the escape hatch of making good the misappropriated amount to escape penal action. Also, with each passing year, the definition of “caught/ exposed” keeps getting adjusted. While at one time, an investigation would have been enough to attract stigma, even a chargesheet is taken lightly and now even a corruption conviction can be played as martyrdom. Given this ground reality, perhaps, before one demands an activist Lokayukta, the public perceptions of corruption and the social responses to it need to be tweaked out of their present anesthetized state.

Dzongu residents and their unique Pang Lhabsol at Tholung Monastery

Karma R. T. W
Pang Lhabsol, a festival commemorating the conservation of Mt. Khangchendzonga as the guardian deity of the state, is unique to Sikkim. The actual origin of the festival is said to be the blood-brotherhood pact between the Lepcha bongthing, Thekung Tek and Khye-Bumsa, the ancestor of the Namgyal royal family.
The people of Dzongu celebrate Pang Lhabsol at the Tholung Monastery in North Sikkim. Their rituals are a bit unique in nature. Unlike the rest of Sikkim, the people of Dzongu make their offerings to the relics of the late Chogyal Tsugphud Namgyal.
Tholung Monastery is sacred because it was founded by the reincarnation of Lhatsun Chenpo in the late 18th century during the Gorkha invasion, which destroyed the Rabdentse capital. The relics and belongings of Lhatsun Chenpo are kept in secure cupboards at the monastery [shifted from Pemyangtse Monastery following the Gorkha invasion], while the relics of Chogyal Tsugphud Namgyal are kept in a ku-dung (reliquary) on the ground floor of the Monastery.
Local legend suggests that the Chogyal Tsugphud Namgyal desired that his remains be sent to the Tholung Monastery. Located at an altitude of 8500 feet in Upper Dzongu, to reach the Monastery one has to trek for about 15km from Lingzya village. After the death of Chogyal Tsugphud Namgyal, a lama escorted his relics from West Sikkim to Tholung. On his journey a Lepcha man made an offering of meat to the relics and with this started the tradition of non-vegetarian offerings as an annual ritual.
This offering was discontinued in the year 1975, but by the 1980’s the local villagers complained of wild animals attacking their livestock at night. Every precaution was taken, but they could not stop the attacks. The people around the Monastery too started falling ill. In order to take care of the existing problem a lama was called upon. The lama sent his junior with his prayer beads and asked him to spend the night at the Monastery’s main door. The next day the junior lama reported that at night loud noises were heard from within the Monastery and the Chogyal’s ku-dung. After a while the wild animals leapt out from within the Monastery and the Chogyal too followed the pack with his bow and arrow. The story goes that on hearing this, the lama gave his junior a Dorje and asked him to sleep at the Monastery for the second night. This time only loud noises kept coming from within the Monastery but no animals sprung out. This was interpreted to signal the Chogyal’s demand for the reinstatement of the animal sacrifice and offerings.
Since then, each year different wards of Dzongu take turns to make the offerings, which consist of a pig, fermented millet along with dried and crushed maize. The prayers for the Pang Lhabsol start the night before and continue till the next day. The morning of the festival begins with the offerings being laid out in front of the late Chogyal’s ku-dung. The kaso lama (local priest) conducts the prayers, after which the offerings are taken and distributed among the devotees present.
There was an instance, where a particular ward had offered a huge cucumber instead of a pig. That year the locals of that ward experienced several cases of stomach illness. Hence to avoid the wrath of the late Chogyal, the Lepcha community of Dzongu makes offerings every year.
This year the turn for the offering was of the people of Sakyong and Sangtok ward. The landslide caused by last year’s earthquake has made the trek to the Monastery a difficult one. Despite the downpour the concerned residents braved it to the destination and arrived by nightfall.
This is how the people of Dzongu celebrate Pang Lhabsol.  

