Friday, July 11, 2014

Bhanu Jayanti celebrations to educate young about their culture: KN Rai

GANGTOK, 10 July: The Bhanu Jayanti Celebration Committee [BJCC] working president, Speaker KN Rai, highlighted today that the Bhanu Jayanti celebrations would try to present and introduce history, tradition, culture and languages to the younger generation. He stressed the importance of the younger generation knowing about their roots.
Addressing a press conference today, Mr. Rai informed that the celebration would include various initiatives and activities to inform the younger generation about the ancient history, culture and traditions of Sikkim. He added that there was the need to link the Bhanu Jayanti celebrations with ‘monsoons tourism’ and introduce the culture, tradition, food and costumes of the state to the rest of the world.
Mr. Rai also stated that the state government has been doing its best in this regard but there is still need for further cooperation and support from the people.
The celebration committee’s general secretary, Parasmani Dangal, in turn shared details of the two-day Bhanu Jayanti celebrations to be held on 12 and 13 July, this weekend. He informed that on 12 July, the celebration will start with various competitions which will be followed by a national level seminar and finally conclude with performances by artists from Sikkim and the Darjeeling hills.
On 13 July, the celebration will begin with the Sobha Yatra from Bhanu Udayan here and the main function will be held in the afternoon at Mannan Kendra. In the evening, artists from Nepal Sambhu Rai, Divya Bhandari and Dev Narayan Pradhan will be performing.
Mr Dangal informed that earlier, interschool and open Ramayan Path competitions and poetry recital competitions were held from 05 to 07 July.

Exhibition of traditional artifacts opens as part of Bhanu Jayanti celebrations

GANGTOK, 10 July: A three-day Bhanu Lok Sanskriti Pradashini was inaugurated by Speaker KN Rai, who is also the working president of the Bhanu Jayanti celebration committee, here at Nepali Sahitya Bhawan today. This exhibition of traditional artifacts is part of the Bhanu Jayanti Celebration 2014.

Different traditional artifacts, weapons, musical instruments and others items brought by the people from Aho, Naga, Melli and Nayuma Women’s Cooperative Society are on display at the exhibition. The Speaker along with other guests inspected the stalls displayed at the

Wait for salaries continues for former MR and WC employees RANJIT SINGH

GANGTOK, 10 July: Officials of the state government keep passing the buck when it comes to taking responsibility, or even explaining clearly the reasons for the delay in payment of the pending salaries of the recently ‘regularized’ muster roll and work charged employees of the state government. While the entire lot of temporary employees regularized under the Power Department – about 1,400 of them - have not received their salaries for four months running now, some from other departments who have been regularized are still receiving MR or WC wages and not the scale of regularized employees.
Today again, the MR & WC employees who had been regularized before the elections, had to return home after a meeting with the Chief Secretary none the wiser as to why their salaries are in abeyance or by when they can expect to receive their dues.
The Chief Secretary, in the interaction with the employees today is reported to have linked the non-payment of salaries to the order issued by the Department of Personnel putting the regularization process in ‘abeyance’. This explanation has been offered by other officers as well but is confusing because it is clearly the regularization process that has been kept in abeyance, not the dues of those who had already been regularized before the DoP circular was issued.
Eventually, the large group of employees who called on the Chief Secretary today to discuss the salary issue had to be satisfied with the advise to wait for the return of the Chief Minister from New Delhi.
A section of the employees informed that the Chief Secretary has spoken to the Chief Minister about the issue and had also faxed a message to the CM in New Delhi regarding the pending dues of the employees and their grievance over the nonpayment. “We have been told that there is nothing that any Head of Department or the Chief Secretary can do about it; we just have to wait for the CM to return,” stated an employee to NOW!

“We will seek an appointment with the CM as soon as he returns and put our grievance to him personally,” stated another employee.

Colleges end up with too many more BSc aspirants than they can accommodate -AMEET OBEROI

GANGTOK, 10 July: This academic year, almost all government colleges have taken in more students than they can accommodate with most of the ‘surplus’ admissions being in the Science Stream, which was already facing problems such as less than the required number of classrooms and more students than the colleges have laboratory facilities for. BSc students at the Gangtok college for instance, will need to be attended to in batches for them to be able to use the labs, without which an education in science cannot be imparted, at least not in the college level.
Speaking to NOW!, Director [Higher Education], Deepa Basnett, confirmed that this year there was a problem with the admissions in the Science stream in both the colleges in Sikkim – Gangtok and Namchi - which offer BSc courses. Neither college is equipped to accommodate more than 50 to 100 students at a maximum, but have both given admission to more than 200-plus students this year. Turning away students was not an option because South district alone has more than 30 senior secondary schools that offer Science stream in +2.
Be that as it may, the colleges are not equipped to take in that many students.
SGC, Gangtok, is an old campus built quite some time ago and now has a different building for the science stream and can accommodate upto 100 students, but NGC was not built with this in mind and does not have a separate building for the science stream. NGC was not built as a science academy as there is space constraint and the number of Bio-Science students is more than in Pure Science [60-40] so it is not possible to accommodate 200 plus students where there are only 50 possible, she stated.
“We have also started a college at Rhenock and now the department is proposing to start a new Science stream there as well. Since a new government has only just been formed, the proposal has been kept on hold,” she said and added that there was under-enrolment in the Rhenock College as students don’t want to go that far, preferring colleges in Gangtok or Namchi.
“The students are not going to the college where there is vacancy but are opting for colleges which are over-crowded. Even a girls’ hostel is coming up near the Rhenock Government College [RGC] and for the boys we are in touch with people living around the college to provide paying guest facilities till the boys hostel comes up,” the Director added further.
Meanwhile, efforts are underway to supplement infrastructure at the colleges and there is a new Chemistry lab coming up at SGC as Chemistry is a common subject to both Bio Science and Pure Science and given the present number of students there are around 30-40 students who need to be accommodated in the labs. And this has made the colleges conduct practical classes in shifts which begin at 9 a.m. in the morning and continue till 5 in the evening and still the colleges are facing problems.
So now the colleges have asked the department to allow the colleges to start a morning shift to accommodate all the students to use the lab facility, she informed.
Earlier, the department offered 500 quota seats for admission in colleges outside the state but now students are not even taking up these seats.
“We even have our college study centre at the Indira Gandhi National Open University [IGNOU] which is offering Bachelor in Science [BSc] courses and the last date for admission was 08 July, but on request they have also shifted the last date of admission to 31 July,” she stated.
And then there is also the problem of lack of Science teachers in the schools and colleges. “We had even advertised for ad-hoc teachers but unfortunately there were no applicants from any local candidates for the posts of science teachers, especially for mathematics, physics and chemistry which are the main subjects of pure science,” the Director informed. “So we have taken a special government approval to appoint non-local teachers on ad hoc,” she added.
“But the problem here is that according to UGC norms candidates who have passed NET/SLET can be paid only around Rs. 21,000 on ad hoc appointments which is very little so we are worried that these posts will remain vacant,” she shared.
“One college needs a minimum of four faculty members for the science stream which has not been possible so far since there are not many local candidates who have applied for the post. However, we have advertised again for science teachers in various colleges and we will have to wait and see how many apply for the posts for ad hoc appointments”, the Director stated.

