Saturday, March 17, 2012

Chumbung’s Uttam Rai listed among top 10 players to watch at Dallas Cup in USA

“ARGUABLY THE BEST YOUTH PROSPECT OF INDIA”
GANGTOK, 16 March: Uttam Rai from Chumbung is not yet 16, but ever since he caught the eye of talent scouts back in 2007 [when he was selected under the ‘Search for More Bhaichungs” scheme and enrolled at Namchi Sports Hostel], he has been dazzling a blistering record with his prodigious footballing skills. The striker is currently in training with the India U16 team in Florida and will be wearing the national colours at the Dr. Pepper Dallas Cup [U16 category] scheduled to begin on 01 April in the US. Already marked as an important find, he has been a regular with the national squad ever since he was selected for the India U14 team in 2010. His talent has also been recognised by organisers of the Dallas Cup, who, in their listing of “Top 10 Players to watch at Dr. Pepper Dallas Cup XXXIII”, have included Uttam’s name.
This is how the tournament’s website introduces Uttam to the soccer fans in America: “[Uttam] Rai is arguably the best youth prospect for the populous nation of India. He will be looking to make his mark on Dallas Cup in 2012 after being injured in this same tournament last season. This attacking talent has trained with Arsenal FC of England in the past.”
For the record, Uttam is among the top-10 talents to watch out for in the entire tournament, which includes seven age categories up to U20 teams, and not just the U16 squads.
Dallas Cup is the oldest international youth soccer tournament in the United States, celebrating its 33rd year this year. The Texas Longhorns Soccer Club founded the tournament and it was originally a way for the club to return the friendship shown to their teams that had travelled throughout Europe. Since its inception in 1980, Dallas Cup has played host to teams and referees from over 45 states, 100 countries and 6 continents.
The tournament is played in seven age-groups starting from U12 and entertains on average more than 1,60,000 spectators during the week, watching teams from all over the world participate in an extremely intense, explosive and competitive tournament where only the best return home champions.
The India U16 team has been included in Bracket D of its age-group alongside Houston Dynamo U15 Pre Academy (TX), West Coast FC (CA) and Dallas Texans White West (N-TX). This category has seven pools of four teams each. India plays its first match on 01 April against Dallas Texans White West at Richland College Field.
Uttam is expected to do well in the tournament given that this will be his second time there. He was in the U15 India team at the Dallas Cup last year but could not play due to an injury picked up in the friendlies played in the run up to the tournament. Before his injury however, when the U15 team was in training at the IMG Academy in Florida, Uttam underlined his credentials as a striker in several matches. Playing for the U15 team, he scored a hat-trick against IMG U18 in March last year, sealing a 3-0 win over the senior team. Before that, he had slammed 4 goals against Florida U15 to set up a 7-0 victory.
Uttam was selected by Reliance Industries Ltd for a sports scholarship in 2010 and he placed in Florida for a 9- month training camp. He was first noticed in the “Search for More Bhaichungs” scheme of the Sports and Youth Affairs Department and selected to study and train at Namchi Sports Hostel in 2007-08. While playing for Sikkim at Subroto Mukherjee Cup in Delhi, his talent was noticed and was picked up on scholarship by Air Force, New Delhi in 2009. The next year, he was included in the India U14 team.