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Sikkim Lokayukta Amendment Bill details selection process for appointment of Lokayukta

GANGTOK, 10 Sept: The two-day Summer Session of Sikkim Legislative Assembly began today with the introduction of one new legislative Bill and three Amendment Bills. Chief Minister Pawan Chamling who is also the Minister In-charge of Law and Justice Department introduced the Sikkim Lokayukta (Amendment) Bill detailing the process by which Sikkim will choose its Lokayukta. It may be recalled that the Sikkim Lokayukta Bill of 2010 had received Presidential consent recently as one of the final official tasks completed by the former President of India, Pratibha Devi Singh Patil, before the present incumbent took office.
The statement of object & reasons accompanying the amendment Bill explains that these are required “to deal with typographical errors and also to streamline the functioning of the Lokayukta in the state”.
Amendment 5 of Section 3 has proposed to substitute in section 3 of the original Act “in the proviso to sub-section (1), for the words ‘after the consultation with the Chief Justice of High Court of Sikkim, Speaker of Sikkim  Legislative Assembly as Member, Leader of Opposition in the State Legislative Assembly if there is any’” with “the Governor on the basis of the recommendation of a Selection Committee consisting of the Chief Minister as Chairman, Chief Justice of High Court of Sikkim as member, Speaker of Sikkim  Legislative Assembly as Member, Leader of Opposition in the State Legislative Assembly, if any Member and an eminent person to be nominated by the Cabinet as Member.”
The proposed amendment has also inserted two more sub-sections, qualifying that the recommendation of the Selection Committee shall be based on the decision of the Majority of the members present in the Selection Committee meeting and specifies in sub-section (3) that no appointment of Lokayukta shall be deemed invalid merely by reason of absence of any member in the Selection Committee members.
Another proposed amendment empowers the Lokayuta to inquire or investigate, on receipt of a complaint, “any action which is taken by or with the general or specific approval of a Minister or the Chief Secretary or a Secretary or member of State Legislature” or any public servant.
An amendment also proposes that the provision of limitation will not apply in cases where the State Government refers any allegation or grievance or action to the Lokayukta for investigation.
A proposed amendment also provides for the Lokayukta to proceed with further proceedings, on matters pending before any other authority and referred to the Lokayukta under specific conditions, from the stage at which it was pending before any such authority earlier.
The rest of the amendments are essentially grammatical or typographical corrections in the original Act.
Discussions and voting on the proposed Amendment Bill are scheduled to be taken up on 11 September.

Govt begin process to reclaim land from Amalgamated Trans Power

GANGTOK, 10 Sept: Power Minister Sonam Gyatso Lepcha, on the first day of the Summer Session of Sikkim Legislative Assembly today, introduced the Sikkim Rolep Hydro Electric Power Project (Transfer and Vesting of Land) Bill.
Minister Lepcha said that the Government and public have felt it necessary to bring a legislation to “claim and utilize the landed property with a view to provide for vesting of land leased to Amalgamated Trans Power (India) Limited in the State Government for allotment, utilization and implementation of 36 MW Rolep Electric Power Project in public interest and for the benefit of the State”.
The Power Minster explains that it has been considered “desirable” to enact a law for reclamation of entire right, title and interest over the land from Amalgamated Trans Power (India) Limited and to utilize the land for implementation of the said project.
The Government of Sikkim in order to set up a Hydro-Electric Power Project through debt financing and implementation of scheme in the state had entered into an agreement with the Amalgamated Trans Power Limited to develop a 36 MW capacity power project in the year 2000.
However, the said power project has remained unimplemented by Amalgamated Trans Power Limited. Sikkim Power Development Corporation (SPDC) Limited had executed a lease of land measuring 10.796 hectares at Rolep block of Chujachen in East Sikkim in favour of Amalgamated Trans Power Limited for implementation of the power project.
The state government had issued a notice of termination for severing all contractual relations with Amalgamated Trans Power Limited; the dispute arising in relation to the termination of the agreement has been referred to arbitration.
In the meantime, the state government and SPDC limited have commenced the process for allotment of aforesaid hydro electric power project, however the execution of implementation agreement is being delayed on account of non-availability of the project land for which lease deed was executed in favour  of Amalgamated Trans Power(Indian) Limited.
The bill will be taken up for discussion and voting on 11 September in the Sikkim Legislative Assembly.
The Minister Mr Lepcha in the memorandum of delegated legislation states that Clause 7 of the Bill empowers the State government to make rules for the purpose of carrying out the provisions of the Act.