MLA initiates community-powered restoration of Penlong-Lingdok road WANGCHUK BHUTIA

DIKCHU, 10 July: The 3km direct road from Penlong (Navey Thasha Dara) to 7th Mile Lingdok, part of the old mule track from Penlong to Dikchu, is in the process of being reclaimed and opened for traffic after having remained blocked and unused for more two decades. This, thanks to an initiative by the area MLA [Kabi-Longstok], Ugen Nedup Bhutia, who has put together a community-powered effort to restore the road on private initiative.
The restoration work started from the Lingdok side at around 1 PM today with the offering of prayers by monks and pundits. The launch, a press communiqué from the MLA informs, was attended bythe area panchayats and public along with the MLA. The restoration/ reopening of this 3 km stretch is projected to take a month’s time.
The MLA states in a press release that “the restoration work has been possible due to the whole-hearted community participation apart from generous approach and service rendered by the Department of Roads & Bridges (Sikkim Government) and Sneha Kinetic Power Project Ltd.”
The initiative is currently without any governmental funding and includes some finance contributed by the people and a significant contribution by Sneha Kinetic Power Project Ltd [developing the Dikchu hydel project in the area] which is deployed an excavator machine for the effort on the request of the MLA and the public.
On the first day today, around 800 metres of the road was cleared. When completed, this road will save 50 to 55 minutes of travel time on the Gangtok-Lingdok journey, the local people pointed out, adding that after completing this stretch, they will start work on reopening the Dikchu-Lingdok road.
It may be recalled that the restoration of the road from Penlong to Dikchu been on the wishlist of the people of the area for a long while now.
The MLA informs they have also approached the Public Works Department for help and will also be requesting others department like Irrigation, Forest, Land Revenue etc. for assistance.
This road [Penlong to Dikchu] had been ravaged by the disastrous monsoon of 1962 and more portions were lost in the landslides of the 1970’s. The Lingdok-Penlong stretch had however been restored but had been damaged again in the early 1990s and has not been restored since. Commuters now travel up to the Pangthang road and then drive down to Lingdok or Penlong as required.

Organic farming training held for Martam-Nazitam farmers

GANGTOK, 10 July: Sikkim Organic Mission, Government of Sikkim in association with International Panaacea Limited [IPL] organized a training programme for the farmers of Martam Nazitam GPU in East Sikkim on 08 July.
A press release informs that the training program was organized in Chadey Ward where Santa Kumar Mukhia of IPL explained the process of organic farming and informed about different kinds of organic pesticides. A documentary film called “Slow Poison” also shown to the farmers and departmental staff.
Panchayat, Ishwari Prashad Sharma, Field Assistants, Tshering Doma Bhutia and Karma Tshering Bhutia, FS & ADD, Staff of IPL and farmers were present in the training program, the release mentions.


This is with reference to news reports in which objections have been raised regarding the state Government’s role in organizing a symposium on cervical cancer and the HPV vaccine and the suggestion that the symposium was an initiative of the state Government to introduce vaccination in the state of Sikkim.
The Department of Health Care, Human Services and Family Welfare would like to clarify certain issues to set the records right:
The one day Symposium on HPV vaccine and cervical cancer prevention was organized by the Cancer Foundation of India, a nonprofit voluntary organization dedicated to campaign against cancer based in Kolkata which had Government nominated participants from all the Northeastern States. Sikkim was chosen as a venue for the symposium by the organizers and also had the presence of Government nominated participants from the Department of Health Care, Human Services and Family Welfare, Government of Sikkim.
The Symposium had eminent resource persons like Professor G.K. Rath Chief of IRCH, AIIMS, Professor Neerja Bhatla, Professor of Gynecology, AIIMS, Dr Ravi Mehrotra, Director, Institute of Cytology and Preventive Oncology, Indian Council of Medical Research, and Dr Smita Joshi, Consultant, Jehangir Clinical Development Centre, Pune.
The symposium was a purely scientific meet in which the alarming burden of cancer of the cervix was discussed and the need to take effective and long term measures was debated. Results of various HPV vaccine trails internationally and nationally were presented and discussed.
Since this programme was for policy-makers of the Northeastern states, the focus was mainly on various issues of cervical cancer prevention of which HPV vaccination was a part. It would be pertinent to mention that some of the North Eastern states of India have registered the highest number of Cervical Cancer cases in the county. In Sikkim the second most common cancer amongst women is Cervical Cancer and the need to introduce HPV vaccination is felt as it is the most preventable cancer.
The issue of safety of the vaccine was discussed with recommendation of the World Health Organisation as a safe vaccine. In an audio-visual lecture, Dr R Sankarnarayanan from International Agency of Cancer Research, World Health Organization, highlighted the acceptance of HPV vaccination in over 120 countries including India were this vaccine is available freely and legally in the retail market. He also highlighted the acceptance of HPV vaccination in 51 countries and six Low and Medium Income Countries (LMIC) in their National Immunization programmes. He particularly referred to Bhutan and Malaysia which have successfully implemented HPV vaccination in their population.
The acceptance of HPV vaccination by various countries along with scientific evidence is enough proof to prove the safety and benefit of the vaccine.

Department of Health Care, Human Services and Family Welfare

Promoting Tourism

Tourism, like any other commercial product in the market, is as much about the hard-sell as it is about the quality of the product itself. There is little more that Sikkim can do to enhance the product that it has to offer in the tourism market. Apart from improving on the infrastructure and paring down on the paperwork involved in visiting the place, the State’s more than handsome natural endowments are enough to attract interest. We do after all sit on the most peaceful state in the country, can guarantee a view of the third highest Himalayan peak from just about every nook, have the tallest statue of Guru Rinpoche, a magnificent Buddha Park, a grand Char-Dhaam, an international border outpost open for visitors, the nation’s highest lake, a cold desert, wondrous trekking options etc. All that the State still needs is a consistent and coherent tourism policy and clear targets. It also needs to talk more about its potential and with it secure assistance for promotion. It needs to tie up the right packaging and exposure in the right places to pack in the dollars that everyone in the travel industry eyes.
Yes, the numbers suggest that tourist inflow has been increasing save the September 2011 hiccup. Yes, the crowds during “season” are impressive and business brisk, but the sector despite having more associations than it did a decade back, is still largely disorganized and uncoordinated. No one expects the tourism sector to be uniform and regimented, but the stakeholders need to synchronise their promotion of Sikkim as a tourist destination. Tourist arrivals to Sikkim might be multiplying handsomely when counted in percentage format, but in sheer numbers, the State is still dealing in slivers of what the nation’s other ‘destinations’ attract. This means that the kitty for promotional activities is that much tighter which requires that the budget is deployed well. This requires better collaboration and clearer planning. The policy makers and the stakeholders need to ask themselves how well have they promoted Sikkim as a destination. Nepal, with its troubles and infrastructural collapses, should have lost its prospective guests to Sikkim since the State offers itself as the obvious choice for tourists given the fact that it offers similar attractions here. The in-bound numbers do not suggest such a development. To secure these visitors, Sikkim needs to perhaps start publicity campaigns in Bangkok which is recognized as the gateway to the East. Most western tourists land in Bangkok and then plan their foray into the rest of southeast Asia. Timing a Sikkim info gala in Bangkok with the tourist arrivals there should reap more profits than what is spent on the exercise. Sikkim has been attending tourism and travel fairs across the country and abroad quite consistently, but it should now do more than just book a stall at these events. Stalls, even travel agencies can book, but when it comes to a State, it should invest more. The Department should host dinners for the big names from the travel industry at such events, book halls for audio-visual presentations on the State. In short, do everything that will impress Sikkim’s professionalism on the people who direct tourist traffic in the country and the world.
Tourist festivals are still held in Sikkim in confused fits and starts. If the Department is serious about making such festivals about tourist and developing them as attractive tourism events, it needs to start preparing well in advance. Last minute announcements, which are currently the norm, will not do because such events require a year’s promotion in the least and then positive word of mouth. Whenever, and that is always, the department waits till the last minute to finalise tourist fests, it, at best, manages to entertain the locals and the tourists who are already here. Tourist festivals should achieve more than that. They should attract people who decide on Sikkim after hearing about the event. What properly directed advance publicity also achieves is that it creates a buzz around a place, gives the impression that the place is “happening,” and that is an impression that every tourist destination wants to create. Why shouldn’t Sikkim?


GANGTOK, 10 July: A 20-year-old woman has reportedly committed suicide by hanging at Dantak, South Sikkim on Wednesday. The deceased committed suicide at a construction site near her residence, as per the Namchi Police.

Chain snatching at Bhasmey

GANGTOK, 10 July: A lady was robbed of a gold necklace she was wearing by a person in Bhasmey, East Sikkim on Wednesday.
As per the police, the lady was working on a field at Bhasmey when the accused, Kewal Prasad Chettri snatched the gold necklace [about 2 tolas]. On hearing the scream, her nephew rushed to the spot and saw the accused holding his aunt's necklace in his hand. He tried to take the necklace back from the accused but the accused jumped into the forest and could not be traced. Efforts are on to trace out and arrest the accused. The accused, a resident of Pakyong, East Sikkim, according to reports, had earlier been convicted on charges of sexual assault as well in the year 2012.

