Friday, October 12, 2012

Trader from Tibet arrested on charges of espionage at Nathula border

GANGTOK, 11 Oct: Already handicapped by a lethargic bureaucracy, stifling regulations and poor infrastructure, Border Trade between India and China over Nathula has added another ingredient to the mix of issues holding it back – espionage. Tensions have escalated at the border trade region of Nathula here after a Chinese national was apprehended by authorities on charges of espionage yesterday. Even as the incident has triggered hectic backdoor diplomacy between the various agencies of the central government, trading was suspended today over the incident.
In fact, the Chinese authorities, sources inform, have put border trade on the mat saying that they will not allow trade to take place till the arrested person is released and returned.
With the espionage accused having been sent to judicial remand of up to 15 days today, it is unlikely that he can be handed over or released before that time period. In the meantime trade is likely to remain closed even next week with Indian traders unlikely to try their luck the other side of the border even if Chinese immigration allows them through.
There was murmuring among the border traders today that it was unlikely that trade will resume next week either, and if the Chinese maintain their attitude it is going to require some tough talk and diplomacy, if the Indians are capable of it.
A Chinese national, Langki Jiancan, a 20-year-old resident of Shigatse, a city in the Tibetan Autonomous Region was reportedly “intercepted” by the Indo Tibetan Border Police, the paramilitary agency manning the border with TAR, after he was caught taking photographs of a “restricted area” on his mobile phone.
In fact it is informed that on crossing the border at Nathula and while on route to the Sherathang Trade mart which is a couple of kilometers away, he started taking photographs. This is a highly restricted zone and heavily manned by the ITBP. Sources also inform that he was at first warned not to take pictures but as he continued to do so he was then picked up by the ITBP and subsequently handed over to the Sherathang police.
It may be stated here that the person has a valid trade pass and moreover, has relatives on this side of the border, that is, in Sikkim. It is informed that he had come to meet one of his relatives here at the mart site. The FIR, at the Sherathang police station, was filed by the ITBP, Assistant Commandant.
The accused was today produced before the Magistrate, Gangtok courts where the police obtained a remand of 15 days. Langki has been sent up to judicial custody.
His mobile phone has been seized and he has been charged under section 3 (b) of the Official Secrets Act. This section of the Act deals with penalties for spying which says a person is liable if he makes any sketch, plan, model, or note which is calculated to be or might be or is intended to be, directly or indirectly useful to an enemy. Punishment can extend to 14 years imprisonment if the act is committed in relation to any defence establishment or 3 years in any other case.
The trade season had started on a bad note and with just a month and a half to go before it shuts for the year and with this incident it looks like it will end the same way.

USFC goes down fighting to East Bengal

GANGTOK, 11 Oct: The much anticipated match between Bhaichung’s United Sikkim Football Club [USFC] and Federation Cup champions, East Bengal Football Club [EBFC], ended in a nail-biting finish at Paljor Stadium today.
In a tough fight, I-League debutants USFC went down to East Bengal in the final quarter.
This time, Ashish Chettri led the USFC as captain while East Bengal came with Mehtab Hossain as the team captain. The home team received full support from the packed stadium till the final whistle.
In the first half, East Bengal maintained pressure on the home team with constant attacks but failed to make it through the wall put up by goalkeeper, Yoon Tae and stoppers of the USFC. In response, the home team also made some good attacks, however, the first half ended in a goalless draw.
The second half saw both teams playing neck-to-neck, launching attack after attack on each other’s goal post. It was only in the 82nd minute, that a free-kick shot by an East Bengal substitute, Lalrindika from near the D-box, deflected right into the goalpost becoming the only and winning goal of the match.
East Bengal captain, Mehtab Hossain was awarded the ‘Man of the Match’ title.
Addressing a press conference after the match, East Bengal coach, Trevor Morgan said, “This is a great win for us, and the credit goes to each player. Although it was difficult for the team to play on a different surface and after a long journey but we deserved this result”.
He added that the goal margin did not matter as long as the team won.
Expressing satisfaction on his team’s performance, USFC coach, Philip De Rider said that the team played a fantastic game and every player did a good job.
“Many of our players are suffering from injuries because of which maybe the attacks were not strong enough”, said the USFC coach and added that the long gap before their third match against defending champion, Dempo SC, would hopefully give them enough time to fully recover and bounce back in their next game.
“We played a good match and received full support from the home crowd but we could not control the scoreboard”, said USFC defender, Sandesh Jhingan and added that the team will continue with this positivity in their upcoming matches.
USFC will play the third home match against Dempo SC on 28 October.

State level INSPIRE exhibition cum project competition held

GANGTOK, 11 Oct: The Sikkim State Council of Science & Technology organized the State Level ‘Innovation of Science Pursuit for Inspire Research’ (INSPIRE) award exhibition on 09 October, 2012 at Sikkim Science Centre, Marchak.
As per a press release, a total of 487 students were awarded INSPIRE Warrant amounting to Rs. 5000 for each student. Out of 487 awardees from all over the state, 407 awardees participated in the District Level Exhibition at SIRD Karfectar, Sikkim Science Centre, Marchak and Modern Secondary School, Gangtok.
47 participants were selected to participate in the State Level Exhibition cum Project competition. Finally five awardees have been selected out of the total 407 projects to represent the state at the National Level Exhibition cum Project Competition to be held during October 21-23, 2012¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬ in Delhi.
The programme had Principal Research Officer, Forest Environment & Wildlife Management Department, Usha Lachungpa as the chief guest. While inaugurating the programme, she spoke on the importance of this national programme of Department of Science & Technology, Government of India for providing the right platform for children to showcase their innovation and creative skills in the field of science.
She said that the students who have availed of the INSPIRE scholarship should take advantage of the opportunity and represent the state at national level.
It may be recalled the Sikkim bagged two national awards in the First National Level INSPIRE Exhibition where the students received the award from the then President of India, Pratibha Devisingh Patil in New Delhi at the national function.    
The other judges also commented on the significance of the programme. They informed that the main objective of the programme is to inculcate scientific temperament among the students community and to attract more students to study basic sciences and take up research in the future.
They said that the main reason why we should take active role in such initiatives is because there is a brain drain among the bright students to take up other streams and give lesser preference to basic sciences and research.
The chief guest along with other judges visited the stalls after the inaugural programme where forty projects brought from all over the state were on display to be judged by the jury members. The jury members comprised of Dr. Khusre [Central Agriculture University], Dr.B.C Basistha [Addl. Director, Science & Technology], D.T Bhutia [Addl. Director, Science & Technology], P. Shah [Dy. Director, HRDD], and Usha Lachungpa [Principal Research Officer, Forest, Environment and Wildlife Management Department].
After meticulously judging the result was declared in the afternoon of 09 October. The candidates selected to represent the state at the National Level Exhibition cum Project competition are Sandeep Gurung [Tingmoo Sec. School, South Sikkim], Kunja Gurung [Yangsum Sec.School ], Pranita Subba [Yangang Sr. Sec. School, South Sikkim], Biki Sharma [Govt. Sr Sec.School, Tadong, East Sikkim] and      Mikma Lhamu Lachenpa [Mangan Sr.Sec. School, North Sikkim].
The Secretary, Science & Technology and Climate Change has congratulated all the winners of INSPIRE State Level Exhibition cum Competition and has wished them good luck for the National Level Competition.

Further, all schools including Government schools, Public Schools, Private Schools, JNVs, Central Schools, Army Schools have been requested to send two nominations of students for the year 2012-13 from class VIII and IX immediately so that the students do not lose the opportunity of INSPIRE award and national level exposure.
The nominations can be directly given to Science & Technology Department or through HRDD Nodal Officer, P S Shah. Details of criteria of nomination can be seen in the website

The INSPIRE Programme is a centrally funded flagship programme of the Govt. of India which is being implemented through state Governments and UT administrations. The objective of this programme is to develop scientific temper amongst the young and to motivate them to take up scientific carriers for the scientific and technological advancement of the country.
This programme has five components covering entire range of education and research from class VI to post doctoral stage of a student. The first component of this programme is INSPIRE Award which recognizes the talents among students at a very early stage. Each INSPIRE Awardee will receive a onetime award of Rs.5000 in his/her school career and with this money the awardee is required to make a project / model which will subsequently be displayed at the exhibition organized at various level viz: district level, state level and finally national level.
Additional proposal for INSPIRE scholarship to cover all schools within the state during 2012-13 is under way. All schools including government, private & public schools, central & JNV schools above Class VI are eligible to apply for the scholarship.

EMRS Gangyap enter semis of U-19 NE Basketball championship

GANGTOK, 11 Oct: Eklavya Model Residential School [EMRS], Gangyap in West Sikkim will take on St Francis De Sales, Guwahati in the semi-final round of the Under-19 CBSE North East Region Basketball Championship at Kaziranga English Aacdemy, Guwahati on Friday. In its first match in the championship today, EMRS thrashed DPS Numaligarh 73-02 and entered the semi-final round. Pema Lhamu and Bimochan Tamang contributed 19 points each to fetch EMRS the win.