RECRUITMENT EMBROGLIO AT SIKKIM UNIVERSITY GROWS MURKIER


Executive Council overlooks formal complaint, terminates services of two petitioners
GANGTOK, 16 March: In news arriving late this evening, the Sikkim University Executive Council, an emergency meeting of which was reportedly convened in New Delhi today, directed the Registrar to discontinue the services of two Assistant Professors on ground of misconduct. The two are among the six Assistant Professors who had petitioned the Executive Council with a formal complaint alleging irregularities in the Sikkim University recruitment process.
Responding to the latest development, one of the terminated Assistant Professors, Rajendra Prasad, said, “Instead of addressing the formal complaint and listening to both parties the EC has discontinued the services of two of the petitioners on grounds of misconduct. This is violation of the natural law of justice, where our position was not addressed.”
Interestingly, the services of two of the petitioners were not extended when their contract period ended last month, and now this latest development. Interestingly, Mr. Prasad adds that although the move was shocking, it was not unexpected. “The signs were already there because our salaries for the month of February have not been credited till date without assigning any reason,” he informs.
Six Assistant Professors of SU, it may be recalled, had approached the Executive Council on 27 February challenging the appointment of the selection panels solely by the VC when the Sikkim University Act clearly stipulates the involvement of the Executive Council in this process. The new Executive Council was only on 22 February, after most of the interviews had been conducted and the selection panels formalised.
They argue that the VC has done so by exercising his “emergency powers”, highlighting further that an Office Memorandum of the Secondary Education & Higher Education, Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), Government of India, clearly stipulates that the VC “should not” exercise his emergency powers for “Routine matters like creation of teaching and academic posts, appointment to the said posts, finalizing recruitment procedures etc.” and that these  “should invariably be placed before the authorities ordinarily empowered to take decisions in such cases”.
The protesting faculty members are convinced that the VC violated this Office Memorandum [which conveys explicit directions of the President of India who is the Visitor of all Central Universities], when he finalised the recruitment procedures by himself instead of allowing the Executive Council which is “authority ordinarily empowered” a role in it.
The protesting faculty members allege that the selection interviews for 16 of the 20 academic departments of the University were intentionally timed for a period when the University had neither an Executive Council nor an Academic Council in place, allowing the VC a free hand on the entire process despite clear guidelines against such conduct.
The petition marked to the Executive Council points out that while the posts were created in 2008 and eventually advertised in April 2010, selection interviews were not held until 2012, after both, the Executive and the Academic [in August 2011] Councils had demitted office.
The Sikkim University Act stipulated that the selection committees to recruit faculty members include nominees of the Executive Council selected from a panel of names [“for their knowledge of, or interest in, the subject with which the post is concerned”] recommended by the Academic Council. This, the petition contends, has not happened in the present recruitment process with the selection panel appointed by the VC solely by himself since there were no required Councils in office at the time.
This, the VC did, the petitioners are convinced, so that he could favour some candidates while expelling several internal candidates he had personal problems with. The six faculty members had demanded that the Executive Council, in light of the arguments placed, cancel the recruitment process which has already taken place and stay the ongoing recruitment process, re-notify the recruitment advertisement and restore the services of all contractual teachers till new appointments are done. The Council, it now appears, decided to ignore the complaint and respond with termination letters instead.

