Friday, December 13, 2013

19TH ANNIVERSARY OF SDF GOVERNMENT FORMATION DAY CM underlines Peace, Security and Development as key achievements of past 19 years VISHNU NEOPANEY

GANGTOK 12 Dec: “Peace, Security and Development are the three key achievements of the present Government in the 19 years that it has been in power. Innovative development and good governance have given us democratic dividends which will help us collectively realize our dream for Sikkim,” said Chief Minister Pawan Chamling today while addressing the 19th anniversary of the Government Formation Day here at Manan Kendra today.
Apart from highlighting achievements and progress registered under the Sikkim Democratic Front government in the last 19 years, the CM also set out deadlines for officials to deliver a set of new schemes and commitments in remaining few months of the fourth term of his government in office.
The CM directed the Chief Secretary and the Department of Personnel to submit a detailed report to finalise the list of unemployed youth by 15 January 2014 to facilitate timely release of allowance for unemployed youth of the State.
The CS and Department of Personnel were also directed to finalise paperwork for regularisation of Worked-Charged, Temporary and Master Roll employees who have been in service for more than ten years. This also needs to be completed by 15 January, he directed. If completed in time, the State Government can take it up with the Planning Commission for the meeting scheduled for January 2014, he informed. The paperwork for regularization of services of temporary workers who have been in service for more than 15 years is already being processed at the Departmental level.
The CM also announced today that post-Matriculation scholarship for Sikkim students wqill now also been extended to the State’s Other Backward Classes [Newar, Bahun and Chettri] at par with similar scholarship already being extened to ST, SC, and MBC communities in Sikkim.
He further informed that the State government has taken a policy decision to extend popular schemes such as GCI sheets to construct houses, house upgradation assistance of up to Rs. 20,000, induction cooking stove along with other benefits to also cover all people on the voter list in rural areas. These facilities will be released during the Janta Mela scheduled to be held in January next month.
He further assured that the salaries and allowances of the Panchayats will soon be doubled. Further, compensation and ex-gratia to labourers will be increased by 25%, allowances to physically challenged students would be increased by 25%, and also announced post-matric scholarship to students belonging to OBC category. Further, unemployed youth starting a private venture could avail of 50% subsidy, he informed.
The Chief Minister directed the concerned department to propose the beautification of Rongli Bazaar and instructed the HRD Department to arrange for the shifting of Rongli School as demanded by the people of the area during his recent visit. Further, the Chief Minister announced the launching of vaccination for Cervical Cancer from January 2014.
Extending his best wishes to his cabinet colleagues, MLAs and officers of the Government, the Chief Minister highlighted all the major achievements of the Government and attributed the progress and positive image of the State to stable political leadership and good governance.
He further stated that the Government has been successful in taking opportunities to the villages through various schemes, which has helped bridge the rural-urban economic divide. This, he said, was also possible through power devolution and decentralisation and concentration of over 70% budget on rural development. The Chief Minister also informed that 1,130 landless families have benefitted from the Land Bank Scheme of the Government. He called on his political colleagues and officers from various departments to lend a human touch while serving the interest of the people.
The Chief Minister underlined the need for governance and administration to graduate from providing basic minimum needs to delivering qualitative services.
The media came in for some severe stick from the Chief Minister today as he railed against what he sees as intentional misrepresentation by a section of the media in Sikkim. He came into this topic by referring to the recent incident when his comments on the Companies Act 2012 were misquoted and misrepresented by some newspapers here.
Arguing that non-local journalists did not understand or care for Sikkim’s sensibilities, the CM announced today that he would counter such mischievous propaganda in all required forums – political, intellectual and legal.
The Chief Minister reiterated that the Government has preserved and embellished the identity and value of Sikkim Subjects and entities like Article 371F and the Land Revenue Order No. 1, thereby safeguarding the legal and ethnic rights of citizens. The Chief Minister also dismissed persistent allegations by certain sections over the status of Article 371F and urged the media to check dissemination of misconstrued news and establish positive journalism in Sikkim.
These misleading reports, he said, worked against public interest.
Further, Mr. Chamling dismissed media reports suggesting that Sikkim was deep in debt. He clarified that Sikkim has the lowest loan liability as compared to other States, and shared the Government's vision to make Sikkim a debt-free State by 2015.
The Chief Minister also released a coffee table book, “The Legacy Maker: Pawan Chamling’s Ideas that shaped Sikkim” by Yishey Doma and published by the Information & Public Relations Department.
Earlier, Chief Secretary R Ongmu, in her welcome note, highlighted the major achievements of the Government in the last 19 years.
MLA and Chief Whip of the Government, Ugen Gyatso Bhutia, in his brief address, cited Human Resource Development to be the greatest contribution of the SDF government. He further shed light on the achievements of the Government in the field of Social Development, Women’s Empowerment, Economic Development, Education sector, Agriculture sector and in the maintenance of secularism in the State.
Later the programme concluded with vote of thanks proposed by Secretary, IPR, CC Wangdi.

SFA begins tryouts to pick Santosh Trophy squad

GANGTOK, 12 Dec: Sikkim has begun putting together its team for the Santosh Trophy, for which it has also been chosen as the host state for the East Zone round. With the East Zone matches of the 68th edition of this prestigious tournament to be played at Paljor Stadium, SFA is keen to field a strong team. The East zone has West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Bihar, Jharkhand, the defending champions, Services, and the host team Sikkim.
Gearing up for the tournament, Sikkim Football Association today began conducting selection trials for the state team at Paljor Stadium. Around 40 players have been shortlisted from different clubs based on their performance in the S-League 2013. Out of these, 24 will be further shortlisted for the extensive preparatory coaching camp to be held under the designated coach, Suresh Mukhia, who is also a former Services player.
SFA president, BK Roka informs that the final squad of the state will be announced 15 days before the tournament after the final selection trial which will include Sikkim players who are outside the state. Key players from Sikkim like Uttam Rai, Nim Dorji Tamang, Khusen Mangar, Thupden Lachungpa and others are likely to attend the final trials.
As SFA is hosting the zonal championship for the first time, it is important that the home team performs well in the championship. It is further informed that as a part of the preparatory coaching camp the management will also explore the possibility of practice matches and exposure trips outside the state.
SFA has also invited sponsorship for the coaching camp to help shape the team and improve its performance in the championship.


GANGTOK, 12 Dec: Sikkim Football Association is hosting the East Zone round of the 68th edition of the prestigious National Football Championship for the Santosh Trophy for the first time in the state from 26 to 31 January here at Paljor Stadium next year. The East zone has teams from West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Bihar, Jharkhand, defending champion Services and the host team Sikkim.
This year the championship is being held in two phases. The zonal matches will be starting from 26 January at the respective zones and the final phase will be played at Siliguri in West Bengal. The other zones are Goa for West, Tamil Nadu for South, Delhi for North, Mizoram for North-East and Sikkim for East.
Addressing a press conference today, SFA general secretary, Menla Ethenpa informed that in the East zone, Sikkim has been placed with defending champion Services and Jharkhand in pool A, while pool B has West Bengal, Odisha, Bihar and Chhattisgarh. He further informed that only the top team of each pool will move forward to the final round of the championship which will have the U-21 teams.
Mr Ethenpa mentioned that the opportunity to host the East zone has been given to SFA for its organizational capacity along with the passion for the game of football in the state and the availability of the state-of-the-art infrastructure for football at Gangtok. This is a historic milestone for the state and another feather in the state government’s cap, he added.
Speaking on Sikkim’s performance in this championship, Mr Ethenpa mentioned that the state team’s performance in this championship has not been very impressive so far since most of its talented players were signed up by big clubs and have been playing for other state teams. The state team has made it to the quarter-final round in its best performance so far.
Ideas Unlimited Sports Management Group [IUSMG], India, which is the marketing and management partner of SFA, is sponsoring kits for the state team for the championship. The official jersey of the state team for the championship was also released by the SFA president, BK Roka today.
IUSMG Chief Operations Officer, Sanjay Srivastav has also announced cash incentives to the state team as part of its youth development and motivational programme. He announced that the state team will be awarded Rs 25,000 if it reaches the semi-final round, Rs 50,000 for making it to the finals and Rs 1 lakh for winning the tourney. If the team reaches the quarter-final round then the two best players will be extended one-year scholarship of Rs 2,000 per month.

