Saturday, July 26, 2014

Now, dial an LPG refill

Gangtok, 25 July [IPR]:  Minister for Food, Civil Supplies & Consumer Affairs, NK Subba, launched a 24x7 Interactive Voice Response System (IVRS) and SMS service for booking of domestic LPG cylinder here at the LPG Bottling Plant at Baghey Khola today.
The programme, organised by the Indian Oil Corporation Ltd (IOCL), was also attended by Secretary Food & Civil Supplies & Consumer Affairs Department, DP Sharma, General Manager, IOCL-West Bengal State Office, RN Ghosh, Special Secretary Tempo Gyamtso, STCS Managing Director Menla Ethenpa, Plant Manager, LPG Bottling Plant Baghey Khola, Anirban Roy, representatives of IOCL, and distributors affiliated to IOCL.
Minister Mr. Subba welcomed the initiative of the IOCL and assured support from the State government towards making this a successful venture. He called for coordination between the Department, IOCL and concerned stakeholders to ensure timely and user-friendly services to the people of Sikkim.
Earlier, General Manager Mr Ghosh while giving a detailed description about the functioning of this booking system, informed that with this launching the State will be ensured of the Refill Booking System through IVRS in all Indane Distribution Centers of Sikkim.
With this system, Indane customers can book refill at all times (24 hours a day, 365 days a year). Booking will be accepted on one common number - 9088324365 - for all distributors. Once this number is called, the customers have to input answers to a set of questions asked by the system. He further informed that the customer can book from their landline or through their mobile numbers.
However, it is preferable that the customers use their mobile number as they can get SMS updates regarding LPG refill booking and delivery, he added.
He said that the booking system is extremely user-friendly and has received positive responses from its pan-India customer base. He explained that the new system will ensure transparency in the refill and delivery system and customers will be intimated through SMS. Customers availing this facility will not have to bear the uncertainty of booking through telephone.
Mr. Ghosh called for active cooperation from all the distributors to make the people of Sikkim aware about the Refill Booking System.


NAMCHI, 25 July: Alvida Namaz, prayers of the last Friday of the holy month of Ramzan, was offered collectively by members of the Muslim community of Namchi at the mosque here. On this day people pray and greet each other, “Alvida Mubarak”.

Student group urges for peaceful resolution of problems

GANGTOK, 25 July: A section of students from Sikkim Government College, Tadong, has expressed that the ongoing issues at the college should be handled and solved peacefully and not through vandalism and violence. They also requested their college mates to attend classes peacefully from 01 August onwards. Another group of students, it may be recalled, had announced that they would suspend their protest till 29 July, the scheduled deadline for the one-man committee to make its recommendations on the incidents of 14 and 15 July at the college and the police action, and that if the verdict was not acceptable to them, would resume their protest.
Speaking at a press conference today, the new group said that they would not join any other section in any movement or protest but would go against them to maintain peace in the college.
“We are in favor of preserving peace and smooth running of the college. The main issue of the fee hike has now already been solved,” they stated. While the fee hike was rolled back on the first day of the protest itself, more recently, the Chief Minister announced that no fees at all will be charged from students and that even those who had already paid, would be refunded by the Department.
Gobin Prasad Sharma, a 5th semester student at SGC-Tadong, said that students had to suffer due to a few people with vested interests who do not want the problem to be solved. Classes have been disrupted for around 10-15 days now and even admissions for the new semester have been stopped, he added.
“We want to solve the issue in a civilized manner and not through vandalism or violence,” he said.
Since there is no student representative or leader, everyone has been coming out as a leader and claiming to represent students, Mr. Sharma added. “We were also beaten by the police and we want justice too but we also want peace to prevail in the college for the smooth conduct of classes in the college,” he expressed.
Girmey Rinchen Sherpa echoed these sentiments and said that the first priority for the students is studies. Students get 5% marks for attendance and the lecturer also has to complete the syllabus, which he added, has been hampered due to the present situation. “This issue was started by the students and we want the students to end the issue as well”, he added.
Stating that the state government has already constituted a one-man committee to enquire into the incident, he requested the students to submit any evidence related to the incidents to the committee. He expressed his hope that the committee will punish the guilty.
On news reports of the alleged involvement of people from outside the state, Amir Rai [5th semester] said, “This is an issue related to our college and we want to solve this within the college and the state”.


CM assures to implement one-man committee’s recommendations on the College incident
NAMCHI, 25 July [IPR]: Chief Minister Pawan Chamling today met with students from South and West districts at his residence in Ghurpisey here. Talking about the importance of education and being educated, Mr. Chamling urged students them to identify the purpose of life and become the creators of their own fates and live with positive aim and objectives to become responsible human beings. A comparative situation study with other neighbouring states will show you the real constructive situation of Sikkim with regard to education sector which should persuade you to appreciate the positive quality of the state, the Chief Minister said.
The objective of the present government is to provide educational facilities from the beginning to the highest level along with provision of job-oriented qualitative education and build the students to become skilled and competent, Mr. Chamling said. Now, the focus of the state government will be on providing qualitative education to the students of Sikkim, he stressed.
Sharing details of the many benefits created for the upliftment of the students by the government, he spoke about ‘Prerna Yojana’  scheme for the girl child through which girls are encouraged to pursue studies and early marriage discouraged, and the Chief Minister’s Meritorious Scholarship scheme for meritorious government school students.
He informed them about the recent announcement to make the government school and college education free and underlined that rights and responsibilities should go hand in hand while supporting a cause. He informed about introduction of scholarships grand to OBC category in the state.
“In the journey of my political career till date I have never misguided or led the students towards negative action or path,” stressed the Chief Minister, adding, “I will never push the students to take up any kind of untoward action which would hamper their future”.
Speaking on the recent college fee hike situation he reiterated that the situation came to his notice after the commotion had already taken place while he was in New Delhi for official meeting with the Union Ministers. Upon hearing about the situation in Delhi, the Chief Minister informed that he had immediately taken action like directing the HRDD to roll back the fee hike and to set up a one man committee to look into the incident of 14 July.
Additionally, he also explained about the decentralization of responsibilities in the government as per which departments take up independent decisions while implementation of departmental policies without interference similarly HRDD also did the same of which he was not unaware.
While accepting that some matters had gone out of hand in the fee hike incident, the Chief Minister however condemned the unlawful activities that took place and said that this issue of the students had been hijacked by vested interests.
He further assured that whatever the enquiry committee recommends will be implemented as per the report within 15 days of the findings according to the democratic rule of law and even if the findings are not satisfactory to the students then the Government will take up the matter.
Also present were Speaker KN Rai, Chairpersons Lakpa Ghising and Girish Chandra Rai, former MLA Binod Rai, SP (South) SG Bhutia, DC (South) Prabhakar Verma, ADM (South) Kapil Meena and SDPO (Namchi) Gigee Norbu.

Inter-Departmental League Football enters second round in South Sikkim

NAMCHI, 25 July: The ongoing Inter Department League Football Tournament moved into the second round matches here at the Singithang football ground yesterday.
Being organised by South District Government Drivers Association (SDGDA), the tourney had begun on 21 July with 12 government departments participating.
As informed by the organizing committee of the tournament, six matches were played between the departments in the first round in which Sports & Youth Affairs defeated UD&HD 4-nil, DAC/Land Revenue outplayed Buildings & Housing 2-0, Agriculture/Horticulture defeated PHED five goals to nil, Health beat Power 3-0, RMDD defeated Forest department 3-1 and HRD Department held Roads & Bridges to a goalless draw.
The second round matches began on 24 July with Buildings & Housing Department beating UD&HD 2-1 in the first match followed by SYA winning 1-0 against DAC/ Land Revenue.
Today, the two matches of the day were played between PHE Department against Power Department and Health Department against Agriculture/ Horticulture Department. Power Department emerged victorious 2-1 and in the second match, Health Department won 2-1.
On Saturday, RM&DD will take on Roads & Bridges in the first match and it will be Forest versus HRDD in the second match of the day.
Speaking with this correspondent, president SDGDA, Denzong Tamang, said that the association had tried to bring all the departments of South District together with this football tournament and remarked that playing games and sport will not only help physical fitness but also bring relief to all government employees from their daily stress and workload.