One booked under SADA

GANGTOK, 10 July: Sadar Police arrested one Jiten Lama of West Bengal when he was found in possession of contraband substances on Wednesday. Beat duty officers found the accused loitering in a “suspicious manner” near Sherpa Hotel at Lal Bazaar and suspected him to be in possession of contraband substances. On seeing the duty officers, the suspect tried to run away, it is alleged, however the duty officers managed to apprehend him.
Three files of Spasmo Proxyvon capsules containing 32 capsules and four files of Nitrosun-10 containing 10 tablets each were recovered from his possession. A case under section 9/14 of Sikkim Anti-Drugs Act 2006 has been registered at Sadar Police Station and is under investigation.

Drinking water facility established at Chandmari cemetery

GANGTOK, 10 July: A drinking water facility at the Christian Burial Ground, Chandmari, here was inaugurated today in the presence of Pastors and Christian leaders from different churches from in and around Gangtok.
As per a press release, the drinking water facility was completed at the cost of Rs. 34,000 donated by St. Thomas Church, Gangtok.
The inaugural programme was chaired by Father Paul Kabo of St. Thomas Church as chief guest.
The welcome address was delivered by Pastor Joseph Tamang [president, Christian Burial Ground Committee]. Thereafter Fr. Kabo inaugurated the water supply facility with a short message from the Bible and commissioning prayer.
The occasion was also addressed by CP Dewan in which he appreciated the efforts of Christian Burial Ground Committee and its president Pastor Joseph Tamang. The programme concluded with closing prayer by Pastor Robin Chettri of A.G Church.
During the programme, Pastor Joseph Tamang also announced the acceptance of resignation by general secretary CBGC, MT Sherpa who has been replaced by Milan Rai till the new general secretary is elected, the release informs.
It is also informed that fencing and construction of chowkidhar quarter has started at the Christian Burial Ground, Bakthang from funds made available by Rajya Sabha MP Hishey Lachungpa.

Rs. 100 cr for Organic Farming and Rs. 1000 cr for rail connectivity in NER

New Delhi, 10 July [PIB]: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced some major initiatives for North Eastern states while presenting the General Budget for 2014-15 in Lok Sabha today.
In his maiden budget speech, FM Mr. Jaitley said Rs. 100 crore is being provided for development of organic farming in North Eastern States in the current financial year. With a growing global demand for organic food, North Eastern States will benefit from development of commercial organic farming, the Minister added.
The Finance Minister proposed a sum of Rs. 1000 crore for development of rail connectivity in the North Eastern Region over and above the amount provided for in the interim budget.
Mr. Jaitley said that in order to provide a strong platform to rich cultural and linguistic identity of the North-East, a new 24x7 channel called “ArunPrabha” will be launched for the expression of cultural identity and for creating greater awareness of the richness of the diversity of our country.


Speaking on the same topic, the Principal Secretary [HRDD], Dr Thomas Chandy, informed that the HRD Department has empanelled 12 new colleges [“reputed private institutions”] outside the state offering various courses such as engineering, diploma in engineering, nursing, paramedical courses and all having excellent placement records at very subsidised rates. The department had signed an agreement with these 12 colleges to provide admission to students from Sikkim as these were the courses available for Science students, but it was mostly the basic BSc courses that the students were applying, for he added. On the request of the HRD Department, even IGNOU has extended its last date of admission to 31 July and so, now students could also apply for Bachelor of Science there, he said and added that there were other courses available at IGNOU too.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

State finally gets serious about investigation of criminal cases

GANGTOK, 09 July: Sikkim Police and its various branches such as the Crime Branch and Vigilance police will now have to pull up their socks and get serious in their investigation of criminal cases.
Following the high rate of acquittals in criminal cases, the state government has deemed it fit to follow the directions of the Supreme Court of India to ensure that acquittals in criminal cases are reduced.
The Home Department is to initiate a series of “strict” measures to ensure that not only the acquittals in criminal cases are reduced but also that the cause of justice is served to the victims by ensuring conviction of the accused.
Apart from constituting a Standing Committee to examine and analyze the acquittals, departmental action is also liable to be initiated against those investigating officials who are found to be slack in their investigations which lead to acquittal of the accused persons.
The other – and important as well - aspect of the objective of initiating such reforms is to infuse a sense of seriousness in the performance of investigating and prosecution officials. It might be recalled that even the notorious Rakesh Rai aka “Spiderman” had been acquitted of the murder case by the lower court. It was only an appeal with the High Court which secured a conviction for the state. Similarly, Garai, the army soldier accused of murdering the wife of an SAP personnel was eventually acquitted by the court even after he had spent 5 years in prison.
According to the new instructions, the prosecuting agency is now required to thoroughly scrutinize the chargesheet before forwarding to the court; this is to remove all shortcomings and if necessary remove them by further investigation as well.
The public prosecutors are also to be actively involved in this exercise and not just the police. Witnesses and evidence are to be utilized properly and the presence of witnesses during trial is to be ensured so that the state is able to prove its case successfully.
In fact a standing committee is to be put in place to examine all orders of acquittals. The committee is to comprise senior officials of the Police Department and Prosecution to analyze the case and ascertain the mistakes of the investigation process as well as the prosecution during trial. Senior officials of the committee will include IGP-Law & Order, DIG-Range, SP and senior public prosecutor and law officer of the police department.
Besides examining acquittals, the committee will also make recommendations for course content of refresher training programmes for senior officials. Such training programmes are to be put in place within 6 months.
There will be appropriate departmental action against concerned investigation and prosecution officials in all criminal cases of acquittal where lapses are identified to have been committed by the concerned officials. Obvious and willful acts of omission and commission by the officials leading to acquittal of accused will now invite disciplinary action.
It will be interesting to note any changes in the performance of investigating officials after this order of the government.

ART BEHIND THE SCENES: Artists demonstrate the work that goes into making a piece of art on the terrace of Star Hall where the art exhibition cum sale ‘Himalayan Strokes I’ is underway. The exhibition that started on 06 July will end on 13 July.

SKM youth led by MLA carry out cleanliness drive at Adampool

GANGTOK, 09 July:  Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM) youth from Martam Rumtek constituency led by area MLA, Dr. Mechung Bhutia organized a major cleanliness drive under the party’s social activity programme here at Adampool this morning.
Around 80 youth from all over the constituency participated in the cleanliness drive that was carried out around the sewerage treatment plant and the crematorium.
A youth meeting was also organized during the day wherein discussions related to the proposed activities in the constituency were highlighted. The participating youth gave suggestions and raised various concerns related to the SKM party in the constituency and further deliberated on how to follow systematic measures to enact the party functions in the days to come.
During the meeting it was highlighted that the members were to undertake a detailed round of all the 34 wards in the constituency, interact with the families there, take notes of all their problems and bring the same to the notice of the area MLA who would subsequently raise the issue with the SKM party president, PS Tamang [Golay].
It was also decided to form a body or appoint an individual who would act as a medium between the area MLA and the youth of the constituency, so that the schedule of the MLA is properly shared to maintain a healthy and productive party-related work environment.
The meeting also highlighted the need for coordinating with the MLA to visit and conduct ward wise meetings in the constituency and convey “thanks” to the general public for their support to the SKM party in the elections.
It was also mentioned today that the major setback for the youth and the party activists was related to funds thus other alternative means for financial support or source of income were discussed which would be forwarded to the party president for discussion.
Further, it was decided that a constituency level social activist body, comprising of not less than 15 members would be formed that would also collect funds amongst the members on a monthly basis to carry out social activities which the body would conduct regularly.
The meeting also decided to conduct youth meetings every first Sunday of each month to discuss, evaluate and execute party related activities regularly. The process of collecting monthly funds among the members too was decided upon.