Roads & Bridges Deptt launches e-procurement service

GANGTOK, 10 Sept: The Roads and Bridges Department launched an e-procurement service on the Sikkim Government web portal today.
Roads & Bridges Secretary GS Sharma launched the service at the premises of Roads and Bridges Department. E-Submission Tender system of Sikkim enables people to download the tender schedule free of cost and submit the bids online through this portal.
This system will be implemented in all other departments gradually, said the Secretary.
Principal Chief Engineer cum Secretary Roads and Bridges Department, Mr Sharma also published the first tender today. He thanked the National Informatics Centre [NIC] and IT for their support and for providing technical experts for the project.
Project Director ADB Projects cum Nodal Officer E-procurement Roads and Bridges Department, PK Bhujel said that the e-tendering process facilitates or enhances confidentiality and added that this system can be used anywhere in any part of India.
“This service ensures authenticity and is hassle-free. One can put in tenders sitting at home and get all the information as well”, said Mr Bhujel.
A complete package which consists of Bid opening, Bid evaluation and pre-bid meetings with the contractors is called e-procurement.
The website is and any one can visit the site from today itself.
The mechanism is digital, a certifying company named National Informative Centre Certified Agency [NIICA] issues a Digital Signature Certificate [DSC], without this DSC one cannot access or login. Every department, user and contractor is issued with the login ID and password to go through the site.
NIC Director, Birendra Chettri said that more than one and a half lakh tenders have been submitted and any tender which is above 3 crore will be posted in the website.
Adding further Mr Chettri said that the process of bidding online is encrypted and therefore confidentiality is assured.
“With the help of the team of NIC, Secretary Roads and Bridges and all the staff we completed this project in a short span of time”, added Mr Chettri.
Also present were the Scientific Officer [NIC] Abhijit Roy, Assistant Engineer Project [R&BD] Sonam Dadul, Assistant Engineer e-procurement [R&BD] Kamal Rasaily, PCE Cum Secretary [R&BD] GS Sharma, Principal Director [IT] R Verma and Additional Chief Engineer South/West [R&BD] RK Pariyar.

Bill proposes hike in salaries and allowances of Ministers and MLAs

GANGTOK, 10 Sept: The Minister in-charge of Parliamentary Affairs, Dawa Norbu Thakarpa introduced a Bill proposing an increase in the Salaries and Allowances of Ministers and MLAs of Sikkim Legislative Assembly.
The salary hike is proposed to come into force with immediate effect and imposes an additional burden of Rs. 38.70 lakh on the State exchequer for the current financial year and from the next financial year [2013-14],  the Consolidated fund of the state will pay out Rs. 77.40 lakh more.
With this amendment, the Chief Minister will get a salary of Rs. 50,000 with Sumptuary Allowances of Rs.45,000 per month while the Speaker will be entitled to a monthly salary of Rs. 45,000 and Sumptuary Allowances of Rs. 40,000.
Ministers and the Deputy Speaker will be entitled to a monthly salary of Rs. 40,000 with Sumptuary Allowances of Rs. 35,000, Minister of State a salary of Rs. 35,000 with Sumptuary Allowances of Rs. 30,000 and the Deputy Minister of State a monthly salary of Rs. 33,000 with  Sumptuary Allowances of Rs. 30,000.
Minister Thakarpa, while tabling the Bill, explains in the statement of object and reasons that the existing salaries of Minister, Speaker, Deputy Speaker and members of Legislative Assembly were fixed in the year 2010.
“A need has been felt to revise the salaries in view of the present price escalation and high inflation. In the case of Government employees, price rise from time to time are being compensated by granting Dearness Allowances twice a year which has not been extended to the dignitaries and therefore, the state government has deemed it expedient to enhance the existing salary rates in the current year 2013”.
The Minister informed the house that the State Government has already informed the Governor, B P Singh and has been accorded the recommend to introduction and consideration of the bill by the Sikkim Legislative Assembly.
Similarly, the Mr Thakarpa has also proposed to enhance the payment of Pension of former Chief Ministers, Speakers, Deputy Speakers, Ministers and MLAs. Former Chief Ministers will get pension of Rs. 15,000 [revised from Rs. 8,000], more than one term Ministers and Speakers will receive monthly pension of Rs. 10,000 increased from the existing Rs. 6,000 and former MLAs will also be entitled to get a monthly pension of Rs. 10,000.
With this amendment, the additional burden of Rs. 30.01 lakh will be borne by the State exchequer in this financial year and Rs. 60.02 lakh per annum from the next financial year.