9 arrested on charges of rioting in South Sikkim

GANGTOK, 11 Oct: Stray incidents of threats and intimidation continue with the panchayat elections season on. The Namchi police arrested a total of 9 persons on 10 October and later released them on bail.
The charges against them, all purported to be supporters of dissident SDF leader, PS Tamang, are of wrongful confinement, rioting and threatening a resident of Namthang Bazaar. As per police records, the complainant, SB Tamang was abused and threatened by the group at around 7 PM on 10 October.
The group had come into the bazaar shouting slogans. They were all rounded up by the police and sent for medical examination according to which they had consumed alcohol but were not intoxicated.


GANGTOK, 11 Oct: A 21-year-old woman committed suicide at her home in Reshi under Rhenock police jurisdiction. Her body was reportedly found hanging from a tree about 500 feet below her house in the Reshi forests. The police are investigating the incident.

Laborer killed in fall from construction site

GANGTOK, 11 Oct: A labourer working at a building construction site at Rangpo had a tragic death when he fell off the building where he was working on 10 October.
Dilip Singh, a resident of Darjeeling was working at the under construction building of Mahesh Sharma at Majitar when he reportedly fell down the first floor. He was rushed to the Singtam hospital from where he was referred to the Central Referral Hospital, Tadong. He is reported to have succumbed on the way.


Dear Indian Oil,
Your advertisement OUR TIME IS YOURS, YOUR PROBLEM IS OURS comes as a big mockery at a time when the State of Sikkim is facing a major crisis in LPG availability.
Every day every dealer of yours in the State has serpentine queues of hassled consumers trying to solve their problem.In a State where there  no regulatory mechanism was established for the past decades no system of advance booking of gas, no home delivery, no entry in the Gas Book,you suddenly want to impose such stringent rules ?
A consumer is asked to produce a cash memo of her gas connection which may have been in the 70s, failing which file an FIR, so a queue at the Thana. The other alternative is to submit an affidavit so another queue at the counter and at the Advocate's.
All this harrassment even when a consumer possesses the MOST VALID DOCUMENT, the DOMESTIC GAS CONSUMER CARD. Please go through the last page of the book which reads "this document is your official identification of being an authorised bonafide LPG consumer etc HENCE IT IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT THAT THIS DOCUMENT IS PRESERVED CAREFULLY AND SAFELY BY YOU AS A PERMENENT RECORD."
So Consumers who possess this document should not be harassed in this manner.
If you have fake consumers, you have every right to screen them but not at the cost of harassing each and every one of us who have been your bonafide consumers.
Jayshree Pradhan [recvd on email]


With reference to your news reporting titled “Sikkim Women’s council discusses problems caused by new system governing LPG connections” and letter titled “LPG, A Big Problem”, appearing in October 10th & 11th, 2012 edition of your esteemed daily, it is clarified here that as pointed in the said report the STCS or for that matter, even the Government to of Sikkim have not introduced any ‘new system’ in the LPG service. This is beyond our jurisdiction. The new system has been introduced by the Ministry of Petroleum, Government of India and implemented by M/s. IOCL.
Moreover, this Corporation as a pioneer LPG distributor in the State has been appealing all such consumers who falls under the operational jurisdiction of new distributors to get their connections transferred accordingly since last year itself on several occasions. However, such consumers though registered with this Corporation still continued availing refilled cylinders from their distributors through STCS BLUE-BOOK. Transferring of connections has been made mandatory following the imposition of ceiling on subsidized cylinders. It is put on record here that had the affected consumers transferred their connection well in time, this situation would never have arisen.
However, for the convenience of affected consumers, a separate counter and service of an oath commissioner has also been made available at our Head Office with regular flow of subsidized cylinders from its godowns, both at Gangtok and Baiguney.
As claimed in the report, we are not insisting on ‘various documents’ but only one amongst the documents that substantiate one’s residential proof for obtaining new connection alongwith KYC available at our office.
It is further clarified here that in order to check mal-practice, not more than one cylinder at a time shall be issued against one BLUE-BOOK per person. STCS has already notified extra distribution schedules for Government employees.
For any queries or clarification, this office may be contacted any time while
We further appeal all our consumers to remain away from any kind of rumors making round. We ensure sufficient flow of LPG cylinders.
S. Gyamtso Pulger, Managing Director, STCS

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Chamling releases SDF manifesto for panchayat elections

GANGTOK, 10 Oct: Sikkim Democratic Front president, Chief Minister Pawan Chamling, today released the SDF Manifesto for the 2012 Panchayat Elections. The manifesto was unveiled at a special function hosted at the SDF party headquarters attended by senior vice presidents of the party, advisors, the two spokespersons, general secretaries and other senior leaders and many party workers. In all probability, this will be the only manifesto for the upcoming panchayat elections given the fact that the only other party in the fray is the Congress which is fielding only 2 candidates and the rest are Independent candidates. A new batch is being elected to the 987 panchayat wards and 187 zilla panchayats in Sikkim.
The SDF party president also released the “Green Book” of the party detailing the SDF’s ideology today.
The 45-page manifesto, the Nepali edition of which was circulated today, includes a message from the SDF party president and a 100-point list of commitments and assurances.
A press communiqué received from SDF spokesperson, Lok Sabha MP, PD Rai, informs that Mr. Chamling, in his address to party workers, expressed joy on releasing the two books.
He urged party workers to read the manifesto carefully so that they could explain it to the people. He further asked the party to work hard and win all the seats in the forthcoming elections, the release adds.
Earlier, in his brief introductory address, party spokesperson Bhim Dahal reflected on the fact that this was the tenth Manifesto to be brought out by the party. “Much has changed in the contents since the first one. Our plans and programs have improved tremendously. But the things that have not changed are the tenets, the ideology and the pro poor stand of the party,” the release quotes Mr. Dahal as stating.
Meanwhile, Mr. Chamling dwelt at length on the women’s empowerment, remarking that Sikkim was unique in the world for having notified 50 percent reservation for women in any election. He appealed to the women to use the empowerment process in the best possible manner, stressing that it was not just about winning but about ensuring that there is further building of all kinds of capacities to administer properly so that the people get the facilities that the Government provides through the Panchayats, the release adds.
“Moreover, the elected Panchayats will have to understand how to run and administer local governments. This is a valuable opportunity that has been brought for the women of our State by our Government and Party,” he reiterated.
On the party Green Book, he stressed that it was the ideology which bound the party together. “It is not about friendship but about working together and becoming fellow travelers because we share the same principles and ideology,” he shared with the party workers today.
He also stressed that the party Green Book must be read to imbibe the ideology for better political education, a must for all cadres of the party, the release states.

High Court grants anticipatory bail to EIILM officials

GANGTOK, 10 Oct: The High Court of Sikkim has granted anticipatory bail to the accused / petitioners in the EIILM [Eastern Institute Of Integrated Learning & Management] University police case; this follows the rejection of their anticipatory bail application filed by a couple of the accused at the court of the Sessions Judge, South and West at Namchi.
While the additional public prosecutor, Karma Thinlay, submitted, on instruction of SP South, Manoj Tiwari, who was present, that the police had no intention to take the petitioners into custody immediately, the single bench comprising Justice SP Wangdi observed that of relevance was the registration of non bailable offences against the persons “…giving rise to a reasonable apprehension of being arrested”.
However the court also laid out some conditions for the anticipatory bail. The police had been resisting the anticipatory bail as their summons to the universities authorities for questioning, including to the Chancellor, pro vice chancellor, vice chancellor etc, had not been complied with. Counsel for the petitioners, KT Bhutia submitted that while the petitioners were willing to cooperate with the investigation it was the very apprehension of arrest that had kept the accused away from appearing from questioning. It may be added here that several of those issued summons are in New Delhi.
The court noted that of concern was the liberty of the petitioners and further, they had approached the court within the rights prescribed by law.
Among the conditions laid out by the High Court include that the accused, if arrested, will be discharged on bail on their personal and security bond of Rs. 1 lakh each; they are also to render all cooperation with the investigating officer and are to report to the I/O as and when called during reasonable hours. The court also directed that those who are in Delhi are to report to the I/O to ensure that the investigation proceeds expeditiously.
Further they cannot leave station without permission of the investigating officer. And as the university also has offshore campuses it was directed by the High Court that the petitioners hand over their passports to the I/O during the period of investigation; these shall be released only with the leave of the Court. Finally the court directed that the petitioners are not to tamper with evidence.
In fact the additional public prosecutor had objected to the bail application on apprehension that the petitioners would tamper with evidence; it was submitted that the petitioners have been tampering with evidence and causing obstruction to the investigation apart from failing to appear before the I/O.
A letter was also placed before the court in support of this wherein, one of the management members of the university, on being summoned by the I/O had requested exemption “…due to my prescheduled work…” on that particular date. The Single Bench of the high court observed that it was difficult to accept the contention that the letter would amount to tampering with evidence.
The court further noted that nothing had stopped the police from calling him again and in the event the police have reasonable proof that the person is withholding information there were sufficient powers vested with them under the law to compel disclosure.
The Jorethang police had on 1 September charged the management of EIILM university, Jorethang on various counts including criminal breach of trust, cheating, forgery and criminal conspiracy. The university premises had been raided and the police had charged the university of operating unauthorized campuses including offshore campuses, doling out false degrees and certificates and claiming to give degrees for courses for which they had not the required infrastructure.
It has also come to light that cases with similar allegations have been filed against EIILM authorities in other parts of the country as well particularly in Bhatinda and Mumbai. There are around 336 centres of the university all over the country.
Meanwhile, the Namchi police has issued notice under 160 CrPc to five officials of the University to be present for their statement on Monday, 15 October, 2012. Further, the police have also issued notice to all these persons [who received anticipatory bail today] to submit their passports by 5pm on October 13, 2012.