Siniolchu FC convenes management meeting in Namchi

NAMCHI, 09 July: A management meeting of Siniolchu Football Club of Namchi was conducted last evening at the Dak Bungalow here. The meeting was presided by Speaker KN Rai and attended by former MLA Binod Rai, Zilla Adakshya (S) CL Gurung, JD SYA Kamal Chettri, JD RHDD MK Rai, Club president Arjun Rai, PI Namchi Bijoy Subba and other officers from various departments, Association presidents and the players of Siniolchu FC.
During the meeting it was informed that Siniolchu Football Club of Namchi was established in 1996 with the prime objective of improving the standard of football in the state and to spot, train and nurture local talents of Sikkim. The club was started by local footballers of Namchi to gain access and showcase their talent from the grassroot to national level. It was further informed that the club had participated a number of events taking players of Sikkim to the national and international level.
President of the club, Arjun Rai informed that the club had signed 25 local players of Sikkim, some of whom have played for renowned clubs of India like Mohun Bagan, Lajong FC of Shillong and United Sikkim FC even though the club cannot afford to pay them at par with such renowned clubs.
Mr. Rai further said that the club management committee had decided to sign up on Sikkim players.
The Speaker thanked and congratulated the club's president, Arjun Rai and members of the club for their initiative to guide and encourage youth in sports. He also assured all possible help from the government.
He further said that he would soon call a meeting with the Sports Minister, Industries Minister and club members to find out the best solution to the problems of the club.
During the meeting it was also suggested that a membership drive be carried out and awareness generated among the masses about the club. The meeting was also addressed by former MLA Binod Rai, JD SYA Kamal Chettri, PI Namchi Bijoy Subba.

Court verdict received in his favour, SBJM patron Ram Pujan Singh plans for fresh elections

GANGTOK, 09 July: The Court of Civil Judge has declared the elections of Sikkim Bihari Jagran Manch [SBJM] held in 2012 unfair, unconstitutional and non- transparent, passing the judgment in favour of Ram Pujan Singh [Founder/ Patron of SBJM].
In a press release, Baliram Prasad [founder member/ former vice president SBJM]
informs that following the civil court's judgment, the patron/founder president is now permitted to hold elections for branches and executive committee of the Manch. Therefore, the elections of 30 Branches and Executive Committee will be held in the coming months and there is no executive committee at present.
As per the court order all committees are null and void, therefore all members are advised to refrain from presenting themselves as representatives of SBJM till the elections are held.
Nand Kishore Prasad of SBJM had filed a suit against the patron for injunction to hold elections to be conducted under him for branches and for executive committee. A group of SBJM members led by Mr Prasad had conducted election to the executive committee of the Manch in 2012.
The release informs that the court in its order dated 24/06/2014 has ruled that the Elections conducted in 2012 were not conducted as per the responsibility given to the election committee by the patron and was ultra vires. Therefore, the elections were unfair and not transparent as Branches election was not done first.
The exorbitant increase of nomination fees from Rs 2,100 to Rs 15,000 for contesting election was not justified and was against objective of organisation. It created uneven ground for contest of elections as it was evident that the elections went uncontested, the court order states. The Memorandum of the organisation does vest on the Patron to opine and render his decision binding on Special Circumstances, it further adds.
The Patron of the Manch has also appealed that SBJM is a social organisation started by him and a few friends to provide social services to its members and citizens of Sikkim. SBJM is an organisation with the highest number of members throughout the state and their energy and willingness to work for the society should be directed towards positivity, rendering selfless services, unity and improve cordial relations with all sections of society.
The release adds that a copy of the Court Order will be kept in Bihari Dharmashala, Singtam from 10 July onwards for reference.

NHPC Teesta-IV sponsors rural water supply scheme

GANGTOK, 09 July: NHPC Teesta Stage-IV Hydel Project, as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainable Development initiative for North Sikkim, has constructed a water supply scheme for Rangrang village and the Junior High School there.
A press release informs that the Panchayat members and villagers had approached NHPC Teesta-IV Project seeking assistance to construct a drinking water supply system for the village due to shortage of proper drinking water connectivity and storage tank in Rangrang village.
NHPC Teesta-IV Project took up the said activity under CSR-SD for the FY 2013-14 & completed it in the first quarter of 2014-15. Chief Engineer (I/C), AK Chuadhary along with Sr. Officers from NHPC dedicated the Rural Water Supply Scheme to  Local Panchayat members and villagers on 08 July, the release mentions.
Mr Chaudhary emphasized the need for proper maintenance of the water connectivity system and advised the villagers to keep the water tank clean. Mr Chaudhary also assured the villagers of NHPC Teesta-IV Project’s commitment towards the local people of North Sikkim and of taking up meaningful projects in near future under its CSR-SD Initiative.
Panchayat members of Rangrang village felicitated Chief Engineer(I/C), Teesta-IV, AK Chaudhary and presented an appreciation letter for completing the Water Supply System for Rangrang village.

Minister seeks central assistance in importing food and civil supplies

GANGTOK, 09 July [IPR]: The Minister for Food and Civil Supplies & Consumer Affairs, NK Subba, along with the Secretary, Food and CS &CA, attended the conference of State Ministers for Food and Consumer Affairs along with Secretaries held on 04 July at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi. The conference was chaired by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in the presence of Union Food, Public Distribution and Consumer Affairs Minister, Ram Vilas Paswan, Agriculture Minister, Radha Mohan Singh and Minister of State, Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, RD Danve.
The key agenda for the conference was to find out ways and means to arrest the price rise of essential commodities and to know the latest implementation status of National Food Security Act, 2013.
The Minister during the meeting informed the gathering that Government of Sikkim had constituted a price monitoring committee to control prices of essential commodities and other consumables in the state. The Legal Metrology Unit of Food and Civil Supplies & CA Department was also regularly monitoring the prices of essential commodities and keeping vigil of any incidence of hoarding in the state.
He further informed that Sikkim was an organic farming state but does not have marketable surplus in agricultural produce due to low productivity. Sikkim is wholly dependent on the markets in West Bengal and Bihar due to which transportation cost adds to the burden on the consumers.
The Minister requested the central government for assistance in meeting the expenditure incurred towards interstate movement handling of agriculture produce and margins paid to dealers, etc. He also requested for central assistance to establish warehouse with cold storage facility in all the four districts to counter any exigency of food crisis in the state. He further requested for expediting construction of the rail link connecting Sikkim and West Bengal and construction of double lane on NH 10.
The centre had chalked out a 6-month action plan to curb food inflation, hoarding of essential commodities such as onion, potato, rice, wheat and pulses and according to the Union Minister for Food, hoarding of essential commodities would be a non-bailable offence.
The plan, also included the setting up of a Price Stabilization Fund. State Governments will procure costly essential items like vegetables and perishables and sell them to the public at lower prices. The difference would be met from the Price Stabilization Fund.
As regards implementation of National Food Security Act, 2013, the Minister, Ram Vilas Paswan informed the gathering that the 04 July deadline for implementation of the above act was extended by three months as 25 States and UTs were yet to implement it.
The act which ensures right to food grains was to provide subsidized food grains at Rs. 3, Rs.2 and Re.1 per kg to over 800 million poor people. The Union Minister announced that the Government of India was considering raising the limit of 5 kgs of subsidized food grains per person.

Lacking Wits or Intentionally Witless?

The State Government has finally woken up to the embarrassment that its investigating agencies have become. The shoddy manner in which the police investigates compromises important cases so severely that even the most professional prosecution cannot earn a conviction even in what appear on surface to be open-and-shut cases. That is not to say that all is well with the prosecution arm of the justice delivery system, and now that the government has woken up [along with other state governments] thanks to a nudge by the Supreme Court, one hopes the prosecution aspect of resolving crimes is also paid due attention. Admittedly though, it is when cases are being investigated and chargesheeted that the need to ensure justice for victims is compromised most of the times. One hopes that the fault in the police department is one of training, because then corrective measures like improved oversight and better grooming will solve the problem. If, however, as many suspect, the bungles are intentional and cases are sabotaged at the investigation and chargesheeting stage on purpose [think about it, how many ‘high profile’ criminal cases, apart from corruption related, have ended in a conviction?], then no number of committees, standing or otherwise, will be of any help. For the latter situation, priorities will have to be realigned in which the people will have to become important again and the need to solve crimes and convict criminals feature in the agenda afresh. At present, these are not the emotions that khaki invokes any more. It has become a force focused on pleasing masters instead of serving the public and playing mediators more often than fixing crime. Anyone who has had to deal with a ‘police case’ will vouch for the fact that beyond inconveniencing everyone involved, the investigators achieve little else – and the best evidence for this is in the frequency with which police investigations fail to stand up to judicial scrutiny. In the past, people, including leaders, picked up during a crackdown on rioters have escaped conviction. More recently, in the shooting case outside a local disco, the police investigation was so botched that it could not even convince the court that the victim had been shot! The accused, caught with his pistol for which the license had expired could not be convicted even on that count. And what was the most disturbing is that the acquittal was played down and kept away from senior officers until it was almost too late to appeal. Even after the need to appeal was brought to the notice of concerned seniors [some of whom will probably sit on the standing committee to ‘analyse’ acquittals], they could not muster the urgency or interest that serving the ends of justice required. Attitudes like this will require more than oversight committees to repair. Political leaders too often make the mistake of favouring a lazy police force because the less than mediocre are always over-eager to please and invariably willing to do as desired. Such a force however serves only very limited purpose because the same political leaders find themselves climbing walls when they need some real police work for a change. Locking people up and packing in allegations work for only so long, because eventually, these charges go to trial, and then comes the ignominy of an embarrassing conviction record, so embarrassing that it now requires a standing committee to analyse acquittals. What can one say but all the best…