Siniolchu and Share begin I-League pre-season with a friendly

GANGTOK, 25 July: Siniolchu Sikkim Football Club, Namchi, played a friendly match with Share Football Club of Kalimpong this afternoon here at Paljor Stadium. The match ended in goalless draw and had the Sikkim Football Association president, BK Roka, as chief guest.
Interestingly, both the teams have also been preparing itself to play in the I-League Second Division next year.
Speaking to media persons today, SSFC president, Arjun Rai, mentioned that they invited the Kalimpong club for a friendly match played on the theme “Football for Brotherhood”.
He mentioned that the club will also be travelling to Kalimpong to play a return match and will also be playing with other clubs of Sikkim in the near future. He mentioned that the main objective was to provide a platform and extend more opportunities to club players to play with different clubs.
Mr. Rai mentioned that the club has been preparing itself to play I-League second division next year. He shared that the club plans to play I-League with a full set of local players. “Our players are talented and have potential to play well against any type of competition,” he added. He informed that the club has also started paying salaries to its players.
SSFC is based in Namchi and has Allen Bhutia as chief coach. The club was 2-time Sikkim-League champions in the past.

Dzongu poultry farmers provided Vanaraja chicks

MANGAN, 25 July:  The Animal Husbandry Department organized a programme for distribution of month-old Vanaraja pullets/ chicks for backyard poultry farming on 24 July.
There were 29 beneficiaries from Dzongu constituency Watershed areas under Production system & Micro-Enterprise component of Integrated Watershed Management programme-I, North district, funded by the Department of Forest, Environment & Wildlife Management.
The programme was attended by area MLA, Deputy Speaker Sonam Gyatso Lepcha as chief guest accompanied by the District Collector (North), TN Kazi and other district officials.
Joint Director [North], Dr. SK Subba explained about the scheme while the Deputy Director, Dr. KT Bhutia informed that out of 85 beneficiaries earmarked to be covered under the scheme, 29 beneficiaries were provided 30 Vanaraja pullets in the first phase of the programme and that the balance stock would be provided to them in the next phase.
As envisaged in the project, each beneficiary is to be provided with 50 Vanaraja chicks/pullets to promote sustainable source of livelihood in the identified Watershed areas. Officials of the A.H.L.F & V.S department informed that the day old chicks were raised in the departmental farm in Chanday for about a month with brooding and vaccination facilities in order to curtail the mortality percentage and achieve optimum survival of the poultry birds at the farmer’s backyard.
Before handing over the chicks, the farmers were provided training on poultry farming like construction of poultry shed, care and management by the resource persons, Dy Director Dzongu, Dr. CP Rai while Dr. Dichen Ongmu Kaleon, Dy Director Mangan gave the training on disease management and precautionary measures.
The chief guest, in his address, appealed to all the beneficiaries to make proper use of the scheme and develop it as a source of income.

Tendong Lho Rum Faat to be celebrated on Mt Tendong this year

GANGTOK, 25 July: A meeting of Tendong Lho Rum Faat Celebration Committee was held under the chairmanship of the celebration committee president, Minister DT Lepcha here at the Tourism Department conference hall today. The meeting discussed various issues related to the celebration of Tendong Lho Rum Faat at Tendong on 08 August.
A press release of the celebration committee informs that since the Tendong summit was a holy place and related to the Lepcha community, the celebration committee has decided to celebrate the festival at Tendong itself this year.
Traditionally, while rituals are offered at the Tendong summit, the state-level celebrations have been held at more urban settings like Gangtok.
This year, the release informs that the rituals will be conducted Bongthings at Tendong from early morning on 08 August, while the main programme later in the day will have the Chief Minister as chief guest.
The release informs that the organizers decided to host the main celebrations at Tendong hill this time to make it an ecotourism destination.
The meeting has also handed over various responsibilities to different sub-committees and scheduled an inspection of Tendong for 27 July to finalise preparations required to host the festival there.
The meeting was attended by Ministers, MLAs, Sikkim Lepcha Association president, celebration committee members, officials of Forest and Tourism Department and others.

College student files FIR against facebook page

GANGTOK, 25 July: The College incident of last week has shot off on many tangents, several of which are disturbing and offensive, and if today’s move by a college student bears out, even criminal.
Punam Karki, a student at Sikkim Government College-Tadong, after being turned away by the Sadar Thana, today submitted an FIR with the Criminal Investigation Department of Sikkim Police against the administrators of a Facebook page – Sikkim Messenger – accusing it of having offended her dignity, infringed on her Constitutional rights and of having invaded her privacy with posts with her photograph [taken during the student protests].

Substance abuse warnings put up at FML shops REBYNA RANA

GANGTOK, 25 July: Signage boards announcing the prohibition of consumption and trafficking of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances have been put up at liquor shops across the State. This, the Excise Department informs, has been done on the directions of the Narcotic Control Bureau, Ministry of Home Affairs, which is the nodal agency for Drug Law Enforcement.
As per the Ministry’s directions, all licensed liquor vendors like shops and bars in the country have been directed to have this board displayed prominently.
While talking to NOW!, Principal Secretary Excise Department, Arun Kumar Yadav, informed that this initiative has been taken by the Ministry to help control the rampant abuse of drugs by youth especially school and college students.
He requested all liquor vendors of the state to cooperate in the mission by displaying the notice board at their licensed premises in the prescribed size on white matted piece of steel or other suitable material in black letters.
It has been almost a month since the directions came from the Ministry which is mainly focusing on the Pub and Bar Shops, since the sale of narcotic drugs have been found to be most prevalent in pubs and restaurants in places like Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai, etc, informed Mr Yadav.
But in case of Sikkim, such notice boards are being put up in Foreign Liquor Retail Shops and Foreign Liquor Bar Shops to make the people even more aware, he stated, adding that drug abuse was a social problem requiring collective support from the police, NGOs, youth, government and society as a whole.
Meanwhile, according to data for the financial year 2013-14, the department has issued/renewed licenses of 970 Foreign Liquor & Country Liquor Retail Shop, 902 Foreign Liquor Bars, 55 Pachwais, 23 Methylated Spirit, 43 Army Units, 08 Distributor of SMFL/Beer, 01 Distributor of IMFL and 08 Sub-Distributor.

Let the Soar from Here

No matter from which angle or position one looks at last week’s frenzied agitation and knee-jerk consultations and reactions that visited the government college at Tadong [and also pulled in other colleges and schools into the mix], the picture is less than reassuring. And it is disappointing not just because government colleges and schools have been shut down out of turn for far too long, but because dissonance has been outshouting coherence. One wishes education to make students coherent in thought and expression, not aggressive and inconsistent. This would also make them work well in consultation and as a team, an aspect which has been noticeably missing. Agreed, some students got hurt, some policemen were also injured, many egos bruised and several vehicles damaged, but these will heal [most already have in fact], but what worries is the staggering trust deficit that the entire episode exposed. No one trusts anyone any more it appears and even when a step forward is taken towards trust, three backward shuffles are made over some imagined conspiracies or suspected compromises. Education might have become about degrees and qualifications now, but what it should essentially be about is learning, and an earnest commitment to help students achieve the best of their potential and infuse them with faith and empathy. But if arson, violence and shouting matches become the only reserves that the young can marshal when in distress, then the system has obviously failed them, and failed them completely because it cannot inspire trust. And still, even though the young blundered in bits and parts and their ‘movement’ shuddered in fits and starts, they still managed to achieve a lot, a lot of which they are at risk of squandering. As more days pass, more politics and more differences will creep in, and the young will roll back from the high-water mark of the first two days of their rallying. What Sikkim owes these students now is an environment to grow and mature more confident from this experience. The young have discovered a rare derring-do which needs to be nurtured to give them the wings to soar higher from here. Try to quash them or sideline or sidetrack them, and then the last week will become the high point of their lives and not the takeoff point that it should be. Sikkim would have failed its young if ten years down the line, this generation looks back at the two days on the highway as the highlights of their lives when they have the potential to be about so much more…

Scrutiny of regularisation process at Power Deptt by DoP nears completion

GANGTOK, 25 July: The committee appointed by the Department of Personnel for scrutiny and verification of documents regarding the regularization of MR and Work Charged employees of Energy & Power Department has completed 60% of the task thus far. The four-member committee, headed by a DoP Joint Secretary, was scheduled to complete the scrutiny and verification process today.
The first phase of regularisation of 1,700 MR and WC employees of the Power Department covering those who have served 15 years or more had begun in December last year.
DoP Secretary, AK Chettri, when contacted in connection with the ongoing confusion over the matter, said that some cases of suspected falsification of documents came to light as did complaints from some temporary employees of some documentations being improperly submitted and processed.
Therefore, the department decided to verify and scrutinize the documents for regularization, which, he said is expected to be completed over the next two days.
Meanwhile, the Department of Forests, Environment and Wildlife Management has also requested the DoP to help cross-check the regularization process, said senior officers of the DoP.