East Bengal FC hopes to continue winning streak
GANGTOK, 10 Oct: Federation Cup champions, East Bengal FC is ready to take on home team, United Sikkim Football Club [USFC] in Thursday’s I-League match and hopes to continue its winning streak this season. In an interesting twist, Sikkim and Bhaichung will feature prominently on both sides since USFC has Bhaichung Bhutia as its CEO and the East Bengal squad is led by Sanju Pradhan as captain. Midfielder Sanju hails from Sombaria in West Sikkim and is a product of the “Search for More Bhaichungs” scheme.
Addressing a press conference at Paljor Stadium today, coach, Trevor Morgan mentioned that the East Bengal squad is in high spirits and is looking forward to win tomorrow’s match. Responding to media queries, the coach informed that the club has not seen USFC in action so far and will not be taking any team lightly.
Playing in Gangtok will be different for the club since the weather condition is different here said the coach, however adding that, it would not make a big difference in the team’s spirit to play its best game and win the 3 points in the match tomorrow.
At present, the East Bengal squad is led by Sanju Pradhan of Sikkim as captain. Sanju of Sombaria in West Sikkim, was spotted in the ‘Search for More Bhaichungs’ and received coaching at Namchi Sports Hostel and then at the Sikkim Sports Academy before being signed by Air India, Mumbai followed by East Bengal now.
Speaking at the press conference, Sanju mentioned that the pressure is definitely on them since USFC is playing on home ground and is in high spirits after the recent victory over Salgaocar SC. However, he added that the Federation Cup win has also boosted East Bengal’s spirit and the club is confident of winning tomorrow’s match.
Sanju went on to add that he has been playing with professional clubs for the past 6 years and this is for the first time that he will be playing at Paljor Stadium as a professional player. The I-League at Gangtok will inspire young footballers here as well as give people here a taste of professional football, he said.
 “Being a professional footballer I will give my 100% to my club to win tomorrow’s match”, added Sanju.

Bhaichung underlines that USFC is in the fray to win
GANGTOK, 10 Oct: United Sikkim Football Club [USFC] co-owner, Bhaichung Bhutia, conveyed that the team was confident and capable to beat every big team on its home ground. He further expressed that the team was riding a high at present following its convincing 3-2 win over Salgaocar last weekend.
After beating the highly-ranked Goan club in its first match in the I-League, USFC is now warming up to take on Kolkata giants East Bengal Football Club on Thursday afternoon at Paljor Stadium.
Bhaichung commented that the match will be a big test for the club, and added that the confidence that the squad carries to the ground tomorrow will further improve its chances. He stressed that USFC will require the 3 points which come to the winner tomorrow since every point collected will secure its place in the senior division I-League. USFC broke into the I-League earlier this year. Bhaichung stressed that for the club to remain among the elite, it will have to win consistently.
He informed that he will be not playing in this second match of I-League either since he has not recovered full fitness yet. He added that he will be fit to play the third home match against current I-League champions, Dempo SC, scheduled for 28 October.
Bhaichung mentioned that by winning the first home against Salgaocar SC the USFC has overcome the debutante jitters and was now a more confident team aiming to perform even better in all home matches. He informed that in the last match the team’s right-winger, Raju Debnath was injured and will be out for a few months.
Bhaichung expressed that the USFC wants more local players in the club, but aspirants need to not only have talent, but also a thirst to excel and the spirit to struggle and fight and earn their place in the team. He mentioned that local players like Ashish Chettri display such talent and commitment and wear the USFC colours in the I-League now.
He also shared that the club aims to sign Sanju Pradhan and Nirmal Chettri of Sikkim.
USFC midfielder, Ashish Chettri stated that the club is ready to play against the East Bengal and the USFC does not want to disappoint the local supporters in tomorrow’s match. He added that the football was a team game and whole team performed well to won the first match.
To make tomorrow’s match more interesting, the club has invited upcoming singer from Darjeeling, Prakriti Giri, to perform during the half time break. Also present to entertain spectators will be a dance troupe from Ravangla.

East district Returning Officers to meet panchayat candidates on Friday

GANGTOK, 10 Oct: The East district collectorate has clarified that the 12 October meeting scheduled to be held at Chintan Bhawan at 10 AM for all contesting candidates in the panchayat elections for East district is being held as per the notification and guidelines of the Election Commission, Government of India.
The clarification comes in obvious response to media reports of a section of the Opposition voicing fears that the Chief Minister was planning to meet Independent candidates at Chintan Bhawan on Friday in what they saw a move to convince them to back down.
The DC explained that as per guidelines included by the State Election Commission in the Returning Officers Handbook, it is mandatory for the Returning Officers to have a meeting with all the contesting candidates to guide them in the election procedure and provide then identification cards and other election materials.
“All talk about the CM addressing the meeting is just merely a rumour and has nothing to do with the slated meeting. Actually, the meeting is a routine procedure that the district collectorate has to carry out as per the rules of election procedure. The meeting is purely an official one and I request all contesting candidates to be present at Chintan Bhawan”, said Mr Anandan.
Similar meetings will be conducted for each district by the respective district collectorates where candidates will be informed about the do’s and dont’s during the elections, he added while addressing a press conference here at his chamber this morning.
 The DC also informed that even in cases where the contesting candidates fail to attend the meeting, separate folders containing all the details along with the candidate’s ID cards will be issued from the District Collectorate’s office.
However, it is important that the candidates be present for the meeting along with two passport sized photographs since all information related to the elections like the EVMs will be disseminated during this meeting.  
The DC also informed today that panchayat elections for the East district will be held for 433 seats, 357 panchayat wards and 76 seats in Zilla Panchayat territorial constituencies. The break up of candidates contesting for Zilla panchayat seats are 26 [Sikkim Democratic Front], 2 [Sikkim Pradesh Congress Committee] and 48 [Independent], similarly, a total of 150 SDF candidates, 1 Congress candidate and 206 independent candidates are in the fray for the elections in the gram panchayat wards in the East district.
A total of 8 Returning Officers for the panchayt elections including 1 for the Zilla Panchayt territorial constituencies have also been appointed, it was stated.
Further, it was stated that letters to attend the meeting have already been sent to the respective political parties while the Sector Magistrates who are the respective BDOs are telephonically calling all individual independent candidates regarding the same.
While informing that the Managing Director, State Bank of Sikkim, SK Silal has been appointed as the Election Observer for the East district it was mentioned that there will be a total of 260 polling stations in the district. For every polling station there will be a total of 4 polling and 1 presiding officer along with 2 constables from the Sikkim Police.
Similarly, TNA auditorium has been selected as the Contesting Booth for East district where strong rooms that house the EVM machines will also be set-up. These EVMs will be sent to the respective polling booths along with election materials on 02 November just before the polling day while the sealing of the same will be carried out on 21 and 22 October.
The DC has also stated that any candidate who wants to be part of the sealing process when the EVMs will be commissioned and prepared can be present at the auditorium on the said date to ensure transparency.
“We are in the process of holding free and fair elections in the district and 395 EVMs will be used during the process. We will also have reserve EVMs belonging to the Election Commission, GoI that will be brought through the State Election Commission to ensure a transparent election process. We have also kept 16 and 17 October as dates where the polling officers will be trained on the EVMs,” stated the DC.
Further, it was informed that a total of 300 taxis have been requisitioned for the panchayt polls in the East district and that the Roads and Bridges and the Power department have also been given standing instructions by the state election commission to open all roads and maintain power supply during the elections.

Protest rally was complete success, ASESE&UA insists


GANGTOK, 10 Oct: The All Sikkim Educated Self Employed & Unemployed Association [ASESE&UA] president, Nawin Kiran, maintains that the protest rally taken out by the organization in Gangtok on 09 October was a complete success despite the low turnout. He stressed that the organization was satisfied with the rally as it was successful in highlighting the issues of unfair employment practices and service extension in government service with the concerned authorities.
As for the low turnout, he explained it to the last minute pull out by some people who had earlier offered to sponsor transportation for supporters from the districts.
Addressing a press conference today, Mr Kiran informed that the ASESE&UA had promised to arrange vehicles for youth from the districts to join the rally. He claimed that these youth waited for vehicles till the last hour but the organization could not to provide transportation and many people who wanted to could not join the rally.
“Being an unemployed association we don’t have funds and some people promised to arrange transportation but at the last moment, these people left us so the organization was not able to arrange vehicles,” he said.
He added that the organization will continue with it such protests and initiatives and appealed to the youth not to get frustrated and continue supporting the organization to “bring change in the system”. He also urged them to remain wary of ‘opportunist’ and ‘optimistic’ leaders.
On the occasion, ASESE&UA general secretary announced that the people will see the new ‘avatar’ of the organization with new activities by the end of this year.

