Friday, January 25, 2013

Transfer orders for 71 officers

GANGTOK, 24 Jan: The State administration received a frenetic round of transfers and promotions yesterday, touching 71 officers from Under Secretary/ BDO to the Secretary level.
Secretary Science & Technology and Climate Change, PT Ethenpa has been posted as Secretary Commerce & Industries, while District Collector [East], D Anandan has been promoted to the post of Secretary of Science & Technology and Climate Change.
The crucial post of District Collector [East] has gone to AK Singh who comes in from South Sikkim, relieving his office there for Additional District Collector, North, Prabhakar, who has been assigned to the post of District Collector, South.
Additional Chief Electoral Officer, CP Dhakal has been transferred as District Collector, North while and District Collector, North, TW Khangsarpa has been transferred and posted as Additional Secretary, Ecclesiastical Department. Meanwhile, the ADC, Development, East, has been transferred as Joint Chief Electoral Officer, in Election department.
SDM Chungthang, Raj Kumar Yadav has been promoted to the post of Additional District Collector, North. SDM Gyalshing, Kapil Meena has been transferred as SDM Soreong. Special Secretary, Food and Civil Supplies, Tenzing Dolkar has been transferred to Animal Husbandry department in her own capacity.
Additional Secretary of Tourism department, Rinzing Chewang has been transferred to Development and Planning Department. ADC, Development, South, D K Pradhan has been transferred as ADC, East while SDM, East, Dr. AB Karki has been transferred to Rural Development Department as Additional District Collector, East. Anil Prakash Rai has been transferred to South district as Additional District Collector, Development.
Additional Secretary, Transport department, Namrata Thapa has been transferred to Tourism and Civil Aviation department in her own capacity. Benu Gurung has been posted to South district as Additional District Collector, Development under Rural Management and Development department. Similarly, Joint Secretary of Development and Planning department, Cheden P Ladingpa has been transferred as Director, Information and Public Relations department.
Joint Secretary Forest and Environment department, Balaram Subba has been transferred as ADC, West and Additional Secretary of Sports and Youths Affairs department, Vidhya Subba has been transferred to Transport department.
There has also been a substantial rejig at the Block Administrative Centres as well.
Passingdong in Dzongu gets a new BDO in Karnitmit Lepcha moving from the Office of ADC [Dev] East, a post now occupied by Dhiraj Subedi who was serving as BDO Pakyong.
Purna Bdr. Yonzon, SDM Namchi who had been transferred as PS to UD&HD Minister is now directed to take charge as BDO Regu, while Dhiraj Pradha, the Regu BDO has been repatriated and posted as Deputy Director, Food & Civil Supplies on deputation.
Pakyong has a new BDO in Satyan Kumar Pradhan coming in from DPER&NECAD, his Deputy Secretary office at the Department now going to Mahesh Sharma, BDO Yangang.
Bandana Rai, BDO Gyalshing has been posted as Welfare Officer, West, exchanging offices with Surat Gurung.
Soreng SDM Somnath Adhikari takes charge as BDO Yangang. Similarly Tenzing Dorji Bhutia, BDO Rakdong Tintek has been transferred to the Finance Department as Deputy Secretary while the Kaluk BDO Gayyas Pega is now the BDO Daramdin on deputation.
The Daramdin BDO Bibhuti Pradhan has in turn been posted as Deputy Secretary RMDD while Hemant Rai, Dy Secy Agricuture has been transferred as BDO Rakdong Tintek. Gilbert Lepcha, BDO Khamdong is now BDO Kaluk while Kabi Tingda gets a new BDO in Suman Gurung.
Deputy Secretary Pema Lhaden Lama moves from Land Revenue Department to Martam as BDO in place of Khemraj Bhattarai who moves to Land Revenue as Under Secretary.
The Temi BDO Harka Giri has been posted as Under Secretary RMDD while the former Kabi Tingda BDO Prem Kamal Rai takes charge as Temi BDO.

CS expresses dissatisfaction over delay in works sanctioned during CM’s 42-day village to village tour


GANGTOK, 24 Jan [IPR]: The Chief Secretary to the Government of Sikkim, Karma Gyatso chaired a coordination meeting with all the Heads of the Departments and representatives from the Border Roads Organisation here at the Chintan Bhawan conference hall today. The meeting was held to review the action taken report of the last coordination meeting which was held on 12 September 2012 and also to review the necessary arrangement for the upcoming International Flower Show 2013.
At the outset, the Chief Secretary expressed his deep concern and dissatisfaction over the delay in the compliance by various departments over the various sanctions accorded by the Chief Minister during the 42-day tour of the state. He informed that only 17 departments have complied so far and have submitted their action taken report on the matter and directed the other departments to submit their action taken report within next seven days.
Further he also stressed on touring by the concerned Secretaries to the districts for effective implementation of the projects as well as to ensure the monitoring of the projects on the ground. The Chief Secretary also directed that the tour report should be submitted to the office of the Chief Secretary without fail. He also stressed on the checking of the attendance of the officials and staffs for effective and responsible administration.
The Chief Secretary also directed the UD&HD to transfer the required funds to GMC in time. He expressed his displeasure over the works of the Border Roads Organisation and directed them to remove debris from the roadsides.
The Chief Secretary then explained the upcoming International Flower Show which is scheduled to be held next month at Saramsa Garden. He also apprised about the meeting chaired by the Chief Minister at Mintokgang on 21 January 2013 with the key departments with regard to the International Flower Show 2013.
The Chief Secretary further enquired about the necessary work which was entrusted to the concerned departments. In this regard, he enquired about the status of the roads, carpeting, power supply, drinking water facilities, parking areas, toilet facilities, security arrangements etc. He also asked the concerned departments about various works undertaken by them which needs to be completed on time so that the event would become a platform to showcase our natural endowments, he stressed.
Secretary Agriculture department, Santa Pradhan which is the nodal department of the International Flower Show 2013 apprised the meeting about the confirmation of the nine countries to this flower show. Apart from that, twenty participants from different states of the country and private firms have also confirmed their participation, he added.
Further, Mr Pradhan informed about the participation of forty farmers out of whom thirty are competing in the cymbidium orchid category. The other highlights of the event will be seminars, exhibitions, conferences, competitions, buyers and sellers meet and cultural programmes in the evening, he informed.

CM directs legislators to become more proactive

GANGTOK, 24 Jan: The Sikkim Democratic Front called a legislators’ meet on Wednesday at Mintokgang chaired by Chief Minister Pawan Chamling. During the meeting, the Chief Minister, among other issues, also directed the legislators to deal with the issues of the Companies Act and Article 371 F, informs an SDF press release.
He asked the party’s legislators to brief their constituents with the true facts on the issue of Aadhar card and Companies Amendment Act, 2012 in the parliament adding that the Sikkim government has preserved the distinct identity of Sikkimese people as provided for under the Constitution.
The Chief Minister also informed the MLAs of the government initiative to recruit 600 more personnel into Sikkim Police and open another 250 positions at accounts and clerical levels in April later this year.
He further directed all the legislators to address the public’s grievances at their level and take responsibility instead of putting additional burden on the Chief Minister’s Office, the release mentions.
The CM went on to state that it was the responsibility of every citizen right from the Ministers, MLAs, heads of departments, engineers, contractors, civil society, panchayats and public to monitor the schemes and construction works to ensure quality delivery.
The release states that SDF is a party that seeks to “involve the public at all levels and uplift the living standards of the Sikkimese with a human touch”. It is also informed that the party has decided to hold constituency level party foundation day celebration on 04 March in all constituencies and complete formation of nine-member development and advisory committees at the Gram Panchayat Ward level as per the decision taken during the panchayat election in November, last year.
The legislators’ meet also discussed the International Flower Show to be held next month and sought cooperation from all quarters. The up-gradation and blacktopping of all the link roads across the state was also discussed where it was decided that quality work and proper vigil would be undertaken.