CRH conducts Sikkim’s first successful Angioplasty and Stenting procedure

GANGTOK, 25 July: Central Referral Hospital, Tadong, East Sikkim, has become the first hospital in Sikkim to successfully conduct an angioplasty and stenting procedure, a milestone it achieved on 21 July.
The angioplasty and stenting surgery was performed on 48 yr old Saroj Rai from Temi Tarku in South Sikkim by Dr. Ashutosh Sinha, MD, DM, Consultant Cardiologist, CRH.
A CRH press release informs that Mr. Rai had first come to CRH with complaints of chest pain and shortness of breath. He was unable to walk even a few steps without running out of breath and suffering acute chest pain.
A series of investigations, which included a CT Angiography, were carried out which revealed that he had coronary artery disease with 90 percent block in his left artery. An additional coronary angiography confirmed the diagnosis.
Coronary artery disease is the narrowing of the coronary arteries (the blood vessels that supply oxygen and nutrients to the heart muscle), caused by a buildup of fatty material within the walls of the arteries. This buildup causes the inside of the arteries to become rough and narrowed, limiting the supply of oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle. The block can be life-threatening and the patient had significant chest pain limiting his routine activities.
After much consideration and discussions with the family, it was decided to go ahead with the angioplasty, the release informs. A minimum invasive Percutaneous Transluminal Coronary Angioplasty (PTCA) was performed on Mr. Rai to open the blocked coronary artery caused by the coronary artery disease and to restore arterial blood flow to the heart at the state-of-the-art Cath Lab at the Super Specialty Wing of CRH. A stent was then inserted into the newly-opened area of the artery to help keep the artery from narrowing or closing again.
Propitiously for Mr. Rai, he received the treatment without having to incur heavy financial burden. He was enrolled under the Sikkim Manipal Swasthya Suraksha (SMSS), a health scheme launched by CRH earlier this year and the required treatment was available at CRH.
Under the SMSS scheme, Mr. Rai was entitled to wide-ranging medical benefits including hospitalization expenses coverage in the general ward of CRH to an extent of Rs. 1,50,000. An angioplasty and stenting procedure can cost upto Rs. One lakh and above excluding hospital stay and other expenses.
“I was one of the first persons to enroll myself and my family-my wife and two children-in SMSS. Today, this scheme has come as a boon to me. Not only my treatment and surgery expenses were taken care of, I did not have to travel all the way to Kolkata or Delhi for this kind of intervention as these procedures were earlier not available in Sikkim. I was really worried about the medical expenses but thank God, I had SMSS. It saved me valuable time and money. I am really thankful to CRH, Dr. Ashutosh Sinha and SMSS for giving me a new lease of life,” Mr. Rai, a Temi tea garden worker, is quoted by the release as sharing.
He was scheduled to be discharged today.
“Saroj will need to continue with his medications lifelong and also make some important lifestyle changes, which will ensure that his condition will not recur,” Dr. Sinha said.

Friday, July 25, 2014

373 clear SCS and SPS prelims

GANGTOK, 24 July: 373 out of the 2,679 aspirants who had appeared for the junior grade Sikkim State Civil Service [SCS] and Sikkim State Police Services [SPS] preliminary examinations on Sunday have cleared the exams. The results were put up on the notice board of the Sikkim Public Service Commission office near old West Point school today at around 4 pm.
The 373 candidates will now have to sit for the main exams followed by the viva voce. The preliminary examinations were held for 25 posts of Under Secretary and 2 posts of Deputy Superintendent of Police.
The SPSC has said that the candidates who have cleared the prelims can opt for either of the two posts or both.
The results will also be put up on the SPSC website on Friday, it is informed.
While 5,431 candidates had registered for the preliminary examinations, only 3,189 candidates took their admit cards for the exams, of whom, as mentioned, 2,679 took the exam. In the prelims held in October last year, which was later cancelled by the SPSC, 3,611 candidates had given both the papers.

DIFFERENT STROKES: Such mixed families even look pleasant and cute. Sights like this- of a mother hen looking after a brood of ducklings, is not rare in rural Sikkim even though they might draw attention in the more urban setting like Gangtok where the above photograph was taken. This kind of duck, it appears, is not a very caring parent, so while it lays eggs, it does not have the patience to hatch them. Now, duck eggs take around 29 days to hatch, so people with such ducks need to have a mother hen around to take care of the roost and then slip in these eggs slightly in advance into the mother hen’s roost. Hens hatch eggs in 21 to 22 days. She will hatch the duck eggs along with her own. Sometimes, she is left to hatch only duck eggs. They make an interesting family for a while, the ducklings with their webbed feet instinctively running to water, slush and earthworms, even as the mother digs up feed and scrapes and scratches around.

UPF organizes 5-day seminar for youth

GANGTOK, 24 July: Roads & Bridges Minister Garjaman Gurung today addressed the young participants at the valedictory function of a five-day seminar on “Divine Principles- Raising Public Minded Leaders for Building Nation of Peace” here at Janta Bhawan.
Youth from across Sikkim, Delhi, Lucknow and Darjeeling attended the programme organised by the Universal Peace Foundation in collaboration with the Family Federation for World Peace & Unification.
The Minister called on the youth to be confident, responsible and righteous. He also applauded the effort of the Japanese Peace Volunteers who presented patriotic Hindi songs and distributed Certificates of Participation.

National Director Krishna Adhikari and FFPU-UPF Sikkim,Director Indira Sapkota also addressed the participants. 

Dome to be constructed over Statue of Unity

GANGTOK, 24 July: The plan for the dome proposed to be constructed over the Statue of Unity here above MG Marg has been finalized, informed Thukchuk Lachungpa while revealing a model of the dome at a press conference held today. Mr. Lachungpa heads the Pang Lhabsol Celebration Committee which is constructing the dome.
The dome is to be built on an area of 42x42x32 feet and the state government has already approved and sanctioned Rs 98 lakh for it. Mr. Lachungpa informed that Rs 30 lakh of the total amount has been released to the committee as of now.
The Dome will be 50 feet high and will have a 22 feet high gate, a meditation centre, a puja centre with engravings on brass telling the story behind the Statue of Unity.
Last year, during the 20th Pang Lhabsol celebration, Chief Minister Pawan Chamling, while addressing the function, had sanctioned Rs. 98 lakh for the dome project and had urged the Pang Lhabsol Celebration Committee to undertake the construction.
Mr Lachungpa informed that the dome will reflect Sikkimese tradition and culture and has appealed to the public to share their views and suggestions.

NHM health camp in Singbel

GANGTOK, 24 July: A free health camp under National Health Mission was organised at Milk Production Cooperative Society Bhawan, Singbel today.
A press release informs that around 80 persons attended the camp and were provided with free medicine. The medical team comprised of MO, Singtam hospital, Dr Tashi Bhutia, Laxmi Sharma [pharmacy section] and Srijana Pradhan [Nurse].
During the camp, a few patients were found to suffer from high blood pressure, anaemia, eye sight related problems and were advised to go for further treatment. The people of Singbel are thankful for the free health camp and hope that more such camps are organised in the future as well, the release mentions.

SK Pradhan appointed SDF vice-president

GANGTOK, 24 July: Sikkim Democratic Front president, Chief Minister Pawan Chamling, today appointed SK Pradhan as the vice-president [administration] of the party.

An SDF press release informs that Mr. Pradhan has served Sikkim as an MLA for two terms from 1985 till 1994, after which he joined SDF. He has served the party as publicity secretary, general secretary [publicity], general secretary [administration] and on other posts and has now been appointed vice-president [administration]. 