General information on LPG service

As all is well aware that this Corporation has been pioneer LPG distributor and uninterruptedly catering the requirement of domestic LPG cylinders for more than three decades in the State to the consumers under its subscription. However, in the recent years, new LPG distributors were appointed by M/s. IOCL with explicit demarcation of their areas of operation for the convenience of the consumers residing in various district and remote corners. It is pertinent to mention here that such consumers originally subscribed with this Corporation continued to get their normal refilling through STCS BLUE-BOOK from their new distributors till the imposition of the ceiling on subsidized cylinders by the Petroleum Ministry, Governmentof India.
Consequently, this imposition makes it mandatory that all the distributors maintain proper record of the consumers of the release of subsidized / non-subsidized domestic cylinders and its consumers thereby making it mandatory that such consumers also must get their documents transferred to continue avail normal LPG service with their respective new distributors who have now restricted releasing any further cylinders to such consumers who have still not transferred their connections.
It is at this backdrop, we once again appeal all such consumers to get their connections transferred with their new distributors to continue avail uninterrupted LPG service. For transferring their connection, consumers are required to submit their present BLUE-BOOK & SVR (Subscription Voucher Receipt) in case of lost of the same, Indemnity bond is to be submitted which is available in the STCS office. In case of non-availability of all these documents, consumers are required to lodge FIR with the nearest police station and submit an affidavit to that effect from competent oath commissioner. For the convenience of the consumers, service of an oath commissioner has been made available at the STCS office. Consumers falling under the below mentioned area which are our area of operation continues to remain our consumers and are therefore not required to get their connections transferred.
1.   North District:    Bhojoghari and upward-Entire North District
2.   East District:    Lumsay-Syari-Deorali-Pani House-Tenzing & Tenzing-Lall Bajar
3.   West District:    Entire West District and Jorethang.
In the meantime, we assure such consumers that there is no reason to panic or for any confusion as the Government is exercising every possible initiatives to ensure sufficient and uninterrupted availability of the cylinders for their convenience. Please pay no heed to any kind of rumors and for any queries, this office may be contacted any time. This Corporation with the active participation and exercise of the Department of Food & Civil Supplies, Government of Sikkim has for the time being made arrangement to provide cylinders to such consumers who have still not transferred their connections at subsidized price. Such consumer shall collect cylinder from STCS Godown at 5th Mile, Tadong and Baiguney, West Sikkim. This may also be noted here that no cylinders shall be issued without producing BLUE-BOOK.
Importantly, we once again request the affected consumers to kindly get their connections transferred with their respective new distributors at the earliest to continue avail normal LPG services. It is mandatory that consumers must transfer their connections with their respective new distributors to avoid any disturbances or hindrances in availing normal LPG services in future.

SDF counters meeting with Independents allegation

GANGTOK, 10 Oct: The Sikkim Democratic Front has condemned claims made by section of the Opposition that the SDF President, Chief Minister Pawan Chamling, has called a meeting with the Independent candidates with the intention to convince them to capitulate to SDF candidates in the upcoming panchayat polls.
The SDF publicity secretary, Churamani Mishra, in a statement issued today, said that the SDF party president has neither called any meeting with independent candidates nor violated the model code of conduct of the ensuing Panchayat election.
The release stresses that the party is aware of the rules and procedures of the elections and will abide with the regulations of model code of conduct.
The release has expressed confidence that the Sikkimese people will vote for SDF candidates and appealed to the people not to pay heed to the rumors being circulated by “disgruntled people”.

SICB beautician trainees to undergo on-job training in Madhya Pradesh

GANGTOK, 10 Oct: Trainees of the six-month training programme on Hair, Beauty and SPA being conducted in State Institute of Capacity Building [SICB] were deputed for on-job training at Indore, Madhya Pradesh today. The trainees will be trained at Zivaya SPA for another three months there.
A press release informs that the trainees will be provided with a consolidated remuneration of Rs. 8,000 during the period of three months along with accommodation. After the completion of the three-month training all of them will be placed by Zivaya SPA at different locations in the metros and big cities.
The SICB earlier finalized the on-job training and placement of 30 trainees on minimum salaries of Rs 12,000 to 15,000 with accommodation. The campus interview, selection process and soft skill training was conducted after the selection of the candidates. Out of the forty trainees of the institute ten trainees refused the offer for personal reasons.
The release adds that SICB is further looking forward to train and place the trainees in lucrative sectors like Hotel Management and Catering Services, Tour Guides, Chef and BPO. A few days ago the SICB deputed nearly forty trainees of Kewzing Livelihood School for Hotel Management and Catering Services for outreach and Industrial Training in five star hotels at Jaipur, Gujarat and Pune.
The trainees are likely to be selected on the basis of their performance in these hotels after the industrial training and the course is completed, the release further mentions.


This is in regard to the news-report, “A Library for Kids, finally!”, published in NOW! issue dated 10 October, 2012. The membership fee details need further elaboration. The fee for the two schemes being offered at “Through The Looking Glass” are as follows:
1. The monthly fee is Rs. 200 for the yellow plan and Rs. 300 for the green plan.
2. Rs. 1,425 for the Yellow Plan includes the registration, refundable deposit and three months fees.
3. The Green Plan starts from Rs. 2,025 (covering fee for three months, registration and deposit). Rs. 4,650 covers Green Plan fee for an entire year.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Deptt fails to submit status report in response to PIL on status of health services

GANGTOK, 09 Oct: The State government, particularly the Health Department, has been unable to submit its report to the High Court within the given time period regarding the direction of the court to furnish various details concerning the status of the health sector services in the State.
The public interest litigation, filed by Rinzing Chewang Kazi, came up for hearing on 05 October during which the state counsel, Karma Thinlay, sought more time in order to file the complete report. Additional time of 4 weeks was granted by the High Court.
Earlier, on 24 August the division bench of the High Court had sought various details from the state respondents and passed a direction that all life saving drugs, which were not available at the health centres, be made available within 2 weeks. The Court had also directed the state respondents to furnish details of the facilities available at the district and sub divisional hospitals, the primary health centres including dispensaries with details of the number of such centres.
Furthermore the High Court had directed that the state furnish details on the availability of life saving drugs with their name / brand and quantity along with expiry dates and for which the respondents had been allowed a time period of 6 weeks.
Health Department officials, when approached, refused to comment on the issues raised and only confined themselves to the statement that the department was working on the report.
Several deficiencies in the delivery of health services in the state especially in the implementation of the health schemes such as National Rural Health Mission, the Janani Suraksha Yojana had been pointed out in the petition along with the allegation of non availability of essential drugs in most government hospitals and health centres in the districts.

USFC and Sikkim Express earthquake relief fund to establish astro-turf football ground in Mangan

The ground in Mangan where the astro-turf is coming up.

GANGTOK, 09 Oct: Earthquake relief funds raised jointly by United Sikkim Football Club [USFC] and Gangtok-based English daily, Sikkim Express, will be used to construct an astro-turf football ground in Mangan, North district considering the acute shortage of playing venues there.
USFC co-owner Bhaichung Bhutia, who initiated the relief fund campaign, today said that the 4-member relief fund committee has approved the proposal for setting up the 5 a-side astro-turf ground in the North district headquarters.
Former Chief Secretary, TT Dorji, former Justice AP Subba, Sikkim Express Editor Amit Patro, USFC senior manager, Arjun Rai make up the committee set up to monitor earthquake relief funds received in the USFC and Sikkim Express bank account. A relief fund of around Rs. 11 lakh was raised following last year’s earthquake that hit the state.
Considering the fact that North district was the worst affected by the earthquake, the committee felt that some work must be taken up there and agreed to set up an astro-turf pitch in Mangan where kids can enjoy such facility. “We wanted to develop the pitch in Dzongu but the costs would have been very high”, said Bhaichung on choosing Mangan for the facility.
The venue, a government property, falls under Dzongu constituency. Initially, the football infrastructure was to come up in the Lepcha reserve of Dzongu where former footballer Sherap Lepcha was willing to donate his private holdings at Tingvong.
When Bhaichung travelled to Dzongu to inspect the land on 15 August, he was approached by North District Football Association (NDFA) to explore the possibilities in setting up the astro-turf pitch within Mangan itself. He inspected the proposed ground with a playing area of 25 m by 40 m near the Mangan district collectorate and found it suitable.
Members of NDFA also highlighted the scarcity of football playing ground in Mangan as the usual ground was being renovated while the school ground lies in a damaged condition. After consulting Sherap Lepcha, it was agreed that the astro-turf would be developed in Mangan.
“Though I was ready to donate land in Dzongu, it is a good decision to have the turf in Mangan where more people can use the facility”, said Mr Lepcha.
Bhaichung has also managed to rope in Altius Sports to lay the astro-turf at minimum costs at the selected venue where the Sports department and North District Football Association (NDFA) are undertaking the preliminary works. The turf to be laid is ‘Tiger Turf’ from New Zealand and is claimed to be one of the world’s best artificial turfs.
The NDFA has been entrusted with the ground levelling works and turf installation will be completed by January, informed Bhaichung.
NDFA general secretary, Pemzang Tenzin said that such a world class facility will greatly benefit local kids and footballers. “The kids would be exposed to astro-turf and we can also organize 5 a-side tournaments here. An astro-turf ground will make a huge difference”, he said.
It was informed that NHPC has assured NDFA that it will lay a strong foundation at the ground for the astro-turf and to construct protective fending.

