Friday, January 13, 2012

Quick action by cops ropes in 5 of 6 jailbreak fugitives


ONLY RUDRA THAPA STILL AT LARGE

GANGTOK, 12 Jan: Swift and coordinated action by Sikkim Police has resulted in 5 of the 6 convicts who escaped from the State Jail here yesterday being nabbed. The fugitives began to be nabbed from last night itself and the fifth was brought back into custody at around 5:45 this evening.
Various branches of the Sikkim Police, including the armed police, the IRBn, Home Guards along with the personnel from the Sadar, Pakyong and Ranipool police stations were deployed throughout the night and their efforts have ensured that the cops have been able to pull back some pride. While 3 of the fugitive jailbirds were nabbed last night itself from the Ranipool area, one more was apprehended this morning from Pakyong, and the fifth was nabbed this evening from Lower Syari near Gangtok.
The three picked up from Saramsa near Ranipool last night are Yogesh Karki, 25, of Soreong, West Sikkim; Prashant Sarkar, 25, of Jalpaiguri and Puran Rai, 22, of Munsong, Darjeeling. They were picked up in combined efforts of the various branches of the police late at night on 10 January and immediately taken to the Ranipool police station for interrogation to ascertain the whereabouts of the others.
It is informed that the three did not put up much of a fight and that they were very tired when the police came upon them and swiftly grabbed the three near Saramsa.
This morning, the police picked up Shekhar Roy, 40, of Jalpaiguri, from the Changey Senti forest area under Pakyong police jurisdiction. He had reportedly trekked through the night down from Rongyek, through the Bhusuk forests into Changey Senti aiming to make it to the Bhutan border. The police had spread out in combing operations throughout the night in search of the escapees.
Laxman Mahaley of Jaigon was discovered in the forests of Lower Syari this evening at around 5:45. He is believed to have suffered a leg injury and was reportedly left behind somewhere in the Bhusuk forests by the rest.
With this fifth arrest, the only fugitive still a large is Rudra Thapa of Nepal who was serving time for a murder in Jorethang.
It is learnt that when Laxuman Mahaley could not keep up with the rest, they left him behind and then Rudra Thapa is informed to have broken away from the rest, deciding to make his way alone.
 The police have charged all six with jail breaking under section 224 of the IPC. The five already in custody were lodged at the Sadar thana till late evening today and have since been sent back to the State Jail.
All 6, it may be recalled, were in the state jail on different charges of murder and were serving life terms. Their escape took place between 1 to 2 pm on Wednesday when they scaled the 20 foot jail walls with the help of a makeshift ladder and other materials including pliers acquired from the prison workshop.

Report on jailbreak submitted to Home Dept
GANGTOK, 12 Jan: A detailed report of the jail-break incident has been submitted to the Home Department by the Sikkim State Jail authorities. The state and district prisons come under the charge of the Home Department. The Department will examine the report, and on the basis of this make take further action. It is possible that an enquiry will be instituted to look into the causes and lapses which led to the escape of 6 murder convicts from the State Jail at Rongyek. There are already whispers of some personnel likely to be suspended, however, it has been confirmed that so far no such action has been initiated.

Future Gaming lodges formal complaint with Directorate against attempts to malign Sikkim lotteries and company


GANGTOK, 12 Jan: The Lotteries Directorate has confirmed that it has received a formal complaint from Future Gaming, the operator of Sikkim state lotteries, on the manner in which lotteries claimed be those of Sikkim lotteries were confiscated at Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, and Cochin, Kerala, recently.
Director, Lotteries, today informed that he had received a complaint letter from the company along with samples of the ‘fake’ Sikkim state lotteries which were allegedly confiscated by the Tamil Nadu and Kerala police but were being projected as genuine ones being smuggled into the two states where the lottery is banned.
These materials, the Director said, would be put up to the State government for examination and further action.
Future Gaming had written a complaint letter to the Director, Lotteries Directorate, bringing to his notice the incident relating to the confiscation of Sikkim lotteries by the Tamil Nadu and Kerala police and while claiming that it had nothing to do with the matter, further requested the Lotteries Directorate to find the actual culprits behind the racket who were trying to malign the reputation of Sikkim State Lotteries.
The fake lottery tickets have also been received by the Lotteries Directorate.
On preliminary examination, it appears that someone was attempting to defame the Sikkim lotteries as well as the company that operates it, it was informed. However, any further action will be up to the state government to take after examination of the materials at hand. There has been no formal or official communication between the state government here and the Kerala or Tamil Nadu government or police either, stated the Director.
On the other hand, it is informed that the CBI and other police agencies had also shown some interest in the matter. A CBI inspector from Kerala is informed to have been enquiring about the incident.
17.55 lakh paper lotteries worth Rs. 35.10 lakh were confiscated by the Coimbatore police last week and another few lakh lotteries were reported to have been confiscated by the Cochin police a couple of days later. Future Gaming contends that these lotteries are not Sikkim lotteries but fakes made by a rival group to defame them who then informed the police.

Rorathang to host State-level Maghey Mela celebrations


GANGTOK, 12 Jan: Rorathang Bazaar in East Sikkim is all set to host the State-level Maghey Mela Celebrations from 13 to 15 January, informs a press release issued by publicity secretary, Maghey Mela Organising Committee, CL Dulal today.
Maghey Mela has been a regular feature at Rorathang for the past 60-70 years, but this year it is being organized on a grander scale with the inclusion of such features as an exhibition-cum-sale of traditional food items of all communities of Sikkim, stalls of all government departments, a grand cultural show, traditional ‘lingey-ping’, etc, the release informs.
Cultural performances by Carnival Band of Darjeeling, traditional Lok Dhori, Indian Idol- Prashant Tamang, Swar Sikkim winner- Milan Sharma, North East Super Stars- Remanti Rai and Robin Mukhia are the main attraction of the Mela, the release further informs.
The Mela Committee, which includes MLAs of four constituencies, Bhim Dhungel [Rhenock], LM Lepcha [Gnathang-Machong], BB Rai [Namcheybong] and Puran Gurung [Chujachen] as chief patrons and patrons respectively and Roshni Rai [SDM, Pakyong] as chairperson and all the BDOs of surrounding five BACs are working hard towards conducting the Mela successfully.
On 13 January, Speaker, SLA, KT Gyaltsen is scheduled to inaugurate the Mela as the chief guest, while Minister Cultural Affairs and Heritage Department, Sonam Gyatso Lepcha and Minister Road & Bridges Department, RB Subba will be the chief guest on 14 and 15 January, respectively, the release further mentions.
The Mela organising committee has invited all the people of Sikkim to participate and make the Mela a grand success.

Namchi metal band ‘Dream Diabolic’ win the Shimla Winter Rock Fest


NAMCHI, 12 Jan: The rise to success has been relatively rapid for the five members of heavy metal band ‘Dream Diabolic’ of Namchi. After winning the ‘Rock-O-Phoenix’ Band competition at Guwahati in 2009, the band continues its winning streak with a win at the ‘Winter Rock Fest" Competition which was held on 24 December 2011 at Shimla’s Ridge hall.
Although a relatively new band, the five musicians that form Dream Diabolic have been playing together for some years in Namchi now. High school friends, Rahul Rai (Vocals) Phurba Sherpa (Guitar), Tashi Lama (Bass), Nima Sherpa (Keys) and Nimesh Pradhan (Drum), started playing together and producing original material a year ago.
Speaking to this correspondent, the band members informed that after winning the Guwahati ‘Rock- O-Phoenix’ the members had to take time off to concentrate on their studies. After a gap of almost two years the band members got back together, working hard to finally win the Winter Rock Fest at Shimla.
They further informed that they also want to perform for the people of Sikkim and are scheduled to play at the Metal Evolution Fest at the TNA auditorium, Gangtok on 28 Jan as a guest band.  They will also be performing as a guest band in the ‘Summer Fest’ at Shimla on 20 June.

Karate winter coaching camp gets underway at Paljor Stadium


GANGTOK, 12 Jan: A total of fifty Karatekas from across the state are undergoing a 15-day residential winter coaching camp organized by Sikkim State Karate-Do Association [SSKA] here at Paljor Stadium indoor gymnasium starting today.
The training is being provided by the experienced SSKA chief coach, BB Subba, assisted by coaches, Bijay Gurung and Bhim Bahadur Subba. This coaching camp is an annual feature of the association during the winter and summer vacations.
These coaching camps prove fruitful in preparing the state team for the national tournaments and also to keep children and youth busy in sporting and productive activities. It may be mentioned here that Sikkim karatekas have been continuously bringing national medals for the state and more importantly few Karatekas have also been qualifying for the National Games every year.
Chief Coach, Mr Subba informed that the camp has 75% new players and this time the camp is mainly concentrating on the Kumete [Fighting] skills and teaching participants mainly on score system skills to score more during fights.
The coaching camp is divided into three sessions starting from 6 to 7:30 AM, then 8 to 9:30 AM and from 1 to 3 PM. The camp has participants aged 7 to 25 years old.
Mr Subba stated that the coaching camp has proved beneficial for the participants in sharing talents with others and also helps them to learn new talents and skills. He stated that if Sikkim karatekas receive support and cooperation from the state then it would help the association to work more for the development and promotion of local karatekas.
The camp is also a preparation camp for the upcoming Sub-Junior and Junior National Karate-do Championships.