USFC to organize region’s biggest football fest this winter U-14 FOOTBALL TOURNEY AND U-16 FOOTBALL COACHING CAMPS IN SIKKIM AND NEIGHBOURING HILLS

GANGTOK, 12 Dec: United Sikkim Football Club [USFC] has announced the biggest football festival in Sikkim and the neighboring hills this winter to tap, groom and promote young footballers of the hills. Former Indian football skipper and the USFC CEO, Bhaichung Bhutia today announced that the club will organize U-14 Football Tournament and U-16 football coaching camps in Sikkim, Darjeeling and Kalimpong this winter.
USFC is organizing the U-14 Snow Lion Cup Football Tournament at Paljor Stadium for Sikkim, at St Joseph School ground for Darjeeling and Mela Ground for Kalimpong in December, which will have teams from football academies participating. The football tournament will be followed by month-long coaching camps in different places of West, South and North districts of the state and simultaneously at Kalimpong and Darjeeling as well from 08 January 2014 onwards.
Addressing a press conference today, Bhaichung mentioned that this would be the biggest football festival across the hills as more than 1,000 young children will be involved in this initiative. With this initiative, USFC hopes to reach out to rural pockets of the state and also to provide opportunity to young talented players and to engage them properly in the long winter gap, he added.
He thanked Thupden ‘Sir’ [Sports & Youth Affairs Deputy Director, Thupden Rapgyal], State Bank of India and Indian Football Foundation for supporting the initiative to promote young footballers from the hills.
Bhaichung informs that the winner of the U-14 Football tournament in each venue will be playing the final round and the winner will get cash prize of Rs 30,000 followed by Rs 20,000 to runners-up and Rs 10,000 to the second runners-up. The organizers are also providing transportation and fooding to the participating teams. The best 30 players of the tournament would be shortlisted for a separate month-long residential camp outside the state and would also be taken for exposure tours to play with the best football academies across the country.
Speaking on the U-16 coaching camp, Bhaichung mentioned that the main aim of the coaching camps is to tap, groom and promote young talented footballers mainly from the rural pockets. The participants would also be provided with kits and other required facilities.
“Not being in the I-League this time was like a blessing for the club as the club got time to focus on other things like working in rural Sikkim as there are many talented footballers in these areas waiting for an opportunity”, said Bhaichung.
Speaking further on the objective of the football festival, Bhaichung stated that the club wants to prepare young talents for the Under-17 World Cup football tournament to be organized in India in 2017. “If we can send at least two or three players for the India team to play the World Cup, it would be a big achievement for us,” he said further adding that USFC plans to turn this initiative into an annual feature.
Speaking on the technical aspects, Mr Rapgyal said that in the Sikkim leg of the U-14 Football Tournament has 11 teams. The tourney will be held from 14 to 16 December at Paljor Stadium. The participating teams are North District FA, Mangan, Sanju Pradhan Football Academy, Sombaria, Dzongu Football Academy, Boy’s Club FA, Sikkim Himalayan Sporting Club, Namthang Academy, Melli Dara Academy, GVSFA, Central Pendam, Gangtok Football Academy and JNV Pakyong.
In Darjeeling, the tournament will be held from 19 to 22 December with 12 teams while in Kalimpong the tourney will be held from 22 to 24 December also with 12 teams. The final round will be played by the end of this month. It is informed that a committee has also been formed to conduct the tournaments.

Two more suicides

GANGTOK, 12 Dec: Two suicides were reported on 11 December, one each from South and East districts.
A 35-year-old man, a resident of Rayong, Pipalay in South Sikkim, reportedly committed suicide by hanging when his family had gone to attend a wedding.
In the other incident, at Upper Aho basti, a 33-year-old man committed suicide, also by hanging. He had been missing since the morning of 11 December and his body was later found hanging from a tree.

Power Minister highlights development in Dzongu

DZONGU, 12 Dec: “Considered as one of the most remote and backward regions earlier, Dzongu has been rapidly developing ever since the SDF government came to power,” said Power Minister, Sonam Gyatso Lepcha while addressing a function here at Tingkyong in Lower Dzongu on 11 December. Mr. Lepcha further appealed to all the people to be united for the development of Dzongu.
Stating that Tingkyong is a holy place he appealed to all the people to preserve the place and its history. He added that the Chief Minister has ensured the protection of all religions in Sikkim. The Minister further lauded the people of Hee-Gyathang for declaring the GPU as an alcohol-free GPU. The state government has provided all schemes and benefits to people of all the 11 GPUs of Dzongu, he added.
The panchayat president of Hee-Gyathang GPU, Samroo Ugen Lepcha highlighted the demands related to the extension of Tingkyong public ground and construction of pavilion. Also on the day, the final match of the Tingkyong volleyball tournament was played between Hee-Gyathang Sr. Secondary School and Sangdong Gaon. Hee-Gyathang SSS won the match 3-0 lifting the trophy and cash prize.
In the evening, the grand finale of Tingkyong Idol was held where Tshering Gyampo Lepcha of CYC group Hee-Gyathang won the title. The evening’s function had Senior Scientist, Dr Sonam Rinchen Lepcha as a special guest.
Children from different schools also presented a colorful cultural programme. The function was welcomed by former zilla member, Norden Tshering Lepcha and ended with vote of thanks by committee member, Jorbu Lepcha.
Also present in the function were SDM Dzongu, Jigmee Bhutia, Principal Hee-Gyathang SSS, Dr. Subash Dhakal, panchayat and zilla members and people from all walks of life.

Soreng School celebrates Annual Day

GANGTOK, 12 Dec: Government Senior Secondary School, Soreng organized its Annual Day function on 10 December here at the School Auditorium.
Deputy Director for HR&DD, PS Subba who chaired the function as the chief guest distributed prizes to students. The chief guest was accompanied by the SDPO, Soreng, Dr. TN Gyatso, Zilla Panchayats, and Principal, Narayan Basnet.
During the function, the school also felicitated Uttam Rai of Chumbung [West Sikkim] for his contributions in the field of football. At present, Rai is in the Under-19 India team, and has also represented U-16 India team.
Addressing the gathering, the chief guest urged the students to focus on both academics and sports. He also expressed gratitude towards Uttam Rai for making the state proud and wished him luck in all his future endeavours.
Ganga Ram Chhetri of Class XII was declared the Best Athlete of the Year while Divya Thapa of Class XII was declared the School Idol.

Rapid Social Audit on MGNREGA held for Sirwani Tshalamthang and Tumin GPUs

SINGTAM, 12 Dec: Rapid Social Audit as pair model on MGNREGA for Sirwani Tshalamthang GPU under Khamdong GVK and Tumin GPU under Rakdong Tintek GVK of East Sikkim was held from 05 to 09 December. The audit was facilitated by District Resource Institute for East Sikkim, Youth Development Society of Sikkim (YODESS). On first two days, document verification was carried out by the District Resource Persons, DRI representative and state resource person along with Joint Director SAU and on 07 December, field visit were undertaken.
Jan Sunwai on the findings was held for both GPUs on 09 December at the respective gram prasashan kendras. The Sirwani Tshlamthang GPU Jan Sunwai was chaired by a senior citizen Man Maya Khati while at Tumin GPU, it was chaired by Zilla Panchayat Hem Raj Adhikari, a press release informs.
Presentations were held on 13 MGNREGA works at Sirwani Tshlamthang and 11 undertaken at Tumin GPU.
ADC (Development), Dr. AB Karki, attended the Jan Sunwai at Sirwani Tshalamthang while Betty Subedi, ADPC East, attended the Tumin GPU meet. Twenty issues were raised at the Sirwani Tshalamthang jan sunwai and 15 in Tumin GPU.
Rapid Social Audit as pair model on MGNREGA of Sumin Lingey GPU under Rakdong-Tintek GVK and Khamdong GPU under Khamdong GVK of East Sikkim in turn began on 11 December and is scheduled to conclude with a Jan Sunwai on 16 December, it is informed.

SKM student’s wing to rally against CM’s comments

GANGTOK, 12 Dec: Sikkim Krantikari Morcha’s student wing, Sikkim Krantikari Vidhyarthi Morcha, has announced plans to take out a protest rally in Gangtok on 14 December from Deorali stand to Zero Point near Directorate of Handicrafts and Handlooms.
In a press release, SKVM chief convenor, Dr. Michung Bhutia, informs that the rally is being taken out to protest the frequent tagging of SKM youth as “druggists” and “rowdies” by the Chief Minister.
The decision was taken at a meeting held today at the SKM headquarters, he informs.
Dr. Bhutia underlines that the Vidhyarthi Morcha “will not tolerate” such irresponsible comments that lower the dignity of the youth of the state. Dr. Bhutia has urged all the students and youths of the state to join the protest rally.