Department clarifies LPG distribution and connection confusions

GANGTOK, 09 Oct: Secretary, Food and Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs, convened a meeting with representatives from all the LPG gas distributors in the State today to sort out the confusion among consumers regarding the decision of the Central Government to cap supply of subsidized domestic cylinders in a year which came into effect from 14 September last month.
As per a release issued by the department, it was clarified during the meeting that for the period 14 September 2012 to 31 March 2013, only 3 cylinders at subsidized rate shall be issued to each domestic consumer, irrespective of the number of cylinders consumed till 13 September, 2012.
Any extra domestic cylinder at non-subsidized rate will be issued only after the consumption of the third cylinder of subsidized rate. The LPG Control Order issued under the Essential Commodities Act 1955 allows only one LPG cooking gas connection in one household.
All consumers having more than one connection have been requested to surrender the extra connection (regulator and empty cylinder) to the respective dealers and get their security deposits refunded, the release mentions. Multiple connections are being automatically blocked by (Indane) Indian Oil Corporation Private Limited.
KYC [know your customer] form is available on line and can be downloaded from Consumers may fill up online or at the office of the distributor by paying Rs. 4 per form. Booking for new connection is open and those interested may contact their area distributor.
Except for the price of subsidized domestic LPG cylinder, the price of other cylinders is likely to change every month subject to change in international price of LPG, the release adds.
For suggestions, complaints, queries or feedbacks pertaining to LPG, you can call on toll free number             1800-2333-555 or

A library for kids, finally!

GANGTOK, 09 Oct: Named after the children’s classic, Lewis Caroll’s “Through the Looking Glass”, Gangtok now has its first public library for children located in the heart of the capital at Hospital Dara in Hotel Mist Tree Mountain.  With the reading and library culture in the state yet to gain a firm foothold, a facility such as this, was sorely needed.
The state managed ‘community library’ at Development Area has sadly failed to engage the community so far and in the midst of its transformation into Manan Kendra, the shifting of some government departments at the new structure post last year’s earthquake, the library, well, has lost the distinction of being even the landmark it used to be.
In such backdrop, comes TTLG – an initiative borne more out of filling this gap than anything else. The idea of starting a children’s library took shape when Hema Choksi, a mother of two, realised that Gangtok did not have such a facility for her two book-obsessed boys. Having spent her childhood and much of her adult life in the United States, libraries were an intrinsic part of Hema’s life.
“There were two public libraries in my block which I used to frequent”, says Hema, a book lover herself. However, after deciding to settle down in Sikkim with her Sikkimese husband, architect Prashant Pradhan and with their two sons aged 7 and 4, Hema missed the library culture which was so much a part of her life in the US.
The library opened its doors to readers in the second week of September and currently houses around 800 books for children up to the age of 12 including some for parents and teachers. Most of the books have been sourced from the US while there are also some from other countries including Indian publications.
“We have tried to get a wide range of books especially those based on this region. So we also have Norbu’s New Shoes by a Sikkimese author while there are others set around this region”, informs Hema and adds that the collection will expand with time.
Apart from books, the library also has toys for kids which are what Hema describes as mostly ‘manipulatives’, meant to help the child learn and hone his or her motor skills. “For younger kids we have books with thick and hard pages so that they can easily turn the pages themselves and handle them better”, says Hema.
The basic aim of TTLG is to promote the habit of reading amongst children which according to Hema can be started very early on. “I think there is a popular misconception that reading to a child or encouraging them to read in the early years is not really fruitful. But my experience with my two sons has been totally different. Reading aloud to them accelerated the pace at which they understood what different words meant”, she expresses.
Reading offers a very different kind of exposure to kids which is more active spurring their imagination into different directions as compared to watching TV which is passive, she adds.
At present the library has seven members. There are two types of membership plans on offer; a yellow plan and a green plan. The plans differ in terms of the number of items that can be borrowed at a time. The membership fee for the yellow plan starts from Rs 1,425 and the green plan starts from Rs 4,650.

The monthly fee is Rs. 200 for the yellow plan and Rs. 300 for the green plan. Rs. 1,425 for the yellow plan includes the registration, refundable deposit and three months fees.
The green plan starts from Rs. 2,025 (covering fee for three months, registration and deposit). Rs. 4,650 covers green plan fee for an entire year.

As in the children’s classic where Alice walks through a mirror to an alternative world, Hema hopes that TTLG will offer children of the capital a whole new world of fun, entertainment and learning.
The library is open Monday-Saturday from 10 AM to 6 PM.

Sikkim Women’s Council discusses problems caused by new system governing LPG connections

GANGTOK, 09 Oct: Sikkim Women’s Council convened a meeting at the Council’s office under the chairmanship of its president, Paroo Lama on 08 October.
As per a press release, the meeting discussed at length the problems arising due to the new system adopted by STCS for obtaining fresh LPG connection. The meeting observed that the book in use at present is in itself an identity certificate of a person.
In spite of this, various documents are being asked by the STCS for obtaining a new book while there is utter confusion at the STCS counter where people are not guided properly while filling up the forms, the release alleges.
The Council further states that STCS has not announced where the consumers have to go for refilling their forms and adds that the notification issued by STCS is purely technical which should be properly interpreted in local language so that the public can easily understand the process.
The meeting unanimously passed a resolution to inform the concerned department and request for the required rectifications.

Corruption case in SC against state government is still on, Delay clarifies

GANGTOK, 09 Oct: Sikkim Nationalist People’s Party’s Delay Namgyal has, for the first time in public, clarified that the petition filed by him in the Supreme Court of Sikkim against the state government is still on. This is to counter rumours and allegations which had surfaced some months back that he had withdrawn the case.
Addressing a press conference today, Mr. Namgyal attested his statement with a copy of the order of the apex court dated 17 September, 2012, the date of the last hearing. This order of the apex court sets the next date for 30 October, 2012 with the direction “…remaining respondents are granted four weeks as a last chance for filing counter affidavit”.  
The first news-reports in a section of the media here claiming that Mr Namgyal had withdrawn the petition had surfaced in April-May this year. Rubbishing such claims the petitioner stated that the case has come up for hearing at the apex court 4 times between May to September.
“How can anyone claim that the petition has been withdrawn when we have got such a strong order and which itself indicates that the case is on”, he stated.
The petition filed in the apex court essentially challenges the notification issued by the state government by which the CBI, like in other States of the country, is required to take clearance from the State government before investigating corruption charges against members of the state government including ministers and MLAs.
Some vested interests wanting to defame him were leveling allegations that he had sold his case and withdrawn it, he contended today. Fake and purported affidavits were circulated among a section of the media on 07 May 2012, said Mr Namgyal.
The State Government and country’s premier investigating agency CBI, Regional Directorate, Kolkata has already filed their affidavit in the writ and it is expected that Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Chamling, Ministry of Home Affairs and Director General of Central Bureau of Investigation will also file their affidavit before the next date of hearing scheduled to be held on later this month.
The Chief Secretary, Karma Gyatso on behalf of the State Government in its affidavit while countering the petitioner’s claim filed an affidavit stating that the petitioners are not bonafide public spirited individuals but belong to the opposition in the state.
The state has pointed out that Mr. Namgyal had contested elections in 2004 from Sikkim Pradesh Congress Committee in Legislative Assembly and again in 2009 as an SNPP candidate.
The State has also submitted that the Sikkim Legislative Assembly had adopted a resolution and constituted a commission of inquiry, the Patra Commission, to inquire into the allegations of corruption by the ruling government.
However, CBI, Regional Directorate Kolkata has clearly mentioned in the affidavit that they have received complaints and sought state government permission to conduct an investigation. However, the state government had then issued the above mentioned notification barring the CBI to investigate into it without prior permission.
Addressing the press, Mr Delay clarified his stance and intention behind filing the petition saying that as an active politician, “I feel it my duty to challenge any notification which I feel is not fair…”