Rongli meets to prepare for I-Day celebrations

RONGLI, 24 July: Sub-Divisional level meeting for the 68th Independence Day celebration was held at SDM Office, Rongli on 23 July. The meeting was presided by SDM, Rongli Sub-Division, Somnath Adhikari.
It was discussed that nine-a-side Open Football Tournament will be organised at Melatar, Rongli on 15 August. The winner and the runner-up team will be awarded cash prizes of Rs 50,000 and Rs 25,000 along with trophies, it was informed.
Expenditure details of the recently held Bhanu Jayanti celebration were placed before the committee. The meeting also selected the working committee for the Independence Day celebration. The next meeting shall be held on Monday.
Present on the occasion were SDPO Rongli, GVA Regu and Rhenock, SSB Officer, Principal Chujachen SSS, HM of different schools, Sub-Divisional Departmental Officers,  Panchayats members, teachers and others. [from SHITAL PRADHAN]

No power in Lower Rakdong villages for past 10 days

MANGAN, 24 July: Several villages at Lower Rakdong like Kazitar, Tamsay and 12th Mile located at the border between East and North districts have been without electricity for the last 10 days owing to the disruption of the power supply line in North Sikkim.
Restoration work is in progress but slow, with the villagers themselves engaged in the work along with the linesman.
This is not the first time that these villages have suffered such power cuts with the supply being irregular for the past many months.

PD Rai reiterates Income-Tax exemption for Old Settlers demand in Lok Sabha

GANGTOK, 24 July: Lok Sabha MP PD Rai demanded Income-Tax exemption for Old Settlers of Sikkim during the discussion on the Finance Bill in Lok Sabha today. A press communiqué received from his office informs that the Union Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley, was present in the House when Mr. Rai raised the issue.
Informing the house about the special provisions under Article 371F of the Constitution, the MP reminded the Minister about the long pending demand of the State Government and the Sikkim Democratic Front seeking Income Tax exemption for all Old Settlers like is being enjoyed by the Sikkim Subjects and their descendents.
Mr. Rai also thanked Prime Minister Modi for making Organic Farming a policy agenda in the North-East and also appraised the Finance Minister about the need for a Biodiversity Institution in Sikkim, which he said can be linked to Sikkim University, the release adds.

UD&HD Minister tours North Sikkim, inspects projects

MANGAN, 24 July: UD&HD Minister, NK Subba, accompanied by Deputy Speaker, Dzongu MLA Sonam Gyatso Lepcha, visited North Sikkim today to take stock of under construction infrastructure of the department in the district.
The Minister was also accompanied by UD&HD officials led by PCE GT Bhutia and Chief Engineer BS Gautam, along with T Gyamtso, Special Secretary, Food & Civil Supplies Deptt., DC TN Kazi, SP RN Yadav and other officials.
The team visited the crematorium site at Pentok where the Mangan Nagar Panchayat president Karma Jigdel Bhutia and councilors requested the development works like beautification and fencing. The Minister directed the department officials prepare and propose a project accordingly.
The Minister also inspected the area near District Administrative Centre for the construction of a car park [between Zilla Bhawan and DAC]. The Deputy Speaker underlined the increasing parking problem being faced in area.
The site for the upcoming Legal Metrology Lab cum District Forum Office of Consumer under the Food & Civil Supplies Department at Pentok was also inspected.
The team also inspected the slide at Lower Mangan Bazar where the UDHD officials were advised to take up survey by an expert and propose a permanent treatment of the slide zone.
The team further inspected the MNP’s Multi Purpose Building and the under construction Lall Market Building where the Minister appreciated the quality of work being undertaken. The Minister was also shown a demonstration of the Organic Waste converter machine installed by the Mangan Nagar Panchayat.
Mr. Subba also inspected the buffer stock of essential commodities maintained at the FCS Godown at Mangan and directed the concerned department to keep adequate stock for emergencies.
The team also visited the Passingdang in Upper Dzongu North Sikkim where the people demanded a mini urban market. The panchayat and public submitted a demand petition seeking construction of a shopping complex, car parking, street lights etc. The Minister advised the public to develop the mini market in a traditional style and urged them to provide the land for the project. The Deputy Speaker, being the area MLA as well, highlighted that this was a long pending demand of the people and informed that Passingdang being the main village of Upper Dzongu should be developed as a traditional heritage for the promotion of tourism.
The team further visited Gnon in Lower Dzongu where the public and panchayat demanded the construction of a shopping shed. Earlier in the morning, the Minister also visited Pheedang Lower Dzongu and Rang-Rang villages.

Working Together to Make Things Work

This is a theme that this section returns to often and brings up yet again today – the need for the Sikkimese to get together more spontaneously and strike more instinctive collaborations and not just unite in complaints.
Writing in 1958, political scientist and influential thinker, Edward Banfield, announced what his research showed as the reason for backwardness – communities which cannot work together. In his seminal work, “The Moral Basis of a Backward Society”, he studied the reasons behind underdevelopment in a village in the southern tip of Italy. His conclusion: “The extreme poverty and backwardness is to be explained largely by the inability of villagers to act together for their common good.” His work was followed up thirty-five years later by a Harvard professor who returned to the same theme and village in 1993. In his book, “Making Democracy Work: Civic Traditions in Modern Italy”, he concluded that local governments work in northern Italy and fail in southern Italy because northern Italians are more likely to get involved in neighbourhood activities – singing groups, football clubs, cooperatives and networks of small entrepreneurs, while the southern Italians remain aloof and thus backward. Both tips of Italy were governed by the same Central government and the same policies, and yet, while one region progressed, the other refused to develop. These were academic exercises and thus unlikely to have been tinged by parochialism which can contaminate less disciplined analyses. It also makes obvious sense. Measure Sikkim against this theory and the worries become apparent. The State literally spoon-feeds the populace, and is not only the main provider but also the main consumer of everything from human resource to supplies. From education to books to roofs to business to employment, just about everything is serviced by the State and yet the economy is neither vibrant nor the development universally palpable. Can one fault the government for this? There will be those who say that corruption holds development back. Corruption can be a hindrance, but not even corruption can hold the collective will of the people back if it is development that they want and are willing to power. It has to be the community participation, rather, the lack of it, that holds Sikkim back.
Accept it, the Sikkimese, as a people and even as smaller communities, rarely form excited impromptu clubs or groups. There are many NGOs and clubs, but most are either family affairs or a collection of friends. Community participation has to involve a wider circle. That does not happen enough in Sikkim. Only in the very rare flashes do people volunteer into community initiatives, but this is one process which the State cannot sponsor and has to ripple from bottom up and not top down. Unfortunately, collective participation remains uninspired and largely uninvolved in Sikkim. State patronage can support developmental and community instincts of the people, but it cannot create it. And these instincts get honed with a community’s efforts towards and success in working together, celebrating together and learning together, leading to a situation where they develop because of and along with each other. This obviously begins with participation. Now that appears to still be in short supply.

Bhandari condemns police action

GANGTOK, 24 July: Sikkim Sangram Parishad president Nar Bahadur Bhandari has criticized the police action on college students [on 14 and 15 July last week] and demanded a judicial enquiry into the incident.
He also came down strongly on the issue which led to the lathicharge – the fourfold increase in college fees, and rued this unreasonable hike, which, the government had to eventually roll back.
He has also demanded that the State government should apologise to the students.

KT Gyaltsen and Bhim Dahal accorded Cabinet rank posts

GANGTOK, 24 July: The state government has appointed former Speaker KT Gyaltsen and former MP Bhim Dahal as legal and press advisors to the Chief Minister respectively. Both posts are Cabinet rank.
Mr. Gyaltsen was appointed Legal Advisor to the Chief Minister vide a notification published on 23 July, 2014 along with Mr. Dahal as Press Advisor. The notification, issued in the name of the Governor, is signed by the Chief Secretary. Mr. Dahal had served as Press Advisor to the Chief Minister in the last term [2009-14] as well.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Students give one-man committee chance to deliver justice