USFC and Mohun Bagan share points after goalless draw

KOLKATA, 24 Jan: The expectations of a maiden win turned into dead heat as a determined United Sikkim FC held back favourites Mohun Bagan playing at home goalless in the deferred 12th round match of the I-League at Kolkata’s Salt Lake Stadium on Thursday (January 24).
The deadlocked result helped Mohun Bagan gain the first point of the tournament, after the All India Football Federation allowed the Kolkata side to play condoning a two-and-a-half-year suspension.
Mohun Bagan enjoyed a clear edge in both the halves but suffered cramps in their attack that throttled the possibility of converting opportunities. The two sides shared two opportunities in the first 10 minutes.
The first one came from Sikkim’s Nuruddin Salau whose shot from inside the box went off the upright after touching the hand of Mohun Bagan goalkeeper Arindam Bhattacharya. This was followed by a free-kick from Mohun Bagan striker Tolgay Ozbey, which rebounded off the crosspiece.
Syed Rahim Nabi, set in a new role as a striker in the absence of suspended Okolie Odafa by the Mohun Bagan coach Karim Bencherifa, performed well and created some good openings for the hosts. The India team midfielder’s skills were in display in the 16th minute as he weaved through the United Sikkim defence and reached a scoring position.
But his finishing looked rusty and failed to open the account for the home side. Another attempt from Nabi in the 36th minute went a shade wide off the target.
Tolgay, who is the main striker of Mohun Bagan, looked a shadow of his former self. The Australian never looked incisive as he continued fumbling in the attacking zone, which clearly showed a lack of resolve. Bencherifa increased his attacking options introducing Sabeeth early in the second half minute but the three-pronged attack did not yield much as Sikkim packed enough men in the backline.
Denson Devadas wasted one of the easiest chances of the match shooting wide off an open goal, when he was set off by a nice pass from Nabi in the 66th minute.
The draw took United Sikkim to 11 points from 17 matches while Mohun Bagan had one point from 12 matches.
[courtesy: AIFF]


Even as the people of Namchi condemn the recent pepper spray incident in the office of Nayuma Indane, the main distributor of LPG cylinders in and around Namchi South Sikkim, was also applaud the service provided by Nayuma Indane since its establishment in Namchi. The inefficient distribution of refilled cylinders by the previous distributors, STCS in Namchi is still fresh in the minds of the people here where we used to spend the whole day in queue to get a single refilled cylinder and finally return home dejected.
Now after the coming of Nayuma Indane in Namchi, we are getting our refilled cylinders on given date without fail, we don’t have to stand in queue like before. Three of us, Jharna Chettri, Sangita Rai and Bindhya Tamang went to the office of Nayuma Indane to know the facts and after seeing the CCTV footage of the day of the incident are convinced that the Nayuma Indane personnel are not to blame. Meanwhile, the after effects of the incident would ultimately trickle down to the public who are availing of the services from Nayuma Indane. We have never witnessed any kind of delay in the delivery of refilled cylinders by the Nayuma Indane and it is a well known fact that people are not suffering nowadays like before and this kind of nuisance may hamper the consumers. We condemn the incident and urge the administration to take strict action against those who are creating untoward incidents and hampering the normal functioning of the distributing agency. There may be some hidden reasons behind creating the nuisance at the office of Nayuma Indane when everyone is satisfied with the service provided by them.
We decided to approach the media so that people know that, the people of Namchi are very satisfied with the service of Nayuma Indane. It is very systematic and everyone is getting their refills on time, we don’t want to recall those days when one of the family members had to wait the whole day for a single refill. Since Nayuma Indane has started LPG operations in Namchi, we have never witnessed delivery failure, LPG delivery booking system has made our life very easy. The daily life of common people should not be hampered following the act of some anti-social elements and we urge the district administration to not allow such things to happen again.
Kamala Rai, Jharna Chettri, Sangita Rai, Bindhya Tamang, Poonam Rai, Indra Thapa and Chunki Bhutia

Editorial: Blundering Through an Involvement Deficit

Two youth were taken into custody in Jorethang earlier this week in possession of Brown Sugar. Chemical dependence is not new to Sikkim and the abuse of prescription drugs so extensive that the State has adopted the Sikkim Anti-Drugs Act to address this peculiarity. SADA was required since the Narcotic Drugs & Psychotropic Substance Act which covers peddling and consumption of substances mentioned in its name did not quite meet the law enforcement requirements of addressing the nature of substance abuse in Sikkim. But then, laws by themselves cannot curb crime or address social challenges. As a result, what Sikkim has now is an Act in SADA with a very handsome conviction rate, but only limited success when it comes to curbing either peddling or addiction. One cannot fault either the government or the police for the situation because addiction [the condition which drives the demand for substances of abuse], more than a law and order situation is a social challenge requiring a social engagement for even the hope of a resolution. That has obviously not happened and now there is increasing evidence that ‘harder drugs’ are winning addicts in Sikkim. One can empathise with the frustration that the cops must obviously suffer when they round up a 21 year old with more than two thousand capsules of Spasmo-Proxyvon and realise that the youth has already served time more than once for peddling. ‘Punishment’, if that is how one sees time served as a convict, is obviously not reforming too many. A similar frustration must hit police personnel every time they respond to calls reporting yet another suicide and bring down dead bodies of lives that could have been saved. And they return to this thankless task every day, reporting to their beats knowing that their policing from the day before has made no dent in the nexus of disinterest that spawns substance abuse and suicides in Sikkim. Both issues require a social response, but Sikkim has still not firmed up the societal backbone strong enough to take the load, and hence the problem continues to be unburdened [in news-reports and occasional editorials like this one] unresolved. These are social challenges; situations that need to be met with social engagement supported by a political will which creates the enabling laws and environment to redress the situation. The sequence has been different in Sikkim with the expression of political will and enabling laws [at least for addition in the form of the Sikkim Anti-Drugs Act] coming before the social engagement which continues to remain awaited. And surfacing in this unwholesome scenario from time to time are those who pass superficial judgements blaming these on politics and not the society - causing perhaps even more harm than the indifference with which the community is responding to the challenges. Among all the factors that sustain substance abuse, societal indifference contributes the most and when it comes to suicides, these manifest in Sikkim in the absence of adequate awareness, or even interest, in mental health. Economic destitution has not claimed lives here yet. Lives are being lost and put in harm’s way because a civil society refuses to come together in Sikkim.

Premature Retirement rules for officers of All India Services enforced

GANGTOK, 23 Jan: The state government has announced what is also called the rule of premature retirement of officers of the All India Services as implemented in force in Sikkim as per Rule 16 (3) of the All India Services (Death cum Retirement Benefits) Rules, 1958. This rule was amended by Parliament on 31 January, 2012.
For this purpose the government has instituted review committees of IAS, IFS and IPS officers in the state. As per this rule the centre in consultation with the state may require a member of the All India Service to retire from service in public interest; for this purpose a notice of 3 months is required to be given or three months pay and allowances in lieu of such notice.
The committees will review the entire service record of the officer regarding suitability or otherwise for further retention in the service. In fact, such a review is to be conducted regularly, first after the completion of 15 years of service, second after completion of 25 years of service or the officer attaining the age of 50 years. Further enhancing the prerogative of the state government in connection to the retention of IAS, IPS and IFS officers, in case such reviews have not been conducted the review may be conducted at any other time as the centre may deem fit.
Recently there had been a re-juggling in the ranks of the state civil services as well as in the number of IAS/IFS officials deputed to the state government and committees set up for the review of officers of the All India Services in Sikkim. Three committees have been constituted to carry out the periodic review of officers of the All India Services of IAS, IPS and IFS categories respectively.
These have been constituted in terms of the All India Services (Death cum Retirement Benefits) Rules, 1958. For IAS category the committee is headed by the Chief Secretary and consists of an officer in the apex scale in the cadre concerned, an officer in the apex scale from outside the cadre and who has not declared such cadre as his home state, one officer in the grade of Principal Secretary in the cadre representing SC/ST community and the Secretary, Department of Personnel as member secretary.
Similarly for review of IPS officers the committee is headed by the Chief Secretary and consists of the DG, Police; a DG level police official from outside the cadre; a Principal Secretary ranked officer representing the SC/ST community and Secretary, Home Department as member secretary.
For the review of IFS officers the committee is again headed by the CS and consists of the PCCF; a PCCF level officer from outside the cadre, a principal secretary ranked officer representing the SC/ST community and the secretary, Forest Department as member secretary.
This rule has been so amended “on sound policy” and in “public interest” with the objective to weed out the deadwood and in order to maintain a high standard of efficiency and initiative in the state services.
A few months ago in October 2012 two vacancies had been created in the Sikkim cadre central services, one in the IAS category and another in the IFS category; these were created with the retirement of two state officials.
For such appointments officials of the Union Public Service Commission consult with state officials as happened in November, 2012. The meeting between the state and central officials decides in what rank the central officials will be posted and this again depends on seniority in the state service. Earlier in September the government had notified around 33 posts of Under Secretaries to be filled in the civil service and there was also an enhancement in the number of Secretary ranked posts from the civil services.

Chamling calls on Sikkimese for Sikkim

GANGTOK, 23 Jan: Chief Minister Pawan Chamling today reiterated that the entire Sikkimese populace should play a joint and positive role in Sikkim-making. He further stressed on the need for creative support in this state building process from every concerned side.
A Sikkim Democratic Front press release informs that the CM, who is also the SDF party president, was speaking to senior members and workers of the party here today.
In his address, the CM said that it was imperative to think of long term solutions for problems facing the state. He added that allegations and criticism were not the solution to any problem but would instead promote negative thinking and blame-shifting; but a change in mindset and thinking is needed to solve problems, he stressed.
The CM also expressed that a good leader should be able to lead the youth on a creative, forward-looking path and not confuse or mislead them. He urged the people to make use of their efficiency, energy and time in creative work and further stressed that those capable should take up responsibilities to work for the society, the release mentions.