ASESE&UA takes out protest rally in Gangtok

GANGTOK, 09 Oct: The All Sikkim Educated Self Employed & Unemployed Association [ASESE&UA], as announced earlier, took out its ‘Maha Juloos’ protest rally from old Bansilall Petrol Pump to Ridge Park today. The rally registered a much lower turnout than what had been projected.
The rally was called to protest what the organization sees as illegal appointments in government service, unethical extension of service along with a demand for protection and implementation of real democracy in the state.
Taking part in the rally were the association’s chief advisor, former SSP MP [1979-84] Pahalman Subba, and chief patron, SIBLAC’s Tseten Tashi Bhutia, Sikkim Himali Rajya Parishad [SHRPP] president, Dr AD Subba, SHRPP general secretary, Tara Shrestha, other members of the party and members of the other political and non-political organizations.
Armed with placards and banners and raising slogans, the rally covered the route of the National Highway 31A upto Zero Point turning on to the Secretariat Road and finally concluded near the Ridge Park.
An effigy, which the organization said represented the State administration, was also carried along in the rally mimicking a funeral procession.
While addressing the participants, ASESE&UA president, Nawin Kiran called for a strike at Gangtok in November if the administration continues to ignore these issues and does not take any action. He further announced that those who have been supporting the association continuously will be included in the executive body of the ASESE&UA.
On the low turnout today, he said that the association was not discouraged and added that participation of the concerned persons was enough to raise their voices against the malpractices going on in the state.
Mr Kiran reiterated that the rally was mainly to protest nepotism and illegal recruitment in government service as well as service extension and further maintained that the rally was not against any individual but against the administration and the system in the state.
“Over phone and through social media, many have asked me if the association has any proof on the issues it has raised. I want to tell them that the association has a sack full of proof,” said Mr Kiran and urged people to contact the association if they want to see all the evidence gathered by the association through RTI and other mediums.

Robbery in Rongli

GANGTOK, 09 Oct: A complaint has been lodged with the Rongli police by the medical officer, Rongli PHC reporting a theft of bout Rs. 2 lakh from her residence.
The complainant, Hemta Pradhan had gone to Siliguri and on her return to her quarters at the PHC complex, Chujachen on 07 October found that her steel almirah had been opened and cash amount of Rs. 2 lakh was missing. The police have rounded up some suspects and are in the process of investigating the matter.

One dies of suspected fall into river

GANGTOK, 09 Oct: One person is reported to have died in Soreong after falling into the Rohtak river. The body of the deceased, identified as Santa Bir Rai [36], of Tikpur, West Sikkim, was found lying by the banks of the Rohtak river below the Soreong School ground on 08 October. Police suspect that the deceased must have fallen about 30 feet into the river and died.

Two booked under SADA

GANGTOK, 09 Oct: Two persons were arrested by the Singtam police on 08 October on charges of possessing contraband substances and have been booked under the SAD Act, 2006.
As per reports the two, namely, Deepen Darjee [24] of Golitar and Krishna Darjee [30] of Ranipool, were noticed ‘roaming in suspicious fashion’ by the police beat patrol at Singtam. A search resulted in the recovery of 104 capsules of Spasmo proxyvon from their persons.

Teen commits suicide

GANGTOK, 09 Oct: Suicides among the young, especially school students continues in Sikkim. In a sad incident, a 15-year-old student hanged himself on 08 October.
While there is no confirmation of the reason behind the suicide, as per police reports, the boy, a class VI student, had been hesitant to attend school as he was suffering from some problems in his legs and did not show any interest in studies.

Editorial: Why Have Parties in Bastis

There are a total of 987 Gram Panchayat wards in Sikkim and 198 Zilla Panchayats to complete the two tier panchayati raj institutions. What this means is that any party wishing to join the race to the grassroots would have to find 1,185 community leaders in its ranks to contest on its behalf. The requirement for a pan-Sikkim footprint is further reinforced by the rule that ward-level candidates need to be voters registered in the same GPU. And then there are the reservation patterns which can spring surprises. What all this means is that a political outfit which has distanced itself from the rural majority or operates out of limited areas will have a tough time approaching rural body polls and this is essentially why they shy away from panchayat elections. Losing elections is one thing, not being able to find enough candidates brings political embarrassments to whole new low.
But first, let’s argue out the point on why panchayat polls should be contested on party lines. Since the polls are now upon Sikkim, the nomination filing process completed and the list of candidates finalised, one can deliberate on the virtues of party-based panchayat elections without appearing to be taking sides. Many arguments have been presented by those who stayed away from the recent polls and even though the claims sound justified at first, they all go against the grain of democracy. One cannot ignore the fact that the panchayats are the smallest unit of a working democracy. Is it not necessary then that the composition of panchayats be the same as that of the State Assembly and the Parliament, both of which have candidates segregated on party lines and even make space for independents? The argument that panchayat polls on party lines causes avoidable division among the rural folk, although plausible, takes the naiveté of the people for granted. When the same voters are expected to be “intelligent” enough to elect MLAs contesting as party candidates, why is it that they are considered too “immature” or “innocent” to do the same for their panchayats? When people elect a State Government, they are expected to do so on the basis of ideology, why then should they be called to elect panchayats on the basis of personality? How can divisions caused by several independent candidates in a small ward be any worse than divisions caused if they are wearing party colours? This is not to say that divisions or ‘black-listings’ do happen, but that is because democracy is allowed to be abused, not because the format is intrinsically flawed. Because development is now increasingly being powered from grassroots up, it becomes imperative that the grassroots leaders be decided on the basis of the ideology they subscribe to for development as a collective unit. Development, after all, cannot be achieved in isolation, it has to be a movement which can be achieved only when all panchayats work in tandem, preferably unified under the ideology of a political party; Unified, not across the State, but at least among themselves and within fellow panchayats from their respective parties. What panchayats wearing party colours also make possible, if adequately demanded by the people, is accountability. If the elections were fought on non-party lines, then it would have been too easy for the powers-that-be to ignore non-performance and blame it on the panchayats. They can’t afford to do so any more. The same applies for the panchayat leaders. As independents, it would be all too easy for them to claim that the “government” does not listen to them. As members of a political outfit, they cannot do so any more since they have a unified representation which can be more forcefully heard. A democracy without accountability is an exercise in futility and now that more and more powers are being delegated to the panchayats, it is imperative that they be made more accountable. Given the interpretation of democracy that we practice in India, it is only natural that the parties in government enjoy an advantage when panchayat elections are held during their term in office. Since little can be done to change this, the onus to keep the panchayats above the mechanisations of petty politics also lies with those in power. It is important that the record on this account is kept cleaner this time around.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Essentials in place, rehabilitation work underway in landslide ravaged North

GANGTOK, 08 Oct: Relief Commissioner cum Secretary Land Revenue and Disaster Management department, SBS Bhaduria, informs that the rescue and immediate relief measures in the wake of the 21 September landslides and flashfloods in north Sikkim completed, rehabilitation works are underway in earnest in the district now.
Speaking to NOW! today, the Relief Commissioner informed that hundreds of tons of essential commodities and food items have been dispatched and stored in different areas across North Sikkim including Mangan, Chungthang, Lachung and Lachen. These commodities were dispatched for the affected areas as soon as the disaster struck, it is informed.
The Relief Commissioner added that with the weather holding up over the past few days, more required relief materials could be sent to the affected areas if a need arose in the coming days.
At present, with the Mangan to Chungthang and Chungthang to Lachung road still blocked, the BRO has also set up the provision of a ropeway across Lanthey Khola, (where around 500 meters of road was destroyed and a new road is being constructed) which is facilitating transshipment of man and material.
It may be informed that the Chungthang to Lachen road is open at the moment.
“The roads have always been a problem up North, however, the BRO has assured that the Mangan- Chungthang road will be opened for vehicular traffic between 15 to 20 October and the Chungthang-Lachung road by 15 October. We are being very careful that there is no problem for the local people in the affected areas and the District Collector and the SDM’s office are doing a good job and coordinating well with all relief operations,” he stated.
While informing that the state government would initiate any required relief and rehabilitation works as soon as the DC and the SDM’s office sends a requisition, he also said that for any assistance or help required people can approach the office of the District Collector.
“It is easier for us to coordinate through the administration if any person needs help. We can coordinate better with the administration up north and can send in all relief materials easily. We are ready to help and if there is any need people can intimate us and we will arrange for the delivery,” assured the Relief Commissioner.
There are no complaints or new requisition seeking any help at the moment which is why the rescue part of the operation has been put on standby, he said. However, he added that if the need arises all infrastructure put on hold at the moment like choppers and supply of essential commodities could be resumed within minutes, provided the weather stands.
At the same time, the Commissioner also informed that the only rescue work still being carried out is by the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) under the state police department.
At present, the SDRF team is carrying out a combing and rescue operation along the banks of the Teesta searching for the 7 dead bodies still missing. The operation is being coordinated by the DGP’s office. The bodies of only 14 of the 21 people killed in the 21 Sept fury of landslides have been recovered so far.