GANGTOK, 23 July: A section of college students, the group which had dismissed the agreement with the State Government and even travelled down to Siliguri to announce their condemnation of the said agreement, announced today that their “movement” will continue until the victims of the police lathicharge of 14 July do not receive justice. They also highlighted that they will not be carrying out any agitation until the completion of the one-man committee’s enquiry into the police action. The committee is scheduled to complete its enquiry on 29 July. Should the committee’s report not be acceptable to them, the student group plans to resume its protest. They also reassured that should the protest resume, it will be peaceful.
This was announced during a press conference by the group of seven at Sikkim Government College, Tadong, shortly after they held a meeting with the college and HRDD authorities. The announcement is significant because the group had earlier rejected the one-man committee and demanded a committee of more members headed by a retired Judge.
As for their demand of action against the SP-East [since transferred] and the SHO Sadar Thana, the student group demanded that all action as prescribed by law should be initiated against them for their role in the lathicharge on students on 14 July. Transfer, they clarified, was not “sufficient” reprimand.
The press conference was addressed by Prakash Parajuli, Denka Bhutia, Binoy Pradhan, Raksha Gautam and Poonam Karki of SGC-Tadong and Pema Bhutia and Purung Gurung from Namchi Government College.
Addressing the press conference, they wanted the committee to work freely and peacefully and would facilitate this process. In this regard, they have invited all students who might have statements to give or evidence to share on the police action to meet the one-man committee during its scheduled sitting at SGC-Tadong on 26 and 28 July [from 10 AM to 4 PM].
“Our movement will end on the day when the lathicharge victims get justice and then we will announce the end of our agitation through a press conference,” they said.
The student protest, it may be recalled, had begun in relation to the hike in college fees. While this was rolled back on day-One of the protest itself, yesterday, the Chief Minister announced the abolition of fees altogether till graduation.
“We would also like to thank the CM for making education free in Sikkim but extend even more thanks to the students and people for supporting this movement which made this possible,” they expressed.
On the extension of school and college holidays till 01 August, they alleged that this was clearly an attempt to sabotage and weaken the students’ agitation for justice. The closure would also discourage and inconvenience students from approaching the one-man committee and sharing whatever evidence they might have, they added, apart from the extended holidays hampering education.
They have appealed that the HRDD reopen schools and colleges immediately.

Black Cats host stranded tourists at Kyongnosla

GANGTOK, 23 July: Troops of Black Cat Division came to the aid of tourists stranded near Milestone 17 [Kyongnosla] on the Gangtok-Tsomgo JN Marg by a landslide at 5 p.m. on 22 July.
An army press release informs that around 25 to 30 tourist vehicles carrying 93 tourists were accommodated at the military camp at Kyongnosla. The tourists were provided refreshments and dinner and accommodated in two centrally-heated dormitories.
The civilians were impressed with the warm hospitality, care, administrative arrangements and the kind gesture of the Army, the release highlights.

SKM condemns suggestion that development will focus on South and West Sikkim at the cost of East and North districts

GANGTOK, 23 July: Sikkim Krantikari Morcha today strongly condemned the statement attributed to Chief Minister Pawan Chamling in media reports today regarding diversion of development from North and East districts to South and West Sikkim. This comment was reportedly made by the CM at a function in Yangyang on Tuesday during which he is alleged to have said that since SDF won all seats in South and West districts [and lost one of three in North Sikkim and eight out of 12 in East district], it would focus development on South and West, even diverting funds and schemes from the other two districts.
“Sikkim Krantikari Morcha strongly objects to the remarks made by the Chief Minister and term it undemocratic, unethical, anti-national and anti-people. It is the duty of the government to work for every citizen without any discrimination on political grounds,” states a press release issued today by SKM general secretary [press & publicity], Dilip Rai.
“We accept that there must be proper developments in the south and west district but we also dare the Chief minister to  take away development works from the North and east district but be ready to face the consequences that comes attached with it,” the release adds.
The party has also condemned the shutting down of government schools and colleges till 31 July by the State Government. “It is disgraceful that notification which mentioned closure of such institutions till 31st July 2014 did not mention reasons behind the decision. Sikkim Krantikari Morcha here questions who would be responsible for the academic loss borne by students of schools and colleges. Such irresponsible act by the government shows their lack of knowledge for good governance,” the release contends.

SDF convenes coordination meeting

GANGTOK, 23 July: Sikkim Democratic Front’s recently appointed East district president, DB Thapa, chaired a coordination meeting with senior functionaries of the party, including the elected representatives of the party, yesterday in pursuance of the party president’s directions for formation of central executive body.
The meeting was also attended by the party spokesperson K T Gyaltsen, general secretary SK Pradhan, KB Chamling, Ministers, Chief Whip, councilors and party supporters and focused on the reorganization of party in the district, constituency and block levels.
The meeting unanimously resolved to work with full commitment for the party,  an SDF press release informs, adding that the party will also consciously strive to make its youth more assertive, transformative and energetic.
The party’s former youth in-charge, Minister Ugen T Gyatso urged the party’s senior members to work towards making the party’s youth and youth base stronger and the organizational structure stronger.
The meeting also decided to appoint district level and constituency level presidents, convenors and other office bearers as per the provision of the party constitution and will also nominate members to the Central Executive Committee.

MP advises MoEF to plan better for Climate Change

GANGTOK, 23 July: Lok Sabha MP PD Rai today urged the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change to prepare a white paper to address specific concerns arising out of climate change in the North-Eastern region.
Speaking at the debate on Demand for Grants for the MoEF in the Lok Sabha, Mr. Rai highlighted the political and economic impacts of climate change in the region. He also detailed steps taken by the Sikkim Government to address the issue, a press communiqué from the MP’s press office informs.
Mr. Rai informed the House about the potential impact of climate change on agricultural yield in the North-Eastern region, particularly Sikkim’s North District, where impact is expected to be the highest in the region according to scientific studies, the release adds.
He also raised concerns over the reduction in budgetary allocation for North-Eastern region from Rs. 191 crore in the Interim Budget to about Rs. 181 crore in the current Budget.
Welcoming the new National Mission on Himalayan Studies - for promoting research for sustainable development of the Himalayan region - he expressed hope that the Centre will address both climate change and developmental issues in the region.
He also highlighted the importance of forestry research in addressing climate change issues. He raised concerns over the low budgetary support for Indian Council for Forestry Research and Education, an institution of national importance. He said that lack of funding has adversely impacted the research output of the institution. He stressed the need for enhancing budgetary allocation to enable the institution to undertake new research projects for the rejuvenation of forests.
Furthermore, he highlighted the need for policy level intervention to specify the norms for forest cover for States in the country. He said that such a policy will enable States with high forest cover to undertake developmental initiatives.

NSS volunteers from Namchi Public School hold camp at Khorlong-Bikmat

NAMCHI, 23 July: Namchi Public School’s NSS [National Service Scheme] Cell held a three-day special camp at Khorlong, Bikmat, Namchi, the adopted village for the camp. During the course of the camp, the NSS volunteers conducted a cleanliness drive and also undertook a plantation drive. The initiative was joined by local residents and also as part of the task, toddlers at the Mother Teresa School were taught some dances and songs by the volunteers.
The local Panchayat, the youth club and the Primary School were gifted dustbins.
The main attraction of the three day event was the musical programme presented for the locals. During the programme, the volunteers also briefed the people about dengue, snake bites and rabies and urged them to adopt green lifestyles and develop stronger social and civic responsibility.
The NPS NSS Cell Programme Co-ordinator, Solomon Rai, along with Anand Sharma played a pivotal role in organising the camp.  [from ASHOK IYER]

Namthang-Rateypani students want to get back to school, support college demand condemn violence

NAMCHI, 23 July: Students from Namthang-Rateypani constituency of South Sikkim enrolled at Namchi Government College and different schools under the constituency today registered their dissatisfaction with the State Government’s decision to keep schools closed till 31 July. Almost the entire month has been lost to holidays now with the summer break earlier in the month and then the college protests leading to shutdown of schools and colleges since 15 July. Although the ‘trouble’ was limited to Gangtok, government schools and colleges all over the State have been closed.
Students called a press conference at Namthang today and appealed to the State government to solve the issue at the earliest so that they could resume their studies and return to their classes.
The students also condemned the police action on college students in Gangtok and hoped that the enquiry committee will deliver justice to the aggrieved students.
The students also reiterated that they condemned violence in all forms and stressed that the only priority for them was learning, a process which has been hamstrung by the closure of schools.
They also conveyed their gratitude towards the Chief Minister for having made education completely free till graduation in Sikkim.
Further, the students also appealed to all political parties of the state not to interfere and politicize the issue as such interference will only complicate the matter further and make delivery justice even more difficult.  In the same vein, they also appealed to other students not to resort to violence or allow themselves to get instigated.