- Mangan to Chungthang - Road blocked at Lanthey [expected to be opened by midday Wednesday]
- Mangan to Dikchu via Dzongu - Road blocked at Ring Khola
- Mangan to Singtam via Dikchu – Jeepable
- Mangan to Gangtok via Phodong – Jeepable
- Gangtok to Dikchu via Rakdong – Jeepable
- Sombaria to Nayabazar – Jeepable
- Rabong to Yangang - Road blocked at Dojek

Woman sexually assaulted in West Sikkim

GANGTOK, 09 July: A 52-year-old woman was sexually assaulted by a 22-year-old laborer, Goray Rai at Naya Basti, Gyaba in West Sikkim on 07 July.
On the night of 07 July, the accused is reported to have entered the room of the victim who was alone at the time and sexually assaulted her. He also physically assaulted the victim and threatened her when she resisted. The victim’s husband and daughter had gone out of town, it is informed.
The next morning, the victim approached the Panchayat who took her to Gyalshing Police Station and lodged a complaint against the accused. It was learnt that the victim had been sexually assaulted by the accused twice earlier but she failed to report the matter to the police as she was scared.
The medical examination of the victim was conducted at Gyalshing District Hospital. A case has been registered against the accused who is absconding and efforts are on to trace him.

Teenager commits suicide

GANGTOK, 09 July: A 15-year-old girl has reportedly committed suicide in East Sikkim on 07 July. What is disturbing is that the 08-year-old cousin sister of the deceased witnessed the act. She had been asked by the deceased to accompany her to a field nearby where the deceased committed suicide by hanging. The cousin sister then informed their grandfather about the suicide.  

Congress leaders submit memorandum to Lok Sabha Speaker on LoP issue

New Delhi, 09 July: The Congress is leaving no stone unturned to get the post of Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha. Senior party leaders Mallikarjun Kharge, Jyotiraditya Scindia and Captain Amarinder Singh met Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan and submitted a memorandum signed by 60 MPs regarding the Leader of Opposition issue.
The Speaker assured the party that she will examine the issue.
But sources have said that the Narendra Modi government is set to reject the Congress's bid for the post. Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told the Speaker that the Congress doesn't meet the criteria to get the required post. The Congress has won 44 seats in the 543-member House and according to the law, a party needs 10 per cent of the total seats to claim the post of the Leader of the Opposition. The Congress, however, falls short by 11 seats.
The Congress has threatened to move Supreme Court if the decision goes against them.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi has claimed that it is the largest party in the opposition so it should get the post of the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha. "We are the largest party and we have accepted we have lost. But since we are the largest party we should get the post. We will decide on legal options," Sonia said.

Chuja farmers trained on Organic basics

GANGTOK, 09 July: Sikkim Organic Mission, in association with International Panaacea Ltd, organised a training program on 08 July at Chuja ward during which Red Ant Control and seed treatment and Garlic Chilly solution methods through  organic process were discussed.
Panchayat Secretary Manit Chettri, Field Assistant Manbir Chettri, IPL staff and farmers were present for the training program.
The Sikkim Organic Mission has made such trainings mandatory for and IPL is conducting such ward level training programmes in its allocated area, the release states.

BJP Sikkim welcomes Amit Shah as national BJP president

GANGTOK, 09 July: Bharatiya Janta Party Sikkim state-unit has welcomed the appointment of Amit Shah as the new national president of the BJP. Amit Shah, who was the BJP general secretary, has been declared as the new BJP president today.
Addressing a press conference this evening, BJP state-unit president, Palden Wangchuk Khangserpa stated that the state-unit welcomes and congratulates Mr Shah on being instated as the new national president of the party.
BJP state-unit organizing in-charge, Panchanan Rawat stated that the party's state-unit has been working hard for the overall development of the state. He added that the party has also been working to expand and strengthen the state-unit. He informed that the membership drive in the state began on 06 July and the party has been trying to reach out to the people at the booth and ward levels.
Mr Rawat informed that the BJP would be contesting the upcoming bye-election for Rangrang-Yangang constituency in the state and for the same the party members have been meeting the people of the constituency. He informed that the party has already conducted 3 meetings in the constituency.
It is informed that the party has already covered 5 constituencies so far and has been getting an encouraging response from the people. He also informed that in few weeks the party would cover rest of the constituencies.
Responding to media queries, they confirmed that few SKM leaders have approached the party and expressed their desire to join the BJP. It is further confirmed that meetings have been going on regarding SKM's support to the BJP in the upcoming bye-election. Mr Rawat mentioned that the party's doors are open for all political parties and people in the state to register their membership.

State Badminton Championship in August

GANGTOK, 09 July: The Badminton Association of Sikkim has announced plans to organize the 26th Sikkim State Badminton Championship from 28 to 31 August. This was decided during a recent meeting of the association, informs a BAS press release issued by its general secretary Sukanta Das.
The release further informs that players would also be selected on the basis of their performance in the state championship to represent the state in the upcoming North-East Zonal Championship scheduled to be held in Guwahati and for other national level championships in other parts of the country.
“All district sports associations are to select players in the order of ranking and submit the list to the BAS,” the release informs.
The meeting has also decided to hold an qualifying round of U-13 and U-16 [Boys & Girls] of East and North districts on 20 August at Gangtok an for South and West Districts it will be held on 27 August at the Namchi Indoor gymnasium hall.
The association has fixed the last date of submission of entry on 18 August by 4 PM. Entry forms are available at Gangtok and Namchi.

Week-long summer course organised by Sri Sathya Sai Seva Org

GANGTOK, 09 July: Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisation organised a week-long summer course on the theme “Sai and I” for third year Bal Vikas students and alumni at the Sarva Dharma Kendra, Daramdin from 30-05 July.
As per a press release, the third group of 151 students took part in the course where resource persons from in-and-around Gangtok gave lessons on yoga, vedas and Indian classical music along with other activities.
The course emphasised on ‘Bharatiya culture and spirituality’ while students were also taught to invoke deeper sense of love, compassion and spiritual awareness, the release adds.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Monsoon disruptions punctuate North roads WANGCHUK BHUTIA

MANGAN, 08 July: Traffic to North Sikkim was disrupted at several places today due to slides, sinks and slips induced along the road axis by the incessant rain of the past few days. And the monsoon has only just begun! Mangan, the North district headquarter town, was cut off from the rest of the district for the whole day even as other parts of the district and most of the roads were beset with disruptions.
The road was blocked at Ambithang near Mangan where a section of the road has been washed out by a landslide. This section was restored towards evening and vehicular passage made possible.
Meanwhile, the disruption at Namok Khola was cleared by around noon. Here the heavy flow of Namok Khola has damaged the road.
The section of North Sikkim Highway which however remained blocked today and could not be cleared are the sections at Lanthey Khola near Singhik on the Mangan-Chungthang axis. This route is expected to be opened on Wednesday.
Similarly, the road in Dzongu which has been blocked at Ring Khola for the last three days, has still not been cleared for traffic as the restoration works are still underway.
Apart from these, there are several minor damages at several spots in the entire district.
Elsewhere in the state, while most roads are open for jeepable traffic, minor disruptions are reported at several spots [which get cleared]. The only road which remained closed for traffic throughout the day today was the Rabong-Yangang road which is blocked at Dojek, it is informed.