Lanthey to take another week to restore

MANGAN, 08 Oct: The road over Lanthey khola on the Mangan-Chungthang axis where around 80 metres of road formation was washed out by a landslide triggered by heavy rainfall on 19 September will take at least another five days to be restored, if the weather permits.
Two excavators have been deployed on both sides of the slide for restoration work, however, continuous fall of debris is delaying work at the site. Meanwhile, some transshipment of essential food items is being carried out at this spot. A ropeway has also been set up here to transship heavy loads and essentials across.
BRO officials at the spot point out that speculations on by when the road here will be restored are futile since every shower wipes out the repairs.
It may be mentioned here that the Lanthey slide was one of the most troublesome spots on the North Sikkim Highway for the past 20 years but had been holding up for the last few years until it collapsed fresh on 19 Sept.
Meanwhile, the Army Engineering Division has constructed a bridge at Chyandara slide near Singhik just half a kilometre ahead of Lanthey Khola as this spot too was washed out by a landslide on the same evening. The traffic here resumed on 05 October.

State directs DoP to ensure strict compliance of pension rules

GANGTOK, 08 Oct: The State government appears piqued at the ‘unauthorized’ withdrawal of pensions by (ex) government employees and has now stamped its foot down on what can be termed as pecuniary loss to the state exchequer due to this.
In a stern move, the Department of Personnel has been charged with strict compliance of this aspect of the right to withhold pension on the part of the government. In fact a 3-member committee has been constituted in the department headed by the Special Secretary to “...ensure strict compliance of Chapter VII of Sikkim Service (Pension) Rules, 1990...”
The committee has been especially constituted to deal with the settlement of retirement benefits pertaining to Group ‘B’ employees and above and also officials posted at the Department of Personnel. The government has gone so far as to hold the committee to account for any delay in settling of retirement cases in the prescribed time limit.
There have been grievances voiced by employees that retirement benefits are not processed in due time and that there is an ‘inadvertent’ time gap before which they can access their due pension benefits. In fact this has been a standing grievance of ex-employees for a long time now and which had not been responded to with any positive action by the government till now.
Taking the bull by the horns the government has directed that “... the Committee shall be responsible for any delay on the part of the department for not settling the retirement cases in prescribed time limit and liable for appropriate action deemed fit for such omission”.
On the other hand the committee has been ordered to ensure strict compliance with Chapter VII of the Pension Rules. As per this section the government reserves the right of withholding or withdrawing a pension or gratuity of part thereof and also of ordering recovery from a pension or gratuity of any pecuniary loss to the government. This particularly refers to those cases where there are departmental or judicial proceedings in which the pensioner has been found guilty of grave misconduct during the period of his service rendered upon re-employment after retirement.
Interestingly, as per the rules, a Class I officer taking up commercial employment within 2 years of his/ her retirement and without prior permission of government can be disallowed his pension. If such a person has acquired prior permission and is drawing higher salary than at the time of his retirement his pension is liable to be reduced and rendered inadmissible for the period of his employment.
Also in the committee are the Joint Secretary and Under Secretary of the concerned sections.  The Office Superintendent / Head Assistant of the concerned section shall assist the committee.

Election Commission notifies polling hours

GANGTOK, 08 Oct: The State Election Commission has notified the time period within which the upcoming Panchayat Elections are to be held in the rural areas of the state.
As per the State Election Commission, the hours fixed for the polls are from 8 AM to 4 PM at all the panchayat wards of gram panchayats and the Territorial Constituencies of Zilla Panchayats. The date of polling, as earlier reported, is 03 November, 2012.

State has failed to curb impact of price rise, alleges SHRPP

GANGTOK, 08 Oct: Sikkim Himali Rajya Parishad Party has alleged that the State government has not taken any steps to provide relief to its people in the wake of the recent hike in prices of Diesel, Petrol, Kerosene and LPG cylinders by the central government.
The party has mentioned that while in other states, governments have exempted the taxes from the open market of LPG cylinders to provide relief to the people, the Sikkim government has not taken any such step.
A press release issued by SHRPP president, Dr AD Subba, states that while government employees can combat with the price rise given the recent hike in their salaries, it is the common man who has been severely affected by the price rise.
The party has demanded that the state provide additional 3 LPG cylinders on subsidized rate to the unemployed and BPL families apart from the 6 that a household is to get in a year, which the party adds is only enough for 7 months.
SHRPP has further demanded tax exemption on LPG cylinders in the open market to provide relief to the general public. Another demand is that the STCS should improve the distribution system.

Election Commission and bureaucrats misleading people, counters Bharat Basnet

GANGTOK, 08 October: Convenor, Sikkim Solidarity Forum [SSF], Bharat Basnet has condemned the suggestion of the Sikkim Election Commissioner, SK Gautam, that Mr. Basnet was misinforming people on the history of reservation pattern in the Panchayat system in Sikkim.
“I am not misguiding the people of the state but the election commission and the educated people [officers] are the ones who are misguiding the people of Sikkim. Being a citizen of Sikkim, I feel that we are losing our political security. The BL seat is a political heritage and it is our responsibility to secure it,” Mr Basnet said at a press conference held here at Press Club of Sikkim [PCS] today.
It may be recalled here that Mr Basnet had earlier accused the state government of doing away with the BL seats in the upcoming Panchayat elections. When contacted, the State Election Commissioner had clarified that there has never been any provision for reserved seats to be designated as BL as per the Panchayat Act and that reserved seats have always been designated as ‘Scheduled Tribe’ even when only the BL were in the ST list in Sikkim [read NOW! 05 Oct 2012].
Meanwhile, Mr. Basnet claimed today that the BL seats, whose significance has been upheld by the Supreme Court, were in danger now. “The government and the department are working according to their own self made rules and regulations ignoring the Supreme Court verdict which is actually a contempt of court. We cannot ignore the historical events”, alleged Mr Basnet.
“Today the government has created different categories, wherein Chhetri, Bahun, Newar come under OBC class, but they cannot avail facilities even in the Sikkim University. The other one is MBC which have no locus standi in the national constitution. This is how we are being deluded by the government”, Mr Basnet further alleged.
Now is the time to wake up and take a stand against the notification which the state government [Sikkim Legislative Assembly] has passed in bringing the tribal seat into existence in the state, he said.
On the ‘Parivartan’ that the opposition parties are talking about, Mr Basnet said that these parties should first begin by boycotting such an election process [panchayat] which goes against the people of the state in order to fight for true change.
Member of Sikkim Solidarity Forum, Gyurmi Bhutia criticized the BL ministers for their alleged inaction while another member Thom Tshering Bhutia questioned the lack of facilities for the Nepali community in Sikkim and accused the MLAs of not fulfilling their responsibilities. Also present were other members of the forum Anmol Rai  and Mohan Dahal [Ex-Panchayat President ].

Golay extends full support to independent candidates

GANGTOK, 08 Oct: Disgruntled SDF MLA, PS Tamang has extended full support to all independent candidates in the upcoming Panchayat elections.
While addressing a public meeting at Rongli Bazaar on Sunday, the dissident MLA appealed to the people to cast their votes in favour of these independent candidates. He also appealed to the independent candidates to contest the election without any fear or pressure.
Mr Tamang alleged that the ruling party leaders had tried their utmost to pressurize independent candidates to withdraw their nominations, but failed to lure or pressurize these candidates into giving up their nomination.
He also spoke on corruption, communalism, price rise, illegal appointments, extension of services and other issues under the present government. During the meeting, SDF workers from Nimtar in East Sikkim and Mangthang in South Sikkim resigned from the SDF party and extended their support to Mr Tamang, it is informed.

NASBO thanks Golay for raising BL seat reservation in Panchayats issue at Rongli meeting

GANGTOK, 08 Oct: National Sikkimese Bhutia Organization [NASBO] has condemned the absence of BL seat reservation in the Panchayat body terming it to be a “partial stand and approach” taken the state government.
A NASBO release states, “It is due to the insensitivity of the government that the Bhutia-Lepchas of Sikkim have failed to get seat reservation in the upcoming Panchayat body”.
As a matter of political security and safeguard, the BLs are entitled to seat reservation in the Panchayat body much on the line of the Assembly seat reservation, the release expresses. Stating that such reservation would be in conformity to the Supreme Court verdict, NASBO has said that in the absence of seat reservation, the political future of the BLs is threatened.
The organisation has also criticised the 12 BL MLAs and one Sangha MLA of failing to convince their leadership and the government in securing BL seat reservation in the Panchayat body on the line of Assembly seat reservation.
On the other hand, NASBO has thanked dissident SDF MLA, PS Tamang for raising the issue during his Rongli meeting, yesterday and further requested him to raise the matter during the upcoming winter session of the Sikkim Legislative Assembly. The organisation has also thanked other members of civil society for raising the issue.


GANGTOK, 08 Oct: One suicide has been reported from Ravangla, South Sikkim. As per reports, a 41 year old male committed suicide by hanging himself in his house. The incident took place on 06 October when the deceased was alone at home. His son found the body.