Workshop on Primary Education gets underway at Arithang Livelihood School

GANGTOK, 23 Jan: A five-day workshop for Certificate in Primary Education [Primary Teachers’ Training Course] was inaugurated by the Labour Department Secretary, CT Wangdi here at Arithang Livelihood School today.
A total of 54 trainees from different parts of the state are taking part in this workshop, which is being hosted by the Regal Institute of Management Studies [RIMS] with the support of the State Institute of Capacity Building [SICB], Karfectar.
In his inaugural address, Mr Wangdi stressed that as government jobs have reached a saturation point such skill development trainings were essential to equip the youth to take advantage of opportunities in and outside the state. It is a unique effort by the state to come forward and use its own resources to provide such workshops to its people by for skill development, he added.
In this regard, the Secretary urged the trainees to complete the training and to use the skills learnt. He pointed out that there are lots of opportunities in teaching in and outside the state and urged the trainees to take advantage of these opportunities.
SICB Chief Administrator, SD Dhakal gave a brief presentation on the role of teachers. He encouraged the trainees to be the ideal role models for students and stressed that a teacher should have leadership quality to lead students towards a creative and constructive path. He also spoke on the new skill requirements in the teaching profession and qualities of an ideal teacher.
Likewise, SICB Deputy Director, IBS Yadav presented the aims and objectives of the workshop. He informed that one of the objectives of the workshop is to develop knowledge and understanding of primary school curriculum and to develop skills and competencies required in teaching effectively.
The inaugural session was followed by the technical sessions of the workshop.
The technical part will also have plenary sessions for the trainees along with presentations, group discussions etc. The workshop has resource persons from SICB Karfectar and Arithang Livelihood School along with guest resource persons from Sikkim Government B Ed College, Soreong and the State Council of Educational Research & Training, HRDD.

Two arrested in possession of brown sugar

GANGTOK, 23 Jan: The Jorethang police has arrested two youth on charges of being in possession and consumption of brown sugar. The two accused, Nitesh Tamang, 24 and Sabin Pradhan, 23, both of Majhigaon, Jorethang have been booked under the National Drugs & Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985.
Credible information with the police had led them to raid the residence of the above mentioned accused on 22 January. A search of the premises landed the police with several small packets of brown sugar and associated paraphernalia for its consumption.
About 10 small packets of suspected brown sugar, weighing 320 mg each were found in a cigarette pack. Also recovered was a cigarette pack with 5 cigarette sticks, a folded Rs.20 note containing residue of ashes, an iron pipe used for smoking, a Bhutanese coin having residue of ashes and a match box with silver foil used for consumption of the substance. All materials recovered were sealed for chemical analysis.

Another fake CoI case busted

GANGTOK, 23 Jan: The Sikkim Police has been tracing and weeding out fake Sikkim Subject Certificates and Certificates of Identification, some of which were “fraudulently” made decades ago.
In another instance of such a fake certificate the CID has unearthed the SSC of one Indra Bahadur Dahal to be a fake. The said accused person is reportedly a resident of Lakhimpur district in Assam and presently residing in Jorethang.
As per reports the accused had fraudulently entered the Sikkim government service by producing a fake school certificate of Ranka School along with the SSC of one Kul Bahadur Adhikari of Lingdok, East Sikkim. IB Dahal and entered the government service as a ‘Mali’ in the Forest Department in the year 1983. Furthermore, it is reported that he had impersonated Kul Bahadur Adhikari and had used his SSC; Kul Bahadur is a bonafide SSC holder but has been residing in Nepal the past 30 years or so.

Girl accuses father of rape

GANGTOK, 23 Jan: A middle aged man has been arrested by the Namchi police on charges of raping his 14-year-old daughter. The accused was arrested by the police on 22 January after his daughter lodged a complaint with the police.
The accused allegedly raped his daughter on 20 January and had again molested her on the night of 21 January. The mother and elder sister of the victim were not present and had gone to Jorethang.
The police forwarded both, the accused and the victim, for medical examination at the Namchi hospital; clothes and other items have been seized for forensic examination as well.

Awareness - first step towards prevention of cruelty on animals



On the occasion of Animal Welfare fortnight which is from 14 to 30 January, the Sikkim Anti-Rabies and Animal Health (SARAH) Division of the Department of AH,LF&VS has felt it necessary to make people aware of various existing animal welfare laws/ acts for the benefits of both the humans and animals alike. There is an Animal welfare law called the Prevention of Cruelty Act (PCA act 1960) formed way back in 1960 and same has been enacted in Sikkim in early 80’s and it is being vigorously implemented.
As we know that animals have been associated with and benefited humankind for thousands of years.  We often ignore and forget that these speechless creatures have served human kind without expecting anything in return and we do not really appreciate their contribution and importance. We always think that we are superior and do not bother to think of their wellbeing and welfare. We often mistreat these creatures, sometimes for fun and enjoyment, some times from ignorance and misguidance. The SARAH Division deals with acts of cruelty every day where various types of ill-treatment are reported. In majority of the cases we often notice that people find it easy to blame the animals for various problems emanating from animals rather than addressing the root problem. Majority of the problems associated with dogs such as dog bite, rabies etc are due to Social factor (Human behaviour) – lack of knowledge, irresponsible pet ownership. Due to these factors, animals land up in trouble.  It is human nature where dominance and atrocity is often meted out to the defenceless and speechless creature and these poor animals cannot defend themselves and challenge the superior creatures especially the human race.  Dogs that do not have access to proper training and exercise will certainly become aggressive and bite people. Dogs that are treated cruelly will become fearful and more likely to bite people. Animals that do not have proper medical care will become sick and subject to unnecessary pains and sufferings leading to waste of resources (economic, human resources etc). Once these animals become sick and unmanageable, they are abandoned to the streets and become stray dogs. SARAH often rescues these dogs and provides care and nursing. All of these is in contravention to the existing PCA act 1960 and is a punishable offence. According to the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI), it is estimated that 88% of owned dogs are allowed to roam freely, at least part of the time making a considerable increase in stray dog population and majority of the stray dogs and cats in Sikkim were previously pets.
If an animal is appropriately cared for or the pet owners acts responsibly or people do things cautiously and vigilantly, then problems emanating from the animals can be easily prevented. For example, human and wildlife conflict can be avoided by not disrupting their habitat and food source. So, one must focus on HUMAN BEHAVIOUR CHANGE: ‘Moving from a treatment-focussed to a prevention-focussed approach’. As a rich heritage of cultural and religious tradition of Sikkim we believe that the majority of the people do not intend to harm these creatures but due to lack of knowledge and information, the animals are often subjected to cruelty. Some detailed studies have been done and the following points were observed in respect to human attitude towards animal welfare and their health and the role of Government:
By providing the solution you take the focus away from prevention.
If you provide a service to deal with problems caused by the way that owners care for and manage their animal, you are not encouraging them to change the way they care for their animal.
Govt programs that take responsibility away from the owner are not sustainable
If there are always people to turn to when you cause a problem, there is less motivation to fix the problem by addressing the cause yourself.
Government and NGO programs should not create dependency – if the program stops, what will happen? Will it have made a lasting difference?
If you provide the solution you will always be needed to carry on doing just that. And if a welfare organisation stops working in the area, you might not have made a lasting difference to the animals’ lives.
Welfare programs should not just focus on veterinary needs but rather on all the needs of an animal.
When you provide veterinary care, the health of the animal is the main concern; all the things that animals need are not always considered.
Most of the cases of cruelty on animals reported in Sikkim are - abandonment of animals (especially dogs and cats), non-provision of proper veterinary care, non-provision of proper food and shelter, inhumane slaughter methods (especially chicken). But compared to the 90’s, there has been a remarkable improvement in animal welfare and will hopefully continue to improve. Due to the concerted efforts of SARAH, the brutal killings of dogs in order find a solution to address the Rabies and stray dog population problem has become history. Due to effective implementation of wildlife act by the Forest Department wild animals are no longer brutally hunted. It is expected that in coming days, we will certainly realize and discourage such unhealthy attitude towards these creatures and try to co-exist together with all the sentient beings as the Mother Nature is impartial to all the beings.
“Sikkim is a little piece of heaven”.  In heaven, cruelty, atrocity and violence are out of the question.  People here live in peace, harmony and tranquillity. Let us live in harmony with all of nature for forever. There is a place for everyone. But there is no place for cruelty and violence. The SARAH Programme is working to preserve our little piece of heaven. It is an earnest request to all the people to help preserve our little piece of heaven.
Following are excerpts from “The Prevention of Cruelty Animals Act,1960”
Q 1) What amounts to cruelty on animals?
A)   Section 11 (1) (a) to ( o) of The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 lays down the actions that amounts to treating animals cruelly.
Sect 11(1)(a) Beating, Kicking, Over-riding, Over-driving, Over-loading, Torturing,  Causing unnecessary pain or suffering to any animals.
(b) Employing any animal which, by reason of its age or any disease, unfit to be so employed, and still making it work or labour or for any purpose.
(c) Wilfully and unreasonably administering any injurious drug or injurious substance.
 (d) Conveying or carrying, either in or upon any vehicle in such a manner as to subject it to unnecessary pain or suffering.
 (e) Keeping for confining any animal in any cage or any receptacle which does not measure sufficiently in height, length and breadth to permit the animal a reasonable opportunity for movement.
 (f) Keeping for an unreasonable time any animal chained or tethered upon an unreasonably heavy chain or chord.
 (g) Being the owner, neglects to exercise or cause to be exercised reasonably any dog habitually chained up or kept in close confinement.
 (h) Being the owner of any animal fails to provide such animal with sufficient food, drink or shelter.
 (i) Without reasonable cause, abandons any animal in circumstances which render it likely that it will suffer pain by reason of starvation or thirst.
 (j) Wilfully permitting any animals, of which he is the owner to go at large in any street while the animal is affected with contagious or infectious disease, or without reasonable excuse permits any diseased or disabled animal, of which he is the owner, to die in any street.
 (k) Offers for sale or without reasonable cause, has in his possession any animal which is suffering pain by reason of mutilation, starvation, thirst, overcrowding or other ill-treatment
 (l)Mutilates any animal or kills any animal (including stray dogs) by using the method of strychnine injections in the heart or in any other unnecessarily cruel manner.
(m)Solely with a view to providing entertainment
1. confines or causes to be confined any animals ( including tying of an animal as bait in a tiger or other sanctuary) so as to make it an oject of prey for any other animal.
2. incites any animal to fight or bait any other animal.
 (n)Organises, keeps, uses or acts in the management of, any place for animal fighting or for the purpose of baiting any animal or permits or offers any place to be so used or receives money for the admission of any other person to any place kept or used for any such purposes.
 (o)Promotes or takes part in any shooting match or competition wherein animals are released from captivity for the purpose of such shooting.
[The contributor is the Programme Coordinator, SARAH Division, Dept.of AH,LF&VS]