Red Ribbon Carnival to play at MG Marg next week

GANGTOK, 12 Dec: Governor Shriniwas Patil is scheduled to inaugurate the third edition of Red Fest, christened Red Ribbon Carnival 2013 under the Multi Media Campaign (MMC) of the AIDS awareness drive at MG Marg on 19 December next week.
The two-day campaign that will be held at different venues along MG Marg here and is sponsored by Sikkim State AIDS Control Society (SSACS) and organized by Recovering Users Network (RUN). The annual event is being supported by various NGOs and other social and faith-based organizations including LIFE “Living Free” Society and SNP+.
“Red Ribbon Carnival 2013 will have a heavy dose of entertainment mixed with awareness for everyone. Unlike earlier when Red Fest was organized basically targeting the youth population, this year’s two-day event has something for all age-groups,” informed SSACS Project Director, Dr. Uttam Pradhan today.
The Project Director, while explaining that the event this year includes activities that will appeal to all ages and generations, stated that Red Ribbon Carnival 2013 is being organized under the second phase of the fourth edition of MMC.
The first phase as informed has been completed with Red Ribbon Clubs in the various government schools already organizing attractive programmes and conducting intervention and interactive awareness meetings in 210 schools across the state.
“Spreading the message of an HIV/AIDS free society and the ill effects of drug addiction has been the sole aim of the MMC and with time we have developed tailored programmes for the different targeted groups in the state. This year the event has been designed to involve all sections of society who will also participate in the campaign by representing their respective organizations,” stated the Project Director.
On 19 November the Governor will inaugurate the programme by flagging off a car rally from the tourist information centre where a special programme will also be held. The programme will see musical performances by bands like Tribal Rain from Namchi, the Sikkim Police Eagle Band, the Sikkim Police Orchestra and the EPCS Choir. From here, the Governor will proceed towards Star Hall where a slogan writing and a sit-and-draw competition on the theme of HIV/AIDS will be organised.
All along MG Marg, different activities such as theatre and drama, food stalls along with musical extravaganzas will be held throughout the day. Blood donation camps, voluntary testing facilities, bouncing castle for young children and free counseling activities will also be organized at the venue itself.
On 20 December, the day’s programme will include drama presentation by Dashartik Sangh, Gelling, West Sikkim and Sikkim Lepcha Youth Association. The programme will also have dance presentations by BRSTP, Namchi and Funky HOP Crew, Gangtok.
The evening’s programme which will be the highlight of the two-day event will have performances by B-Tunes (finalists Red Fest II), Half Past XII, Nightmares (winners Red Fest) and by Northeast’s legendary rocker, Lou Majau.

Cash subsidy handed over to Ramom dairy farmers

GANGTOK, 12 Dec: North District Co-operative Milk Producers’ Union Ltd. Handed over cash subsidy to 20 dairy farmers of Ramom milk producers’ co-operative society on 10 December at the District Veterinary Hospital. The North Zilla Upadhyaksha NT Lepcha was present as chief guest.
The function was also attended by SDM Mangan, Joint Registrar Co-operative department, Joint Director North [AH, LF&VS department, MD NDMU and officers from AH, LF&VS department and NDMU]. The Panchayat vice president, Ramom also attended the programme.
During the program, resource person Dr. CP Rai imparted training and made the farmers aware on clean milk production at farm level. The dairy farmers present were handed over dairy inputs and cash subsidy amounting to Rs.10,000 each by the chief guest.
The chief guest in his address appealed to the farmers to maintain hygiene and produce high quality milk at the farm level to fetch good prices for the milk produced by each farmer. The SDM Mangan also urged farmers to take up dairy farming as alternative source of income generation and appealed to the farmers to adopt hygienic techniques in milk production.
The Managing Director, NDMU spoke on the need for clean milk production and assured that North District Milk Union will adopt multi-pronged approach to cover every dairy co-operative society by involving milk producers in North District.
The programme was also addressed by vice president Ramom-Shipgyer G.P.U. wherein, she appealed to all the farmers to take advantage of such awareness programmes and also expressed her gratitude for the benefit provided to the farmers of Ramom area.
The programme concluded with vote of thanks by General Manager, North District Co-operative Milk Union.

Kerabari JHS lifts Futsal Winter Championship at home

MELLI KERABARI, 12 Dec:  The finals of the “Futsal Winter Championship”, organized by Indreni Club of Kerabari, was held at Melli-Kerabari playground today. The tournament kicked off on 06 Dec and was played on the “Tiger-V” format.
The final match was played between Sky Band and Kerabari JHS which the latter team won 03-02 to clinch the trophy. An exhibition match was held between Kerabari Super Moms and School Girls.
NB Pradhan, a popular social worker and entrepreneur of Melli Dara Paiyong GPU, was present as chief guest. The final match attracted a huge gathering.
Ward Panchayat Padam Cintury, while delivering the welcome speech, highlighted the example of successful players like Bhaichung Bhutia and Nirmal Chettri and encouraged the local players to take inspiration from the struggle and commitment.
The chief guest appreciated the effort put in by the Indreni Club to organize such a lively event and lauded the people of Kerabari for their unity and harmony.

Annual Day function at Kids Foundation School

MANGAN, 12 Dec:  Kids Foundation School Namok in North Sikkim celebrated is annual day on 10 December. Parent’s Day was also celebrated on the day.  Assistant Director, HRDD Mangan, BAC North, PR Dulal was the chief guest of the function and PGT Hindi from Phodong Sr Sec School, Sonam Ongmu Bhutia was the guest of honour.
The programme was attended by all the parents, panchayat members and local gentries, staff and students of different schools of Namok. The children of Kids Foundation School presented various colourful cultural programmes, skits, extempore speech and the popular bamboo dance of Manipur to entertain the gathering.
Sonam Ongmu Bhutia was felicitated by the chief guest, Principal and the parents for being the first person from North District to receive a PhD in Hindi from Banasthali Vidhyapeeth Rajasthan in the year 2011.
In her address, she highlighted the importance of education and other co-curricular activities for the all-round development of students and the importance of Hindi as well. Leong Lepcha and Enameul Mar of class IV and Tenzing Norbu Sherpa were awarded certificates for academic excellence.
Certificates and prizes were also given for sports, attendance and culture, etc.

Farmers trained on management of Giant African Snail

GANGTOK, 12 Dec: A day-long training and demonstration programme on Management of Giant African Snail was conducted by Integrated Pest Management, (IPM) team of State Bio-Control Lab, Tadong on 09 December at Manglee and Gagyoung GPU, South Sikkim.
A press release informs that around 100 farmers of Manglee and Gagyoung and nearby villages along with the field functionaries of the FS&ADD and HCCDD, Panchayat of Gagyoung, Sripatam, Namphok and Manglee attended the training programme.
Farmers were trained on clean and healthy management of Giant African Snail and its damage and control measures under IPM strategy. They were informed about Integrated Pest Management concepts for Pest and Disease Management in Citrus Fruits and collection methods through Trapping of Giant African Snail. Demonstration of know-how of various bio-pesticides and botanical pesticides against various diseases and pests of Citrus plantation was also part of the training, the release mentions.

East District Youth Intervention prog for AIDS awareness completes round of 84 schools

SINGTAM, 12 Dec: Youth Intervention HIV/AIDS awareness program for East district concluded today special sessions at Bhasmay Junior High School and Rhenock Khamdong JHS. The awareness programme, initiated by Sikkim State AIDS Control Society, has been carried out in all four districts of the State. In East Sikkim, Red Ribbon Club Badhaichha Creation, the “campaign host”, has been making the round of schools since 24 September. With its conclusion, the drive covered 84 schools in the east Sikkim.
The program today was attended by the Headmasters, school staff and students of both the schools. Praveen Pradhan, president RRC Badhaichha Creation, and Pramod Pradhan, associate member, conducted the awareness program, it is informed.
The awareness program included interactive sessions on substance abuse, life skills, STD, depression, early child marriage and related themes. The students were drawn in with games and quiz sessions during which they were inspired towards an optimistic approach to life. [from SHITAL PRADHAN]