Journos go sight-seeing in Pink City – Jaipur


VISIT ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT CENTRE, DOORDARSHAN KENDRA, PRESS CLUB OF JAIPUR APART FROM POPULAR TOURIST SITES
ANAND OBEROI
JAIPUR, RAJASTHAN, 16 Mar: The second day at the Pink City which is also the third day of the ten-day exposure tour for nine journalists from Sikkim to Rajasthan  started with a leisurely sightseeing tour across the city which included Tripola Towers, the famous Hawa Mahal situated in the heart of the city, the speciality of this palace is that it has a total of 365 windows which has three small air outlets in each window which makes natural air conditioning possible in the place in an amazing feat of historic engineering by the Rajputs.
The journalists then proceeded to the world famous Amer Fort which is also being restored and renovated under JNURM at an estimated Rs 4.31 crore out of which works upto Rs 3 crore has already been completed. Surrounded amidst tourists and historians from all over the globe, the journalists were taken to areas inside the Fort which have been prohibited for the general public because of the fragility of the narrow naturally air-conditioned marble tunnels. This amazing feat of architecture and the enormity of the work that was done in a period when only elephants, horses and camels could carry such heavy loads was a sight to see.
The beauty and integrity of the carvings and sculpturing done along the walls, the way in which the ancient Rajput architects developed the columns that supported the high ceilings and their ingenious ways to make life in a time and area where only the sun and heat is supreme was an amazing and fascinating sight to see.
After spending time watching snake charmers and negotiating our way back to the vehicle stand while entrepreneurs enticed us to purchase traditional artefacts and memorabilia from the land of the Maharajas from small stalls, the journalists were taken to another amazing feat of architectural history, the Jaal Mahal, a small but beautiful palace situated in the middle of a lake while on the way back to the Pink City.
Earlier, during the day the journalists also visited the Environmental Research and Development centre for waste water treatment plant at Delawas in South Jaipur which is the largest such plant in the entire state of Rajasthan.
The journalists representing different news houses from Sikkim interacted with the management authorities of the raw sewerage treatment plant which is run by a Chennai-based company VA Wabag Ltd in association with Jaipur Municipal Corporation funded by JNURM which is spread in an area of 96 bigha.
There are two plants in the area that treat approximately 62.5 million liters of waste water each day channelled only from South Jaipur and is amazingly also the first power generating plant generating 8576 kilo watts of electricity per day from treating sewerage. Coming in second is the Jaisinghipura Khor plant which caters to North Jaipur and has a capacity of 50 million liters of water per day.
Plant Manager, Pravin Manjeraker said that the aim behind running the plant was to ensure health, safety and environmental policy of the state government and the centrally sponsored JNURM.
The journalists then visited the Doordarshan Kendra, Jaipur which is one of the three in Rajasthan. The journos were taken around the news rooms, the studios and shown how a TV channel actually functions and how one gets to see what we see on television every second of every day.
The day ended with a visit to the impressive Press Club of Jaipur considered one of the three best Press Clubs in the country that has a membership of 5000 non accredited and 2000 accredited journalists after a drive along Rajpath, the Rajasthan Secretariat, the High Court, the Sawaiman Singh stadium and the central park which also has the world’s largest Indian flag hoisted in its premises.

Vaccination campaign against Canine Distemper organised in West Sikkim


GANGTOK, 16 March: The Animal Husbandry, LF & VS Department, West District organized a vaccination campaign against Canine Distemper (Parainfluenza-Parvo virus Vaccine, Modified Live virus Leptospira canicola, Ictero haemorrhagiae Bacterin). The main objective behind the program was to stop the further spread of the disease in the locality by inoculation of live and attenuated virus.
A press release issued by Programme Coordinator, SARAH Division, Dept.of AH, LF &VS, Dr Thinlay N Bhutia informs that this type of ring vaccination may provoke the immune system of a vaccinated dog by forming antibodies with high intensity to fight against the disease invitro in future and a booster dose has to be done every year to maintain immunity in such dogs. This vaccine protects dogs against four viral diseases as mentioned above and cost of single dose is Rs.800.
The program started in the morning from the District Veterinary Hospital Gyalshing. Central Veterinary Store at Gangtok headquarter of AH Deptt. had provided 200 doses of the vaccine. From this stock, 52 dogs were vaccinated on 14 March and on 15 March sixty dogs were vaccinated. There is high demand for this vaccine now so 500 doses of this kind of vaccine is immediately required, the release informs.
Later in the evening there was a meeting for coming up with a strategy with regard to the future course of action to counteract such viral disease of extremely infectious nature. On the very outset of the session Dr DS Tewari drew the attention of the people by explaining about the epidemiological aspect of viral diseases.
Human beings, utensils, vehicles and even air, water and soil may transmit such diseases and Canine distemper now is one such example in the vicinity, he informed.
So isolation of dogs, keeping them in strict captivity, intensive care, maintenance of hygiene and sanitation of the dog house along with restriction of movement of populace to and from infected zones along with regular vaccination of all prevalent diseases is the only way to contain such diseases, he added.
Supporting these points Dr. S.P Bhutia informed the house regarding the out break of this disease in the area of tourist importance like Pelling, Yuksom, and Dentam and Ravangla in South Sikkim. He suggested to all dog owners to wash hands with strong antiseptic solution after handling their pets, the release mentions.
He also drew the attention of the Department, regarding need for supply of vaccines as the present stock is very poor. After this Dr Kishor Thapa suggested to all dogs owner to bring their dogs to DVH Gyalshing for vaccination. He also highlighted the urgent need for a Mobile Van (Vehicle) in Gyalshing Hospital to in case of such situations.
After this Councilor, Chopel Pintso Bhutia appreciated the initiative taken by AH Department, West District and assured to urge the public to take their dogs to the nearest Veterinary Centre. President PTDA, Tshering Wangdi Bhutia also addressed the meeting.
The team of veterinarians was headed by Joint Director West, Dr D.S Tewari and comprised of Dr S P Bhutia, V.O Gyalshing, Dr Kishor Thapa, Sonam Wangdi Bhutia & Loknath from VH Gyalshing, Shiva Subedi & Lall Bdr Chhetri from Pelling. Also present were Gyalshing Councilor, Chopel Pintso Bhutia, Treasurer, Chamber of Commerce, Navin Agrawal, RDA Syangang-Chumbung GPU, Tshering Nedup Bhutia, Pelling Tourism Development Association President, Tshering Wangdi Bhutia along with local public.