Speaker chairs South district co-ordination meeting

NAMCHI, 08 July [IPR]: A co-ordination meeting to discuss the implementation of development schemes and department activities chaired by SLA Speaker cum MLA Poklok Kamrang constituency, KN Rai was held in DAC, Conference hall Namchi today.
The meeting had the attendance of DC (South) Mr Prabhakar Verma; ADM, Mr Kapil Meena; SP (South), Mr Sonam Gyatso Bhutia; NMC councillor/Vice Chairman Mr N.H Ansari; Uadhyksha, Mrs Devi Maya Baraily; Ex-Chairman, Mr Passang R. Sherpa alongside the officials and heads of various Government department, Panchayats and the public of the surrounding areas. BDO, RMDD Mr Milan Rai welcomed the gathering at the onset of the meeting.
The Speaker informed the gathering about the prime aim of organizing the co-ordination meeting where he emphasized on the need for department officials as well as the panchayats to carry out their roles and responsibilities in an efficient and time bound manner. Mr. Rai appealed to the public, panchayats and department officials to bring about holistic development not just in their constituency but in the state as a whole.
In addition, the Speaker emphasized on the imperative need of identifying ideal locations to bring about qualitative work in the constituency by opting for viable modes of developmental schemes in departments such as Tourism, Health, Roads and Bridges, Rural Management & Development, Animal Husbandry and Irrigation.
Mr. Rai also enlightened the gathering about the availability of Home-Stay Tourism training facilities provided under the State Institute of Capacity Building [SICB] which is gaining popularity in the state. Acknowledging the superior quality of work in construction of eco-friendly CC footpaths under MGNREGA, Mr. Rai spoke about initiating rewards and recognition for people and departments associated with successful execution of schemes like REDRH, CMRHM and Organic Farming.
Besides these, he also appealed to the department heads to take collective responsibility for work assigned to their respective departments and execute them efficiently within the stipulated timeline. Later, he put forth his suggestions and extended his gratitude to the panchayats, officials and employees of the department for attending the meeting and assured them necessary assistance from the Government to address their problems and issues at the earliest.
The meeting saw a detailed report being presented by the Zilla and Gram Panchayats of various GPUs before the chief guest present on the occasion. The Panchayats laid down their grievances and issues which were later addressed by the department heads who also briefed Mr. Rai about the various initiatives which are currently operational under departments such as WS & PHED, Rural Management & Development, Forests, Environment & Wildlife Management, Tourism and Civil Aviation.
DC (South) also addressed the meeting and discussed the various demands put forth by the public and panchayats under Poklok Kamrang constituency. Addressing demands on various issues such as assessment of damages and payment of ex-gratia to the beneficiaries who had endured losses due to impact of hailstones, installation of state level Data Banks for structured record keeping, utmost attention to oversee construction work under CMRHM and REDRH schemes, the DC appealed to the panchayats to administer the developmental work in areas under their jurisdiction and work in cooperation with the government departments to ensure timely completion of works.

New team installed at Rotary Club of Gangtok South

GANGTOK, 08 July: Installation of a new team of management of Rotary Club of Gangtok South for the year 2014-15 led by the new president, Prakash Sundas was held in Hotel Denzong Regency on 05 July.
A press release informs that the outgoing president, Jashoda Chettri made a presentation on the various community projects undertaken by Rotary Club of Gangtok South in 2013-14 and handed over the gavel of the club signifying the change of leadership to the new president, Mr Prakash.
The new president introduced his team and also outlined his plan for community service for 2014-15. He informed that one of the most important events to be organized by the Club will be an International Peace Seminar in Gangtok in February 2015.
The other highlights of the evening's programme was the felicitation of two Interactor students from Sikkim- Sampa Saha of Paljor Namgyal Girls School who passed CBSE Class XII securing more than 90% and Sanjana Chettri of Bahai Senior Sec School, Saramsa.
The club also felicitated Anurag Sapkota for being awarded with a gold medal from Mumbai University and congratulated Dr Sylvin Paul of Sikkim University, who was sponsored by RC Gangtok South for Rotary Peace scholarship on his selection for the peace scholarship at the Rotary Peace Institute Thailand. The club also congratulated member Namgyal P Sherpa on becoming Multiple Paul Harris Fellow of Rotary, the release mentions.
The chief guest, Diwakar Thapa of RC Darjeeling gave an inspiring speech and the vote of thanks was proposed by Bjorn Noel Deniese, the president nominee for 2015-16.

Passport camp concludes

GANGTOK, 08 July: The two-day “Passport Camp” organized here by the Ministry  of External Affairs, Office of the Regional Passport Officer, Kolkata, at the Chintan Bhawan concluded today.
This was for the second time that the said camp was held here in recent months. The first day of the camp saw a total of 230 applicants while today, the camp is reported to have attended to 400 applicants.

Sikkim to host Annual Principal Conference of Kendriya Vidyalayas

GANGTOK, 08 July: Sikkim is set to host the Annual Principals Conference of Kendriya Vidyalayas under Guwahati Region that includes Kendriya Vidyalayas located Sikkim, West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh from 09-11 July at Hotel Denjong Regency.
As per a press release, the programme will be attended by top official dignitaries like Deputy Commissioner, Assistant Commissioners, approximately 45 Principals and other reputed personalities.
The conference is scheduled to be inaugurated by the Principal Secretary HRDD, Government of Sikkim.

Admission for Science stream ends at Kamrang College REBYNA RANA

GANGTOK, 08 July: The admission process for pure Science [Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics] and Bio-Science [Physics, Chemistry, Biology] students in Namchi Government College, Kamrang has been completed.
The college has taken 150 Science students, 60 in PCM and 90 in PCB and will not be taking in any more students, informed Dean, Namchi Government College, CR Sharma.
He added that the first merit list came out on 27 June which enrolled students with 50% above for PCM and 60% above for PCB. The second list came out on 03 July for students with 48% above for PCM and 57% above for PCB.
The HRD department in collaboration with Vinayaka Missions University will be providing counseling for the 121 students who did not get admissions into the Namchi Government College, informed Mr Sharma. Such students who could not get admissions here because they could not make the cut off list will be provided counseling for admission into colleges in Pondicherry, Bengaluru and Chennai. Namchi Government College Principal will be in charge of the counseling while students who want to study in these colleges will have to bear all the expenses on their own, it is informed.
It was further informed that the department of Social Welfare is all set to conduct the Counseling for 100% scholarship for SC, ST and MBC students in Chandigarh. The interview for the selection under this Scheme shall be held at Namchi on 10-11 July 2014.

Region takes tips on Dhara Vikas from Sikkim

Intro: RMDD’s Dhara Vikas initiative to be piloted in Bhutan, Meghalaya and Nagaland, reports an IPR feature

Can we increase the lean period discharge of springs and streams? Can we revive the perennial springs that have become seasonal?
These were the questions that led a 25-member delegation from the Royal Government of Bhutan and the State Governments of Meghalaya and Nagaland to visit Sikkim on a study tour from 30 June to 06 July, 2014 to understand the RMDD’s Dhara Vikas initiative on reviving springs, streams and lakes.
The study tour started with an experience sharing workshop for the 25 outstation participants in Gangtok on 01 July. The workshop was presided over by DR Nepal, Secretary-RMDD who shared the joint concern regarding the drying up of springs across the Himalyan landscape and the Sikkim Dhara Vikas initiative which is underway.
Kenneth Pala, Sr. Technical Expert, GIZ shared the objectives of the CCANER project and the objectives of this experience sharing workshop. The Dhara Vikas handbook which was published recently was used as a training aid to elaborate on the concept of recharge area, design of recharge structures, micro-location, steps in dhara vikas and monitoring and evaluation.
This was followed by a 3-day field visit to various Dhara Vikas sites like Namthang, Namchi, Kewsing, Sumbuk and Rhenock where the field functionaries, panchayats and water users shared their experience of the Dhara Vikas initiative and the achievements so far. Finally, on 05 July, a de-briefing workshop was organized in which the participants shared their field learnings and also prepared a road map for initiating similar Dhara Vikas initiatives. They also requested technical support from the Government of Sikkim to provide them hand holding while taking up the pilots. The field facilitators of RMDD and SIRD faculty who were instrumental in grounding the Dhara Vikas initiative and making it a success were felicitated by the Department.
The outstation guests were very grateful to the Government of Sikkim for organizing this study tour and sharing the learnings of the Dhara Vikas initiative with them which will help them to revive springs, streams and lakes once they return to Bhutan, Meghalaya and Nagaland.