Number of completed CMRHM houses crosses 200 in South district

NAMCHI, 10 Sept: The total number of pucca houses completed under CMRHM has crossed the 200 mark in South District. In fact, 202 houses have been completed out of which 189 houses have been officially handed over to the beneficiaries since its launch in the District last year.
As per the baseline figure, South District has been allotted a total of 1095 houses under this scheme. The construction of 954 houses was started last year out of which 752 houses are under construction in various stages and rest 202 houses have been completed. Out of the total houses started, 40% of houses are in the final stage, 20% in the 3rd stage, 19% in 2nd stage and 21% already completed.
The fact that the scheme itself entails the construction of a one-storied RCC building under ‘C’ model and pucca house with GCI sheets under model ‘A’ as owner driven, is a sufficient challenge on the monitoring front. Most of the beneficiaries with no experience in financial transaction are dealing with the fund transferred directly to their savings bank accounts under this scheme.
The implementing authorities and the Block Rural House Construction Committee (BRHCC) have to be vigilant so as to ascertain that the quantum of fund released matches with the progress of work.
Hence, the achievement of completing more than 200 houses and shifting 189 poorest of the poor families to pucca houses has also come as an encouraging milestone on the part of District and Block implementing authorities who have been giving their best for the accomplishment of this ambitious flagship programme of the Government under the Poverty Free Mission-Sikkim 2013.
Since most of the houses under construction are in the third and final stage, South District hopes to complete at least 300 houses by the end of September 2012 and shift more number of poorest families to their new houses before Dussehra.

Assembly makes Obituary Reference to late Ram Lepcha

GANGTOK, 10 Sept: The Sikkim Legislative Assembly today paid rich tribute to former member, the late Ram Lepcha who passed away on 05 September, last week following a prolonged illness.
Five-time MLA and two-term Minister under both Nar Bahadur Bhandari and Pawan Chamling’s chief ministership, Ram Lepcha was one of the tallest leaders of the Lepcha community as well as Sikkimese society, the Assembly noted today.
MLA Menlom Lepcha said that the late Ram Lepcha was a pro-democracy leader and participated in various social reforms as a political and social activist. He further added that late Lepcha was not only his political mentor but also a good human being.
Leader of the House, Pawan Chamling said that the late Mr Lepcha’s contribution in Sikkim politics will be remembered for a long time. The tallest tribal leader of Sikkim, Late Lepcha was a sincere and dedicated political figure, said the CM.
Speaker KT Gyaltsen read out the obituary reference on the passing of Late Ram Lepcha and said that he was a social worker who devoted his time for the welfare and upliftment of the poor and downtrodden. His demise is a great loss to the Lepcha community and the State as a whole, said the Speaker.
Late Lepcha was born to late German Lepcha and late Chukit Lepcha at Namthang, Turung Basti, West Sikkim on 02 May, 1947. He passed away on 05 September, 2012 at his residence at Marchak, near Ranipool at the age of 65 after prolonged illness. He is survived by his wife, two sons and three daughters.
Late Lepcha was elected to the Second Legislative Assembly in 1979 and served as Chairman, Public Accounts Committee, Chairman, Estimates Committee and also served as the Minister for Local Self Government, Mines and Geology Department. He was again elected in 1985 to the third Assembly from Pathing Constituency and served as Deputy Speaker of Sikkim Legislative Assembly.
In 1989 he was re-elected to the fourth Assembly from the same constituency and was inducted in the Cabinet as Minister of Land Revenue, Survey and Settlement, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Welfare Department. He was again elected from Pathing Constituency in 1994 and served as Finance Minister from 1998-1999.
Two minutes silence was observed in the house as a mark of respect to the departed soul and heartfelt condolences were conveyed to the bereaved family.