Landslips disrupt water supply to Gangtok


GANGTOK, 12 Jan: Water supply to parts of Gangtok was disrupted yesterday a result of heavy snowfall in the higher regions from where water is sourced. Minor landslips, caused by rain and snowfall along the Ratey Chu to Selep reservoir pipeline, crushed supply lines at 14 km.
Divisional Engineer, Water Supply [Gangtok] of the Public Health Engineering Department, MK Subba, while speaking to NOW!, informed that these landslips covered a 14 inch and two 06 inch pipelines that supply water to Selep Tanki from the water source at Ratey Chu. This constricted the supply to the reservoir and hence homes here received disrupted supplies.
“As soon as we learnt about the incident, personnel from the PHE Department were immediately dispatched to clear the debris and work underway on a war footing and water supply expected to be restored to normalcy by Friday afternoon,” he further informed.

Proficiency development training for graduate teachers at Namchi


NAMCHI, 12 Jan: A 10-day Proficiency Development training for graduate teachers taking classes in the secondary level concluded here at Namchi Girls Senior Secondary school today. The training had begun on 03 January and was organized by SCERT, HRDD Gangtok and sponsored under Sarva Siksha Abhiyan.
Deputy Director HRDD (South) was present as the chief guest for the valedictory session today accompanied by Deputy Director SCERT, DK Rai and the resource persons of the training.
Addressing the function, Dy Director SCERT, DK Rai informed that the programme focuses on bringing about proficiency development and personal competency amongst the teachers. The major components were spoken English, listening, speaking skills, reading and writing skills in addition to demonstrating various methodologies of teaching poetry, prose, grammar and vocabulary by the resource persons of the programme.
He further expressed that the enthusiasm displayed by the participants despite the winter chill and it being vacation time for the teachers is an indication that we are moving towards the right direction. He congratulated all the participants and also thanked all the resource persons for their cooperation during the training programme.
Chief guest, Dy Director South, AK Das in his address also congratulated all the teacher trainees and said that the English language has become the most important language in our lives and is the first language in the class room thus the role of English teachers is very important. He further said that speaking the language is the best way to teach students which would also help the teachers to be the best in their field of teaching as well.  
The trainee teachers were provided with certificates at the end of the programme.

CATCH marches on strong, wins accolades as Sikkim inches closer to becoming healthier state


GANGTOK, 12 Jan: Chief Minister’s Comprehensive Annual and Total Check-Up for Healthy Sikkim [CATCH] programme has been highly appreciated by other states and even by the National Planning Commission, informs Additional Director [NCD Cell], Dr PM Pradhan, while adding that states like Gujurat and Himachal Pradesh have appreciated the programme and showed interest in adopting it for their states. Even the National Planning Commission has stressed that other states should follow this programme, he adds.
Addressing a press conference today, Dr Pradhan informed that since the launch of the programme by the Chief Minister on 26 August 2010, 92,600 persons have received the total check-up and that blood investigation has been done for more than 1.5 lakh people so far.
He informed that after receiving directions from the CM, the Department carried out the programme on a pilot basis by adopting 20 wards in East Sikkim in the early months of 2010. Five thousand people were covered and once the feasibility and benefits of the programme were established, the CATCH programme was extended to the entire State.
Dr Pradhan informed that taking the programme to a new area, it was discussed with the community and detailed background and information of the area, families and people residing there collated in a prescribed format.
He informed that the programme is now underway full swing and the department in the process of issuing health cards to the people and even the central government has issued directions to carry out compulsory tests for blood sugar of every person above 30 years of age and all pregnant women.
“So we have decided to cover East and South Sikkim within February with the CATCH programme, blood sugar test and also complete Ward Files, Family Folders and Individual Case Sheets,” he informed.
The Ward File will include information of the area [like common causes of death in the area, common ailments and such medical data], while the Family Folder will include these details family-wise and Individual Case Sheets, as the name suggests, will be for the individuals.
The process began for Gangtok on 06 January and is being carried out by 13 teams. These teams will fill up all three forms and then provide basic check-up with blood sugar tests and if some problems are identified, then the patient will referred be to the hospital.
He informed that the preparation and distribution of Health Cards will be taken up on a war-footing once all districts have been covered.
Dr. Pradhan stated that this health check-up is just the starting and not the end of the CATC programme as  continuous follow-up will be provided with service packages and referred to concerned health experts. He further added that the programme also includes initiatives for community mobilization to change unhealthy lifestyles.
About the findings, he informed that it was found that North Sikkim has more cases [on average] of hypertension and West Sikkim more cases of Malnutrition. He informed that East and South Sikkim will be covered with basic health check-up within this financial year.

Sikkim player and arbiter leave for international Chess tournament in New Delhi


GANGTOK, 12 Jan: International Arbiter from Sikkim, Mahendra Dhakal, and a young FIDE Rated chess player of Sikkim, Rakesh Gurung, have left for New Delhi to participate in the prestigious 10th Parsvnath International Chess Tournament 2012 scheduled to be held from 14 to 23 January.
This chess tournament is among the few norm tournaments for International Master and Grand Master. [Norms can only be gained in tournaments that fulfill FIDE's strict criteria; for instance, an International Arbiter must be officiating and the entry must include at least three GM titled players from different countries playing over a minimum of nine rounds, with no less than 120 minutes thinking time per round. There are a number of other more minor stipulations].
Rakesh will take part in the tournament as a player, while Mr Dhakal will serve the tournament as an arbiter.
Speaking to NOW!, before leaving for the tournament, Mr Dhakal informed that it is a prestigious tournament and popular Asian norms chess tournament and nearly 50 countries are expected to take part in the tournament.
He informed that Rakesh is taking part in this tournament for the first time and it will be a big exposure for him and even a good opportunity to improve his FIDE rating although it is a tough competition with mostly rated players participating.
“It is a great opportunity for the player as well as for the arbiter to be a part of this prestigious tournament,” Mr Dhakal said.
Speaking on the recently concluded North-East FIDE Rating Chess Tournament, he said a total of 63 chess players mainly children represented Sikkim in the tournament and the state players performed well in their categories.
He informed that the state has won 3 gold, 2 silver and 2 bronze medals in the tournament and shown a vast improvement in the game in comparison to the last edition of the tournament. He also mentioned that all other participating states highly appreciated the performance of Sikkim players.
Mr Dhakal informed that in the tournament with an improved performance, Rakesh Gurung has improved his rating from1762 to 05 and Sushmita Lama has completed her rating performance which will qualify her for a spot in the rating. He further informed that Rahul Gurung, Suraj Subba, Durga Sharma, Jonah Lepcha, Zigdel Denzongpa and Priyanka Gurung have been included in partial rating this time.
“FIDE rating is an identity for a chess player and the number of FIDE rated players shows the progress of chess in the state, so it is a big achievement for Sikkim to have FIDE rating players now,” he concluded.

TAAS completes ecotourism training for NE tourism stakeholders


GANGTOK, 12 Jan: Travel Agents Association of Sikkim (TAAS) has completed the training on Ecotourism for tourism stake holders of North East Region which was sponsored by North Eastern Council (NEC), Ministry of DoNER, further supported by the Government of Sikkim.
Total of 19 trainees from Sikkim (7), Assam (4), Meghalaya (6) and Arunachal Pradesh (3) successfully completed the training, informs a TAAS release.
The Ecotourism Course started on 15 Dec 2011 and concluded on 12 Jan 2012. Certificates were awarded to the successful participants by the chief guest, vice president of TAAS, Sailesh Pradhan in a valedictory function.
Trainees were imparted the concept of ecotourism, advent of ecotourism, marketing, promotion, ecotourism destination, national parks and gardens and their roles, the release informs.
Other areas covered were responsibility of eco tourists, tourism stake holders in the participatory approach to achieve the definition of Eco tourism. Product identification, product creation and its proper use by the community and tourists alike was also part of the training.
Training on control of negative impact of tourism, conservation, bio diversity and awareness activities was also given. Select areas for bird watching was given top priority as the North East is one of the richest regions for birds, the release mentions.
Trainees were also taken for field trips to Lingee-Payong home stay, Dzongu for eco tourism and product identification practical work. While, training on natural trails, culture, camp management was imparted in Pelling and Yuksom.
Exams were conducted on 12 Jan for qualification for the certificates wherein 19 participants successfully completed the course, the release further adds.