Editorial: Employed, and Playing Politics

Politics is an exciting engagement, one that evokes passionate stands and distracts very easily. Where Sikkim is concerned, its political milieu has traditionally been populated rather extensively by ex teachers and midlevel government servants. The now stale, but until recently notoriously in the news Rolu Picnic Politics, and the continuing whispers which circulate in government offices about political swings, need to be seen against this background. It is admittedly difficult in a State as small as Sikkim for anyone to remain genuinely apolitical; especially so for government servants, given the astoundingly slack concepts of accountability and the blissfully lax workload. The temptation to flirt with politics becomes difficult to ignore. The process begins surreptitiously, facilitated by a system where accountability is slack and job-responsibilities poorly defined and overlapping making it easier to start dispensing favours and bending rules. Before one even notices, official power gets mistaken for political clout and ambitions start taking over. It is invariably with such inflated senses of entitlement that notions [sometimes valid, at others imagined] of ‘victimisation’ [almost always read with transfers] get amplified. What are required-by-rules directives and office orders start getting seen as discrimination. Sikkim is a familiar with such sequences. What blurs the line even more is the confusion with which politics is mixed up with administration and government mistaken for Party. In a political environment thick with parties and slim on ideological commitments, the decision to take the plunge comes easy because options never dry out and crossovers rarely need to be explained with any conviction. What is more, at times a plunge is not even expected and players allowed to keep testing the waters, taking a hesitant dip and then retreating.
Not just government servants, but this situation makes it easy for everyone to ‘try out’ politics, sample all options and if nothing works out, step back into a supposedly apolitical lives. It is the facility with which the last option mentioned above [the one of turning apolitical] can be acquired that makes irresponsible dabbling in party politics so easy for most government servants. Let us agree first that while ideological political commitments are absolutely acceptable, and even welcome, it is the tendency to engage in ‘active’ politics, the one involving planning and negotiating, while still actively employed elsewhere that vitiates work cultures and political engagements. This latter involvement diverts attention [of the concerned government servants] from the tasks they draw salaries for, and should they be aligning with factions opposed to the ruling party, could also lead to wilful compromises of policy implementation. Politicians rarely suffer the fallout of such situations, and the loss, in the long run, is burdened on the people which the politicians and the government employees should be serving first. Politics does not compromise governance or administration, it is the politicking by wannabe-politicians that robs people of delivery. For that reason alone, it is advisable to maintain a healthy interest in politics and also hold opinions, but leave the politicking to politicians.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Fake birth and death certificates scam unearthed

GANGTOK, 22 Jan: A big scam involving the making of fake birth and death certificates is underway in Sikkim; so much so that the Health Department, under which comes the Registrar of Births and Deaths cell which issues the official certificates, has filed a complaint with the Vigilance Directorate seeking an investigation.
The Vigilance police is presently enquiring into the matter and while no government official has been implicated so far, an arrest has already been made and incriminating evidence recovered. However, as informed, there is an apprehension that there are more people involved in different parts of the state in the making of false birth and death certificates.
In fact fake certificates seized by the police are from various places thereby giving rise to the suspicion that there are several people involved even if they are not necessarily linked to each other.
The scam was noticed by the Health Department some time back. As a matter of procedure, a birth or death certificate is issued at the Primary Health Centre level which has to then be attested by the Registrar, Births & Deaths. The scam was first sniffed when the Registrar, as per procedure and in the process of verifying a certificate, sends it to the concerned PHC.
In several such instances, the PHCs concerned are reported to have responded saying that they had no knowledge of such a certificate having been issued by them. When such cases kept piling up and the number of such dubious certificates ran into the hundreds, the department suspected something amiss and approached the Vigilance police.
Following up on the case, the police recently arrested one Dilli Ram Ruchal of Ranipool who is originally from Kalimpong. In an associated raid at his place, over 20 fake certificates, other documents, along with rubber seals of various authorities were recovered. In fact some of the rubber seals were of some school and panchayat authorities of Darjeeling and Kalimpong as well.
Apart from fake birth certificates he is also suspected of having been involved in making fake school leaving certificates and other such documents. He himself is reported to have made many fake birth certificates; however the police believe him to have been working alone.
Police investigation has been slow as people who have approached the concerned office with fake certificates for attestation have stopped returning to claim their certificates. It is likely that they have been alerted about the police intervention. Many such fake certificates are informed to be still lying at the Registrar’s office.

SICB acquires solar capacity along with SIRD

JORETHANG, 22 Jan: Secretary RMDD, DR Nepal inaugurated a 100 KW Solar Power Plant in the State Institute of Capacity Building (SICB) and the State Institute of Rural Development (SIRD) at Karfectar South Sikkim today. The unit has been set up by the State Renewable Energy Development Agency, Sikkim.
Speaking as the chief guest, the RMDD Secretary congratulated the two institutes on receiving the largest solar plant in the State and remarked that the installation would help in the smooth functioning of these institutes by meeting their power requirements. These solar plants have not only lighted the institutes externally but have also lit up the lives of the students as well by making them supporters of a pursuit of renewable energy, said Mr Nepal and also commended the work achieved by SICB and its outstanding performance in empowering the rural youth.
He added that the solar plant was an example of technology being used to conserve earth’s resources by making renewable sources of energy more accessible and practical and urged the people to utilize the constructive effect of modern technology to empower their lives.
Informing the gathering regarding various activities and achievements of SREDA in the state, Director SREDA, Siphora Targain said that today’s project was SREDA’s biggest venture ever in the state till date. She added that since SICB and SIRD are two premier institutes of the state, they were chosen for the ambitious project and also with the hope that starting here would create awareness on renewable energy options.
She informed that SREDA was constituted by the State Government in the year 1999 and mandated for promoting and popularizing renewable energy. Sharing the achievements of SREDA in the year 2011-12, Ms Targain said that 20 KW Micro Hydel Plant was commissioned in Dzongu Gor in North Sikkim, 20 KW Solar Power Plant was commissioned at Sikkim Legislative Assembly, 230 Biogas plants were constructed and awareness camps were organized, 14500 Solar Lanterns were distributed, 100 Solar Water Heaters were distributed to the public of North Sikkim and 5000 Solar home Lights are being distributed to Religious Institutions, Police Check Posts, PHCs and NGOs.
Presenting the welcome address, Project Officer SREDA, Tashi Choppel informed the gathering that the solar plant was implemented by SREDA under the Ministry of New Renewable Energy, a Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM) programme. It is a joint venture of the State Government and Government of India informed Mr Tashi.
The objective of this project is to endorse renewable energy, create awareness among the masses and encourage the fight against climate change, he explained. The Project Officer further said that earlier SICB was consuming 60 KW of non-renewable energy and similarly SIRD was consuming 150 KW, and now they have been provided with 100 KW Solar Power Plants each in their respective complexes. The project was commissioned at a total cost of Rs 2.41 lakh each and this is the first project under JNNSM programme implemented in the state.
Chief Administrator of SICB highlighted the programmes, activities and achievements of SICB through a power point presentation. He added that the inauguration of the solar plant would help the institute function more smoothly and efficiently without disturbance of power cuts which otherwise was a hurdle in the smooth and successful functioning of SICB.
Director SIRD, AK Mohanty also spoke on the occasion.  Mr Nepal released the Biogas video DVD and SREDA calendar on the occasion. The programme ended with the vote of thanks from Assistant Project Officer SREDA, Aruna Bhutia. Earlier after the inauguration, the chief guest accompanied by officials of SREDA formally switched on the solar plant machine in the respective complex marking the inaugural ceremony.
Also present were Official Dignitaries of SREDA, SRDA, SIRD, RMDD and students and instructors of SICB.