Editorial: Pushed From Delinquency to Antisocial Futures

News of juvenile crime is always disturbing. These are after all kids in age groups when the most unruly of their excesses should be some experimentation that is the temptation of their age or some harmless pranks played on peers or elders. There has to be something inherently very wrong with the priorities of a society where innocence is lost so young that under 18 years olds are found in gangs of car accessory burglars, or prescription drugs pushers or moving in bands which loot public property by pilfering fibre-optic cables. All of these are frequently reported instances in this newspaper. While there is no condoning a society that drives people to commit crimes so young, one could still accept these as the curses of modernity if instances of juvenile crime were aberrations and not the norm. In Sikkim, however, instances of juveniles figuring in criminal misconduct are becoming disconcertingly frequent. What must also be borne in mind is that what ends up getting reported in newspapers are instances that get recorded by the cops; there are many instances where “cases” are settled before they are officially entered into the crime data. The police have a job to do and there are adequate laws and regulations in place to ensure that juveniles, even when picked up for cognizable offences, have a less traumatic run-in with the law. But the more important concern than how the police cracks down on juvenile crime, is how the society at large responds to it. It is not enough to just get shocked if the shock does not lead to worry and worry does not initiate deliberations and then societal engagement to understand the reasons behind increasing juvenile crimes and then doing something about correcting the equation. What every person needs to bear in mind is that thefts and burglaries are the gateway crimes from which the delinquents could graduate to more serious felonies if not course-corrected in time. The sequence of crime and punishment does not resolve the situation and societal disinterest makes the situation worse - a society which refuses to be moved into involvement by the shock of juvenile crime ends up creating misanthropes out of delinquents. Even though Rakesh Rai, the notorious “Spiderman” of Sikkim, is an extreme example, he illustrates this process to some extent – he started off as a small-time burglar in his early teens; before he crossed 19, he had committed a double-murder and has been behind bars ever since. Too many of our youngsters are getting caught committing small misdemeanours or with substances of abuse. If the society does not get involved now, it will soon lose all moral authority to have a say in anything in the affairs of the young in the future. It will not be pleasant to realize later that the hostility in the young could have been assuaged.

Monday, October 8, 2012

State Civil Service posts number 492 after ‘reconstruction exercise’

GANGTOK, 07 Oct: The state government has come out with the total strength of cadre posts or posts under the State Civil Service as part of its ‘reconstruction of the Civil Service’ exercise. For purposes of definition Cadre posts is to mean any of the posts as specified under Schedule I, Schedule III, Schedule III A and Schedule III B under the Sikkim State Civil Service (Amendment) Rules, 2012.
Schedule I has the total strength of the civil service posts ranging from Under Secretary to Secretary including the reserve strength. Schedule III chalks out the total strength of the cadre posts in the various departments under the state government.
Schedule III A and III B defines the cadre poses of Secretary and Special Secretary under the State Civil Service reserved for posting on deputation to the various public sector undertakings and organizations.
The total authorized strength of the state civil service is now 492 which includes the reserve strength which includes deputation reserve, training reserve and leave reserve. Otherwise the total strength is 351.
There is a jump in the number of Under Secretary level posts from 96 to 130 and also an increase in the strength of Special Secretaries at Supertime Grade II to 25. The number of Secretary posts is at 12, Additional Secretaries in selection grade I is at 44, Joint Secretary level posts in selection grade II at 63 and Deputy Secretary level posts at senior grade at 77.
The number of each cadre posts in each of the departments has been allotted as per the function and requirements of the respective departments. Many departments have sanctioned strength of 1 Special or Additional Secretary along 1 Joint, Deputy and Under Secretary each.
However several departments have more than 1 such post. RMDD has the highest number of Under Secretaries at 40. This is due to the 29 Block Development Offices under it which will now have BDO of Under Secretary rank.
The RMDD also has 5 Additional Secretaries. The Land Revenue Department has total 14 Deputy Secretary ranked officials which includes the 12 SDMs in the 12 sub divisions.
Secretary level cadre posts reserved for posting on deputation in PSU and other organizations are 8 in number which include MD, SBS; Secretary, SERC; Secretary, SLA; MD, STCS; Secretary, Housing Board, Resident Commissioner, Sikkim House, New Delhi; Secretary, SEC and Secretary, SPCS.
Special Secretary  level cadre posts reserved for posting on deputation to PSUs and other organizations are 10 in number and include MD, SABCO; MD, SIDICO; MD, GFPF; Chief Administrator, SICB, Karfectar; Director, SIRD; MD, SIMFED; CEO, Khadi Board; Registrar, SMU and MD, Denzong Agriculture Cooperative Society.

USFC makes perfect I-League debut

GANGTOK, 07 Oct: United Sikkim Football Club [USFC] made a sensational senior division I-League debut at Paljor Stadium on Saturday going up against 2010-11 league champs, Salgaocar SC, and ending with its first three points in I-League vanquishing the Goan team 3-2. USFC qualified for the senior division I-League earlier this year and Salgaocar is an established veteran, having also won the first installment of the tournament in 1998-99 [I-League went by the name National Football League from 1998 to 2006 when it became I-League].
Although the home club came without Bhaichung Bhutia in its debut match in the I-League, full support from the home crowd made up for it. The home team was led by Anwar Ali as the captain.
The match, which was also the I-League opener, began with both teams playing cautious football, an approach, which despite attacks and counter-attacks, saw the first half end goalless.
Both teams returned from the drinks break with scoring on the mind and the floodgates opened soon enough with Salgaocar breaking through the USFC defence five minutes into the second half and, in the 50th minute, Angel G Aldecuer scored.
USFC presented an immediate counter and within two minutes, Nurudeen Salau, scored the equalizer for the home club. Salgaocar took the lead again, in the 56th minute, with a goal from the boots of Milagres Gonsalves and USFC clawed back again with Linekar Machado of USFC scoring the equalizer in the 64th minute.
With both teams fighting to take the lead, a goal by Sandesh Jhingan of USFC in the 75th minute sealed victory for the local club.
Linekar Machado of the USFC was declared the Man of the Match.
Addressing a press conference after the match, the USFC coach, Philippe De Rider summed up the team’s performance as “fantastic”. Each player of the team played a fantastic game to win against a strong team, he said.
Mentioning that this win was very important in order to boost the morale of the team for the upcoming matches, Mr Rider said that the team still needs to work on different aspects to take on other big teams in the league. He also credited the win to support from the home crowd.
On the other hand despite the loss, Salgaocar SC coach, Karim Bencherifa, expressed satisfaction over his team’s performance stating that Salgaocar played a good brand of football attacking throughout the match.
Meanwhile, the I-League match between United Sikkim FC and East Bengal scheduled for October 12 (Friday) at Paljor Stadium has been shifted one day ahead. The match will now take place on 11 October (Thursday). Kick off Time is 2:30 pm at Paljor Stadium.

TNA bags Best Bee title


GANGTOK, 07 Oct: The three-day interschool scholastic competition ‘Bee Fest’ concluded today here at Tashi Namgyal Academy. Out of the six schools which had made it to the finals of the fest, Tashi Namgyal Academy, Gangtok bagged the Best Bee school title.
Member of Parliament, PD Rai was present as the chief guest on the day accompanied by United Sikkim Football Club, CEO, Bhaichung Bhutia.
The first half of the programme saw the Turn bee [debate] competition, which was followed by the Quiz bee, King and Queen bee competition in the second half. Satyadeep Chettri was present as the quiz master.
The programme started with a welcome address by Editor Sikkim Express, Amit Patro where he thanked the sponsors for their help and support and said that Bee Fest 2012 has been a tremendous success.
Speaking on media in the state, Mr Patro said that the media in Sikkim is in a growing phase and it is yet to reach some rural areas. He also thanked the State Government, HRDD department, his colleagues and the co-organizers.
Likewise Chief Learning Officer, 24 Hours Inspired, Diwaker Basnett said that the idea behind Bee Fest was simply to showcase the intellect of students in the state. “The results were amazing and beyond our expectation. Schools from the extreme West and North districts also participated”, he said.
The chief guest, Mr PD Rai in his address thanked the organization for conducting such a beautiful programme which gave students an opportunity to gain exposure. This fest is a starting point from where students should begin their journey towards becoming the best in the country, he said.
Mr Rai further expressed happiness over the enthusiastic participation from students which he added has made this fest a grand success.
The King bee title was bagged by Adwin Tamang [Central Pendam Sr. Sec. School] and Queen bee by Sambhavi Sharddha Ranjan [Tashi Namgyal Academy]. Bee Innovate award went to Paljor Namgyal Girls Sr. Sec., Gangtok followed by East Point, Singtam and Bahai School, Saramsa in the second and third positions, respectively.
The Turn bee title was again bagged by Adwin Tamang [Central Pendam Sr. Sec. School] followed by  Aswin Niroula [Tashi Namgyal Academy] and Yogya Basnett [St. Xavier’s, Pakyong] in the second and third positions, respectively.
The Quiz bee winners were Roshan Rai and Mamta Darnal [Rumtek Sr. Sec. School] followed by the runners-up Pragya Shekhar & Milan Sharma [Holy Cross, Gangtok].
Buzz bee award was given to Pemila Bhutia [St. Xavier’s, Pakyong] followed by Sambhavi Sharddha Ranjan [Tashi Namgyal Academy] and Tenzing Noryang [Tashi Namgyal Academy] in the second and third positions, respectively.
Mementos were presented to all the judges and sponsors for their help and support.