Namchi Police arrest one in possession of drugs


GANGTOK, 12 Jan: Namchi Police arrested one person in possession of contraband substances from Solophok on 11 Jan. Acting on information from reliable sources, the Namchi police intercepted Lakpa Tshering Yalmoo at Solophok, Char Dham at around 5.30 p.m. and recovered 06 capsules of Spasmo Proxyvon [SP] and 01 tablet of Nitrosun 10 from him. He has been booked under section 9 of Sikkim Anti-Drug Act and is in judicial custody.

SDF constitutes Parliamentary Board for the upcoming Rajya Sabha election


GANGTOK, 12 Jan: In view of the upcoming Rajya Sabha election, the Sikkim Democratic Front president, Chief Minister, Pawan Chamling has constituted a Parliamentary Board comprising of the party’s executive members.
The board has vice-president [administration], KB Chamling, vice-president and in-charge [South], GM Gurung, CM’s Political Advisor, KN Rai, vice-president and in-charge [West], SB Subedi, CM’s Legal Advisor, RB Subba, Government’s Chief Whip, Ugen Bhutia and general secretary [administration], Nimthit Lepcha, informs a press release issued by general secretary [publicity], TN Sharma.

Namchi NYK celebrates National Youth Day and Week


NAMCHI, 12 Jan: National Youth Day and Week 2012 was celebrated here today by Nehru Yuva Kendra at Marut Bhawan. Youth from different parts of South district participated in the celebration which had DPO Namchi, Pempa Norbu Sherpa as the chief guest.
National Youth Awardee Jairam Gupta and District Youth Awardees namely Roshan Kaushik, Deepak Rai, and Training Officer Disaster Management Cell, Abhishek Kharel were amongst others present.
The celebration started with a welcome address by Dilip Sharma, staff Nehru Yuva Kendra Namchi. Speaking on the occasion, the chief guest focused on the life and philosophy of Swami Vivekananda, and also shared words of encouragement with the youth. He said that the development of society lay in the hands of the youth, and so every youth should realize their responsibility towards society.
While special guest Roshan Kaushik, spoke on the present scenario of youth and another special guest Deepak Rai shared his views on the role of youth in national development.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

6 murder convicts break out of Rongyek jail


GANGTOK, 11 Jan: Six convicts serving life sentences for different cases of murders in the State escaped from the State prison at Rongyek here today. The daring escape took place in broad daylight between 1 to 2 pm this afternoon and in all likelihood it was a pre-planned operation.
The 6 convicts scaled the 20 foot jail walls and fled into the wilderness outside. One the convicts who escaped is Puran Rai; this is his second jailbreak. He had escaped in the year 2004 with Rakesh Rai, aka ‘Spiderman’, only to be re-arrested. He was a co-accused in the Sikkim Hotel [PS Road, Gangtok] double murder case of November 2003.
The 6 escaped inmates are: Puran Rai, who originally hails from Darjeeling; Rudra Thapa, a Nepal national arrested by the Jorethang police in the year 2004; Yogesh Karki of Soreong and arrested there in 2003; Shekhar Roy of Hidayat Nagar, Jalpaiguri and arrested in the year 2006 by Sadar police; Laxuman Maley of Chama Tea Estate, Jaigoan and arrested in the year 2005 by Singtam police and Prasanta Sarkar of Raiganj, West Bengal and arrested in the year 2003 by Namchi police.
In a move to apprehend the jailbirds, two platoons of Sikkim Armed Police have been deployed along with 1 platoon of the Home Guards.
ASP Jails, Sonam Bhutia, informed that the police personnel are engaged in combing operations even as all the police Check-Posts, especially those at Rongli and Rangpo, alerted on the incident and kept on high alert. In addition, police stations all across the state and also in Kalimpong, Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri have also been alerted.
The Commandant, SAP, in coordination with the Jail police, Home Guards and other police personnel are engaged in the combing operations on the Assam Lingzey areas adjoining the Rongyek jail. While the SAP are engaged in the operations from Rongyek downwards, the Home Guards are engaged in similar operations from the Bhusuk khola upwards towards Rongyek.
The police believe that the escapees had hatched the plan much in advance.
Convicts serving life terms in the jail are given vocational work within the campus to keep them engaged and these include such works as dairy farming, agriculture, bakery, carpentry etc. All six were engaged in vocational work today, and at 1 pm, as usual, they break for tea. The 8 to 10 feet corridor between their vocational cell and the kitchen is always unguarded and it was during this tea break that the 6 made their way to the playground slightly higher up.
There were no games scheduled for today so there was no security at the ground either, it is learnt.  Here, they managed to take out the football goal posts which they tied together with ropes to make a ladder with the help of pieces of wood and other material they had procured from their workshop. This was hitched to the jail wall and the barbed wiring on the top of the walls was cut with pliers. The various tools they used were taken from their vocational work cell where the inmates are provided with various tools for their works.
After scaling the wall, they jumped down the other side where the ground is uneven thus making the leap manageable. It was only at the end of the tea break at 2 pm that one of the guards on duty noticed that a ladder had been hitched to the wall and alerted other personnel.
The State jail has its own personnel called wardens who are the supervisors inside the jail complex while the jail boundary is manned by SAP personnel. The transportation of under trials to and from the courts is the responsibility of Reserve Lines, Sikkim Police.
Immediately after the escape was noticed, all wardens, including those who were off-duty, were called in, the police headquarters informed and all police stations and check posts alerted. Photos of the escaped inmates have also been circulated widely. The police believe that the escapees have made their way down Bhusuk khola and will move in that direction generally but will not move about at night when it will be too cold.

Sikkim Lotteries confiscated in Tamil Nadu are fakes, claims Future Gaming


GANGTOK, 11 Jan: While it had come as something of a surprise to the State government, particularly the Lotteries Directorate, that lakhs of rupees worth of Sikkim state lotteries were being allegedly smuggled into Tamil Nadu where they were confiscated, what may be even more surprising is the claim and assertion by the lottery operator here that these were ‘fake’ lotteries.
It is also interesting to note that these so-called Sikkim state lotteries were confiscated in Tamil Nadu where Sikkim lotteries have been banned since the year 2003. This was the incident at Coimbatore, and a couple of days later, another ‘consignment’ was confiscated by the Kerala police at Cochin where Sikkim lotteries has suspended operations since September, 2010 as claimed by Future Gaming, the distributor of Sikkim Lotteries.
A ‘sample’ of the lotteries confiscated by the Coimbatore police last week is being brought to Sikkim to present to the Lotteries Directorate for examination, it is informed. These ‘samples’ are being brought as the Directorate has sought to know details of the incident and to satisfy queries of how such a huge consignment of Sikkim lotteries was being smuggled, informed officials of Future Gaming.
The 17.55 lakh paper lotteries worth Rs. 35.10 lakh were confiscated by the Coimbatore police last week and three persons arrested, while at Cochin 16 lakh lottery tickets were reportedly seized and two persons arrested. These reports were flashed in the national media. Sikkim state paper lotteries are operated by Future Gaming, earlier known as Martin Lotteries and is owned by John Britto, it is informed.
It was informed that the confiscated ‘samples’ have been procured by Future Gaming and are to be presented to the Lotteries Directorate, Sikkim. Officials of the state lotteries directorate will be able to identify them.
Speaking to NOW!, officials of the lottery company insisted that the lotteries confiscated are duplicates.
“You can be sure 200% that these are fake Sikkim state lotteries,” stated Ravi Chandran of Future Gaming.
The company informs that Mr. Britto’s advocate, against whom the Coimbatore police has lodged an FIR in connection with the seizure, had acquired a sample of the confiscated lotteries and on close examination the fakes were exposed.
Not only that, the arrested persons have revealed the name of the man for whom they were working and on whose orders they were transporting the consignment, Mr. Chandran claims.
The police, however, seem to be sticking to John Britto, the owner of Future Gaming, Sikkim, as the main accused.
“John Britto will prove in court that these are fakes,” asserted Mr. Chandran.
The ‘duplicates’, it is alleged, do not carry the signature of the Director, Lotteries Directorate, Sikkim, as all paper lotteries of Sikkim do and moreover, it is also claimed that on the top left hand corner even the name of the State has been misspelled. And while the state run lotteries are printed in security ink, the ‘confiscated’ lotteries seem to be printed in ordinary ink, it is claimed by Mr. Chandran.
Future Gaming, which pays Rs. 2000 per draw per day to the state government as tax, claims that someone is out to defame their company and the Sikkim government.
“It is a conspiracy to defame Sikkim and Future Gaming,” claim officials of Future Gaming.