United Academy mourns death of 4 students, prays for injured survivor

NAMCHI, 10 Sept: A condolence meeting was held at United Academy where a prayer and mourning session was held in the memory of students who lost their lives in a fatal car accident near Daramdin on 08 September.
During the meeting, a two-minute silence was observed while at the same time prayers were also held for the injured student who survived the accident. The meeting was attended by the panchayat members, CLC members, school teachers and staff, guardians and locals.
A similar meeting was also held at Government Secondary School Daramdin. The Principal of United Academy, Diwash Rai said that the untimely death of these students is an irreparable loss and an unfortunate incident.
The only student Pritish Pradhan who survived this fatal car crash, is undergoing treatment in Siliguri at present.

Sikkim Milk Union condoles demise of Dr Verghese Kurien

GANGTOK, 10 Sept: The Sikkim Cooperative Milk Producers Union Ltd has expressed deep grief on the demise of Dr. Verghese Kurien, the father of the white revolution.
Dr Kurien laid the foundation for 'operation flood' at Anand in Gujarat by starting Milk Produce Co-operative Society which later spread across the nation including Sikkim.
A press release from the cooperative mentions, the then Chairman of National Dairy Development Board (NDDB), Dr Kurien paid a visit to Sikkim in 1977, which resulted in the birth of the Sikkim Cooperative Milk Producers Union Ltd.
“The Sikkim Milk Union remembers his contributions to the dairy farmers of the state of Sikkim. We offer tributes to this great man and express our heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family”, the release states.

Editorial: Let’s Not Litter, We Are Already Ugly Enough

When they experimented with MG Marg, the policy-makers had hoped that the litter & spit free zone would eventually encompass all of Gangtok, and if that happened, dream even bigger and extend it to all of Sikkim. Wishful thinking, one can now say with the benefit of hindsight [the MG Marg effort is now some years in the past]. In a town where the residents continue live comfortably in the company of stinking jhoras which they themselves have clogged with all types of household refuse and even the occasional sewage release, cleanliness around public spaces is perhaps too much to expect. Gangtokians might live in pine-wood panelled houses that they themselves rub with mansion polish every day, but are oblivious to their civic duties as they prove with clockwork regularity as the corners and roadsides continue to mimic public dustbins. This, despite a functional garbage collection service in place. Gangtok is admittedly a much cleaner town than most others in the country, but that should not be any consolation because with even a few collaborative efforts, this town could be much better. A keener sense of responsibility towards public spaces would help and the right awareness at the school level could easily address the problem of irresponsible littering. It is after all not enough to reach a garbage bag to the UDHD trucks in the morning and then spend the rest of the day littering the town with wrappers and other refuse.
What is required is an attitudinal shift which displays more collective consideration. At present, house-owners in general for example are lavish with space for their own accommodation, but cramp the floors below with pigeonholes and common toilets and bathrooms. Stuck in a traffic-jam, Gangtok drivers will not make a mental note to be more considerate of vehicles behind when they stop to pick up a passenger or make a U-turn, but will blare away on their horns when they are confronted with similar insensitivity, displaying an impatience that is fast becoming a universal affliction of the capital. This mindset, which disregards common intent or pursuits, continues to rear up in all engagements and personal aggrandisement thus becomes a driving force. An immediate fall out of this has been the noticeable rollback in aesthetic nuances. Aesthetic appeal is after all for public consumption and extravagance for personal consumption. No prizes here for guessing which option Gangtok takes on a daily basis. Bigger cars, higher buildings and increased consumption have left Gangtok an ugly town. Take any by-lane and one will be confronted with innumerable case-studies of how private greed has encroached upon public space and convenience. The capital is exploding with private decisions thumbing their collective noses at public courtesies. Even public spaces reflect this indifference with the slew of multi-storeyed car parks and shopping complexes, whatever their utility, presenting perhaps the ugliest creations of concrete.
With too much ugliness already permanent in the form of concrete, the least that can be done is to leave the open spaces [which are mostly the roads and shortcuts now in Gangtok] free of litter. Maybe starting with this conscious effort, Gangtok could begin the process of becoming and town more becoming of its hill station status...