PROTECTION OF SIKKIM’S MIGRATORY BIRDS: THREE POTENTIAL RAMSAR SITES IN SIKKIM


All migratory “Karaang-Kuruung” or waterbirds like geese, ducks and waders, use our numerous mountain passes, high altitude wetlands, and different river valleys as flyways during their pre- and post winter journeys from the great Indian subcontinent.  This is because Sikkim lies along the important East-Asian-Australasian flyway for migratory birds, all of which receive global protection under the international Ramsar Convention to which India is signatory. Sikkim is adjacent to Chumbi Valley of Tibet Autonomous Region of China and lies directly along this great migratory flyway. Places like Khecheopalri, Tsomgo and other large lakes of Sikkim are an important wintering stop-over site for Common Mergansers, Bar-headed Geese, Gadwall, Teals, Pintails, Pochards, and even seagulls.  The globally threatened Black-necked Crane Grus nigricollis has been photographed at Tso Lhamo and Khecheopalri where Black-tailed Crake and Baer’s Pochard have also been recorded.  Safe haven for these international visitors translates into safe wetlands useful to us human beings as we depend on them for water, livelihood as well as eco-tourism. Besides they have an important regulatory role in conserving our soil and moisture.    We must protect their stop-over sites on these lakes and rivers through various trans-border initiatives and international cooperation.

We have at least 534 natural inland wetlands as glacial lakes and ponds with low turbidity, spread mostly in our higher altitudes.  Some 160 wetlands greater than 02.25 ha occupy about 1985 ha in our highlands with North Sikkim having the highest number (135) in the state with an area of 1807.50 ha.  Such lakes like Tsomgo for example, freeze over in winter.  East and West districts have 14 and 11 wetlands each with an area of 120.75 ha and 56.25 ha while there are none in South Sikkim.

Sikkim has 116 wetlands, mostly glacial and snow-melt lakes listed for inclusion in the National Wetland Conservation Programme; but most of our wetlands are very small ranging from one to five hectares.  So far six wetlands Khecheopalri, Tsomgo, Phedang Tso (Bedang Tso), Tamzey, Gurudongmar Tso and Tembao Lake and Glacier Complex were included under National Wetland Conservation Programme (NWCP), but we need to extend conservation to nearby wetlands and include them as clusters or Complexes.

Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) has published a book “Potential and Existing Ramsar Sites in India” with a Sikkim chapter. This includes our three most important wetland clusters, which also form part of Important Bird Areas or IBAs.  This information has been forwarded to Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India as Ramsar Wetlands Information Sheets (RISs) so that a good case is made for their inclusion in the international Ramsar List as RAMSAR SITES.