Tourism hits dry winter season ANAND OBEROI

GANGTOK, 12 Dec: Tourist arrivals are running low this winter season. Although the winter months used to be dry tourist seasons earlier, arrivals had picked in the recent past and apart from the post-earthquake slump in 2011, had remained reasonably busy. This time, however, the sector is not seeing much business, also hit substantially by a slew of cancellations triggered by travel advisories issued by several countries advising their citizens to avoid travel around Darjeeling [this during the spike in the aandolan there earlier this year]. Although the situation has normalized, the lost business has not returned.
Tour operators in the capital inform that a majority of the cancelled bookings were from foreign clients. It is informed that during this time of the year, a travel agency handles at least 2 to 3 large groups of foreign tourists. This is not the case this season.
“The inflow of tourists has dropped to an all time low with just a smattering of domestic tourists holidaying in Sikkim this season. I had about three major bookings from foreign clients cancelled earlier this year. There are hardly any enquiries or bookings which is getting travel agents like us wondering,” said Yangchen T. Lepcha of Blue Sky Tours & Travels.
Adding that during this time last year, she had over 50 bookings, she points out that the slump was hitting stakeholders rather severely since the winter season had developed rather well in Sikkim.
“With almost 35-40 percent of the total tourism prospects depending on this particular season [Nov to Jan], the present scene paints a grim scenario. And if this continues then people like me who have invested so much into the hotel business in areas like Pelling could face problems,” adds Tashi from Environ Tours & Travels.
He also informs that the few tourists that one can see at MG Marg during the evenings are mostly “drop-in” travelers who usually do not require the services of the tour and travel operators.
According to travel operators usually during this period, hotels operate on 80 percent capacity; a far cry from the current scenario.
“Most of the hotels in premier destinations like Pelling are running dry at the moment and with no new bookings, the entire tourism industry is a worried lot. Service providers invest heavily prior to the tourist season expecting to recover the same [with profits] as the season progresses, but as of now the market is down,” informs Rishikesh a travel operator at MG Marg.
And it is not just the hotels and travel operators who are hurting because of the low tourist inflow this season. Taxi and mainline jeep operators point out the negative impacts that they will face if this trend continues. According to the vehicle owners and operators, on an average, 10 local taxis did business from one hotel during this time last year but this season, hotels are hardly giving business to 1 or 2 taxis a day.
It is also during this time that almost 500 jeeps made it to and fro from Nathula alone which has dropped to two-digit traffic per day now.
The various shops and business enterprises that cater specifically to tourists are also hard hit with the shops running empty and business down.
The main reason, stakeholders comment, for the low turnout of tourists this season are the travel advisories issued by the various foreign embassies to their citizens asking them to avoid the Darjeeling Hills because of the statehood agitation there. Apart from these strict advisories and warnings the ‘word of mouth’ within the tourism circuit to avoid these areas because of the tension and highway blockages also worked against Sikkim.
The state government in a move to inject some excitement into what is turning out to be a drab season, is organizing the Winter Carnival 2013 at Gangtok scheduled to be held from 22 to 24 December. The organizers are confident that the event will draw tourists in respectable numbers because of the various activities laid out as part of the festival and the aggressive promotion undertaken at travel trade marts across the country and abroad.
An official of the Tourism department states that the department believes that the Winter Carnival would be a very positive and welcome initiative for tourism promotion. The officer adds that an almost similar situation had developed last year and then turned around for the better with last year’s Winter Fest.
“We positively hope that more bookings will start coming and the almost dead market will start seeing tourist inflow. The agitation in neighboring Hills has definitely had its toll on the tourism industry but we are pretty sure that the passing days and the Winter Carnival will bring us back on track,” stated the officer.

Workshop underway on large cardamom production and post-harvest technology

GANGTOK, 12 Dec: The Nagaland Centre for Human Development & Information Technology [NCHD-IT], Centre, Nagaland in collaboration with Indian Cardamom Research Institute [ICRI], Regional Station, Spices Board, Sikkim is organizing a three-day National Workshop on Large Cardamom Production & Post Harvest Technology here in the ICRI, Spices Board premises, Tadong.
The workshop started on 11 December at CAU, Ranipool and will conclude on 13 December. The programme, sponsored by NABARD, has a total of 25 farmers from Nagaland participating.
The NCHT-IT is a Non-Governmental and Non-Profit Organization. The Centre pursues programmes and interventions, through independent action and networking in the major areas of entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial development, communication and information technology, training in social welfare and social development etc. This is for the second time that the NCHD-IT has conducted the workshop here in Sikkim where last year [December] they had organized a workshop on the “Learning Package and Practices on Cardamom”.
Addressing the second day of the workshop, Executive Director for NCHD-IT, Centre, Nagaland, PT Aienla Lemtor, who chaired the function as the chief guest, expressed her happiness at the support extended by ICRI for the workshop.
Speaking on the response of cardamom in Nagaland, Ms Lemtor said, “Over the past 10 years, cardamom is being produced in large quantities in Nagaland. It is more stable than paddy”.
On NCHD-IT, she informed that it intends to promote the role of information technology in human development. “It aims at enabling people to realize their full potential and empower them to execute programmes by thinking together, planning together and acting together”, she said.
She further appealed to Spices Board of Sikkim for continued support and coordination.
Earlier, the function was also addressed by Deputy Director [Research], ICRI, RS, Spices Board, Tadong, Dr. U Gupta where he spoke on the cardamom production technology and future prospects in Nagaland.
Similarly, Dean, CAE & PHT, CAU, Ranipool, Dr. PK Srivastava, NERAMAC, Tadong, PC Roy, and Scientist-D, Plant Pathology ICRI, RS, Spices Board, Tadong, Dr. AK Vijayan also addressed the function.
The function also saw presentations by scientists and interaction with farmers of Nagaland. The Nagaland farmers will be taken on a field visit to ICRI, Research farm at Pangthang on 13 December.

British Council’s World Voice Project workshop concludes

GANGTOK, 12 Dec [IPR]: British Council’s three-day workshop on its Pilot Project World Voice Project (WVP) which got underway on 09 December in Janta Bhawan concluded yesterday.
The workshop saw the participation of primary school teachers from most of the government schools and others along with primary students from various government schools from the capital.
During the valedictory function on the third day, Minister for Human Resource Development Department (HRDD) NK Pradhan was present as the chief guest, the Chief Secretary, R Ongmu as the guest of honour along with officials from HRDD.
Addressing the valedictory function Minister Mr. Pradhan expressed his gratitude towards the British Council and the organizers for coming up with such a nice training for teachers and students of primary level where the basic idea is to choose a popular song or music from the region and use it as a tool and an instrument for learning.
Music gives such a positive vibe that learning through songs and music will definitely be fun for the children while it is a potent instrument and tool for teachers, he said. Even though it may be a little difficult to teach various subjects through popular local songs or song from different countries or other parts of India, it can be used as a very good tool for teaching, he stressed.
The Chief Secretary expressed hope that the trainee teachers will take what they have learnt in this workshop back to their schools and try and replicate it. She also thanked the organizers for coming up with such a beautiful idea.
Guests were also entertained by the songs used as a tool to learn various languages like English, Senegalese, Pahadi [Himachal Pradesh] which were sung by the students who participated in the workshop.
The chief guest also presented mementos to the resource persons; Indrajit Grover, Subanghi Tiwari and Shivani Rawat.
The resource persons from the British Council expressed their utmost joy and happiness for having such a receptive set of trainees and added that it was a wonderful experience working with the teachers and students of Sikkim.

Sikkim Bihari Trade & Social Organsiation formed

GANGTOK, 12 Dec: A new organization of the Bihari community of Sikkim was formed today, a press release informs. Named “Sikkim Bihari Trade & Social Organisation”, the organisartion was formalized at Saramsa Garden, Ranipool, today at a function attended by around 300 people from all over the State.
The meeting was presided over by Bijay Gupta from Namchi, had Ram Pujan Singh [founder president & patron of Sikkim Bihari Jagran Manch] as chief guest and Baliram Prasad of Ranipool as special guest, the release informs.
An adhoc committee of the organization was formed with Jai Narayan Yadav of Daragaon as president, Bijay Gupta of Namchi as vice president, Usman Hussain of Pakyong and Anil Thakur of Namchi as vice presidents and Anand Prasad [Ranipool] as general secretary, it is informed.
The press release announcing the formation of the new organization explains that the need for another organization of the community was felt because the existing Sikkim Bihari Jagran Manch which was formed 19 years ago “has completely failed to discharge its duties and responsibilities”.

AJKS team calls on Union Minister for Social Justice

GANGTOK, 12 Dec: A team of Anushuchit Jati Kalyan Sangh [AJKS], Sikkim, called on the Union Minister of State, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Porika Balaram Naik, on 11 December at his residence in New Delhi.
An AJKS press release informs that the team comprised of chief convenor, Binay Gazmer, president, Gopal Mothey and Zilla Panchayat member of Khamdong, Bina Lamichaney. The team briefed the Union Minister about the developmental activities and social activities undertaken for the welfare of SC population in the state.
The team apprised Mr Naik of the status of the SC community in the state. There are around 28,000 members of the community enjoying peace and harmony with other communities of the state he was informed. The team further highlighted the achievements of the SC community and various benefits and schemes for the community in the state.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Siniolchu FC lifts 1st Dong FA Cup

NAMCHI, 11 Dec: Siniolchu Football Club of Namchi lifted the 1st Dong Football Association Cup today, beating Sports Authority of India, Namchi, in a tiebreaker. The keenly contested final match was playe at the Dong ground and eventually ended 07-06 in Siniolchu FC’s favour.
Earlier, regulation time had ended in a 1-1 draw with Sanjit Subba (jersey No. 07) of Sinolchu FC opening the scoring in the 18th minute and Suraj Rawat (11) of SAI-Namchi scoring the equaliser in the 55th minute.
Organised by Dong Football Association in collaboration with the School Management Committee of the Dong School, the final day had political advisor to the Chief Minister KN Rai in attendance accompanied by Labour Welfare Board chairperson Passang R Sherpa, Joint Director [Sports & Youth Affairs, S/W] Kamal Chettri, JD [HRD South] MK Rai, SDM Jorethang Tenzing Bhutia, BDO Jorethang GVA, Deepak Rai, and other officials from Jorethang and Namchi.
The winning team was awarded with the trophy and a cash prize of Rs. 50,000 while SAI Namchi received Rs. 30,000 in cash prize and the runners up trophy.
Laxuman Subba of Sinolchu FC was adjudged the man of the match while Suraj Rawat of SAI was chosen the man of the tournament. Kalimpong FC was given the award of fair play.
A musical concert was also organized in the evening.
A number of personalities were also felicitated by the association in recognition of their achievements in their respective fields of work and a colourful cultural presentation marked the closing of the tournament.