Mangan gets a multi-gym

MANGAN, 23 July: A “Multi-Gym” has been established here under the initiative of the Mangan Nagar Panchayat. Rajya Sabha MP, Hishey Lachungpa, today inaugurated the gym established under the MP-Local Area Development fund, the said gym has been developed at the cost of Rs. 10 lakh and has been established at the Multi Storey Car Plaza.
“We have established this Multi Gym targeting the youth who we hope to involve more in fitness than getting caught in harmful distractions and will be charging a minimal fee,” said Mangan Nagar Panchayat president, Karma Jigdel Bhutia, while speaking to NOW!
Mr. Bhutia further appealed to all the people to take the advantage of the facility and on behalf of the MNP extended gratitude to the MP for providing the scheme to the people of Mangan and North Sikkim.
The inauguration was also attended by North Zilla Upadhakshya NT Lepcha, DC-North TN Kazi, SP RN Yadav, and the residents. Also present were ADC North, Raj Yadav, Deputy Director Animal Husbandry, KT Bhutia, Deputy Director FCS, PW Lepcha, MNP councilors, officials and the business community of Mangan Bazar.

Govt college and school staff directed to report to duty

GANGTOK, 23 July: The Human Resource Development Department today issued a fresh directive calling on all Heads of schools, teaching and non-teaching staff of the government colleges and schools to report to duty from 24 July onwards.
The HRD Department today took a decision to have teachers and administrative officials to be present in schools and colleges from Thursday onwards so that official works are not hampered.
However, studies will be resume only from 01 August as the State government had already decided to shut down schools for another seven days [till 31 July] yesterday.

Health Secy convenes meeting to reinforce Sikkim against Encephalitis outbreak

GANGTOK, 23 July [IPR]: In view of the ongoing Encephalitis outbreak in neighboring West Bengal with reports of, now upwards of 105 death, the Director General-cum-Secretary Health chaired a meeting in his office on 22 July to discuss Sikkim’s preparedness and to take necessary steps.
The meeting decided to take the following steps to prevent an Encephalitis outbreak: intensify IEC activities including mosquito control measures; enhance active surveillance of fever cases; correspond with Government of India regarding guidelines on Japanese Encephalitis prevention, diagnosis and management and also details on Japanese Encephalitis vaccination; request Entomological team from the Centre for Entomological survey; seek Diagnostic kit to be made available through GOI; circulate memos to all the Chief Medical Officers regarding Japanese Encephalitis outbreak, preparedness and management.
The STNM Hospital and CRH have been directed to prepare all necessary arrangement for management of Japanese Encephalitis cases as and when needed.
The meeting was attended by Principal Director Health Services-I, Pr. Director Health Services-II, PCC-cum-Medical Superintendent, HoD (Microbiology), SPO (NVBDCP), N.O.(NHM), State Immunization Officer.

Mainra is new Principal Secy at Forest Deptt

GANGTOK, 23 July: PCCF, Forest Department, Anil Kumar Mainra, has been appointed PCCF-cum-Principal Secretary, Forest Department, taking over from Arvind Kumar who was holding additional charge at Forest along with being Principal Resident Commission, Sikkim House, New Delhi.
Mr. Kumar will now hold charge as Principal Resident Commissioner-cum-Principal Secretary, Sikkim House, New Delhi.
Still at the Forest Department, Principal Director Topdhan Rai has been given additional charge as Principal Director, Sericulture.

DC-East transferred to Sikkim House

GANGTOK, 23 July: Following in the wake of transfers at the SP level at the districts, the State Government today ordered transfers at the District Collectorates as well.
DC East, AK Singh, was today transferred and posted to New Delhi as Additional Residential Commissioner, Sikkim House. District Collector West, Tshewang Gyachho, has been given the charge of East Sikkim as DC.
ADC-East Aishvarya Singh, meanwhile, has transferred and promoted as DC West in place of Mr. Gyachho.
Meanwhile, Dipa Basnett, Director Higher Education at the HRDD has posted to Department of Planning and Northeastern Region Council while her responsibilities at HRDD have been taken over by Additional Residential Commissioner Jitendra Singh Raje who takes charge as Director Higher Education.
Senior SP Sammi Rai, who was transferred from Vigilance to Special Branch has been directed to continue as SP Vigilance.

Convergence model leveraged to establish 2,147 ha of quality orchards benefitting 9,000 farmers

GANGTOK, 23 July [IPR]: Taking up development programs in convergence is a major priority of the Central Government and this is how the restructuring of MGNREGA is envisaged as well so that it contributes to asset creation and is substantially linked to agriculture and allied activities. In such a convergence initiative in the State, two departments have joined hands to make quality horticulture orchards a reality. In this convergence model, planting of a total of 2,147 hectares of horticulture plantations is nearing completion covering 9,000 beneficiaries in which about 46 lakh plants were planted in the Gram Panchayats.
A total of 1,450 ha large cardamom, 661 ha of Mandarin Orange and 41 ha of grafted guava plantations have been completed on time thus far.
The total joint investment involved is to the tune of Rs 14 crore from the centrally sponsored schemes (MGNREGA and HMNEH) of both the Departments.
The groundwork for this convergence was carried out over the last six months to complete the planning and preparatory activities. The MGNREGA convergence framework between Horticulture and Cash Crop Development Department (HCCDD) and the Rural Management and Development Department (RMDD) was approved by the Government in Jan 2014.
RMDD took up the task of identification of beneficiaries and location (in gram sabhas), pit digging, planting and maintenance, while HCCDD took up the function of providing the plants, bio-fertilizers, bio-pesticides and technical support. Special registers and books were printed to keep a detailed record of the plants and inputs received and distributed to the beneficiaries (plants indent book, plants received register, beneficiary plants issue register etc).
To prevent duplication or double payment, joint estimates were prepared with complimentary financial components i.e. wage component by RMDD and material component (plants, bio-fertilizer and bio-fungicides/ bio-pesticides) by HCCDD. Several State, district and block level meetings were held to ensure seamless integration. Works related to pit digging, planting etc were assigned in piece rate basis to ensure productive utilization of the workers.
A kickoff meeting with all the functionaries of both the Departments was held on 09 June, 2014 which was followed by a review meeting on 19 July, 2014. During this workshop, the field functionaries informed that they have not only distributed the seedlings to farmers but this time also provided technical inputs and also ensured the planting of all the seedlings in the farmer’s fields in a timely manner.
During this meeting, the modalities for providing bio-fertilizers and bio-pesticides to farmers were also discussed. Also, to further motivate and train the farmers it was decided to take them on exposure visits both within and outside the state. It was also decided to document the learnings in book form to be released on 15 Aug, 2014.
This convergence is based on the mutual strengths of both the departments with HCCDD providing the technical expertise, planting material, bio-fertilizers and bio-pesticides while RMDD did the social mobilization, providing the labour force, detailed record keeping and ensuring transparency safeguards. The quality of these horticulture plantations taken up in convergence was better than when taken up in stand-alone mode by either of the Departments. Convergence with HCCDD ensured good quality seedlings, technical support, providing know-how to the farmers and provisioning of inputs like bio-fertilizers and bio-pesticides. While convergence with RMDD ensured meeting the labour shortfall, providing of the planting costs to the farmer, ensuring that each and every seedling got planted with proper pit digging and advance work, improved record keeping and social auditing of the works. These benefits coupled with the joint monitoring by the functionaries of both the departments on the same work resulting in enhanced transparency and quality output.
This convergence model resulted in several benefits. The labour shortage in agriculture operations got resolved by productively utilizing the MGNREGA labour force into this sector. The opportunity costs borne by the farmers in establishing long gestation horticulture crops has been now subsidized by MGNREGA. Buoyed by the success of this convergence initiative, both departments have also agreed to take up other projects related to construction of water storage tanks, coffee plantations, banana plantations and others in convergence in the near future.
This convergence model of Sikkim has been appreciated at the Government of India level as well and MGNREGA officials from Sikkim have been invited by the north-eastern and Himalayan states to share their expertise and experience. Also, MGNREGA-Sikkim bagged the National Convergence Award from the Ministry of Rural Development in Feb 2014.

ASSA appeals for schools and colleges to be reopened

NAMCHI, 23 July: The All Sikkim Students’ Association [ASSA] today appealed to the State Government and the HRD Department to resume classes at government colleges and schools immediately. Classes have been suspended, it may be recalled, till 31 July across the State in the wake of the college students protest in Gangtok.
The ASSA members, led by their vice-president, were joined by representatives from Sikkim Students’ Welfare Association of Namchi Government College to the press conference.
The students called for peace in Gangtok and urged that the like other districts, peace should prevail in East Sikkim as well.
They also thanked the State Government and the HRD Department for the announcement to provide free education to students till college level.
About the developments in Gangtok, the students said that the demand was right and have now been met because the students stayed united. They did however condemn the violence and called on parents and guardians to keep their wards away from negative influences.
They have also called on the State Government to develop the necessary and required infrastructure at colleges and schools.