Forest Minister convenes coordination meeting in Mangan

MANGAN, 08 July: Forest Minister Tshering Wangdi Lepcha, who is also the Lachen-Mangan MLA, today presided over a coordination meeting of Forest Department officials here at the Zilla Bhawan. He underlined that all efforts should be directed towards making the department an “exemplary, excellent and healthy department”.
“There is need for closer coordination between field functionaries and senior officers in the department to bring about better delivery and for the smooth functioning of the department,” he pointed out.
Some of the important points made during the meeting were the need to prepare a code/ manual for the department, establishment of better equipped forest check posts across the state, addressing the shortage of manpower, promotion of Forest Guards and fixing of responsibilities and improved accountability.
The Minister further stressed the need for timely release of nursery payments, maintaining discipline among officers and staff of the department and dedicated service to the public.
On office management, he directed that henceforth the department should ensure that the allotment of vehicle is done purely on need basis.
He invited suggestions to further improve the department’s functioning and suggested that workshops be held to enhance the working caliber of the personnel.
The meeting was attended among others by the PCCF-cum-PD (SBFP) SBS Bhadauria, CF (E&SC) DB Siktel, CF (T) YP Gurung, Director (KNP), APD I and II Addl. Director(KNP), DFOs, ACFs, ROs, BOs and FGs.

Haste Makes Waste

One often hears people with bills stuck with government departments complain of how they are routinely turned away with excuses of the department not having enough funds. There was a time when an accounts section in a government department had put up a notice on its door announcing that it did not have funds and that people should not bother them unnecessarily. More recently, the regularized MR and Workcharged employees who have not received their salaries since April are also probably being given the run around with the excuse that the required funds have not been released. Most times, people accept these excuses as being truthful, believing that the concerned personnel in the government know their job and that the government was genuinely cash-strapped. But that is almost never the case as reports of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India on the State’s finances have routinely pointed out. More often than not, the government ends up not spending up to a quarter of the funds at its disposal on any given financial year. For instance, against the total provision of Rs. 5,359 crore for 2012-13, only an expenditure of Rs. 3,934.05 crore was incurred. An inexcusable 26.60 per cent of the provisions, totaling a staggering Rs. 1,425.49 crore, was left unspent.
Now, if this ‘saving’, and this cannot really be called a saving, was a result of austerity measures and judicious book-keeping, one would be all praises for the army of accountants in government departments. But that was not the case; the ‘savings’ resulted from incompetence. Few examples illustrate this slipshod financial planning better than the habitual rush of expenditure in the last quarter of the financial year, with a bulk of this coming in the closing month, March. When it comes to the budget and the segregation of demands for grants, the government breaks it up into 46 departments. As per the CAG Report, 22 of these departments showed an injudicious ‘rush of expenditure’ between Jan to March 2013 in the financial year 2012-13. This expenditure was under 33 heads and the record reflects on those rushed [it should really be called delayed] expenditure which were in excess of 50% of the provision, i.e. instances when the department spent 50% of its budget [under a particular head] in the last three months of the year. Some of the standouts in this list are Land Revenue Department which did not spend anything on water supply and sanitation for 9 months and then spent the entire budgetary provision between Jan to March, with 62% of it in March 2013 alone. Expenditure on ‘public works’ by the same department for the said financial year was paid out entirely in March 2013. HRDD spent 67% of its “capital outlay for education, sports, arts and culture” in the last quarter. It goes without saying that the last minute rush, the diligence of the accounts departments to spend it all, does not offer enough time to really ‘spend it all’ due to which up to 27% of the budgetary provision remained unspent in 2012-13. It would have been less worrying if this was just saving, but it is more than that, it is unplanned finances resulting in compromised projects and schemes. Surely, if 27% of the provisions remain unspent and between 17 to 40% of the budget spent in the last quarter, everything for which the funds were earmarked in the budget projections gets compromised. Clearly, budgetary control should be strengthened and a good place to begin would be to have a “Budget Manual” which enumerates detailed procedures for better financial management.

East district administration convenes coordination meeting

GANGTOK, 08 July [IPR]: District Level Coordination Meeting with all line departments was held at the conference hall of District Administrative Centre, Gangtok today. District Collector East, AK Singh had an interaction with the district level officials of various departments with regard to working status and the progress made by the departments.
The meeting was organized to discuss and resolve various issues connected with both the departments and District Administrative Centre in order to ensure best service to the public. During the first District Level Coordination meeting for the year 2014, the DC took stock of status from the representatives of various departments and suggested solutions for the respective issues. He instructed the participants to initiate grievance redressal systems in the departments.
He urged Food and Civil Supplies department to get prepared with stock of essential commodities in full capacity, considering the ongoing monsoon season. He further instructed that the rate of commodities be displayed and regularly updated for the convenience of the public.
While interacting with CMO District Hospital Singtam, the District Collector suggested to the Health department to form a referral mechanism to avoid delays in getting patients transferred. He also suggested the extensive cleanliness drives should be organised at the lower belt of Singtam and Rangpo as remedial measures against outbreak of diseases.
Issues of construction and maintenance of toilets for tourists and visitors along the highways in the state was discussed with the Tourism department and procedure of sanctioning projects to cooperative societies was discussed with the Cooperative department.
BSNL has been instructed to shift the Telephone exchange of Sherathang by 25 July 2014. Working status with regard to construction of CMRHM, REDRH, compensation & Land acquisition issues, removal of road blockade, jhora training were also discussed during the meeting.
The programme was also attended by ADC, Aishwarya Singh and SDM, KL Lepcha, official representatives from the departments of HRDD, Forest, Road & Bridge, Irrigation & Flood Control, Food, Social Welfare, Health, Cooperative, Tourism, Labor, Power, Animal Husbandry & RMDD.

Dzongu MLA thanks constituency for continued support

DIKCHU, 08 July: Deputy Speaker Sonam Gyatso Lepcha, representing Dzongu in the Legislative Assembly for a fourth term, today reiterated his commitment to the development of Dzongu and while highlighting that several developmental schemes have already been implemented there was still much more to be done.
He shared this while expressing gratitude towards the people for having chosen him as their representative for the fourth consecutive term. Mr. Lepcha was addressing a function at Namprikdang ground in Upper Dzongu attended by people of Lingdong-Borfok, Safo-Passingdang and Lingthem-Lingdem GPUs.
Referring on the government announcement to establish a college and another girls’ school in North district, the Deputy Speaker said that he will lobby to have the college established in Dzongu.
In other matters, he called on the Panchayats to ensure that the BPL lists recommended by them included all genuine beneficiaries and left no one need out. He also rued that some panchayats in the area were not delivering properly on their responsibilities.
Earlier, the function started with a welcome address by the Panchayat President, Lingdong-Borfok GPU and was also attended by former chairperson, Choden Lepcha, former MLA Loden Tshering Lepcha, president Namprikdang Namsong Committee, Nezing Lepcha, panchayat and zilla members and the people from all three GPU of Upper Dzongu.

SKM alleges lack of even basic facilities at two South Sikkim villages

GANGTOK, 08 July: Sikkim Krantikari Morcha's Bikash Basnett who contested the 2014 elections from Rangang-Yangang constituency in South Sikkim has alleged that two villages of the district -Upper Neya and Upper Manzing - have been deprived of even basic facilities like healthcare, education and road connectivity.
In a press release, Mr. Basnett informs that people of these two villages have to walk for more than two hours to reach the main road that connects them to the rest of the state. Meanwhile, they have to travel to Yangang Bazaar or Lingmoo to avail healthcare facilities.
The two villages have primary level schools operating since the 1980’s which have not been upgraded till now and this has resulted in low literacy levels in these areas, he claims, adding that there are very few from these villages who have completed their secondary level education.
Several promises were made by leaders in the past and many surveys were conducted for construction of roads but nothing has materialised till date, the release further alleges.
Mr. Basnett has urged the state government to take immediate steps to resolve the problems faced by the people of the two villages in South Sikkim.