Future Gaming lodges formal complaint with Directorate, Lotteries
Future Gaming, which operates the Sikkim state paper lotteries, has written to the Director, Lotteries Directorate, bringing to his notice the incident relating to the confiscation of Sikkim lotteries by the Tamil Nadu police. A similar complaint letter is also to be forwarded regarding the similar incident of confiscation at Cochin by Kerala police.
The company claims that it has nothing to do with the matter and further has asked the Lotteries Directorate to find the actual culprits behind the racket aimed at maligning the reputation of Sikkim State Lotteries. The company claims that it will also file a complaint with the Chief Secretary and the DGP as soon as they receive a certified copy of the FIR registered by the Coimbatore police. It is further informed that the lottery operator is also mulling over filing an FIR with the Sikkim Police as the incident has to do with the state run lotteries and also at the same police station where the FIR against them has been lodged.

Waste management initiated in Pelling


GANGTOK, 11 Jan: A meeting with the hoteliers, restaurants and all stakeholders of Pelling, West Sikkim was held at 11-Singyang Chombong GPU on 24 December 2011 towards “Making Pelling a zero waste area” under the Total Sanitation Campaign of the RMD Department which was attended by the West District Zilla Adhyaksha, Karma Chuki Bhutia, Deputy Secretary, Sanitation, Hissey Yongda, BDO, Gyalshing, Hemant Rai, all Panchayat members and the convener of “Friends of Green Pelling” constituted for the purpose, informs a press release.
It was decided in the meeting, that only non bio-degradable items segregated at the source which could be re-used will be taken up as part of waste management for which the Panchayats have authorized one local person, Chabilall Bista from Sakyong, West Sikkim who will go door-to-door collecting these segregated items in Pelling, the release informs.
To ensure that all beer bottles do not get sold out by the hoteliers themselves retaining only the plastic and other items, it has been decided that the hoteliers/ restaurants will get the nominal amount for the cost of beer bottles that could be collected. No amount will however, be paid for other items.
The release further informs that this has been decided to begin with as the GPU is not equipped with the logistics to take up all forms of waste that emanates from Pelling. It may be noted that the Department of Rural Management and Development Department will be providing the GPU with the cost of shed for collection and disposal centre of all waste along with a utility vehicle. Till this takes place, this small initiative has been taken by the GPU.
The GPU will formulate rules and regulations for the manner in which this initiative has to begin from the hoteliers and restaurants including households in Pelling. Non compliance of the above rules and regulations by the hoteliers and all stake holders will be penalized in the form of either termination of hotel licenses or non-renewal of licenses by the panchayats or as the case may be, the release adds.
The meeting concluded with the distribution of dustbins to the hoteliers by the Zilla Adhyaksha, Dy. Secretary, Sanitation and the Panchayat President of the GPU.

Consultation workshop held on rural housing earthquake reconstruction project


GANGTOK, 11 Jan [IPR]: The devastating Sikkim earthquake of 18 Sept 2011 resulted in widespread damage to public and private property. A large number of rural houses suffered various degrees of damage. Accordingly the Rural Management and Development Department prepared a DPR for the reconstruction of these full/severely damaged rural houses.
Based on this proposal, the Government of India has now sanctioned this rural housing reconstruction project. In order to finalize the design of this project and the modalities of implementation a consultation workshop was organized in RM&DD head office on 10 Jan.
This workshop was chaired by Minister RM&DD, CB Karki and attended by Minsters and MLAs, Secretary-RM&DD, District Collectors, ADC (dev)s and other senior officers. Presentation on the approach to this project was made by Special Secretary (RM&DD), Sandeep Tambe which was followed by discussion on the various issues raised.
The group discussed the various issues related to eligibility criteria of beneficiaries, beneficiary selection process, implementation models and monitoring mechanism. The Minister RM&DD in his address asked everyone to take up this project with utmost vigour and in mission mode.
This project is in fact an opportunity to bring about significant qualitative improvement in the rural housing infrastructure of the State and to reduce its future vulnerability to earthquakes. He also impressed upon them to ensure all possible transparency safeguards and quality standards to make Sikkim a model state.

30 archers begin preparations for Senior Nationals


GANGTOK, 11 Jan: Thirty archers from across the State are undergoing the winter coaching-cum-preparation camp for the Senior Nationals Archery [Compound and Recurve] Championship, which began on 08 January here at Paljor Stadium.
The coaching camp is being organized by Sikkim Archery Association [SAA] under chief coach, Zigmee Yodzer Lepcha, assisted by coaches, Thupten Rongkup and Dawa Zigden Lepcha.
SAA is also organizing the State Level Archery Championship on 19 and 20 January at Paljor Stadium which will also be the selection trial for the Senior Nationals, scheduled to be held in Jharkhand from 24 to 29 January. In the championship, an eight-member team with four archers each in Compound and Recurve events will represent the state.
Chief Coach, Mr Lepcha informed that the SAA has also picked new talented archers who were identified during the recently held PYKKA Sports Competition to hone their skills further to take them to higher levels.
The training session begins with physical exercises and other technical training from 7 AM in the morning while shooting practice starts from 11 AM and continues till 3 PM with a 30-minute break in between for lunch.

Editorial: The Steel Frame Has Warped


Indian bureaucracy has been rated as the worst in Asia. A report prepared by the Hong Kong-based Political & Economic Risk Consultancy Ltd has given Indian babus a rating of 9.21 out of 10. The survey primarily had business executives as its respondents and the rating thus is essentially about how easy/ difficult bureaucracies in different Asian countries are when it comes to facilitating enterprise. The top ranks have been secured by Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, Japan, South Korea and Malaysia, all developed economies. As for us, our bureaucracy fares worse than Vietnam (rated at 8.54), Indonesia (8.37), Philippines (7.57) and China (7.11). No one in this country thinks much of its bureaucracy [the race for UPSC is rarely fuelled by a zeal for public service], but to learn that our administrators are worse than those in Vietnam and Indonesia is depression-inducing. While there would have been no complaints from Indians if the administration was found intransigent towards business houses because of their concern for the lay people, truth is that our babus rank so low because of corruption, inertia and superiority complex. While this would not come as a surprise to anyone who has had to get “official” work done in government departments [even in Sikkim], this need not have been the case if the Steel Frame, as the bureaucracy here sees itself, had been more malleable to accommodate a people-first attitude instead of continuing with the mai-baap fixation carried over from the colonial/ subject days. The steel frame has warped, and the ugliness is now unveiled, part of a report from a prestigious organisation and bound to be quoted often in the future. What is worrying is that if the bureaucracy at the national level, despite the pressures of public scrutiny and media attention, is so poor, how would the administration here present itself in the face of a similar survey?
Returning to the larger question, year 2011 would not have begun with such disheartening revelations. The Administrative Reforms Commission of the Government of India back in the year 2008 had made some interesting, albeit obvious, recommendations, which, if adopted, would have been path-breaking in, well, reforming administration. Its draft report had suggested that bureaucrats be held responsible for service delivery. Yes, ironically, performance is rated on input-centric indices in our country. Bureaucrats, as also the schemes they oversee, are rated on the basis of money spent, man-hours devoted and manpower deployed. The ARC had recommended that assessment be based on quantifiable output targets. This is a good idea and a welcome relief from attitudes which focus only on “efforts” [which are all about claims] and ignore the all important “impact”, as in results. Schemes are evaluated and sustained [with release of subsequent funds] based on Utilization Certificates. Although Sikkim’s bureaucracy fares poorly even on this formality, had the ARC’s recommendation been adopted [along with its penal clauses on failure], development would have attained the right trajectory. The problem with the present approach to evaluation is that because it is “input centric” it makes no demands on the bureaucracy to remain true to its public service epithet. Should this recommendation [on the service delivery yardstick] be adopted, it could end up catalyzing the entire decentralization process. Interestingly, Sikkim’s own Administrative Reforms Commission, in its report submitted to the State Government in July 2010, had, among other things, reiterated [it had said that this was of “considerable importance”] the need to draft a Citizen’s Charter for departments which deal directly with the general public. One of the biggest hurdles holding up effective decentralization of power, despite devolution of substantial powers to the panchayat level, is that lay people still do not have an important enough say. While they can vote for change, that is about the only control they have on delivery of development. They cannot touch the bureaucrats. And the babus can continue to talk down to them, because when it comes evaluating their performance, it is based on data [on inputs] which they control along with the elected representatives [who become a part of the System when they get elected]. Should performances be instead evaluated on the returns accrued by the inputs made, the end-recipients, that is the people, have a majority say because it will be their assessment of the effectiveness of administration’s ability to deliver that will decide which officers stay and who is shown the door. Yes, the Govt of India’s ARC draft had recommended that civil servants who continually fail to “perform” are compulsorily retired.
Of course none of these recommendations were implemented. And now we have the report of the Hong Kong-based Political & Economic Risk Consultancy reiterating what happens if the departments do not have enough public servants in the real sense of the term.