Pakyong Airport nearing completion, Aviation Minister tells Parliament

NEW DELHI, 21 July [PIB]: Minister of State for Civil Aviation, GM Siddeshwara, informed the Lok Sabha today that the Airports Authority of India (AAI) has taken up the project for construction of new Greenfield Airport at Pakyong, Sikkim at a cost of Rs. 309.46 crore for operation of ATR-72 type of aircraft. So far, 83% of the work has been completed.
The project has been delayed by over 50 months due to several hindrances like poor connectivity of site, adverse weather conditions, frequent bandhs and unrest by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, earthquake in 2011 and continuous agitation by the local inhabitants of the surrounding areas of the airport project demanding compensation for damage to their houses.
The date of completion of the Pakyong Airport project can be projected / re-assessed only after all the issues pertaining to compensation and security at the site are resolved by the State Government.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Chamling frees students from all fees


Yangyang, 22 July: The college student protest in Gangtok was against a proposed fee hike, and the fee hike was rolled back on the first day of the protest itself [14 July, last Monday], Chief Minister Pawan Chamling today announced an even larger bonus declaring a 100% fee waiver.
The CM made this announcement at the inaugural function of a Multipurpose Hall cum 12 Room Building at Yangang Senior Secondary School here in South Sikkim today.
In his address, Mr. Chamling declared that the government shall provide free education up to college level and for those who have already paid, the fees shall be refunded. There will no caution money, admission fee or any other extra fee from now onwards, he announced.
Referring to the recent students’ agitation, the Chief Minister said that he was unaware of the fee hike scenario in the state when it happened as he was away in New Delhi occupied with official meetings with the Union Ministers.
The grievances of the students, he added, were addressed by the government with not only the fee hike rolled back on day one of the protests, but a one-man committee also instituted to enquire into the police action on students on 14 and 15 July.
Violence, he stressed, was not the solution, and rued that while the matter was being resolved within the State itself, a section opted to take the protest out of Sikkim and defame the State. This was unfortunate, he said, just as it was unfortunate that some “vested interests” managed to hijack the student protest and unleash violence and anarchy on Gangtok [last Wednesday].
“I can understand the sentiments of the students,” he reassured, adding that the purpose of education was no just to prepare students for a government job, but to make them self reliant and aware.
He condemned the disturbance caused and created in Gangtok last Wednesday and remarked that this act of negativity and aggression was uncalled for as HRDD had already rolled back the fee hike before the situation deteriorated.
He requested the students and the civil society to stay wary of the mechanizations of antisocial elements and their negativity.
Meanwhile, commenting on talk of mass transfer of teachers which is being projected as victimisation of Opposition sympathizers, Mr. Chamling said that being the longest serving Chief Minister and one of the seniormost politicians of the country, he will not resort to such cheap politics. He dismissed such talks as rumours, and while reiterating that he will not allow victimization transfers, also announced that he will not tolerate dereliction of duty either.
Also today, Mr. Chamling laid to rest speculations that his younger brother will be getting the SDF ticket for Rangang-Yangyang constituency which he has vacated. He said that he still stands by his commitment of not allowing his family members into active politics.

CM inaugurates new infrastructure at Yangang School

Yangang, 22 July [IPR]: Chief Minister Pawan Chamling inaugurated the newly constructed Multi Purpose Hall cum 12 roomed School Building of Yangang Senior Secondary School in South Sikkim amidst a huge gathering today.
Present on the occasion were HRDD Minister RB Subba, former Speaker Kalawati Subba, Speaker KN Rai, Ministers AK Ghatani, NK Subba, SB Subedi, GM Gurung, Ugen Gyatso Bhutia, Somnath Poudyal, Tilu Gurung and a host of other dignitaries besides the heads of various government departments, Zilla Panchayat, Panchayat members, students and staff of the school together with the public of Rangang Yangang constituency and the adjoining areas.
Mr. Chamling, in his two and half hour long speech, deliberated on several current issues facing Sikkim and made some vital announcements as well.
- Free of cost education upto college level under the Government henceforth dismissing even the minimal fee borne by the students till date with a full refund of school fees deposited till date was announced by the Chief Minister, making Sikkim the only state in the nation and worldwide to enact and encompass such pro-student policy.
- Introduction of Geography stream in Yangang Senior Secondary School as per the demands placed by the school administration on the availability of Geography teachers for the school.
- The State Government through HRDD will hereon focus on nurturing students towards becoming skilled in all aspects to encourage proficiency amidst them to make them capable enough to appear and clear any kind of competitive exams.
- A new policy has been devised by the Central Government to grant 12% reservation for BPL category students which would be a genuine help to the students hailing from this category, Chief Minister remarked.
- The newly inaugurated school building has been named after Late Ashraj Subba, who was the first teacher of this school.
- Yangang Government Senior Secondary School would hereon be known as Late Lobsang Gyaltsen Senior Secondary school who is the school land donor.
His address on the recent fee hike in Government colleges:
- The Chief Minister clarified that he was unaware of the fee hike scenario in the state as he was in New Delhi where he was occupied with official meetings with the Union Ministers.
- He condemned the disturbance caused and created in the capital and remarked that this act of negativity and aggression was uncalled for as HRDD had rolled back the fee hike decision promptly.
- He informed that an inquiry committee has been formed to look into this matter.
- He expressed that the situation got out of hand when vested interest took advantage of the situation and instigated the unlawful activities in the name of the students.
- He requested the students and the civil society to keep away from being a part of anti-social activities and thus pay no heed to such elements who take undue advantage of their vulnerability with the motive to disrupt peace and development in the state.
- He pointed out that the recent turn of events over the fee hike has particularly  had an adverse effect on the students as schools and colleges are closed due to the disruption thereby hampering the students in their studies.
- He underlined the significance of Education tied together with moral code of learning and principles to the students and encouraged them to behave in a civilized and intellectual manner to handle such situations tactfully without falling prey to vested interest.  
His commitment to the public of Rangang Yangang constituency:
- He assured the public to take up and fulfil every possible developmental works in this constituency. Mr. Chamling reflected back in his speech upon the emotional bond he shared with the people of his birth place. Assuring to extend every aid and support from the government in terms of education, he made the students aware about the innumerable opportunities around them and asked them to rightly tap the best from the various central and state run universities and schools in the state. He further, informed that it was essential for the teachers, students and the public to work in coordination with the government in order to establish a Model Education centre in the state. He added that the teachers should  taking the responsibility to tender and nourish the students besides just their vocational job of teaching inorder to make them good human beings. He assured to look into the matter and take immediate action regarding the shortage of teachers in Science streams as well as insufficient faculty members in Sikkim university. He also expressed his vision to build a self-reliant, educated Sikkim with abundant competent and proficient people in all the spheres.
- Mr. Chamling also informed that environment clearance has been granted by the Central government for construction of Skywalk at Bhaley Dhunga which will bring about an advent in the tourism sector here. He apprised the public about the merit scholarships, study grants available for the students and scholars of Sikkim as well as the financial aids available for the economically backward students of the society. He also discussed the merit scholarship for the female population of the state through state backed scheme ‘Prerna’ which promotes Girl Child Empowerment. He informed the students about the cash prize given to the toppers of 10 and 12 CBSE. Drawing light to the new age era of technology and advancement, he motivated the younger generation to embody principles of truth, honesty and meticulousness in their dealings.  Hailing the commendable program of training youth in the livelihood schools under SICB, he articulated the magnitude of self-reliant and self-sufficient Sikkim.
- Speaking about the upcoming by elections in this constituency, he appealed to the public to accept the candidate as nominated by him and underlined that based on his belief and principles, he would not practice nepotism by favouring any of his family members to hold any significant political position. He has therefore, taken up a principled decision to grant fair opportunity to non-family members in this by-elections for which he sought the support of the public.
Earlier, the Chief Minister also toured the new building and inspected the exhibition put up by the students of the school.
The program also saw a technical presentation by the Chief Engineer of HRDD, where he said that the newly inaugurated school building houses 12 classrooms in the ground floor with a multipurpose hall on top floor alongside a well equipped computer laboratory and library for the good interest of the school students. The technical report was followed by a submission of the infrastructure of the school by the school committee.  
Mr. Chamling was also felicitated by the school committee for his contribution in the development of the school structure and upgradation of the students. The public of Yangang also took the opportunity to felicitate him for his relentlessly service for working towards the holistic development of the people of Sikkim.  
Minister Mr. RB Subba also addressed the gathering on the occasion where he spoke about the prospect of immense development with this inauguration of the new school building which will act as an asset to the public of Yangang. In this context, he requested the public, staff and students of the school and the school committee to work in unity to protect and safeguard the newly inaugurated building. Also, referring the upcoming construction of Sikkim University, Mr. Subba highlighted the possibilities of diverse development not just in Yangang but also the adjoining areas of Yangang. Furthermore, he appealed the people and staff alike to assist in immediate shifting of the university from the capital to Yangang on a timely manner. Further, he reiterated the plan of action that HRDD will be deploying trained and skilled teaching staff particularly in the Science stream in bringing about qualitative changes in the education system. Announcing the availability of 127 seats for para-medical seats for the Sikkimese students outside the state, he advised the students to utilize and make the most out of the schemes under the Government of Sikkim. Sighting the recent uproar over the fee row by the college students in the capital, Mr. Subba called on the teachers and scholars of Sikkim to discourage students from indulging as well as being a part of such unruly anti-social activities as youth play a vital role in the future of the nation.
The inaugural program also saw a presentation of cultural dance program by the students of Yangang Senior Secondary school.