Monday, September 10, 2012

Daramdin road mishap claims 4

DARAMDIN, 09 Sept: A major road mishap last morning here at Daramdin in West Sikkim near the Sai Mandir claimed four lives and left one seriously injured. A private Maruti Alto bearing registration number SK/02/P/4520 which was heading towards Jorethang from Daramdin met with an accident near Daramdin Sai Mandir.
At around 7 AM on 08 September, the vehicle suddenly lost control and went off the road and fell around 700 ft into the river Rangang, inform locals. The police at Sombaria and Daramdin were informed about the accident and a police team assisted by residents conducted a rescue operation. The rescue team managed to rescue two injured passengers while three were found dead at the spot.
One of the injured died on the way to the hospital while the only survivor of this fatal accident is under medical treatment.
Amongst the deceased are Bishnudeep Rai (16), Aditya Rai (16) and Sunit Rai (14) of Zoom, West Sikkim while Kapil Suman (17) was a student of United Academy, a private educational institute in Daramdin.
As learnt, the only survivor Pritish Pradhan (14) who was driving the car was also a student of United Academy. The car belongs to the Principal of United Academy and it was heading towards Jorethang in order to dispose off the garbage of the school.
Police has registered the case at Daramdin Thana and investigation into the case has begun. MLA Daramdin Constituency, Tenzi Sherpa along with SP West, DB Giri, SDPO Soreong TD Kazi, also visited the spot of the accident.
The cause of the accident is yet to be ascertained while preliminary investigation has revealed that the boy who was driving the car was a minor and most probably a beginner who did not possess a driving licence. The autopsy of the dead bodies was carried out at Namchi District Hospital and handed over to their families later.

State increases number of SCS cadre HoDs in proportion to IAS

GANGTOK, 07 Sept: In a move aimed at balancing the number of State Civil Service bureaucrats heading departments in proportion to officers of the Central Civil Services, the state government has increased the number of the SCS cadre officers in the rank of Special Secretaries from 20 to 25. This increase, coupled with the number of State civil servants who get promoted into IAS cadre, is expected to address a long pending aspiration of local officers and also facilitated improved service and administration. The powers and functions of a Special Secretary are at par with a Head of Department.
Recently, the Cabinet had approved the proposal to increase the number of State Cadre officers in the Special Secretary and Secretary ranks in proportion to those from the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) cadre since a large number of IAS officers of Sikkim Cadre have opted for deputation to other states and in the central government.
At present, Sikkim has a strength of 48 IAS officers in the Secretary rank, of whom 14 are promotees from the State Civil Service, and the remaining 34 are directly appointed from the central cardre. Since a large number from the IAS officers are on deputation outside, several posts of secretaries and heads of State Government Undertakings are lying vacant and the state government has decided to increase the number of Special Secretaries in the state, all of whom are drawn from the State service.
This will also help maintain the administrative balance between the two cadres, said a senior official of the Department of Personnel.
The increase in the state cadre to 25 at the Special Secretary level and 14 promotees will raise the strength of the state’s own officers at the top posts.
At present, Sikkim has 48 departments and various state run Public Sector Undertakings which needs another 10 Secretary level officials for which the decision to increase the number of Special Secretaries was taken.
Official sources also add that these are key strategies of the state government to address the 1:3 ratio maintained between officers from State civil service and those from central services.