40 special athletes shortlisted to represent Sikkim at National Games


GANGTOK, 11 Jan: Around 250 special athletes participated in the state-level Sports Competition for all Disabilities which concluded at Bhaichung Stadium and Indoor Gymnasium in Namchi yesterday.
The four-day competition organized by the Special Olympics Bharat [SOB], Sikkim Chapter, in athletics, badminton, bocce and five-a-side football had started on 07 January.
A SOB press release informs that forty athletes have been shortlisted in the state-level competition on the basis of their performance to represent Sikkim in the upcoming 1st National Games for all Disabilities scheduled to be held from 15 to 22 February at Chennai.
The valedictory function had Zilla Adhyaksha [South], Himal Tamang, as the chief guest, who was accompanied by Sports and Youth Affairs Joint Director [S/W], Kamal Chettri, SDM [Namchi], PB Yonzon, along with representatives from Sports and Youth Affairs, Govt. of India and officers from various government departments, Panchayats and parents.
Participants were provided with T-shirt, food, accommodation, medals, certificate and TA, the release adds.

NASBO hopes tradition of sending BL representatives to Rajya Sabha will continue


GANGTOK, 11 Jan: The National Sikkimese Bhutia Organisation [NASBO], has called upon all political parties, particularly the ruling party that it continue with the tradition of displaying the “most sustained and exemplary system of political-social harmony with regard to its exercises in the parliamentary system”, in a press release issued by its president, Sonam Kaleon.
“We believe and call upon all the political parties and particularly the ruling party that it will continue with the tradition by providing one more able and capable MP (Rajya Sabha) from the Sikkimese BL community like in the past viz. late Kalzang Gyatso, PT Gyamtso and OT Lepcha”, the release states.

Workshop on ‘Lab to Land’ initiative held at Rhenock


GANGTOK, 11 Jan: A workshop on ‘Lab to Land’ initiative of Ministry of Rural Development was organized by SIRD, Karfectar on 11 Jan at the Rhenock BAC, East Sikkim. The programme was attended by all the Panchayat representatives of Sudung Lakha, Rhenock-Tarpin, Taja and Linkey Tareythang Gram Panchayat Units of the Block.
A total of 74 participants which included representatives from local NGOs, ASHA Workers, AWW, teachers, members of JFMC, VHSC, VWSC attended the workshop, informs a press release.
Block Development Officer of BAC Rhenock, BL Adhikari, highlighted the importance of the initiative and urged the Elected Representatives to be serious while recruiting Bharat Nirman Volunteers (BNV).
Field Facilitator of BAC Rhenock, Dorjee Tsh. Bhutia and Resource Person of the day gave a presentation on the objective of recruiting BNV, terms and conditions, role and responsibilities of BNVs, BNV diary, Rural Reporting, training to BNBs and expected out comes of the initiative, the release mentions.
Panchayat President of Sudung Lakha GPU, Hemlal Giri in his feedback thanked SIRD for this opportunity. During the interactive session the participants placed their queries which were answered by the resource persons.
In the workshop it was decided that by 20 January 2012 the recruitment of BNVs will be completed at the block level, the release adds. Similar sensitization workshops were conducted on 06 Jan at Kaluk BAC and on 07 Jan at Sumbuk BAC.

SHRPP accuses State Govt of ‘carelessness’ and ‘mismanagement’


GANGTOK, 11 Jan: Sikkim Himali Rajya Parishad Party [SHRPP] has accused the State government of ‘carelessness’ with regard to attending to the needs of the affected people of the 18 September Earthquake. The party has alleged that even after four months since the earthquake, proper shelters have not been provided to many people in such cold weather.
A press release issued by its general secretary, Tara Shrestha, alleges that when the public is facing such problems the Chief Minister is not even in the state which signifies his lack of concern for the people. Further alleging ‘mismanagement in the state administration’ the party has decided to write to the Governor and Union Home Ministry about the same, the release informs.

Interactive session on ‘Everyday Religion’ at Rachna Books today


GANGTOK, 11 Jan: Rachna Books is organizing a Word of Mouth event, ‘Everyday Religion: Turning Religion On Its Head’, an interactive session with Mark Larrimore,
Director of the Religious Studies Program at Eugene Lang College, The New School for Liberal Arts in New York, USA, on 12 Jan from 5 30 PM to 7 PM.
Mr Larrimore will be talking about the new movements in the study of religion and how it is changing our understanding of the history and nature of religion in human life. Challenging received views which support religious elites and hierarchies, a focus on everyday religious choices of ordinary people has the potential to revolutionize the way we see religion.
Mark Larrimore works at the intersection of the theory of religion, comparative ethics, and intellectual and cultural history. Editor of ‘The Problem of Evil: A Reader’ (Blackwell, 2001) and ‘The German Invention of Race’ (SUNY 2006), with Sara Eigen, he has published essays on Augustine, Immanuel Kant, G. W. Leibniz, Henrik Steffens, Watsuji Tetsuro, Max Weber and Christian Wolff.
His most recent essay examines the difficulty of theorizing religious happiness. His current research projects concern the problem of good, interpretations of the Book of Job, and the future of religion. He is here in Sikkim on an invitation by Sikkim University.
There is no entry fee for the event organized by the “Friends@Rachna” at the new Rachna Books which has recently opened to public on the first floor of the earlier location.

First batch of Temi-Namphing livelihood school complete souvenir-making course


GANGTOK, 11 Jan: The convocation of the first batch of souvenir making course of Temi-Namphing livelihood school under the State Institute of Capacity Building (SICB) Karfectar, Jorethang was held today at Temi Bazaar. The programme was chaired by area MLA, BS Pant along with Chief Administration Officer, State Institute of Capacity Building (SICB), SD Dhakal and Joint Administration Officer SICB, KB Pradhan.
The area MLA in his address congratulated the students of the livelihood school and encouraged them to move on with attaining higher success from the trades learnt during the year long course. “You all have completed the course with sheer hardwork and struggle but now more challenges await as now the responsibility has come to you in making the best use of the course in the days ahead by  leading a successful life using the techniques learnt practically”, he added.
With regard to financial constraints in the establishment of outlets or manufacturing units for souvenirs he mentioned that there are numerous funding agencies operating under the State government like SIDICO, SIRDA, Khadi and Village Industry Board, Small Scale Industry, NEDFi to name a few but what is required is to approach the agencies for loans following proper criteria and in case of any help required the government is always there and can be approached.
Mr. Panth reiterated that if the finished souvenirs produced by the trainees are really attractive and of high quality then he on his part will even demand for an outlet at Chaar Dham along with tourism cafeterias, big hotels but the students need to be fully capable and skilled in producing the best possible souvenirs.
Like wise Mr Dhakal in his address stated that the government and SICB, Karfectar, Jorethang has provided the souvenir making course livelihood school to Temi-Namphing constituency so that the local youth can avail the best training and become self employed.
The government and SICB have provided the training required under the livelihood school to all the trainees but now it is the responsibility and duty of the trainees to make use of it.
He further added that the production and marketing of souvenirs must be taken up in a cluster approach. Mr. Dhakal also informed that the souvenirs prepared by the students of the livelihood school will be included in a web site which is being prepared to market these products.
Managing Director SiMTEI, also the service provider of SICB, MK Pradhan thanked the area MLA for starting a souvenir making livelihood school at Temi-Namphing constituency.  He also thanked Mr Dhakal for his initiative which he said would not only benefit the students but the entire area.
A total of 50 students were trained in souvenir making by five teachers. The trades on which the training was provided were mug designing,  photo framing, eight lucky signs carving, tea packing and khada printing.
The area MLA today handed out certificates to the students of the livelihood school. The function was attended by Zilla Panchayat, Panchayat, BDO, school teachers of the area, senior citizens and parents of the trainees.