Bhanu Jayanti celebrations begin with various competitions

GANGTOK, 08 July:  An inter-school debate competition was held on Monday under the banner of Nepali Sahitya Parishad as part of the celebration of the 200th birth anniversary of Bhanu Bhakta Acharya and the three winners of the competition will be awarded prizes during the main function of the Bhanu Jayanti celebration on 13 July, next week.
The winners of the debate competition are Vivek Pradhan in first position followed by Anirush Luitel and Merilena Tamang in second and third positions respectively.
State level open poem recitation competition was also held on the day which saw 18 participants. Gopal Pathak of Rhenock was unanimously chosen as the winner of the competition followed by  Arjun Rai of Samay Dainik in second position and Khusboo Chettri of Rhenock in third position. The prizes will be awarded during the main function to be held on 13 July.
Similarly, inter-school Ramayan Paath competition was also held wherein nine schools reached the semi-final round which will be held on 12 July. Amongst the semi-finalists are Deorali Girls Sr. Secondary School, West Point Sr Secondary School, PNG Sr Secondary School, Tashi Namgyal Academy, Sichey Seconday School, Tadong Sr Secondary School, Pelling Sr Secondary School and Namthang Secondary School. The final round of the competition will be held on 13 July.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Deptt unhappy with progress on alternate bypass road construction RANJIT SINGH

GANGTOK, 07 July: It has been more than three years now that KMC Brahmaputra was awarded the contract for the construction of an alternate bypass road connecting Ranipool to Bojoghari along the Ranka axis. However, as department officials inform, the work, which should have been speeding along and nearing completion, has been slow, tedious and, at times, also a matter of consternation. As a result, the Roads & Bridges Department had decided to debar the company from partaking in tender notices of the State government. An order to this effect was issued by the Department in February earlier this year. The notice was akin to temporarily blacklisting the company.
KMC Brahmaputra has meanwhile been given some relief by the High Court of Sikkim in relation to its eligibility to bid for contract works in the state. This relief however is subject to satisfactory performance of the present work being undertaken by the company. The High Court had noted that the order for debarring itself stated that upon satisfactory progress and further improvement in the work, the matter would be reviewed. Therefore the company has been directed to submit a review petition along with improvement record in the work and in case it is satisfactory, the Department would reconsider the matter in a time bound manner.
As the Chief Engineer Mr. Tongden informs, this order for debarring was subject to satisfactory performance of the remaining work by the company. “We will be soon reviewing the works completed by the company,” stated Mr. Tongden. According to the CE, it was high time that action was taken to haul up the work ethics and management of the company engaged in the construction of the alternate highway.
“This is a Strategically Important Road (SIR) fully funded by the central government. With this alternate highway there will be significant decongestion of the highway in Gangtok and it will serve a strategic purpose with movement of heavy machinery etc,” informed the CE.
As per the work order issued by the Centre – the award for road construction was made on the basis of a national tender – the alternate bypass was scheduled to be completed in just over three years. The work was awarded in 2011 and the present cost of the work is estimated at around Rs. 153 crores. However, as of now only 15 of the 23 kilometres of the alternate highway are informed to have been ‘completed’; another 8 km still remain to be ‘constructed’.
Even the constructed 15 km is not totally complete as blacktopping and other finishing works still remain, it is informed.
In light of this unsatisfactory progress and performance of KMC Brahmaputra, the R&B Department conducted a meeting early this year to assess the performance and lay down new parameters for remaining works. As the CE informs, the company was then told in no uncertain terms that it had to give an undertaking that it would abide by certain deadlines in the construction of the alternate bypass. There were other conditions as well that the company was required to adhere to given its performance. It was here that the company was temporarily ‘blacklisted’.
On the other hand the company was also almost regularly running into some hurdle or the other in terms of progress of its work. There was the problem of land acquisition with locals not willing to provide land; there was also the road cutting works which was causing much slush and also minor slides in the area all adding up to delay in the works.
“We understand some of the factors which have contributed to the delay in the works,” said the CE, however he says that even so, the company exhibited much incompetence. For example it employed only three machines; then there was problem of payment to the labourers. But since then, the department has held meetings with the company with the objective to get it to put up its socks. Consequently, the company is now using 11 machines instead of the earlier three and it is expected that other aspects of the works will also be improved upon. For the remaining eight kilometers, the department has given it a time period of 18 months; there are also other smaller deadlines which the department will be monitoring. The CE says that with the monsoons it is expected that there will again be delays. “There are some factors which we can accept,” he said.
In the mean time, as per the High Court directive, should KMC Brahmaputra submit any tender in pursuance of any NIT, the same is not to be rejected because of the order debarring it from taking part in such tenders.  Also, the R&B department is preparing to conduct a review of the progress of the works based upon which it will file its report.

Regularised but not being paid

GANGTOK, 07 July: The euphoria of being regularized in service after having spent more than 15 years as temporary workers of the State Government is sinking fast for the Muster Roll and Workcharged employees who have now begun the fourth month without having received their salaries. This, thanks to the confusion created by the regularization process completed for them and then kept in “abeyance”, a situation due to which they no longer qualify for MR or WC wages and are yet to receive their salaries as regular employees, something they argue they should have begun receiving from 01 April onwards.
The aggrieved employees [those who have been regularized and who have not received their salaries since 01 April] gathered today at the Secretariat to meet the Chief Secretary and plead their case.
Speaking to media persons, they stated that the concerned department has already released the required funds to clear the salaries of 1,454 employees. This is the number being claimed by the group as those temporary employees who have been regularized but who have not received their salaries. The file, they state, they have been told is now with the Chief Secretary for approval.
“If the Chief Secretary could lift the order keeping the regularization process in abeyance then we would get the salary,” they state, adding that regularized employees at the two departments of Food & Civil Supplies and Labour have been receiving their salaries without a glitch.
They complained that their lives have been upset due to the delay and they are defaulting on everything from the school fees of their children to premiums on their insurance policies and bank loan EMIs. It is becoming difficult to run our homes anymore, they stressed.
It is informed that later in the day, they managed to meet the CS and discussed the matter with her. The CS has reportedly assured to decide on the matter by Wednesday.


GANGTOK, 07 July: Minister Urban Development & Housing Department & Food & Civil Supplies Department, NK Subba attended the National Conclave of Ministers & Workshops of Secretaries on "Urban Governance & Housing for All: Opportunities & Challenges" held on  03 July 2014 at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi.
The Minister was accompanied by the Commissioner-cum-Secretary, Tobjor Dorji and the Principal Chief Engineer, GT Bhutia along with other officials from the Department. The conclave was chaired by Union Minister for Urban Development & Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, Government of India, M Venkaiah Naidu.
As per a press release, the event was held to deliberate on the approaches to urban development and substantiate the inputs received from all the States for the road ahead. “Housing for All by 2022” was highlighted as one of the top priority of Government of India and also a dream project of the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi.
The conclave was preceded by an 11-hour marathon meeting on 02 July which was attended by the Commissioner-cum-Secretary, UDHD with other officials. The Commissioner-cum-Secretary, Mr Dorji gave an account of the ongoing programmes and the achievements under the Ministry of Urban Development & Ministry of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation.
He also flagged the issues faced by Sikkim in implementing such projects and programmes and brought to the notice the interventions needed to be addressed by the Government of India, the release mentions.
On the second day, the Minister assured the commitment of the Government of Sikkim in implementation of all projects and programmes with assistance from the Central Government. He stressed that the central Government should take into consideration the uniqueness of the State of Sikkim in regard to its special status and its geographical location and incorporate all the social, technical and financial issues highlighted by  Government of Sikkim for smooth implementation of such projects. Since all North-Eastern and special category States face similar problems, the issues highlighted by Sikkim was seconded by them too.
The Minister, Urban Development and Housing & Poverty Alleviation in his closing remarks assured that the issues highlighted by the States would be taken into consideration while framing future policies and programmes. The conclave ended with all the States adopting the Declaration: “Housing for All by 2022”.