Fire guts house at Pathuk

DIKCHU, 09 Sept: A fire sparked by an electrical short circuit gutted Puspa Lall Niroula’s two-storied ekra house here at Niroula Gaon at Pathuk ward under Simick-Lingzey GPU in East Sikkim today. Unfortunately, when the fire broke out, Sita Niroula, wife of Pushpa Lall Niroula, died of a heart attack.
The incident took place at around 7.30 this morning when Mr. Niroula had gone to collect fodder and his wife was working at the field just some distance away from their house. Their 14-year-old son, who was at home at the time, was the first to notice the fire and started screaming for help.
By the time Sita Niroula reached home the fire had spread to the entire house and the villagers arrived for help only after they heard her screams. However, they could not bring the fire under control as it was too late by then.
Meanwhile, Sita Niroula had fallen unconscious and she was taken to the District Hospital Singtam by the villagers and relatives where she was declared brought dead.
It is informed that there was cash Rs. 6000, three tolas of gold, documents, utensils, clothes, ornaments and furniture inside the house. The family has been temporarily housed at a relative’s house.
The area MLA, Ugen T Gyatso Bhutia also met the bereaved family today and extended an immediate relief of Rs. 10,000 and other necessary requirements.  He also directed the panchayat members to immediately provide a house for the bereaved family under the CMRHM scheme.

Melli Dara Paiyong convenes Jan Sunwais for rural water supply projects

GANGTOK, 09 Sept: Melli Dara Paiyong Gram Panchayat Unit today convened a Jan Sunwai [public hearing] today on two Rural Water Supply works being undertaken at different wards of the GPU, informs a press communiqué received from the RDA, Madhav Sharma.
The works in question are the “RWSS from Khani Khola to Sharma & Pradhan Gaon” under Melli Gumpa Ward having sanctioned amount of Rs. 16,12,350 and “RWSS from Khani Khola to Upper Paiyong for 25 families” under Upper Paiyong sanctioned at Rs. 31,45,000.
The demand for these works was placed during the Chief Minister’s visit to the area as part of his 42-Day tour of the villages of Sikkim, the release informs.
The Gram Panchayat has been conducting Jan Sunwais for every sanctioned work before execution as per the directions of the Chief Minister in order to ensure quality work as well as directly involving the beneficiaries in monitoring the work, the release explains.
The Jan Sunwai was presided over by Panchayat President Ganesh K. Rai and was attended by the Gram Panchayat members, A.E., BAC Sumbuk Sandeep Khatiwara and the beneficiaries and concerned cooperative members executing the works.
Mr. Khatiwara explained the technicalities of the works and method to be adopted during the execution of the works in detail and also highlighted that the cost of supply items and civil work for “RWSS from Khani Khola to Sharma & Pradhan Gaon “ would be Rs. 6,84,273 and Rs. 9,28,077 respectively. For “RWSS from Khani Khola to Upper Paiyong”, the cost of supply items would be Rs. 1,26,000 and the cost of civil works would be Rs. 18,85,000.
The beneficiaries expressed their gratitude towards the Chief Minister for sanctioning the works and appreciated the concept of Jan Sunwais being held prior to the execution of works which will really help in ensuring quality of work and proper monitoring, they said.

Sikkim chapter of Special Olympics Bharat bags Excellence Award

GANGTOK, 09 Sept: Special Olympics Bharat, Sikkim Chapter, received an Award of Excellence for its participation in the Advanced Coaches Training Programme at the Annual Area Director Meeting held at Delhi from 04-06 September.
A press release further informs that Special Olympics Bharat, Sikkim, is organizing the Advanced Coaches Training Programme for East & North East Region in Athletics, Volleyball and Five-a-side Football from 10 - 16 September. Coaches from Assam, Odisha, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar, host State Sikkim and Buddy Nation Bhutan as an observer will be taking part.
The inaugural function will be held on 11 September and the valedictory function will be held on 15 Sept where the participating coaches will be awarded certificates as per merit, the release mentions. The programme is sponsored by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Govt of India.

It’s World Suicide Prevention Day today...