Char Dham attracts 41,068 visitors in 2 months


NAMCHI, 11 Jan [IPR]: As expected “Siddesvara Dham” popularly known as Char Dham here in Namchi, South Sikkim has become a huge hit with the locals as well as people from outside the state and nation.
It has not only put the small Himalayan State of Sikkim on the global map for the right reasons, in a short period of time, but also the small town of Namchi.
Administrator, Siddesvara Dham, Depen Sharma, informs that since 19 November to 31December, 2011 the total number of local, national and international (from countries like Thailand, Cambodia, Norway and Nepal and Bhutan) visitors has swollen up to 41,068.
Total number of vehicles which entered this pilgrimage spot is 6,413, and the total revenue collected is Rs 2, 14,910. After deducting the total expenditure amount of Rs 47,171, the total amount deposited was Rs 1, 67,739.
He further informed that the collected amount is solely from the parking charges, selling of tea and coffee and the service charge from the Cloakroom where visitors keep their belongings. The cloakroom charge is not mandatory, as it is charged only when visitors wish to keep their belongings there.
No entry fee is levied for anyone as we are in the initial stages of the operation, he informed.
Mr. Sharma also added that after minor works are completed within this month, the Dham will be handed over to the Trust by the end of January.

Nobel laureate Prof Stiglitz and economist Lord Desai discuss the economic rise of India and China


GANGTOK, 11 Jan: A discussion titled, “Asia Rising: Implications for the World Economy”, on the economic rise of Asian giants – India and China - was organised at ITA Centre For Performing Arts, Machkhowa, Assam on Tuesday with two eminent speakers, Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz, Professor of Economics at Columbia University, and distinguished economist and author, Lord Meghnad Desai, informs a press release.
The event began with the chief guest on the occasion, Chief Minister of Assam, Tarun Gogoi and his wife Dolly Gogoi felicitating Mr and Mrs Stiglitz and Lord Desai after which Secretary, Sports & Youth Welfare Department, Assam and Cultural Affairs (addl), Shantanu Thakur read out the citation for Prof Stiglitz and Lord Desai on behalf of the Assam CM.
According to the release, after the welcome address by Mr Gogoi, Investment Advisor to the Chief Minister, Government of Assam, Ranjit Barthakur introduced the subject and gave a brief on the session to the dignitaries and the audience. Opening the discussion in response to Lord Meghnad Desai, Prof Stiglitz said, “The failure of deregulation in the West led to so much of the problem. There has been growth, but a lot of people have not benefitted from the growth.”
With regard to sustaining the growth rate of India and China’s respective economies, Prof Stiglitz said “There is still a very big gap in per capita income. The knowledge gap is closing very rapidly but there is still 20-30 years to go before the growth rate can be sustained.” Talking about the IMF, Prof Stiglitz significantly said “The IMF has changed to addressing issues of inequality. But rural economy does not find representation in IMF.”
Responding to a question on whether popular movements against governments across the world, and especially the crusade against corruption in India led by Anna Hazare was an indication that systems of governance need to change, Stiglitz said “I think there is a serious need for change. Governments are not working as they should. And it’s not just corruption. There is a need to change policies and we need greater involvement of civil society towards bringing about changes.”
Commenting on the role of civil societies in an economy, Lord Meghnad Desai said, “I think civil society can play an active role in economics. They can pressurise the governments into framing policies for the betterment of the people.”
After this, the floor was open for interaction between the panellists and the audience. The release further mentions that this is the first time that a talk show of this stature and significance has taken place in Guwahati. There were students from across the Northeast attending the talk show which was a platform for them to interact with global opinion makers and understand the global responsibilities towards equity.
The event was organised by Youth Forum on Foreign Policy (YFFP) in association with Eclectic Times and the entire event was managed by Tattva Creations – Strategic Integrated Marketing Communications.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Sikkim students on a rural mission


OVER THE NEXT FORTNIGHT, STUDENTS UNION OF SIKKIM VOLUNTEERS WILL ‘GUIDE JUNIORS’ BY TAKING SPECIAL CLASSES AND HOLDING SPECIAL AWARENESS SESSIONS

GANGTOK, 10 Jan: Twenty volunteers from the Student’s Union of Sikkim [SUS] marched off to parts of rural Sikkim today carrying forward their unique initiative – “Guiding Juniors - Voluntarily Educating the Students by the Students”. This is a 15-day educational programme of the group undertaken in collaboration with the student’s wing of the ruling Sikkim Democratic Front.
SUS has adopted Taryang and Gor villages in Dzongu and Pathing, Dojak and Rankey in South Sikkim for the first phase of the programme. They plan to cover more villages in the second phase.
Addressing a press conference today, SUS president, Jiwan Subba, explained that this was a voluntary initiative of the students to extend academic assistance, environmental awareness and moral education to children and people of rural Sikkim.
He added that SUS volunteers will also be briefing the people and students on the scholarship programmes, schemes and programmes launched by the Chief Minister for the students of Sikkim.
“SUS wants to thank the CM for his productive and unique schemes, programmes and scholarships for the poor and underprivileged students of Sikkim and we want to take information on these schemes to the doorsteps of every student,” Mr Subba said.
He informed that although the focus of the SUS effort will be on students, the classes being taken by its members would be open for all interested persons to attend.
The 20 students have divided into four equal groups to cover the four villages of the first phase.
Khagendra Rai is the team leader for Gor-Taryang, Marina Rai will lead the group for Dojak, Jermit Lepcha for Rankey group and Samping Sherpa for Pathing group.
The SUS joint secretary, Marina Rai, informs that over the next fortnight, the volunteers will be offering tuition on various subjects, especially mathematics, holding workshops for extempore speaking to encourage children to express themselves with more confidence, and will also be conducting sports and other activities.
The effort, she said, is to build a more positive attitude among students and also to provide career counseling and awareness on capacity building programmes of the government to senior students.
The SDF student’s wing secretary, Kabita Subba, in turn, informed that the student’s wing has already made all arrangements for these classes by mobilizing the Panchayats and party workers of adopted areas.
SUS was formed recently [on 17 November, 2011] and has students from different government and private colleges and universities in Sikkim as members. Its expressed aim is to promote unity among students and make students more responsible towards the State, apart from addressing problems facing by the students.
The press conference was also addressed by SUS general secretary, Prem Dorjee Tamang, joint secretary, Khagendra Rai, coordinator, Jermit Lepcha, treasurer, Anand Biswakarma of SUS and SDF student’s wing convener [South], Arun Tamang.

Bacterial contamination projected as cause behind Lingdok food poisoning incident


5-MEMBER HEALTH DEPARTMENT ENQUIRY COMMITTEE SUBMITS REPORT
GANGTOK, 10 Jan: Preliminary enquiries and examination of samples collected to get to the bottom of the Lingdok food poisoning incident [which claimed one life and landed 82 in hospital], suggests that bacterial contamination of the food items was the main culprit.
This is the finding of the committee instituted to investigate the cause of the food poisoning incident. However, as Secretary, Health Department, Dr. K Bhandari, underlines, the final report and confirmation is yet to arrive and will be made known once the forensic results of the viscera of the deceased come in. The bacterial infection theory, the Secretary reiterates, is not confirmed yet and even the strain of bacteria believed to have contaminated the food not yet identified.
The report of the 5-member committee constituted by the Health Department to look into all aspects of the food poisoning incident, including the epidemiological aspect, was submitted today to the Secretary and has been forwarded to the government.
The assessment of the committee is that the “most likely” cause, after taking into consideration all factors and circumstances, is bacterial contamination of the food items. This seems the most possible and plausible cause as the enquiring team which went about examining food items, utensils used for cooking, the surroundings, including the cooking conditions, found that there were lots of pigeon and chicken droppings in close vicinity of the house in which the victims consumed their food.
It was further found that the house in which others, including the purohits had eaten was clean and without such contamination, and as such none of the purohits and others who had consumed food here had fallen sick.
The Committee had Dr. V Singhi [Director II] as the chairman, while the other four members are Dr. IL Sharma [senior Additional Director], Dr. Yeli Doma [Joint Director], BB Rai [Food Inspector] and Pema Uden [Chief Consultant Micro-Biologist].
Given this scenario and after the examinations it was very likely that the food had become contaminated with bacteria. On the other hand, and to lend support to this conclusion of bacterial contamination, the STNM Hospital which had conducted tests on the food samples and water source came up with negative results on all the tests conducted.
The viscera of the deceased, Shanti Rai, has been sent for forensic examination to Guwahati and now only the result will prove conclusive on the cause of the incident.
The Medical Superintendent, STNM Hospital, Dr. Uma Pradhan also informed that the last of the victims of the food poisoning incident was discharged today from the hospital. A total of 82 persons had been admitted to the hospital after having consumed food at a ceremony (kriya) being observed at Lingdok on 01 January. The only person to succumb to the food poisoning was Shanti Rai, 43, of Lingdok a day after being admitted at the STNM hospital.