CUTE? Gangtokians are not used to simians among them. There was a period more than a decade back when a solitary langoor had stumbled into town and would ride on jeep bonnets and sometimes even pillion on two-wheelers. But that was solitary animal and even he passed away within months of being here. The HRD office at Tashiling always had a few monkeys prancing about, but the troop has grown substantially now and its beat extends to Hurhurey Dara down at Namnang. The HRD office already has grills and nets installed on its windows to keep the monkeys at bay but the troop turns mischievous often. No ‘serious incident’ has been reported yet, hence now would be the right time for whatever is the responsible agency to take some proactive initiative and work out an arrangement by which the presence of the troop of monkeys does not create a human-wildlife conflict. Once a conflict occurs, inhuman solutions can be expected. It will be in everyone’s interest if the issue is handled before it becomes a problem…

Woman dies of fall

GANGTOK, 11 Dec: A 50-year-old woman died after falling from a cliff in South Sikkim on 10 December.
The woman, a resident of Lower Hingdam, had gone to collect seasonal pulses [dal] from the field at around 6 in the morning and did not return home. When her sister went to search for her at around 10 a.m. she found her dead in a jhora. She had fallen around 300 feet down a cliff and had sustained head injuries which resulted in her death.

Midday Meal Cooks trained in North Sikkim

MANGAN, 11 Dec: A training for cooks and helpers of Mid Day Meal scheme in North district was organized by the Human Resource Development Department on 10 December. Around 55 MDM cooks and helpers attended the training.
Pema Choden Bhutia [Jt. Director, Social Welfare, Nutrition Cell], in her address, explained the scheme, the need for maintaining proper hygiene in the preparation of meals, ensuring proper nutrition, etc.
Sonam Choden [Asst. Director, Nutrition cell] spoke on the importance of proper nutrition for growing children.
PT Bhutia [MDM in-charge, Gangtok] informed that at present children upto class VIII are covered under the MDM scheme and the cost of a meal is Rs. 3.60 to Rs. 5 as per central government directions. The salary of cooks and helpers can be revised up to Rs. 2,000 per month from next year [Rs. 1,000 at present], he added.
Mr. Bhutia further informed that the problems and difficulties of MDM cooks and helpers have been placed with the central government by the state’s HRD department and will be resolved soon.  In Sikkim, total 63,000 children are provided meals everyday and total 1,800 cooks are engaged, he informed.
Sonam Lepcha [Joint Director, HRDD], in his address stated in the North district most of the cooks cum helpers are women which is good since they know the needs of a child better. He further highlighted that theirs is a very important task.
“We all have to focus on use of safe drinking water provision for them and very soon the officers from Social Welfare department’s Nutrition cell will visit kitchens of MDM for observation and proper direction on preparation of MDM. Meals should be provided for at least 220 days per session to at least 85% of children”, he informed.
The programme concluded with vote of thanks by TN Lepcha [MDM, In-charge North]. Also present was Anand Pradhan [Coordinator, HRDD North] and S Lepcha [Asst. Director, HRDD, BAC].

Deptt organizes demo of power tillers and other implements for farmers

GANGTOK, 11 Dec: The Department of Food Security and Agriculture Development has invited some companies to give trials of the modern power tiller machines manufactured by them. In this connection, Farm and Garden Technologies Pvt. Ltd. (FARMTEK) gave a demonstration of the tiller machine and other agricultural machines manufactured by it at Salangthang, Ranka, here on 09 December.
An official press release informs that this was part of the Department’s efforts at introducing farmers in the State to efficient and user-friendly tiller machines and other useful agricultural machines.
The Salangthang demonstration was held in the presence of Chairman, Farmers’ Welfare Board, DN Sapkota, SE [FA&ADD] JK Chettri, Executive Engineers P. Dorjee and Songmit Lepcha, Inspector and Field Functionaries along with the Panchayat and the farmers of Salangthang, Ranka, East Sikkim. The demonstration was held in the field of  Bhim  Bahadur Thapa of Salangthang, Ranka,
While conducting the programme, executive engineer P. Dorjee explained that the department wants to provide a farmer-friendly tiller machine and other useful agricultural equipment for Self Help Groups, (SHG) or Progressive Farmer Groups. In this regard, he invited the farmer to test the machines offered for demonstration and then recommend which machines the department should purchase and distribute to farmer groups.
He also informed that the larger agricultural machines like Tiller Machines will be distributed to a Self Help Group or to Progressive Farmer Groups and the smaller machines like Chap Cutters and Tools will be distributed to interested and progressive individuals.
Mr. Sapkota, Chairman, Farmers’ Welfare Board, in his address, highlighted the different schemes of the state government.

Sikkim Veterinary Assoc elects executive body

GANGTOK, 11 Dec: The results of the election for the executive body of the Sikkim Veterinary Association  [SVA] for the period 2013-15 were declared on 06 December by the election commissioner for the SVA, NT Lepcha. An SVA press release issued by publicity secretary, Dr Sanjay M Gajmer informs that the six-member executive body was elected uncontested.
The executive body has Dr Nima T Bhutia as president, Dr Madan KS Shanker as vice-president, Dr DS Tiwari as general secretary, Dr GS Sharma joint general secretary, Dr Sanjay M Gajmer as publicity secretary and Dr Durga P Pradhan as treasurer.
“All the Veterinarians of the state congratulate them and have wished them luck”, the release adds.

Corrective surgery camp concludes at STNM Hospital

GANGTOK, 11 Dec: The valedictory function of the five-day Free Surgery Camp organized by the Sikkim Vikalang Sahayata Samity [SVSS] in collaboration with Health Department & Smile Train of India was held here in the SVSS Office, Zero Point today.
Addressing the valedictory function, Minister cum Chief Patron for SVSS, NK Pradhan, who chaired the function as the chief guest said, “We should all to contribute towards SVSS to heal patients because it will bring happiness in our lives as well”. The Minister expressed gratitude to the medical team from Agra for their contribution towards SVSS till now and also expressed hope that their support will continue in days to come.
President SVSS, Dropadi Ghimerey also addressed the function which was attended by members of SVSS along with medical team from Saraswat Hospital, Agra as well.
It was informed that a total of 55 patients of Cleft lip and palate and burn cases have been registered till now.
A two-day screening camp on Neuropedic and Orthopedic ailments began here at the SVSS Office, Zero Point today where the doctors from Agra accompanied by three technicians will screen patients. A total of 56 patients were registered for the screening camp today.

Three suicides in West Sikkim

GANGTOK, 11 Dec: Three suicides were reported on 10 December in West Sikkim. A 36-year-old man, hailing from West Bengal and at present residing at Nasa under Rumbuk GPU, committed suicide by hanging from a tree in the Nasa forest. He had been missing since 09 December. A resident of Barfok and another of Mazgaon also committed suicide by hanging.

Sombaria School debates adolescent health

GANGTOK, 11 Dec: A debate competition was held at Sombaria Senior Secondary School organised by Sombaria PHC under the aegis of MO In-charge, Dr BK Chauhan. A press release informs that the students debated on the topic ‘Is adolescent health a priority?’. The speakers for the motion emerged victorious and the participants were presented with cash prizes.
The function also saw a sensitization programme on adolescent health and general awareness was given to students by the Police department. Sombaria Police Station PI, Mahindra Pradhan, Dr. BKChauhan and field facilitator GVK Daramdin were the main speakers, the release mentions.
The programme was chaired by the principal of the school, RKPandey and staff.

SKM forms block and ward-level committees

GANGTOK, 11 Dec: Sikkim Krantikari Morcha [SKM] held a meeting at its Lall Bazaar office under Arithang constituency under the chairmanship of the constituency in-charge of the party, KJ Paljor today. The meeting, which was attended by East district advisor, NK Gurung and East district vice-convener, IK Gurung and party workers, discussed on strengthening the party further and also formed a block-level committee.
An SKM press release informs that the committee has Karma Bhutia as president, Ruben Subba and Tashi Subba as vice-presidents, Gyamtso Tamang and Ganesh Tamang as general secretaries and Dorji Bhutia and Naren Subba as organization secretaries.
Another ward level committee for Rolep-Chungthang ward under Gnathang constituency was also formed during a meeting on 10 December. The people of the area accused the ruling government of misusing funds that are meant for the poor people and extended their full support to the SKM party, the release claims.