GANGTOK, 09 Sept: The current year began with a 15-year-old taking her own life on 01 January. Since then, NOW! has reported 51 suicides [till 06 September] in Sikkim. With just over three months left for the year to end, this figure might seem small [in comparison to past years], but one must understand that these are just the cases that have found their way to the press and there would be others which have either not been reported or have been misrepresented as accidental deaths.
Today, on World Suicide Prevention Day, let us at least accept that there is a problem and with the rest of the world, try to understand first the underlying causes before making any attempt at intervention. Observance of certain days like the World AIDS Day, Anti-Drug Abuse Day, etc with numerous events followed by press releases of such events do make some noise even if their significance is questionable but the silence that precedes and follows World Suicide Prevention Day is perhaps symbolic of the denial and apathy of the Sikkimese society on the subject. Such lack of even tokenism on the issue is worrisome.
Of the 51 suicides till now, the majority [14] were by those between 31-40 years of age. Teenagers make up the second group with high number of suicides. 11 out of the 51 fell between the age group of 13-19 years. Those between 20-30 years make up the third group with 9 suicides so far.
The data is admittedly insufficient, as pointed out earlier, to make any real inferences but the fact is that suicide in the past 9 months has claimed mostly those between the ages of 13-40 years. In 2011, out of the total number of 184, suicide claimed 130 in the age group of 15-44 years.
Another mind-numbing fact is that two children, one aged 09 and another 10 also committed suicide this year. What drives a child to suicide is a question that just cannot be left unanswered. The data is again insufficient in order to arrive at any conclusions, but most suicides this year as well as in past years have been reported from rural areas. Only three cases have been reported from Gangtok and its surroundings while more have been reported from rural areas of the East district.
Does this mean that suicide is more prevalent in rural Sikkim or does it point towards the possibility that it is being under-reported or not reported at all from the urban areas? Whatever the case, answers to these questions are vital in understanding the phenomena and hence, attempts at intervention.
If one takes the 51 suicides reported in NOW! so far this year into consideration, the number of suicides could probably be the lowest this year in the past five years. The highest in Sikkim i.e 287 was reported in 2008 [according to NCRB data], 241 in 2009, 280 in 2010 and 184 in 2011. Although this could suggest a fall in the number of suicides reported or even an actual fall in the number of suicides, it does not in any way justify the complete apathy and utter lack of response to a condition that the state on the whole is suffering from.
The method that a person chooses to end his or her life with can also aid in answering a number of questions. While, the method used in farmer suicides in Kerala have predominantly been consumption of pesticides which is accrued to its easy availability, hanging in the case of Sikkim lacks an explanation as yet. Of the 51 suicides reported this year, all except three were by hanging. This particular method usually requires preparation and a mind set to succeed. Preparation, then, points towards every possibility that the suicide victim could have previously attempted suicide but was unsuccessful. This leads to a very important aspect with regard to suicide and its intervention, not only in Sikkim but in the entire country.
While most nations in the west have decriminalised the act of taking one’s own life, it is still a punishable crime in India. Under section 309 of the Indian Penal Code - “Whoever attempts to commit suicide and does any act towards the commission of such offence, shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year or with fine, or with both."
Although the Law Commission has submitted a review to the Indian government to repeal this section in 2008, no amendment has been made till date. This impedes suicide intervention in terms of accurate collection of data as well as reaching help to those who have attempted suicide and are in the danger of succeeding in the future. The fear of law makes it that much more difficult for a person who has attempted suicide to access help even if it is available.
The Law Commission in its report had stated: “Section 309 provides double punishment for a person who has got fed up with his own life and desires to end it. It is also a stumbling block in the prevention of suicides and improving the access of medical care to those who have attempted suicide.”
The theme of World Suicide Prevention Day this year is “Suicide Prevention across the Globe: Strengthening Protective Factors and Instilling Hope.” Suicide is a multi-determined phenomenon that occurs against a background of complex interacting biological, social, psychological and environmental risk and protective factors. Despite the complexity of this phenomenon, suicide can be prevented.
Let us accept that Sikkim needs to address suicides and also understand that it can be prevented.