Scheme framed to compensate victims of crime


GANGTOK, 10 Jan: The State government has framed a scheme to provide compensation to victims who have suffered loss or injury as a result of a crime. Called the “Sikkim Compensation to Victims or his Dependents Schemes”, this was instituted in mid-2011 and not only provides for compensating victims but also their dependents according to the nature of loss or injury suffered. The compensation amount ranges from a minimum of Rs. 20,000 [for simple loss or injury to a child victim], to Rs. 2 lakh as compensation for loss of life due to crime. The scheme has been framed under the Code of Criminal Procedure.
In the context of this scheme, a victim is defined as a person who has her/himself suffered loss or injury as a result of crime and requires rehabilitation and includes the dependent family members.
A victim compensation fund is to be instituted by the state government and provided to the State Legal Services Authority whenever verified claims arise.
In fact, under the Scheme, a budgetary provision will be made each year in the state budget by the state government. An eligibility criteria has also been specified to identify and approve victims for compensation under this scheme which includes that the victim should not have been compensated for the loss or injury under any other scheme; this includes schemes under the centre or state or insurance company or any other institution. Moreover, such loss or injury should have caused substantial loss to the income of the family or has resulted in huge expense for medical treatment.  Where physical or mental rehabilitation of the victim is necessary grant of compensation can be applied for.
All claims will be examined by the district legal service authority for verification and make recommendations to the state legal service authority which shall decide the quantum of compensation to be awarded.
The time of limitation has been set at 3 years from the date of the crime.
The SLSA is also empowered to institute proceedings for recovery of the compensation amount awarded to the victim from the perpetrator of the crime. These proceedings, however, will have to be instituted in a court of law.


Particular of Loss or Injury
Maximum Limit of Compensation
Loss of life
Rs.2.00 lacs.
Loss of any limb or part of body resulting 80% or above handicap.
Rs.1.00 lakh
Loss of any limb or part of body resulting 40% & below 80% handicap.
Rs. 80,000
Assault on women disfiguring her face or any part of body by acid or any other weapon.
Rs. 30,000
Rape
Rs. 50,000
Rehabilitation
Rs. 30,000
Loss of any limb or part of body resulting below 40% handicap.
Rs. 30,000
Loss of injury causing severe mental agony to women and child victims in case like Human Trafficking.
Rs. 25,000
Simple Loss or injury to Child victim.
Rs. 20,000


Editorial: A National Shame, But There is Hope Still


Its catchy name might distract from the seriousness of its contents, but make no mistake, the HUNGaMA report released by the Prime Minister on Tuesday stands for much more than the statistics it unveils on the nation’s collective failure in even feeding its young. HUNGaMA stands for Hunger and Malnutrition Report - India’s first ever comprehensive survey on childhood hunger and malnutrition. The data has been collated by Hyderabad-based Naandi Foundation from a survey which covered the 100 worst-performing districts [as listed by Unicef Child Development Index, 2009] and compares them with the six best performing districts — two each in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Himachal Pradesh. The survey itself is the outcome of deliberations of the Citizens’ Alliance Against Malnutrition, made up of 5 young MPs and other personalities. For the survey, malnutrition was measured on three parameters - underweight, stunted [chronically malnourished] and wasted [acutely malnourished]. Also, this survey, the first time, seeks to approach the problem by including the voices of the parents and includes comments of 74,000 mothers of malnourished children to understand the familial, social and economical problems basis of malnutrition. The survey has uncovered that India has the highest number of malnourished and stunted children in the world. Admittedly, our country’s huge population is bound to skew projections based solely on numbers, but even if one were to break the statistics down to percentage, the scenario remains dismal – nearly 42 per cent of the children in India [numbering over 61 million] are malnourished and stunted. The report reveals that malnutrition is extremely severe in 7,30,000 households in 112 districts in seven of the poorest states. The Prime Minister, who released the Report on 10 Jan, took the findings on the chin and put on record: “The problem of malnutrition is a national shame”.
For what it is worth, the latest data shows that malnutrition has come down in the five years between 2005 to 2010. Yet, a national shame it definitely is, because the survey reports that only one in five Indian children had acceptable levels of nutrition; but the exercise [of preparing the HUNGaMA] and the collaborations it received along the way hold up hope. For one, it demolishes the perception that politicians are only about vote-banks and slandering and that partisan posturing will defeat common cause. The Citizens’ Alliance Against Malnutrition was born when the National Family Health Survey III (2006) was tabled in Parliament and reported that almost every second child under five in India was malnourished. We are worse off in attending to the nutritional needs of our young than famine-ravaged sub-Saharan Africa! Moved by the revealation, five MPs cut across party lines and forged a common agenda to take on malnutrition. They are- Shahnawaz Hussain of the BJP, Supriya Sule of the NCP, Jay Panda of the BJD, and Prema Cariappa and Sachin Pilot of the INC. Soon, they brought in eminent people into their circle, and now the Report is out. Along the way, they visited the districts with high levels of child malnutrition and briefed senior politicians [from all parties] on their findings. This is one of the few bipartisan efforts to have progressed so well in India. Now that the findings are out, and hopefully because the Report is not just dry data and includes stakeholder comments and opinions, a more effective policy will follow. As the Prime Minister has admitted, a solution lies beyond the ICDS Centres and mid-day meals and will require wider collaborations which rope in the Civil Society involvement and corporate funding. One would have noticed that the number of ‘awareness programmes’ on nutrition and woman and child health have gone up even in Sikkim in the recent past. What is required now is for awareness to be made effective for the mothers because malnutrition is not always for want of food/ nutrition and is often born from ignorance on what a child requires to grow healthy. Sanitation has an important role to play, as does access to clean drinking water. There are independent “Bharat Nirman” schemes working in these areas, and now it is important that the implementers and beneficiaries understand that many linkages of these schemes which have a direct impact on the health of the young. This realisation will perhaps make these schemes get implemented better than the shoddiness that marks them at present.

Bhaichung shines in farewell match


NEW DELHI, 10 Jan: It was a grand farewell for India's iconic footballer Baichung Bhutia, though it was Bayern Munich who stole the show pumping in goal after goal and beating India 4-0 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Delhi on Tuesday.
At the half-way stage, 30,000 fans didn't bother too much about the number of goals scored, they relished how the Bavarians got them. For India, every minute was a learning experience of what European football is all about.
Mario Gomez opened the scoring in the 14th minute while a brace from youngster Thomas Muller in the 29th and 37th minutes highlighted India's defensive frailties. A pile-driver from vice-captain Bastian Schweinsteiger in the 43rd minute put the hosts four down in the first half. Second half was bit easy on India with no goal from Bayern Munich's side. European giant won the match 4-0.
It was an electrifying atmosphere at the stadium. Scenes were reminiscent of a chilly January evening in 1991 when high-flying Dutch club PSV Eidenhoven thrashed India 7-0 at the packed Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.
This time the showpiece stadium of the Commonwealth Games was half-filled but enough to create a deafening noise for the Indian team. Three years back, a packed Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata gave a grand farewell to legendary German and Bayern goalkeeper Oliver Kahn -- and it was Delhi’s turn Tuesday to honour Bhutia, who remained a crowd puller during an era when Indian football was in a sorry state.
Emotions ran high among fans, when Bhutia, who retired last August after being frustrated with a spate of injuries, posed for the photographers with Bayern captain Phillip Lahm with a Bayern jersey that had the Indian’s name on it.
Fans went wild every time Bhutia touched the ball. Though it was a one-way traffic but for Indian fans it was surely a double delight. Bayern, who are on their third trip to India, have come with their best team, and the grand farewell for Bhutia was something unheard of in the past in Indian sports. Bhutia was also honoured with an Audi Q8.
The star-studded Bayern Munich team started with some of the top European stars - Thomas Mueller, Arjen Robben, Mario Gomez, Phillip Lahm, Anatoliy Tymoshchuk, Bastian Schwiensteiger and goalkeeper Manuel Neur. It was surely a starry show but stolen by none other than home-boy Bhutia.
Bhutia was well marked by Jerome Boateng and every time the Indian skipper tried to dodge him the fans cheered lustily. Bhutia even managed to get past Boateng and had just Neur to beat but it showed that age was surely not on his side.
As predicted, it didn't take long for the Bavarians to find the net, with Gomez finding the first of the many goals in the 14th minute. But the result hardly have any impact - given the vast difference in football between the two teams. It was surely a learning experience for the Indian team that will stand in good stead in the years to come.
The journey that started from a sleepy hamlet in Tinkitam in Sikkim in 1993 finally ended and even in his last match Bhutia contributed for a noble cause ensuring that some of the proceeds from the match will be given to the earthquake victims of his home state.