Aapdara slides again

MANGAN, 22 July: The slide at Aapdara Zero Point in Lower Tintek, East Sikkim has become active again and damaged a kutcha house on 21 July at around 10 pm.
A huge boulder which came down with the slide slammed into a kutcha house belonging to the caretaker of NHPC Mandir near Zero Point. This boulder, bigger than the one that came down last time and totaled a truck, broke into three pieces with one piece hitting the front engine of a 58-wheel trailer. The trailer was parked alongside the one damaged in the last slide that occurred last week.
It may be recalled that on 13 July a massive boulder had crashed through a 58-wheel trailer and also damaged the NHPC Stage-V damsite welcome gate.
One part of the boulder smashed the kutcha house while the other piece damaged the approach road to NHPC Damsite. Fortunately, no casualty has been reported as residents managed to escape during a minor slide that preceded the bigger one.
This also disrupted traffic along the Dikchu-Singtam highway which was later cleared for light vehicles and on Tuesday opened for heavier vehicles as well.
Meanwhile, three families of Aap Dara Zero Point, Jas Maya Rai, Indra Bahadur Adhikari and Shanker Gurung have shifted to a safer location nearby.

TN Dhakal condemns arson on brother’s house

GANGTOK, 22 July: SKM’s TN Dhakal, who had unsuccessfully contested the Lok Sabha elections on an SKM ticket, today condemned the arson on Additional Secretary [Health] CP Dhakal’s house on Saturday night, as an act of cowardice attempted to settle political scores.
He has blamed the Sikkim Democratic Front for the act, adding that the attempt was clearly to target all three Dhakal homes [three brothers, of whom Mr. TN Dhakal is also one have adjoining houses].

2,679 sit for SCS and SPS prelims

GANGTOK, 22 July: 2,679 candidates appeared for the junior grade Sikkim State Civil Service [SCS] and Sikkim State Police Services [SPS] preliminary examinations on Sunday which was held amidst tight security at the 11 institutional centres in and around Gangtok. The exams were held for 25 posts of Under Secretary and 2 posts of Deputy Superintendent of Police.
While 2,691 candidates sat for the first paper in the morning session, 2,679 candidates returned for the second paper in the afternoon, informed the Controller of Examinations, Sikkim Public Service Commission, OP Sapkota.
5,431 candidates had registered for the preliminary examinations, but only 3,189 candidates took their admit cards for the exams, while the rest did not take their admit cards even though they were available with the officials of the SPSC office, he highlighted.
We are in the process of conducting the evaluations, he added.
It may be mentioned that this time the SPSC is conducting the exams based on the UPSC format where preliminary exams will be followed by the Mains and then the viva voce.
In the prelims held in October last year, which was later cancelled by the SPSC, 3,645 candidates sat for the morning session and 3,611 returned for the afternoon session.

SP West takes charge as SP East

GANGTOK, 22 July: SP West, DB Giri is the new SP East following the transfer of the incumbent, Manoj Tiwari, to the Vigilance department as SP.
Following Mr. Tiwari's transfer, a slew of other transfers have also been put into effect. SP/SB Hari Prasad Chettri has been made SP West while Commandant Sikkim Armed Police, Tashi Wangyal is the new SP South.
CO 3rd IRBn, Hem Raj Rai is the new SAP Commandant while SP Vigilance, Sammi Rai has replaced SP/SB Hari Prasad Chettri.
Mr. Tiwari, it may be recalled, is in the eye of the ongoing college student protest in which the students have been demanding his suspension for his role in the lathicharge on students on 14 July.

Sikkim mountaineer in IMF’s all Women Expedition to Mt. Menthosa

Gangtok, 22 July: Shanti Rai of Sikkim was Deputy Leader of the Indian Mountaineering Foundation’s all-women expedition to the 21,989 feet high Mount Menthosa in Lahual Spiti, Himachal Pradesh. Interestingly, this could very well be the first successful ascent of the mountain. The first summit is credited to a British Service Team led by Capt. S. Bembrose in 1970, there is no record the summit.
The IMF expedition, which returned to Delhi on 19 July, was sponsored by the Ministry of Sports & Youth Affairs and had Tine Mena of Arunachal Pradesh as team leader.
Shanti Rai, it is informed, reached the summit first at 11.12 a.m. on 11 July with the second party reaching at 11.30 and the last party at 12.03pm. Of the 11 expedition members, only 7 members successfully summited the peak.
“We started our summit journey at 1.30am early morning on 11th July from summit camp (18700ft). It was very technical route to our summit approach. Gradients on route were 80 to 85 degrees. We didn't take any medical support or communication throughout the expedition. By God’s grace, all the members came back safely to base camp on 12th July 2014,” Ms. Rai shares.
This, she adds, is the best record ever in Indian mountaineering history with the minimum time taken to summit the peak - in six days from base camp to base camp.

SGC Teaching and Non-Teaching community urges students to resume classes

GANGTOK, 22 July: Sikkim Government College Teaching and Non-Teaching community has appealed to the students to resume their classes so that their studies are not hampered. They have appealed for peace and harmony in the campus and urged the students not to believe in rampant rumours and false allegations.
In a press release, the Sikkim Government College Teaching and Non-teaching community has said that it sympathises with the students and condemns the violence that took place from 14-16 July. In a meeting held on 21 July they also welcomed the roll-back of the fee hike by the HRD department.
They further agreed to cooperate fully with the one-man committee set up by the state government to investigate the lathi charge on college students at Tadong.
The release states that on 16 July, under the guise of the student protest, some anti-social elements entered the campus and resorted to vandalizing. The College community strongly condemns this, it adds.

HRDD defers reopening of Govt schools and colleges to 01 July

GANGTOK, 22 July: As a precautionary measure to ensure the safety of children studying in the Government schools all over the state, the Human Resource Development Department [HRDD] has shut down all the government schools and colleges till 31 July and a Notification regarding the same has been passed by the department. HRDD had directed that government schools and colleges reopen on 23 July.
HRDD officials inform that this decision has been taken in view of the disturbance created in the state by the student protest and to see to it that the school going children are not affected if any untoward situation is created again.
The notice explains the closure of schools to “conditions” not being “conducive to conduct classes”.
“Till we are sure that the situation is under control and there is no danger to the lives of the children we have decided to close down the schools and colleges,” HRD officials add.
The HRDD notice applies to government schools and private institutions have been advised to use their “own judgment” to decide on the course of action for their respective schools. Most private schools, it may have been noticed, had already reopened and held classes without any disruptions save a lot of rumours and speculations.
The Notification No: 179/DIR(HE)/HRDD, dated: 22/07/2014 states, “All government schools and colleges of the state shall remain closed till 30 July as conditions are not conducive to conduct classes. Classes shall resume from 01 August. Private Management Institutions are advised to act according to their own judgment. All Joint Directors of the Districts are requested to inform all the institutions in their districts.” It may be mentioned that 31 July is a holiday.
The Notification is signed by the Directors [School Education and Higher Education] and forwarded to the Additional District Collector.