Posakey Primary School holds Annual Function

GANGTOK, 11 Dec: Posakey Primary School, East Sikkim organised its Annual Function at the school premises on 10 December. The programme was attended by area MLA, Puran Gurung as the chief guest and  Zilla Adhakshya, East District Zilla Panchayat, Bimal Dawari as a the guest of honour.
A press release informs that during the function Headmaster Posakey PS, Amrit Thakuri presented the annual report of the school in brief. Three teachers of the school NK Pradhan, Lalit Kr. Sharma and Champa Sharma were felicitated by the School Managing Committee for their contribution towards the development of the school and its students. The SMC also felicitated Manisha Thakuri of Sudunglakha, East Sikkim who was awarded with the Dr. Januka Rama Rao Gold Medal for M.Phil in English Literature by the Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning Andhra Pradesh on 22 November.
The school family also felicitated CRC Coordinator of Regu BAC, KP Dawari for his immense contribution towards the development of the school by highlighting the activities of the school through media, the release mentions.
Addressing the gathering, Zilla Adhakshya Bimal Dawari assured to fulfil the demand for construction of toilet, desks and benches and drinking water supply placed by the Headmaster of the school.
Area MLA, Puran Gurung congratulated the school’s Headmaster for receiving the National Teachers’ Award in 2012 and also for the selection of two of its students for the CM’s Meritorious Scholarship scheme, it is added. He also informed about various developmental plans for the development of Posakey Village.
Prizes and certificates were handed over by the chief guest and other guests to student achievers of the 2013 academic session.  

AOSS welcomes BLPF resolution

GANGTOK, 11 Dec: The Association of Old Settlers of Sikkim [AOSS] has welcomed the resolution adopted by the Bhutia Lepcha Protection Force [BLPF] at its national convention on 08 December in support of granting socioeconomic and political rights to the old settlers.
In a press release, the association’s president, RC Mundra has congratulated BLPF for successfully conducting the national convention.
“Further, we look forward to have your continuous support and cooperation in achieving our rights in future and we hereby also assure you of our full support on the issues of protection of rights of the Bhutias and Lepchas of Sikkim being espoused by BLPF and we extend our full cooperation to the same,” states Mr. Mundra.
“The convention will prove to be a milestone in preserving the unity, peace, tranquility and brotherhood among different communities of Sikkim,” he adds.

Midday Meal Scheme evaluation report highlights scopes for improvement WANGCHUK BHUTIA

MANGAN, 11 Dec: The Mid-Day Meal scheme is the world’s largest school feeding programme reaching out to about 12 crore children in over 12.65 lakh schools across the country. Since, the government is spending huge amounts of money for the day’s meal for the children to ensurethat children get at least one nutritious meal a day when they attend school as some children come from far flung areas.This has been helping the children especially who travel long distances to reach school.
According to the external monitoring and evaluation report 2013-14 North and East District of Sikkim prepared by the Himalayan Educational Society, the scheme has been running smoothly in the Upper Primary Level schools while there are some issues of concern at the Secondary and Senior Secondary level.
The report reveals that some of the schools serve poor quality of meals with most of it going to waste as children refuse to eat such food. Some of the kitchens were also found to be unhygienic. According to the children, they are mostly served pumpkin or squash [iskus] which they are not fond of since it is regularly cooked at home as well. The locally grown vegetables come cheaper and are freely available. Understandably, some of the students complained of the menu being monotonous while others also complained of the meals not being cooked properly.
In some schools it was found that the meals were not prepared at all due to the absence of the cook even as the norms lay down that a school must have two cooks and an assistant if the school has more than 100 children.
On the other hand, there are many schools that are providing quality meals to children which hashelped in enhancing the daily attendance of children.
The performance of the scheme in the North district’s 85 schools and 18 monastic schools was found to be average. Due to the difficult terrain of the area, it is difficult to reach rice stocks to the schools and transportation costs also run high as some of them are located in remote corners.
The report also states that in most schools, the MDM scheme is being run by the head of the institution instead of an SHG or NGO. Delay in payment of honorarium is the reason behind SHGs or NGOs hesitating to take up the scheme, it is mentioned.
It further reveals that some of the school heads still lack proper awareness on the concept and implementation of the scheme.
While the rice is supplied by the department, the cooking agencies buy other items for the meal. Most of the meals are cooked on firewood as found in several schools in a two-room kitchen shed constructed under SSA grants since refilling LPG cylinders is consumes a lot of time and effort owing to the recently launched KYC system.
Some schools in North Sikkim namely, Ringhim Junior High School, Sangtok JHS, Chawang JHS and RangRang JHS were found serving excellent meals to the children.
Some schools in the district namely, Ringhim Junior High School, Sangtok JHS, Chawang JHS and RangRang JHS were found serving excellent meals to the children. The midday meal scheme has also eased off some load from parents who say that it is a great help to them since they don’t have to reach meals to their children in schools.
Many heads of institutions have welcomed the monitoring of the MDM scheme and stated that this could help them correct mistakes and improve the implementation.
In East District there are a total of 232 schools and 31 monastic schools enlisted with HRDD for which the Mid-Day meal scheme is being provided.
It may be mentioned here that Mid Day Meal in schools has had a long history in India. In 1925, a Mid Day Meal Programme was introduced for disadvantaged children in Madras Municipal Corporation. By the mid 1980s three States viz. Gujarat, Kerala and Tamil Nadu and the UT of Pondicherry had universalized a cooked Mid Day Meal Programme with their own resources for children studying at the primary stage By 1990-91 the number of States implementing the mid day meal programme with their own resources on a universal or a large scale had increased to twelve states.
In September 2004 the scheme was revised to provide cooked mid day meal with 300 calories and 8-12 grams of protein to all children studying in classes I – V in Government and aided schools and EGS/ AIE centres. In addition to free supply of food grains, the revised scheme provided Central Assistance for (a) Cooking cost @ Re 1 per child per school day, (b) Transport subsidy was raised from the earlier maximum of Rs 50 per quintal to Rs. 100 per quintal for special category states, and Rs 75 per quintal for other states, (c) Management, monitoring and evaluation costs @ 2% of the cost of foodgrains, transport subsidy and cooking assistance, (d) Provision of mid day meal during summer vacation in drought affected areas.
In July 2006 the scheme was further revised to provide assistance for cooking cost at the rate of (a) Rs 1.80 per child/school day for States in the North Eastern Region, provided the NER States contribute Rs 0.20 per child/school day, and (b) Rs 1.50 per child/ school day for other States and UTs, provided that these States and UTs contribute Rs 0.50 per child/school day.
In October 2007, the scheme has been further revised to cover children in upper primary (classes VI to VIII) initially in 3479 Educationally Backwards Blocks (EBBs). Around 1.7 crore upper primary children were included by this expansion of the scheme. From 2008-09 i.ew.e.f 1st April, 2008, the programme covers all children studying in Government, Local Body and Government-aided primary and upper primary schools and the EGS/AIE centres across the country. The calorific value of a mid-day meal at upper primary stage has been fixed at a minimum of 700 calories and 20 grams of protein by providing 150 grams of food grains (rice/wheat) per child/school day.
During the year 2009 the following changes have been made to improve the implementation of the scheme:-
Food norms have been revised to ensure balanced and nutritious diet to children of upper primary group by increasing the quantity of pulses from 25 to 30 grams, vegetables from 65 to 75 grams and by decreasing the quantity of oil and fat from 10 grams to 7.5 grams.
However, the Cooking cost (excluding the labour and administrative charges) has been revised from Rs.1.68 to toRs. 2.50 for primary and from Rs. 2.20 to Rs. 3.75 for upper primary children from 1.12.2009 to facilitate serving meal to eligible children in prescribed quantity and of good quality .The cooking cost for primary is Rs. 2.69 per child per day and Rs. 4.03 for upper primary children from 1.4.2010.The cooking cost will be revised by 7.5% from 1.4.2011.
The honorarium for cooks and helpers was paid from the labour and other administrative charges of Rs.0.40 per child per day provided under the cooking cost. In many cases the honorarium was so little that it became very difficult to engage manpower for cooking the meal. A Separate component for Payment of honorarium @ Rs.1000 per month per cook- cum-helper was introduced from 1.12.2009.Honorarium at the above prescribed rate is being paid to cook-cum-helper. Following norms for engagement of cook-cum-helper have been made.
One cook- cum-helper for schools up to 25 students. (ii) Two cooks-cum-helpers for schools with 26 to 100 students. (iii) One additional cook-cum-helper for every addition of upto 100 students.
Today, Midday Meal scheme is serving primary and upper primary school children in the entire country.