Chungthang residents place grievances with District administration


PUBLIC DISSATISFIED WITH SLOW PACE EARTHQUAKE REHABILITATION AND RESETTLEMENT WORK 
MANGAN, 10 Jan:  The Panchayat and public of Chungthang held a meeting with the North District administration here at the BDO’s office at Chungthang in North Sikkim yesterday.  The meeting was attended by DC North, TN Kazi, SDM Chungthang, BDO Chungthang, SDPO Chungthang, Panchayat members and the affected people.
During the meeting, the Panchayat president, Lendup Lepcha on behalf of the people highlighted the grievances of the people. He expressed that even after four months since the earthquake nothing has been done for the resettlement and rehabilitation of the affected people. The people have already approached the concerned authority but no feedback has been received as yet.  He also informed that the assurance given by the Chief Minister during his visit to Chungthang has also not been fulfilled.
The Panchayat president also highlighted that many experts from reputed institutions have visited and inspected the damage site and given assurances but nothing has materialized of that as well, Chungthang suffered a lot of damage to life and property in the earthquake but the people of the area feel that they are being neglected since no immediate action has been undertaken to reinstate normalcy in the area.
Water and electricity, although temporarily restored by the department is still erratic. He also informed that the houses which have totally collapsed and damaged cannot be dismantled due to lack of expert advice.
Similarly, other affected people also highlighted the problems faced by them during the meeting.  The people also demanded compensation from Teesta Urja as houses have suffered cracks due to the continuous blasting which has rendered government as well as private properties unsafe.
At the end, the people appealed to the District authority to place their demands to the higher authorities and requested for early action. The DC North, in turn assured the people that immediate restoration work will be taken up in consultation with the higher authority and appealed to the people to have patience as everything will be carried out according to government procedure and norms.
It may be added here that the Ramam power house which supplies electricity to Chungthang and its surrounding areas is also not functioning.  The roads too need maintenance work at several places where there is a risk of stones shooting down.

CHANCE-pe-DANCE! Kids enjoy themselves on swings that they set up at the under construction stalls at the Jorethang Maghey Mela venue.  




Sunil Chhetri is AIFF Player-of-the-Year


NEW DELHI, 10 Jan: Indian striker Sunil Chhetri was awarded the AIFF Player-of-the-Year award during the farewell exhibition match of Bhaichung Bhutia against German giants Bayern Munich in New Delhi.
Chhetri was handed the award by AIFF President Praful Patel in a presentation during the interval. He was handed a silver plaque and a Cheque of Rs. 2 lakh.
An elated Chhetri thanked all his teammates and coaches and the AIFF for the award.
“This is an inspiration to do better. 2011 has been good for me. I had earlier received the Arjuna Award and now the AIFF Player-of-the-Year Award. It feels nice when your achievements are recognised,” he said.
Chhetri who scored 24 goals (13 International goals and 11 goals for clubs) in 2011 had earlier received the Award in 2007.
In his message, Patel congratulated Chhetri and wished him more success in coming years.
“Sunil Chhetri is a deserving recipient of the award. I hope this will spur him on to bring more laurels for the National Team in the near future. I wish him success in coming years,” Patel said.
For the first time the Award was decided in a democratic manner where all the coaches of the I-League playing teams voted unanimously on the four short-listed footballers.

Red Five Open Football Tournament begins with 20 matches on Day-1


GANGTOK, 10 Jan: The first matches of the Red Five Open Football Tournament here at Tathangchen Guards Ground today. More than 100 teams from all four districts have registered for the tournament. A total of 40 teams participated in the opening day matches. Twenty teams were eliminated today, informs a press release.
The tournament will be organized in all four Districts. Winners from each District will play against each other for a place in the finals. The State level winner will be rewarded with a cash prize of Rs. 50,000 while the runners up will receive Rs. 30,000, the release informs.
The Red Five Open Football Tournament is part of the ongoing Red Fest organized by Sikkim State AIDS Control Society to generate awareness about HIV & AIDS and drug abuse, especially among the youth, and to bring about positive behavioral change.
Red Five aims to reinforce the message that youth should stay away from drug abuse and promiscuous behavior and embrace sporting activities. SSACS in its endeavor has support from NGOs such as Serenity Homes, Hope Foundation, Sikkim Network of Positive People (SNP+), and Recovering Users’ Network (RUN).Nayuma Television and 93.5 Red FM are the media partners of Red Fest, the release adds.

Sikkim Bachao Abhiyan constitutes new working committees


GANGTOK, 10 Jan: Sikkim Bachao Abhiyan [SBA] constituted a new 15-member working committee under the presidentship of former DSP, Jeewan Pradhan, at a meeting held here at Deorali today.
The new committee has Cholang  Bhutia as vice-president, Deepak Limboo as general secretary, Manoj Rai as joint secretary, Suresh Gurung as treasurer and Yuwaraj Gurung as publicity secretary along with nine executive members.
An SBA press release informs that the committee headed by Mr Pradhan sought to induct new faces to work for the group by given them official posts. The release adds that new committee has resolved to start a state-wide public interaction mission soon and will be organizing open meetings during Haats in West and South Sikkim.
The release reiterates that SBA has no political affiliations and has been born from the noticeable slackness of NGOs and government carelessness. Its focus is primarily on hydel projects which it sees as devastating the natural resources of the State.

NYK organizes block-level cultural competition for NGOs


GANGTOK, 10 Jan: A block-level cultural competition was organized by the Nehru Yuva Kendra in collaboration with Purano Namchi based, Gharelu Samaj, at Purano Namchi today.
SDM Namchi, Purna Yonzon was the chief guest and founder president of the Samaj was the guest of honour. In the competition, Gharelu Samaj, Nirman Samaj of Dambudara and Lakshya of Kitam bagged first, second and third prizes, respectively, informs a press release.
NYK District Youth Co-ordinator, Puran Chettri informed that the winner will go on to participate at the district level cultural programme and the district-level winners will further go on to the state-level Yuva Kriti scheduled to be held in February, the release informs.
In his address, the chief guest stated that the role of the NGO is to provide opportunities to the young and further encouraged the organization to continue with their good work and assured to provide all possible help and support to the organization.

Santanu Borpatra is the new NE FIDE-rated chess champ


NORTH EAST FIDE RATING CHESS TOURNAMENT CONCLUDES
GANGTOK, 10 Jan: Santanu Borpatra Gohain of Assam emerged the champion of the 5th edition of the North East FIDE Rating Chess Tournament which concluded here at Paljor Stadium indoor gymnasium today. Santanu scored eight and half points in 10 rounds to beat defending champion, Rajkumar Apollosana Mangang, of Manipur, who stood on the second position with eight points, and Nabachandra Th Singh of Manipur came in third, also with eight points.
The concluding day included the prize distribution ceremony which had Political Secretary to the Chief Minister, KN Rai, as the chief guest.
As for the rest of the rankings- Rk Bhogen Singh and Bangkim Singh of Manipur stood on fourth and fifth places, followed by Rahul Soram Singh, Madhab Sharma, Rajib Dhar, Trailokya Nanda and Sanajaoba Irengbam.
Sikkim players could not break into the top-20 position of the main event, but performed impressively in other categories. In U-10 [Boys], Rahul Gurung won gold, while Priya Chettri won a bronze medal in U-10 girls.  Shreya Sharma won a silver medal in U-13 [Girls].
In U-15 [Boys], the top-3 positions were secured by Sikkim with Rakesh Gurung taking the gold followed by Mukul Gurung with a silver and Thendup Tamang snaring the bronze.
Among the girls in this category, the gold was won by Pushpa Gurung who was joined by fellow Sikkimese Supriya Rai who took the bronze.
In U-19 [Girls], Susmita Lama won a bronze medal for the State.
In his address, the chief guest congratulated the organizers on the tournament and remarked that the participation was heartening to see with chess enthusiasts from 7 to 76 years old competing in the tournament.
In his tournament report, the Chief Arbiter, Dharmendra Kumar, informed that a total of 157 players, including 48 FIDE Rated players, participated in the tournament from all the eight north-eastern states. He also highlighted that the tournament was a first of its kind in that no player left the game and played all the rounds.
Sikkim Chess Association [SCA] president, HS Sharma, in turn expressed gratitude towards all north-eastern chess associations for their participations and to the All India Chess Federation for the support and cooperation towards making the tournament a success.
The ceremony started with the welcome address by SCA co-ordinator, PL Sharma and concluded with the vote of thanks by SCA general secretary, Mahendra Dhakal. The week-long championship was organized by the Sikkim Chess Association [SCA] in collaboration with AICF and co-sponsored by SDF Bhawan Trust and Roads and Bridges Department.