Consumers now entitled to 5 LPG subsidized cylinders till March

GANGTOK, 22 Jan: State Trading Corporation of Sikkim [STCS] has officially notified the increase in the quota of subsidized LPG cylinders from the existing 6 to 9 cylinders per year as effective from 01 April 2013. A press release issued by the Managing Director STCS informs that for the current financial year, the remaining number of cylinder entitlement for each connection under subsidized category (September 13 2012 to March 31 2013) now stands at 5 against the three earlier.
It is further informed here that currently the service of refilling is being continued on production of the acknowledgement receipt of DGCC book issued by this office. However, the practice shall no longer be continued without the production of mandatory Blue Book confirming KYC registration as per M/s. IOCL guideline.
STCS has requested its consumers to register KYCs immediately in order to get new updated Blue Books and continued service. Those who have already submitted KYC registration forms may immediately contact STCS office at Deorali & Baiguney, as the case may be, for collection of new updated Blue-Books.
Consumers who desire to transfer their connections with their convenient Distributors may also contact the STCS office. However, transfer is not mandatory while Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas, Government of India has announced its portability within the ambit of the same Oil Manufacturing Companies.
Further, the release mentions that STCS has received a number of KYC forms seeking transfer of connections from the existing names to others which is proving to be difficult in the absence of appropriate documents authenticating proof of identifications. Hence, such consumers are requested to contact STCS offices at Gangtok or Baiguney with sufficient documents that authenticate their proof of identification to enable earlier registration of such cases.
Transfer of connections issued under Janta Mela and other Government welfare schemes are not transferable unless approved by the Government, the release adds.
Those consumers with multiple connections are requested to kindly surrender the same before actions are initiated by the authorities to block such connections. It is once again informed here that as per the new regulations, only one connection with DBC per household is permissible.
This is being informed for all the future exercise that cylinders are sufficiently available but only against prior booking unlike free availability in the past though the practice might be a teething problem initially, the release further states.

State gears up for PM’s visit

GANGTOK, 22 Jan: The State government is gearing up for the imminent visit of the Prime Minister, dr. Manmohan Singh, to Sikkim next month.
The Prime Minister is expected to visit Sikkim for the International Flower Show scheduled to be held in February and expected to inaugurate the flower festival to be held at Saramsa, Ranipool.
While a final confirmation from the Prime Minister’s Office is still awaited, the Home Department along with administration authorities are preparing for the VVIP’s arrival. A meeting is scheduled for 24 January at Chintan Bhawan here among the concerned officials to work out the modalities and associated arrangements for the visit of the Prime Minister next month.

Paljor Stadium Road to be one-way on Republic Day

GANGTOK, 22 Jan: Only one way traffic will be allowed on the Paljor Stadium Road on Republic Day i.e 26 January, the East district Traffic Police has notified.
A press release issued by the Deputy Superintendent of Police, Traffic, Ongmu Bhutia, informs that the road from DPH Junction to District Administration Centre at Sichey and DPH Junction to Sichey Cooperative Junction have been declared one-way for the convenience of public and pedestrians coming to witness the Republic Day celebration at Paljor Stadium.
The Gangtok Traffic police have further requested the people coming to witness the Republic Day function to follow one side of the road for their safety and to give free passage to vehicular movement on the day.

SDF condoles lives lost in Triveni road mishap

GANGTOK, 22 Jan: Sikkim Democratic Front has expressed its deep condolence on the loss of lives in the tragic road mishap at Triveni in West Bengal on 18 January.
In a condolence message, the party has expressed its deep condolence to the bereaved families and prayed for peace to the departed souls.
The party has also prayed for the early recovery of the injured persons.

Editorial: Don’t Lose Priorities to Politicking

Make enough noise, float enough conspiracy theories, and the continuing experience of the country shows that priorities can be easily displaced and disoriented by rabble rousing. In Sikkim, all it takes for priorities to get warped is the whiff of politicking, the closer they are to an election year the stronger is the debilitation and the fiercer the potential confrontation, the more befuddling the passion with which political twigs are swung around. The public domain is increasingly discussing the launch of a new political party or the impact new political alignments will have on the politics of things in Sikkim. Accepted, in a representative democracy, the arrival and potential of new and established parties and personalities occupies a significant place in private and public discussions; and while not suggesting that politics should take a backseat, it is important that it does not sweep away everything else that is also important to the people. Social issues need to be kept in perspective, and as mentioned, a political blip should not be allowed to divert whatever little attention these challenges are receiving. The disorientation of priorities mentioned earlier is with regard to an even more dangerous trend that energetic politicking brings to Sikkim – the coloring of social challenges, even ‘ills’ if you will please, with a political brush. ‘Politics’ in Sikkim, when it gets frenetic as the countdown for another Assembly election begins, has a track-record of slapping blinkers on the public domain [or at least the leaders who hog public space] and everything becomes of dire importance. Caste considerations and communal exigencies suddenly return to press release communications and posturing becomes more aggressive. What are essentially social challenges become political Frankensteins created by the ‘other’ side. This debases the debate, causing even more harm than the de-prioritisation of these issues that seasonal spikes in politicking can effect.
One speaks here of the still present, and unaddressed, reality of runaway suicides and unbridled addiction that continue to confront Sikkim. Politicians, because they represent a people and are expected to help fashion policy and executive responses to even social issues, are expected to address these challenges, which some will attest is of a scale which has incapacitated an entire generation in Sikkim. Maybe incapacitated is too strong an inference, but no one will have any quarrels with accepting that the twin-challenge of suicides and addiction has exposed an entire generation to substantial harm. The issues are not new, in fact they have been shocking with such consistency over the recent years that the society at large appears to have even become inured to fresh reports of suicides or drug busts. In the absence of any social or community representative organisations of any consequence [groups which would form the foundation for a civil society], one hopes political leaders to keep things in perspective and nudge social engagements to address these issues. There will be those who will smirk at such a hope, but since the society at large is yet to shake off its lethargy, it will have to the politicians from whom expectations can be raised. At least they are easily identifiable and addressed than, as some say the faceless masses. And make no mistake, these are continuing challenges for Sikkim. To refer to some recent incidents- the donation box at Hanuman Tok temple above Gangtok was burgled obviously by desperate needs to feed a dependence; a person was booked under the Sikkim Anti-Drugs Act after having already served time for three prior convictions in connection with contraband substances; and one need not recount the number of suicides because news of one arrives too disturbingly often. Mirror these against what politics has been releasing in the public domain. The point being made here is that politics and the allegations and counter allegations that come with it may be important cogs of the political wheel, but for the wheel to turn for the people, the priorities need to be organised with people in the mind, not individual aspirations, concerns or ambitions. The real priorities cannot be lost to politicking.

Ban on import of eggs lifted, indefinitely

GANGTOK, 21 Jan: In welcome news for consumers and traders in the state, the Animal Husbandry Department has lifted the ban on import of eggs into Sikkim. It may be recalled that the ban was lifted for three months [Oct to Dec 2012] initially and there was much uncertainty over whether the ban had be reinforced with the New Year or whether the lifting of the ban would be extended. Department officials confirmed today that the lifting of the ban has now been extended indefinitely.
When the ban had been lifted for the initial period of three months, the Department was to undertake a detailed survey on the status of egg production in Sikkim, demand and future initiatives. It is clear that local production, which invariably dips in winters, is not enough to meet the market demand.
Speaking to NOW! today, the Secretary, AH&VS department, DP Sharma, confirmed that the State government has decided to approve the import of eggs into the state in order to meet local demand. While stating that the official order for the same would be issued and circulated by the department on Tuesday [22 Jan 2013], he mentioned that it was the decision of the department to pursue the lifting of the ban with the state government which had come through at the right moment.
The ban, it may be mentioned, did return this month and has been in place since 01 Jan 2013. Even as the ban on eggs has been lifted, it remains in force for other poultry products including dressed chicken.
“There are over 6 lakh people in Sikkim and this number keeps fluctuating [with the tourist season]. If you take half of these people as egg consumers, the demand is much higher than the overall production of eggs in Sikkim. There is so much protein requirement which we could not overlook, thus we decided that the solution would be to lift the ban indefinitely,” he explained.
Further, while highlighting that the ban on bringing in poultry was still in place and that only eggs were allowed to be brought from outside, he informed that the traders would still have to seek permission from the AH&VS Department to begin importing eggs.
“Every person can see that there is limited supply of eggs in Sikkim which is not meeting the demand. So, till the department feels that there is sufficient supply from inhouse farms, the relaxation of the ban will continue,” stated the Secretary.
Further, he also informed that the survey that was being undertaken by the Department in all the four districts regarding the feasibility of egg production would also be completed and the assessment report presented by the concerned Additional Director of the Department by 31 March 2013.
“We know what the survey report will highlight which is why we have lifted the ban. Since supply of chicken is not a problem in Sikkim and local farmers are benefitting from this trade, it is the state government’s policy not to lift the ban on import of chicken. However, the scenario of egg supplies is the opposite which is why the ban has been lifted,” he explained.
It was also informed that egg production in Sikkim is not proving to be feasible since the local farmers have expressed that the trade is not economically viable for them. The climate in Sikkim is another factor hampering egg production which is why it is still not an attractive proposition for farmers here. However, the department has stated that any farmer interested in egg production would be provided all technical and knowledge support along with subsidized loans from financial institutions to venture into this trade.
“We already have five demo egg production farms in Sikkim and if the proper methods are applied then egg production can prove feasible and sustainable for the farmers. We will also provide all assistance to local farmers and entrepreneurs who want to do this trade but till the supply to the rising demand is not met by the local farmers we shall continue with the relaxation in the ban,” he stated.