THREE PROPOSED RAMSAR SITES IN SIKKIM
A. Khecheopalri-Khangchendzonga-Lhonak Complex: comprising
a. Khecheopalri Lake and two IBAs or Important Bird Areas
b. Khangchendzonga biosphere Reserve (KBR) (West and North Sikkim)
c. Lhonak Valley (North Sikkim)
A wetland complex of the country’s highest altitude National Park and Biosphere Reserve, with Khecheopalri on the southern fringe, Lhonak Valley on its northern fringe and the Tista River Valley along its right flank. Migratory Avocets and globally threatened Black-necked Crane, Baer’s Pochard and Black-tailed Crake have been sighted here.

B. Tsomgo-Bedang Tso Complex:  comprising two IBAs
a. Kyongnosla Alpine Sanctuary–Tsomgo- Tamze-Chola Complex
b. Pangolakha Wildlife Sanctuary–Zuluk-Bedang Tso Complex
The only wetland-forest complex with its main waterbody in Sikkim draining out of the state into Bhutan instead of through it.  The largest congregations of waterbirds in East Sikkim including breeding populations of Brahminy Shelduck have been recorded on Phedang Tso (Phaedon = Monal Pheasant in Bhutia).

C. Tso Lhamo Plateau-Lashar-Yumesamdong-Tembao Complex: comprising
a. Tso Lhamo-Lashar-Sebu La-Yumesamdong Complex
b. Tembao Lake and Glacier Complex
The largest wetland complex forming the sources of the principal river of Sikkim, the Tista, originating in the cold desert with typical trans-Himalayan geological formation in the north.  This includes the four great lakes on the Tibetan plateau part of Sikkim, namely Gyam Tsona (Ocean Lake) a remnant of the prehistoric Tethys Sea in North Sikkim, where the largest congregations of waterfowl like Northern Pintails, breeding Brahminy Shelduck, have been recorded; Gurudongmar Tso; Tso Lhamo and Khangchung Tso (at the mouth of Tista Khangse Glacier).

The proposal has been sent to Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India. If these three wetland complexes are accepted by the Ramsar Secretariat with help from MoEF, we can look forward to another great achievement of Sikkim towards Biodiversity Conservation.

MANJIT SINGH, IFS
PCCF cum Addl. CS
Dept. of Forest, Env. & WL Management

APO demo project on Productivity and Food Safety Management ends


GANGTOK, 16 Mar: The closing workshop of Asian Productivity Organization [APO] demonstration project on productivity and food safety management in the Sikkim Cooperative Milk Producers Union Limited organised by the Sikkim Milk Union was held at Chintan Bhawan today.
Addressing the gathering, the chief guest Minister for Cooperation, RB Subba stated that it was a matter of prestige for the State to be chosen by APO for the project from all the North Eastern states and added that the experts have done all the hard work in the past one and a half years on the project and it was now time for us to put them into effect.
The experts have shown that Sikkim has the potential and to make this a reality we all need to work together and to do this there is a need for coordination and cooperation amongst all the people involved, he said and added that above all there was a need to bring awareness amongst the farmers to produce quality milk, while the department needs to work at the ground level to increase productivity.
Stating that this was the scientific age, the Minister said that it is time now for us to make use of technology and that there was a need to bring awareness amongst the employees and workers of the Sikkim Milk Union, too.
Earlier, the gathering was also addressed along with a power-point presentation by Pieter Willem de Jongh [international consultant from Netherlands] and Dr. P Senthil Kumar [Managing Director, Sikkim Milk Union]. A brief outline on objective of the project was presented by KD Bharadwaj [senior project officer, APO, Japan].
During his power-point presentation, the MD [SMU] Dr. P Senthil Kumar informed that the project was started in September 2010 and has taken one and a half years to be implemented. This was not the closing but just the beginning of the work for the employees and workers of SMU, he expressed.
He also presented the outcome of the project and future course of action to be taken by SMU in the days to come, while the chief resource person, Pieter Willem stated that much had been achieved in the past one year by SMU, but there was still a long way to go.
The workshop was attended by the Board of Directors, Sikkim Milk Union, Secretary Cooperative Department, Chairman SMU, officials from the Animal Husbandry, Cooperative departments, officials of Sikkim Milk Union and members representing various public sector units.