Lumsey JHS bids farewell to Cl VIII students

GANGTOK, 11 Dec: Government Junior High School, Lumsey, 5th Mile Tadong, organised a grand farewell programme for the first batch of class VIII students passing out successfully from the school.
A press release informs that the Headmistress, TD Venchungpa in her address wished the students a bright future and asked them to remain focused on their studies to face greater challenges ahead.
GT English, KL Bhutia, the class teacher advised the outgoing students to be extra careful with their studies while another senior teacher, IK Dahal assured all possible help to the students. GT Maths, Ranu Rai also wished the students luck for their future.
Students of junior classes presented a cultural programme on the day which was also attended by the School Managing Committee representative, Shamsher Subba, it is added.

Jan Sunwai on MGNREGA at Kitam-Manpur

GANGTOK, 11 Dec: In order to ensure accountability and transparency in MGNREGA works, a Jan Sunwai under Social Auditing for Kitam-Manpur GPU under Namchi GVK was convened today at Kitam Secondary School premises. The programme was organised by Pacific Club of Manglee which is the District Resource Institution and was chaired by Zilla Panchayat Member of Kitam-Manpur ZTC, KN Pradhan.
A press release informs that the programme began with a welcome address by President of the GPU, Savitri Chettri. The District Resource Persons [DRPs] highlighted the objectives of the hearing and presentation of works under MGNREGA for the year 2011-12 and 2012-13. The stakeholders participated in the hearing and also pointed out some irregularities such as non-receipt of some materials.
The hearing revealed some imbalance in the proportion of sand and cement supplied for some works and royalty of sand and stone not being included in the bills and as such directed the implementing authority to pay royalty to the Forest Department.
It was also revealed that Public Information Board for some works was not displayed at worksite, the release mentions.
The DRPs made some suggestions with regard to record keeping and documentation and urged the Mates and Panchayats to take photographs of worksite before and during the commencement and after completion of work, maintain site book and inspection register, filling up of Muster Roll in the worksite and sign material receipt slip after verification of materials actually received.
However, the hearing also recorded that the works implemented in the GPU was qualitative, it is added.
Panchayat President, Savitri Chettri informed that the GPU is newly created and accordingly Mates were freshly appointed and delivering their service without any training. GRS of another GPU has been given additional charge which had created some problems in keeping proper record of the works and materials, she added.
She said that this Jan Sunwai is the first one in the GPU and has brought to light the need for proper maintenance of records. GVA (In-charge) Milan Rai congratulated the stakeholders for a successful hearing and urged the workers to contribute work in proportion to wages and budget of the work to achieve the target.
ADC Development, Binu Gurung highlighted the essence of the Jan Sunwai and asserted that the concept of MGNREGA has changed now. It is not only about getting employment of 100 days but about the development and progress of the village and improvement and welfare of the society, she added.
Chairperson of the programme, KN Pradhan expressed that the objective of the Jan Sunwai is to provide benefits to people at the grass root level. Here he expressed his dissatisfaction over certain issues where he urged all to be more vigilant and informative.
The programme concluded with vote of thanks proposed by Panchayat member, Meera Pradhan. The Jan Sunwai was attended by Officials from GVK Namchi, SAU, DRI, Gram panchayats, Ex-panchayats, GRS, Mates and Job card holders of the GPU.

Coordination meeting under Sikkim Organic Mission held at Majhitar

GANGTOK, 11 Dec: A coordination meeting between Sikkim Organic Mission, FS & ADD, Government of Sikkim and service provider agency namely International Panaacea Ltd, SRESTA and SIMFED under the Chairmanship of Deputy Director, FS& ADD, JN Giri was held on Tuesday.
A press release informs that in the morning session, representative from Excel Crop Care, Ranjan Singh highlighted the benefits of ‘Madhyan’, a bio fertilizer. He demonstrated the method of preparation and explained its use to the farmers.
In the afternoon session, Head of the Department from International Panaacea Limited, Dr. Ranvir Singh gave a power presentation on ‘Sustainable Organic Input Production Management & their Field Application’.
Mr. Singh highlighted the subjects of each and every input bio fertilizer and bio pesticide used in organic farming. In the hilly region, red ants are one of the major problems in the farmers field, it was informed. There are various types of bio pesticides for plant growth, nitrogen fixing, soil fertility management etc. which will be helpful for our farmers, he added.
At the end of the session Deputy Director, Mr Giri highlighted the importance of the coordination meeting between field functionaries of the department and the service provider agency, the release mentions. It helps to build capacity and helps the farmer community too because we all are working for the welfare and betterment of the farmer community, he said.
The date for the next coordination meeting will be intimated to the service providers later, he informed and thanked all the participants of the meeting.

BRO installs minor permanent bridge at Chitrey

GANGTOK, 11 Dec: Chief Engineer, Project Swastik of the Border Roads Organisation, SS Porwal, today dedicated a “minor permanent bridge” at Chitrey on the NH 31A [Km 29.6 on National Highway 10 (Old NH-31A)].
An official press release informs that officers, personnel and labourers of 764 BRTF and 87 RCC were present for the inauguration ceremony during which the Chief Engineer appreciated the hard work and dedication of all officers, personnel and labourers engaged in the bridge construction.
This bridge, the release informs, is situated between Tista and Melli bridges in West Bengal and one of the troublespots because the earlier bridge was narrow, allowing only one-way span at a time.
Mr. Porwal further informs that one more trouble spot, the Lepcha Jhora  Bailey Bridge between Tista Bridge and Melli was affecting smooth traffic flow and that the DPR for construction of a minor bridge ahead of this bridge has been sent to Ministry of Road Transport & Highways [MORTH].
Out of the 80 km stretch from Coronation Bridge to Ranipool, only 38 Km has been sanctioned by MORTH for improvement, out of which work is underway on 36 Kms, he informs.
Sanction for Balance 42 KMs and Rangpo Viaduct and Lohapul Viaduct are yet to be received from MORTH, he informs. Meanwhile, improvement of JNM Road (Nathula Road) has recommenced from Mile 18 and “all out efforts are underway to achieve maximum possible progress before snowfall” [the stretch between Shertahang Trade Mart to Nathula being accorded highest priority’, he informs further.
“The trouble spot at 9 Mile on JNM Road, which was very steep and causing lot of problems to all types of vehicles have already been improved in November and traders could take the loaded vehicles without any problem to Sherthang Mart. All officers/personnel of Project Swastik and 758 BRTF and 764 BRTF putting their best efforts to improve road infrastructure in Sikkim with all available resources and sanctions available,” the release concludes.

Bhim Dahal explains tags attached to SKM, counters allegations

GANGTOK, 11 Dec: The exchange of allegations and counter-allegations between the ruling Sikkim Democratic Front [SDF] and its former colleagues now in the Sikkim Krantikari Morcha [SKM] continues with the SDF today again refuting allegations leveled by SKM.
In a press release, SDF spokesperson, former Lok Sabha MP Bhim Dahal, begins by arguing that SKM’s protest/ condemnation of free laptop distribution programme “meant to enable students in this era of information technology”, reveals the selfish and self-serving nature of the party.
On allegations of a rise in the crime rate in the state during the SDF rule, he has alleged that SKM leaders and members have contributed substantially to the rise in crime in the state.
The release goes on to detail that SKM’s ‘undeclared leader’, PS Tamang [Golay] is the main accused in a corruption case regarding the distribution of milching cows in the state registered in 2003 and charge sheeted under Prevention of Corruption Act in a special court in 2009. This case being processed by the Vigilance Directorate, it may be recalled was registered on the directions of the High Court after a petition filed by Opposition leaders.
The release further names another SKM leader with a dacoity case registered against him in Ravangla Thana and another youth leader with a murder charge.
The release further names various other SKM members who have criminal cases lodged against them and alleges that almost all the high ranking members of SKM have been involved in antisocial and illegal activities. SDF has also accused SKM of masterminding attacks on SDF office-bearers, vehicle torching incidents and other anti-social activities.
Justifying its allegations on SKM of being a party of drug users, the release claims that two SKM members were recently arrested with a consignment of drugs worth more than Rs 50,000.
On SKM’s allegations regarding Article 371 F, the SDF spokesperson has suggested the party to seriously go through all laws and articles of the Constitution before making any comment on Article 371 F.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