Primary Health Facility Centre inaugurated at Sepsu

GANGTOK, 21 Jan [IPR]: As a follow-up to the commitments made during the Chief Minister’s 42-day village-to-village tour, the Health Department today inaugurated a Primary Health Facility Centre at Sepsu, Tsomgo, East Sikkim today.
Minister for Healthcare, Human Service & FW, DN Takarpa, inaugurated the Centre which was accorded on-the-spot sanction by the Chief Minister during his stopover here during his village-to-village tour. The Centre is expected to also cater to the healthcare facilities for tourists visiting Tsomgo.
The infrastructure includes a programme vehicle, ambulance and required healthcare facilities which has been established at a cost of about Rs 50 lakh along with that provision of a hall for accommodation of about 50 people which can be used by stranded tourists and locals in case of blockage of road during heavy monsoons or snowfall.
The inauguration \was also attended by senior officers of Health Department.

SLYA urges Govt to reconsider site proposed for Kali statue

GANGTOK, 21 Jan: Sikkim Lepcha Youth Association [SLYA] has expressed reservations over the site proposed for the construction of a statue of goddess Kali at the Pandim Garhi in Central Pendam, East Sikkim by the state government.
A press release from the association informs that an SLYA team undertook a reconnaissance tour of the area on 20 January and has placed its report with the State government urging it to reconsider the location selected for the proposed construction.
The release mentions that the present site lies within the Pandim Garhi compound considered a heritage site by the Lepchas and “might undermine the sanctity of the centuries old heritage structure and greatly hurt the cultural ethos of the Lepcha people”.
The association has further expressed that in view of the dearth of verifiable chronicles of the Lepcha community that has hampered the reconstruction of the prehistory of Sikkim, such structures as the Pandim Garhi must be preserved.
The release further states that “while acknowledging the unprecedented developments brought about by the present government and its relentless endeavour in transforming Sikkim into one the most popular tourist destinations of India, the organisation vehemently believes that the present government will take a holistic view of the situation and shall come up with new approach that might be devoid of compromising the sanctity of the heritage site”.

JE convicted in Vigilance case

GANGTOK, 21 Jan: The Vigilance Directorate has been notching up a few convictions in corruption cases of late. Following closely on the heels of convictions of former Power Secretary, LP Tiwari, and Chief Engineer [at the time of registering of Vigilance case], DB Subba, comes news of the conviction of a serving Junior Engineer of the state government. MA Kumar, a JE in the UD&HD, was convicted by the East District Courts on a disproportionate assets case.
It is informed that the conviction was announced on 31 December, 2012 and the JE sentenced to a year long simple imprisonment punishment. In addition he was also directed to pay a fine of Rs.10, 000 failing which he is to undergo further imprisonment of 6 months. The conviction will expectedly be challenged in higher courts.
The said JE was found to be in possession of Rs 44.50 lakh disproportionate to his known sources of income. The corruption case dates back to 1998 when the complaint was first lodged with the Vigilance police, it is informed.
The case had been registered under the relevant section of the Prevention of Corruption Act pertaining to criminal misconduct by a public servant and found to be in possession of property disproportionate to known sources of income for which he cannot satisfactorily account for. The Vigilance Directorate is in the process of intimating to the concerned department of the said official’s conviction and further action will be taken by the concerned department.

NE Tribal Folk Dance programme concludes at MG Marg

GANGTOK, 21 Jan: The three-day North Eastern Region Tribal Folk Dance programme, Purvottari, concluded today at MG Marg.
The programme was organized by the Culture and Heritage Department, Government of Sikkim in association with the Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya, Bhopal, an autonomous body of the Government of India under Ministry of Culture.
Purvottari is an effort to explore the potential of heritage and cultural tourism in the Northeastern region. On the closing day today, around 140 artists among whom 40 were from Sikkim presented cultural performances.
Manipuri artists presented Rash Krishna Bhaklu dance of the Vaishnav community, Pang-Cholam, a part of the Sankirtana music by the drummers in spotless white costume and Thanga which is based on Manipuri martial arts.
The Nagas performed Chiiteli dance of the Chaka Lam community, depicting the harvesting done in fields by way of delicate movements. Assamese presented the famous Bihu and Gowalpar while dancers from Mizoram presented Sulam Kai Salakiya dance.
Artists from Meghalaya entertained the public through Rigalag dance, Tripura presented Hoja Giri, a ceremonial dance with candles [usually performed by unmarried girls in Tripura propitiating Goddess Laxmi]. Host state, Sikkim performed Lepcha, Bhutia and Nepali dances. The most entertaining, being Serathi and Chutke dance.
‘It is felt that the youth today need to be acquainted with their culture and these cultural programmes aim at leaving at least some impression on young minds about the rich culture & tradition, costumes of the Northeast,’ said Jagadish Sharma, Special Officer on Duty of the Culture and Heritage department.
Senior Officer of the Sangrahalaya, Dr. R M Nayyal and Jagdish Sharma worked in coordination to conduct the programme successfully.
It is to be mentioned here, the Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya, Bhopal seeks to promote and spread awareness on culture among the masses, document the different cultural aspects of different regions in the country and to help in preserving and protecting vanishing cultural legacies.

3 booked under SADA

GANGTOK, 21 Jan: The Sadar police arrested three persons on charges of possession of contraband substances yesterday. Two of the accused are history-sheeters one of whom, Rajiv Sewa, has been convicted for the same offence thrice in the past. He was convicted under the National Drugs & Psychotropic Substance Act in 2005, then again under Sikkim Anti-Drugs Act in 2009 and 2011.
On 20 January at around 1 PM, the Sadar Thana received information that two persons were peddling drugs at Hospital Point here. A police team soon apprehended the two - Rajiv Sewa, 32, of Bojoghari and Suren Pariyar, 32, of Lower Sichey, Gangtok.
From their possession, 1,460 tablets of Spasmo Proxyvon and another 42 tablets of N10 were recovered. Further, the police also found Rs. 9,530 in cash in their possession which they are suspected to have made through sale of the substances. Follow-up investigation by the police then led to the arrest of another of their alleged accomplices, Prashant Subba, 28 of Kalimpong, presently residing in Gangtok. All three have been booked under the SAD Act.
Earlier in November 2011 Prashant had also been arrested under section 387, IPC which pertains to extortion. The case is under trial.

Editorial: Drought in the Rainforest

A NASA-led study has revealed that more than 7,00,000 sq km of Amazon rainforest has been hit hard by a mega-drought that began in 2005 and caused widespread damage to the canopy that blankets the dense vegetation. Drought in the rainforest! Climate Change anyone? What has happened in the Amazon rainforest could be a localised cyclical climate-realted blip or part of a larger climate change impact. Either way, it is important enough to have NASA tracking it and keeping the region and world informed. That’s a start. But what about corners as small as Sikkim? Against the 7 crore hectares affected in the Amazon, Sikkim spreads out a mere 7 lakh hectares. It is unlikely that the impact of climate change or droughts or extreme weather conditions here will flash on the monitors of anyone tracking such events. But the signs are there for all to see. The winter, save one recent morning of a thundershower, has been extremely dry this year; so dry in fact that the Rabi crops in fields which depend on winter rains have failed this year. The monsoons, after the Met offices vacillated between normal to low predictions and verdicts, were heavy this year, but still late and many paddy fields suffered this season. For those who see this as a cyclical event, there are other signs like areas in Sikkim which received only snowfall, now also receiving frequent rainfall; glaciers which used to course kilometres into valleys now having retreated as hanging glaciers leaving behind only scree and debris. This last reference was experienced firsthand by mountaineers attempting the Zemu Gap in West Sikkim some years back. Relying on surveyor notes from around 80 years ago, they realised that glaciers across which the pioneers had walked across had now receded, leaving a nearly kilometre deep scar of extremely fragile rocks and unstable blocks which were now impossible to navigate. This has to be a result of climate change. Not that this phenomenon requires any reiteration since the discourse has already moved on to preparedness. To Sikkim’s credit, it has a department dedicated to Climate Change [the Department of Science & Technology now includes for Climate Change in its name]. Unfortunately, while recognition of climate change as a major future challenge has been taken at the policy level, at the executive level, nothing has changed. Sikkim’s understanding of climate change is no better than any person with access of the internet or relevant literature. Worse still, the impact of climate change on Sikkim has neither been studied nor shared. Unless the impact of climate change is explained with ‘local’ references to the stakeholders, the policy directives and preparedness plans will not succeed. Sikkim had commissioned a study of its glaciers, and while some references have been made to the findings, the final report has not been shared in the public domain yet. As everyone knows, the study of glaciers can provide important insights into climate change impact. Sikkim has already committed itself to prepare better for climate change; as already shared, no one else is going to help Sikkim study or prepare. It will have to do so itself, hence the sooner the available data is shared with the stakeholders, the faster will the analysts be able to make sense of it and put things in perspective and the quicker Sikkim can expect to start, well, preparing better for climate change...

Monday, January 21, 2013

16 feared killed in tragic road mishap near Teesta

NAMCHI, 20 Jan: A tragic road mishap near Teesta under Kalimpong sub-division of West Bengal on the night of 18 January is feared to have claimed 16 lives. Dead bodies of only eight of those feared killed in the accident have been recovered thus far. The only survivors of the mishap are the five who escaped with injuries. The ill-fated vehicle was staggering overloaded with 21 people on board against the prescribed limit of 11 including the driver.
The accident has cast a pall of gloom over the South district border town on Namchi. 15 of the passengers claimed by the accident were from Melli, most of them from two families, including one of the driver’s.
The vehicle [a Tata Spacio taxi], it is learnt, was ferrying 21 passengers from the Triveni Mela at the Teesta-Rangeet confluence on the West Bengal side and was heading back to Melli via Teesta. Six of passengers on board were from Teesta, West Bengal.
Barely a kilometre out of the mela venue towards Teesta, the overloaded vehicle lost control veering off the road and plunged into the Teesta at around 8 PM.
On learning about the accident, a Melli Police team headed by PI Bijoy Subba along with the local rescue team reached the spot and with the help of locals and the rafters from Teesta launched a rescue operation. Six bodies were recovered by the rescue team on Saturday while two more bodies were recovered from near Kalijhora, West Bengal. Eight are still missing and the search operation is underway for the missing passengers.
The PI informed that the accident could have been caused by the vehicle’s overload and speeding. The ill fated vehicle was taken out from the river yesterday while the recovered bodies were handed over to their respective families. A number of Ministers and MLAs of the Sikkim Government also visited the spot yesterday and met the families of the victims.

Deptt proposes hike in electricity tariff

GANGTOK, 20 Jan: Consumers in Sikkim are in for another hike in electricity charges in the face of losses in the field of energy and power supply. Should the State Electricity Regulatory Commission approve the recommendation of the Power Department, the public will have to shell out more for each unit of electricity they consume.
The state government is suffering huge losses when it comes to transmission and distribution losses. In fact, as per the Power Department the estimated annual T&D and other losses of the state for 2013-14 have been projected at 55.87%. The net revenue requirement of the Power Department for 2012-13 was estimated at Rs. 297.84 crore; against this, revenue from tariff and sale of electricity [outside Sikkim] is estimated at Rs. 108.56 crore causing a shortfall of Rs. 189.28 crore.
For the year 2013-14, the projected net revenue requirement is at Rs. 336.81 crore; against this, the projected revenue is at Rs. 112.68 crore thereby resulting in a projected loss of Rs. 224.14 crore.
Faced with this shortfall, the Department has proposed to cover the revenue gap ‘partly’ through additional revenue from the proposed tariff revision. Domestic consumers are liable to face a hike of anywhere between 5 paise and 20 paise per unit depending on the amount of electricity they consume.
It has been proposed that per unit charge for upto 50 units be increased to Rs. 1.15 from the existing Rs. 1.10; for consumption between 51 to 100 units the proposed hike is to Rs. 2.35 from the existing Rs. 2.25; for consumption between 101 -200 units the proposed tariff is Rs.3.60 from Rs. 3.45; from 201 to 400 units it is proposed that the revised tariff be Rs. 4.35 per unit from the existing Rs. 4.15 and for above 401 units the new tariff proposed is Rs.4.60.
The rate of increase for commercial consumption is slightly higher ranging from 40 paise per unit to 50 paise per unit.
About a couple of years back there had been a hike in power tariff by the State government, but despite the hike the department has not met its revenue targets. In fact despite revenue from sale of electricity outside to other states estimated at Rs. 20.33 crore, the State government is suffering losses. The state itself does not have a large electricity consumption or requirement given its small population but apparently the Power Department has not been able to optimize its revenue potential or cut down on its T&D losses thereby putting the liability on the consumer.

HRDD targets training all teachers by 2015

GANGTOK, 20 Jan: The state government is taking up the matter of education, particularly the provisions under the Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act, rather seriously and in a committed fashion. In this regard, the Human Resource Development Department has announced that it has set itself the target to achieve 100% fully trained teachers in government schools meeting the minimum required qualification as required under the Act by the year 2015. The department has recently announced a set of rules for strict compliance by teachers.
In an important decision, all untrained teachers who will attain the age of 58 on 31 December, 2015 will be offered voluntary retirement. As per the HRD Department directive, teachers of all categories attaining the age of 58 by the end of 2015 and who have failed to acquire the 2-year diploma in elementary education/ B.Ed/ M.Ed will be allowed to proceed on voluntary retirement with benefits of two advance increments. Additionally, any teacher appointed before 03 September, 2001 in accordance with the prevalent recruitment rules will not be required to undertake the additional required training on elementary education.
Meanwhile, all professionally untrained primary teachers of government schools with Class XII qualification are to enroll themselves in the DIET or at IGNOU for a 2-year diploma in Elementary Education by the year 2013. All professionally untrained Graduate and Post Graduate Teachers of Government schools are required to either enroll themselves at Soreong Government B.Ed College/ Loyola College, Namchi/ Harkamaya B.Ed College, or IGNOU for B.Ed Degree programme by the year 2013, positively.
It has also been informed that teachers appointed on or after 03 September, 2001 need not acquire the above mentioned minimum qualification provided that a teacher of Class I to V possessing either B.Ed or M.Ed shall undertake an NCTE recognized 6-month special programme on elementary education. Similarly a teacher of Class I to V with B.Ed and who has completed a 6-month Special Basic Course approved by NCTC will not be required to undertake the additional training.
The HRD Department has also come out with its definition of ‘Trained Teacher’. Primary trained teachers are defined as those who have successfully completed a crash course conducted by the department during 1979-81 or those who have completed TTC by DIET/TTI till 2002 or those who have successfully completed 2 years TTC by DIET or NCTE recognized institute after 2003.
Graduate Teacher, as per the department, are those who have completed one year B.Ed or B.Ed integrated 4 years or 2 years course from any NCTE recognized institution and conducted by a university approved by the UGC.

Unplugged, but in tune for AIDS awareness

GANGTOK, 20 Jan: The first round of auditions for the Red Ribbon Unplugged Contest-2013 concluded here at NH 31-A Studio, Deorali, yesterday with a total of 20 bands from the North and East districts qualifying for the second round of this annual musical extravaganza aimed at generating wider awareness on HIV and AIDS.
A total of 43 bands from the North and East districts had registered for the contest out of which 24 bands auditioned yesterday. Only 20 bands from the 24 have been given the go-ahead by the judges to compete in the next round.
It may be informed that the winners of the Red Ribbon Unplugged contest will be awarded with a cash prize of Rs 1 lakh, while the second and third runners-up will receive Rs 50,000 and Rs 30,000 respectively. The winner of the contest also has the option to choose between the cash prize and a package that has an album recording contract with Viacom Studio, Mumbai and the making of a video album that will be directed by local film maker, Prashant Rasaily.
The Red Ribbon Unplugged 2013 is part of Red Fest under the Multi Media Campaign that is being sponsored by the Sikkim State Aids Control Society (SSACS) and is being organized by Serenity Home, rehabilitation and detoxification centre, Gangtok. Auditions for the same is being held at two venues, for the East and North districts in Gangtok and for the South and West districts at Karfectar, Jorethang.
The quarter finals of the contest will be held on 02 February at Gangtok, the semi finals will be held at Municipal Hall, Namchi on 09 February and the finals will be held at Manan Kendra, Gangtok on 17 February.
The judges for the Red Ribbon Unplugged are SK Pradhan, Albert Gurung and Niki Rai who are judging the contestants in three categories, the first being vocals under which the judges will evaluate their tone, diction and lyrics clarity, secondly the judges are looking at the overall balance of the contestants where once again the band’s vocal output, guitars, drums and keys will be tested. The last category where the judges will evaluate the participants will be on the overall presentation.
The participants will not make use of any electrical guitars including gadgets in their presentation because the competition is unplugged. However, the judges and the organizers have allowed one electric bass guitar and a synthesizer on piano mode to all participants. Instruments like tabla, violin, congo and thumba along with acoustic guitars with pick-ups have been allowed.  
It may also be informed that for the West and South districts, a total of 15 bands and solo artists have registered for the auditions slated for 26 January at Jorethang.
The twenty bands to make it to the next round from Gangtok are Arch Angels, Perfect Encounter, Lazy Fingers, Cloud Canyon, Off-Strings, 80’s Engine, Silent Soul, Reverb, Secret Union, Milestone, Smaran, Purple Hertz, Road House Invasion, Atonals, Ban Jhakri Rejects, Heroes of Faith, Sanskriti band, B-Tunes, Butt Punch and Suspended Animation.