High Court directs MoEF to notify eco-sensitive zones in Sikkim within 2 months

GANGTOK, 10 Dec: The High Court of Sikkim has directed that the Ministry of Environment and Forests issue a notification demarcating “eco-sensitive zones”, commonly known as buffer zones, within two months in Sikkim. In fact, the Union Ministry has been directed to issue a draft notification on the above mentioned matter within a month from today. This direction was issued in connection with a writ petition challenging the Tashiding hydel project in West Sikkim.
The division bench of the High Court comprising Acting Chief Justice NK Jain and Justice SP Wangdi came close to initiating contempt proceedings against the Ministry as the matter of notifying the eco sensitive zones has been pending for almost a year.
The matter is of significance to Sikkim as the Tashiding hydel project, apparently, and as also opined by the High Court, is presently in violation of Central government and Supreme Court guidelines on the matter and therefore, appears to be an illegal project. There is also the other aspect that the project developers as well as the State government are yet to get clearance from the National Board of Wildlife which is also under the MoEF.
As per the Supreme Court guidelines there can be no construction or undertaking within 10 km radius of any national park; the Tashiding HEP being developed by Shiga Energy has been found to be encroaching within the 10 km radius of the Khangchendzonga National Park and therefore in clear violation of this stipulation. However, given the topography and location of Sikkim and especially the fact that almost 80% of the state is under forest cover and part of one national park or the other, the State government has appealed that it would virtually be impossible to undertake any developmental project if this stipulation [of 10km buffer zone] was to be followed.
In response to this appeal, the MoEF had sought a proposal from the Sikkim government on what it thought would be an acceptable limit for demarcating a buffer zone. This proposal by the state government has already been submitted and the concerned ministry in the centre was to examine this proposal and then issue a relevant notification demarcating a buffer zone for Sikkim considering the local topography. The Union Ministry has issued a similar notification for the state of Goa in consideration of its small size. However, this has not yet come about for Sikkim and the MoEF has been found wanting of paying adequate attention and priority to Sikkim.
The Court also noted that this was an urgent matter and the Ministry should have decided on the matter and issued a notification by now. Central government counsel, Karma Thinlay submitted that the relevant officials in the Ministry were busy with the ongoing Parliament session. Present on behalf of the state respondents was Additional AG, JB Pradhan and for the petitioners, Zangpo Sherpa. The division bench decided to grant one month’s time for the issuance of a draft notification and another month for completion of all procedures and issuance of a final notification on the matter.
In the meanwhile the construction activity appears to be continuing at the project site. The High Court had earlier stated that this [work] would be at the risk of the project developer.

Sajong explores opportunities as Seed Village for Yellow Sarson

GANGTOK, 10 Dec: In an initiative introduced as “Farmers First” policy of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, the Krishi Vigyan Kendra here launched a “Farmers’ Participatory Seed Production Programme” for Yellow Sarson (var. B-9) at Sajong village of East Sikkim on 07 December, 2013.
40 kgs of certified seeds of yellow sarson was distributed to interested farmers on the day, an official press release informs. These 40 kilos can produce more than 40 quintals of quality seeds which will be an important step towards furthering the cause of organic farming, the release adds.
Initiating the programme Dr. JK Singh, SMS (Plant Breeding), KVK, East Sikkim, briefed the farmers about the concept of Seed Village for production of quality seeds to empower farmers through input-support system.
Chandan Kapoor, Scientist (Plant Breeding) ICAR, Sikkim Centre, in turn spoke on package and practices of quality seed production of yellow sarson. He emphasized on strict maintenance of isolation distance as the crop is highly cross-pollinated.
KD Bhutia, ex-Zilla Panchayat Member and the farmer representative of Samridhi Group responded positively on the newly set up “seed village concept” for quality seed production and expressed his gratitude to ICAR Sikkim Centre for selecting Sajong for the Seed village programme of Yellow sarson. He requested the farmers to follow the recommended technology for successful production of the quality seeds.
Boniface Lepcha, Programme Assistant (Soil Science), KVK, East Sikkim, briefed the gathering about the importance of the organic seeds production of agricultural and horticultural crops to enhance the seed replacement rate in the state.
The programme had Dr. RK Avasthe, Joint Director, ICAR Research Complex for NEH Region, Sikkim Centre, as chief guest. In his remarks, he urged farmers for production of quality seeds. He also visited the fields selected for the seed production programme.
Dr. N. Johnson Singh SMS (Plant Protection), KVK East Sikkim, ICAR Sikkim Centre coordinated the programme also interacted with the farmers on topics like pests and disease maintenance measures for yellow sarson. The programme ended with vote of thanks by Tejoshi Khawas, SRF, NICRA.

Annual Day celebrations at Yangang School

GANGTOK, 10 Dec: Yangang Senior Secondary School celebrated its Annual Day today at the newly constructed school auditorium hall. South Zilla Adhyaksha CL Gurung was present as the chief guest accompanied by Chairman of Industries Board, ST Gyaltsen, Panchayat members, officials from HRDD Department, SDM Yangang as special guests.
A press release informs that the day’s programme included cultural programmes, prize distribution, declaration of best student of the year, etc.
Susil Gurung from class X and Kisan Gurung from class XII were declared the best students of the year 2013. Similarly Bikash Subba of class IX who recently won a silver medal in an international Kick Boxing event held in Nepal was congratulated for his achievements, the release mentions.
Dechen Bhutia, a teacher at the School, highlighted the achievements and progress of the school in 2013 like Rural Sports meet held in August, students’ participation in events at the national and state level throughout the year.
Principal AD Chettri placed the demands for construction of dining hall and staff quarters in school premises before the department officials. Farewell was also given to outgoing students by presenting them with Khadas and souvenirs.
The chief guest briefed the students about various opportunities and schemes for students provided by the state government. Sikkim is the first state to distribute laptops to students even though the Uttar Pradesh government had declared a similar programme, it is yet to implement it, he said.
Various prizes were presented to outstanding students in different events organised throughout the year.The programme ended with a picnic organised by the school management for the students, the release adds.

Tibetans celebrate 24th anniv of Nobel Peace Prize for Dalai Lama

GANGTOK, 10 Dec: The Tibetan community gathered to observe the 24th anniversary of the conferment of the Nobel Peace Prize on the Dalai Lama and the World Human Rights Day today here at Chokasum, Namnang. The function, organized by Regional U-Tsang Association, Gangtok had Sangha MLA, Phitook Tshering Lama as the chief guest.
On 10 December 1989, the Dalai Lama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his consistent resistance to the use of violence in his people’s struggle for freedom. It has been mentioned that the Nobel Peace Prize to the Dalai Lama catapulted the Tibetan struggle to greater international visibility.
The function here started with the national anthems of Tibet and India followed by observance of a one-minute silence in the memory of lives lost to the string of self immolations within and outside Tibet and also on the passing away of Nelson Mandela, who, incidentally, is also a Nobel Peace Prize recipient.
The speech of the Tibetan Parliament in Exile and the Statement of the Kashag on the 24th anniversary of the conferment of the Nobel Peace Prize to the XIV Dalai Lama were read out on the occasion.
In his address, Mr Bhutia congratulated the gathering and further encouraged everyone to follow the Dalai Lama. He also mentioned that the state has always treated the Tibetan community well.
The function was also addressed by Regional U-Tsang Association, Gangtok president, Tshering Topgay. Cultural programmes were also presented on the day.

Learn Thangka painting at Bon and Buddhist Study Centre REBYNA RANA

GANGTOK, 10 Dec: Those interested in learning Thangka painting now have the opportunity to do so at the Bon and Buddhist Study Centre located near Tamang Gumpa here at Upper Sichey. The centre was set up around 3 months ago by 29-year-old Tenzing Wangda Lama [Tamang] who hails from Ravangla in South Sikkim. Apart from Thangka painting the centre also gives Tibetan language classes.
At the moment, Mr. Lama is giving lessons on Thangka painting to 10 students. There is one student from the United States, one from Darjeeling and the rest are from Sikkim.
Speaking to NOW!, he says, “Becoming a Thangka painter is not easy. It is really tough because one needs a lot of concentration and skill. These Thangkas served as important teaching tools depicting the life of the Buddha, various influential lamas and other deities and bodhisattvas. In fact, one subject is the wheel of life, which is a visual representation of the Abhidharma teachings [Art of Enlightenment]”.
He informs that he learnt the art of painting Thangkas at the Bon monastery in Ravangla under the guidance of his teacher, Kalsang Lama for 7 years. He was earlier giving lessons on Thangka painting at Pelling in West Sikkim in 2010-12 but due to certain reasons had to discontinue it.
He has set up the Centre here in Gangtok in a rented flat and intends to further develop it in the days to come. This initiative is an attempt to spread the knowledge of Thangka painting and its importance, he informs. He has also invited a scholar from Benaras Hindu University to give lessons on Buddhism and he is expected to arrive in Sikkim in January 2014.
The duration of the complete course in Thangka painting is 3 years. Initially, there was a special offer of Rs 3,000 for the complete course, however, now students can join classes on a monthly basis where a month’s course costs Rs 1,200. For Tibetan language classes, students can opt for a 3 or 6 month courses. The 3-month course will cost Rs 1,200 per month while the 6-month course costs Rs 1,000 per month.
Thangka painting classes are held every day except Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 3pm. The Tibetan language classes start from 6am to 7am and 5pm to 6pm every day.