CM meets Panchayats from his constituency, urges them to take initiative

NAMCHI, 20 Jan: Chief Minister Pawan Chamling today met the new and ex panchayats of his constituency Poklok-Kamrang, South Sikkim. At a meeting held here at the Community Hall, the panchayats also placed their demands on behalf of the public of their respective areas.
The problems of drinking water supply and road conditions were the main topics of discussion during the meeting.
The Chief Minister in his address to the gathering of panchayat members said that there is a tradition in the state where the work of panchayat is limited to placing demands with the concerned area MLAs and the Chief Minister, but themselves deliver on the role shouldered on them by the Panchayati Raj Act.
Speaking on decentralization of power, he mentioned that the government has decentralized power to the panchayats which in fact is the decentralization of responsibilities and added that as the Union Government is responsible for the entire country and state governments at the state level, similarly the panchayat is responsible for their respective territories and wards.
Further stating that panchayats should not only be concerned about their rights but become more focussed on their responsibilities; the CM said that neglect of responsibilities by panchayats is a big irony and hurdle in the implementation of Panchayati Raj.
The Chief Minister urged the present panchayat members to be answerable to the people of their respective areas and work as per the vision of the State Government and as per Sikkim Panchayat Act.
Real development comes from the grassroots level up and not from the top, said the CM and added that without the development of villages the development of the state and nation is impossible. Wrong kind of leadership at the panchayat level can lead to the failure of the entire state and country as a whole, he stated.
Speaking on various community-based associations in the state, he said that although there are a number of such associations in the state, they have failed to guide the people of their respective communities on the right path.
He also informed that at present 600 posts as police constable, 200 posts as accounts clerk and LDC are vacant along with other vacancies for teachers and more than 1000 vacancies in Sikkim Scouts Battalion; altogether there are around 2000 employment opportunities at present as per the policies of the SDF Government.
Focusing on the panchayats again he said that the panchayats should be the real caretakers of the people of their areas and congratulated and thanked the former panchayat members for providing their service to the people of Sikkim. He added that he will be meeting all the ex-panchayats of the state soon.
The CM also stated that the SDF government aims to upgrade all the BPL families into APL within the next two years. He also interacted with the panchayat members and conveyed his New Year wishes to them.
The meeting was also attended by the Adakshya and Up-Adakshya South, Vice President of SDF party cum South District In-charge of SDF party, GM Gurung, along with area MLA of Namchi Singithang, Binod Rai, Chairman of various sectors and other members of the party.

MoS Tourism holds up Sikkim as best performing State

GANGTOK, 20 Jan [IPR]: The first ever International North East Tourism Mart 2013 was inaugurated at Guwahati by Union Minister of State for Tourism, Dr K Chiranjeevi in the presence of the Governor of Assam, J B Patnaik. In his address Dr Chiranjeevi highlighted the commitment of his Ministry towards the development of tourism in the North East and called upon all the tourism stakeholders of the NE region to seize this opportunity and promote the region in tourism.
He informed the gathering of the Govt of India's decision to revoke the restriction on granting visa within two months for tourists visiting India. He also felt that such Tourism mart should be held on a regular basis annually.
The Governor of Assam called upon the NE states to play a proactive role in the field of Tourism and added that there is great potential in the future in this sector. The Chief Secretary of Assam and Secretary Ministry of Tourism, GOI also addressed the gathering.
Around 83 buyer delegates from 23 countries including Spain, Switzerland, Japan, Korea, France and Germany are participating in the mart.
Dr Chiranjeevi during his visit to the Sikkim Exhibition stall released a film on West Sikkim produced by the West Sikkim Tourism Society.
The Union Minister in his Press Conference singled out Sikkim as the best performing State in tourism amongst the NE States. Sikkim’s Tourism Minister, Bhim Dhungel extended an invitation to Dr Chiranjeevi who promised to visit Sikkim in the near future.
Tourism Department also made a presentation on the tourism scenario at the conference and gave information on the forthcoming International Flower Festival in February. The Press was also informed on the inauguration of the Sakyamuni Buddha at Ravangla scheduled for March 2013
Sikkim was represented by Minister Tourism, Bhim Dhungel, Chairman, STDC, N.K. Subba along with Secretary Tourism, K S Tobgay, tourism officials, members from TAAS, SAT0, Village tourism society and Sikkim Paragliding Society.
The Mart is being held at the Sarusajai Stadium at Guwahati from 18 to 21 January. As a follow-up to the event nine foreign travel agencies are to visit Sikkim on a familiarisation tour.

Santosh Trophy selection trials in Feb

GANGTOK, 20 Jan: Sikkim Football Association [SFA] in coordination with Sports & Youth Affairs Department, Govt. of Sikkim is conducting a selection trial for the upcoming 67th edition of National Football Championship for Santosh Trophy scheduled to be held at Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh in the first week of February.
A Sikkim Football Association press release invites interested footballers to contact SFA representatives or Deputy Director [Coaching] Thupden Rapgyal and Amos Subba of SYA to attend the trials to be held at 2 PM on 22 January at Paljor Stadium.
It is informed that the shortlisted players in the trials will go for a coaching camp before the announcement of the final list of the state players to represent Sikkim in this prestigious tournament.

Editorial: Road Safety

Sixteen dead and five injured. These are not figures one expects from a taxi-jeep accident. Twenty-one people in one vehicle is close to a busload of passengers [SNT buses have a prescribed passenger load of 32], and yet, they were aboard one Tata Spacio on Friday night. The vehicle’s name might suggest spaciousness, but this many people is still ten too many from the prescribed load. And yet, this many went down with the ill-fated vehicle on Friday night and only five survived. There are many in Sikkim who complain against the strict implementation of traffic and road safety rules in Sikkim [although recent experience shows that these should be even more stringently enforced]. They need look at the Friday night accident and resolve to demand, as mentioned, even stricter enforcement of road safety rules, not just in Sikkim, but in West Bengal as well because laxity in the WB side imperils commuters travelling from Sikkim as well. Most of the passengers in the ill-fated vehicle were from the South Sikkim border town of Melli. The accident took place across the border on the West Bengal side. Six of the passengers on board were from Teesta, West Bengal. It is obvious that while the vehicle left from Sikkim with a reasonably safe load of passengers [many of the 16 were children], it returned from Tribeni with an additional load of six because the lax road safety implementation on the WB side allows it. It is a common sight to see passengers sitting on roofs of passenger jeeps on the WB side of NH 31A, a load one never sees on Sikkim roads. The six were probably only taking a lift till Teesta, but there is a reason why vehicles have prescribed passenger loads. Over loaded vehicles do not always meet with an accident, but when they do, they post shocking numbers as those which have shocked Sikkim now. Maybe the accident was not brought on by the overcrowding of the vehicle, but it was definitely facilitated by a policing which allows drivers to become careless, does not allow passengers strong enough grounds to protest and finally imperils too many lives. This is not just about enforcing prescribed passenger loads more strictly, but appealing that doing so [and ensuring other road safety aspects] will lay a stronger foundation to keep the roads safe and save more lives from being pointlessly lost to avoidable slackness. Once there is general consensus on the fact that no aspect of passenger safety is too minor to be ignored will come a stage when more issues [overlooked thus far] can be addressed – like speeding, DUI, road worthiness of passenger vehicles etc. These aspects of travelling become important to bear in mind given that this is also the picnic season when passengers can be expected to become more boisterous, the hands on the wheels more inebriated and recklessness breakneck...

Sunday, January 20, 2013

HRDD gets set to resume Pre-Primary education in govt schools

GANGTOK, 18 Jan: The ten-day orientation programme for Pre-Primary Teachers of Sikkim organised and conducted by the State Council of Educational Research and Training [SCERT] under the Human Resource Development Department [HRDD] began on 17 January at Modern Secondary School, Tathangchen, Gangtok, informed CS Rao [Secretary, HRDD], while speaking to NOW! today.
The training is being provided to 262 Pre-Primary Teachers [Class XII passed] in the first batch and will be held from 17 to 27 January, while the second batch of 250 plus teachers [Class X passed] will undergo training from 28 January to 06 February, he added.
Earlier, these teachers were working as School Mothers and after the Pre-Primary section was shut in 2010, they were shifted to Gram Panchayats where they were working as Panchayat Education Assistants and now since the government has taken the decision to start Pre-Primary at schools from this year onwards, they are being given training for Pre-Primary Teachers, he said and added that this was being done because the government wants to improve the quality of education at the pre-primary level and also as many parents wanted pre-primary education for their children.
Earlier, there were no books at the pre-primary level, but now a new single book [work book] has been prepared by SCERT for the pre-primary children, along with a teacher’s reference book and so these teachers are being trained on using the book and also how to handle small children, the Secretary stated.
The opening of these pre-primary classes at the 778 schools all over the State will not in any way hamper the running of the ICDS centres, the ICDS centres will remain operational, he said and added that parents were sending their kids to these ICDS centres to get them used to going to school, but no education was being provided at these centres, so the decision to re-start the pre-primary at schools was taken.
“According to records of 2010 and before, around 12,000 to 14,000 children had been enrolled in the various pre-primary classes in the state, so we are expecting the same amount of children for admissions this year and therefore we are printing around the same number of books for these children”, he stated. Apart from the books, the children will also be supplied with mid-day meals.
The file for starting of these pre-primary classes is already under process, there are some formalities that need to be completed, but pre-primary classes at schools will begin from this year and that is why training to these pre-primary teachers is being conducted, the Secretary informed.
The Resource Persons for the training are I Joshi [Joint Director], SK Gajmer, RK Pradhan [Deputy Director], Malati Rai, Dr Shanti Ram Adhikari [Assistant Director], SB Singh [Coordinator], Larissa Lepcha, Paritosh Pathak and Jigmee Sangay Dorjee.