MLA Archery Challenge enters fifth day


CHANGAY SENTI THRASH MONGOLIAN BROTHERS GANGTOK 35-05
MANGAN, 16 Mar:  On the fifth day of the MLA Challenge Cup Archery tournament here at Upper Tintek in East Sikkim which is being organized by Tumin-Lingee Youth Association, Changay Senti went against Mongolian Brothers Gangtok. Changay Senti won the match by 35 points while the opponents scored only 05 points.
Dorjee Bhutia of Changay Senti was awarded the Man of the Match title. The match today was attended by Binod Pandey (Coordinator NHPC) as chief guest and Bhakti Prasad Dhakal (Vice Convener) as a special guest along with ward Panchayat Singbel, HB Chettri and ward Panchayat Pathuk, KB Chettri.
The tournament which started from 12 March has a total of 18 teams participating from across the state.  The final match of the tournament will be played on 02 April.  The match tomorrow will be played between Yangthang Boys and Tathangchen Gangtok.The winners of the tournament will be awarded a cash prize of Rs. 50,000 and Rs.30,000 to the runner-up team along with trophy.

Kabi-Tingda to observe Water World Day


GANGTOK, 16 Mar: Kabi-Tingda Block will also be observing World Water Day on 22 March regarding which a meeting under the chairmanship of Block Development Officer (BDO) was held on 15 March at the BAC.
A press release informs that a committee comprising of AD as president, AEO as organizing secretary, BRC as member secretary, Field Facilitator as publicity secretary, RS and CRC as programme coordinator was formed for the purpose. The programme will be marked by events such as quiz, art and song competition. There will also be demonstration on the working of electro-chlorinator and terra filter by the Engineering section of the BAC.
Students and teachers of one school of each GPU i.e. Tumlong JHS, Phamtam JHS, Phensong SS, Kabi SS, Penlong SS and Pangthang JHS and also all panchayat members among others will be participating in the programme, the release mentions.
The programme is scheduled to begin at 10 AM and participants are expected to bring forth any relevant issue relating to judicious use and conservation of water, the release further adds.

Assembly to Vote on Accounts on 19-20 March


GANGTOK, 16 March: The Sikkim Legislative Assembly will be meeting on 19 and 20 March next week for a session to vote on accounts. This, sources, inform was decided at a Cabinet Meeting chaired by the Chief Minister today.
The Vote on Accounts will cover government finances for the next three months.
It is further learnt that the Plan Discussion between the State Government and the National Planning Commission to finalise the Plan Outlay for 2012-13 for Sikkim is scheduled for 12 April in New Delhi. The Chief Minister will be leading the Sikkim delegation to the meeting with the Deputy Chairperson, Planning Commission, Mr. Panicker, and his team. Following this, the regular Budget Session for Sikkim will be held sometime in June, it is learnt.

Siddheshwari Dhaam: A Dazzling Addition to Our Cultural History and Devotion


BHIM DAHAL
“History has proved that those who dare to imagine the impossible are the ones who break all human limitations.”
These words by Rhonda Byrne, a renowned philosopher and respected psychologist, have inspired me to write on the Siddheshwari Dhaam of Solophok in South Sikkim. Modern civilisations have emerged from the power of dreams of human beings. We get to learn about ancient civilisations from different structures that our forefathers created. The Ashoka Chakra is a perfect example. It evokes envy and awe. The pyramids, the Indus Valley Civilisation, our Vedic culture, the period of the Mahabharata, the Inca and Mayan civilisations are some of the civilisations on which the modern civilisation is thriving. Wheels made machines possible and science has now made a global village of the world within a hundred years of advancements. All these are a result of the power to dream, and dream big at that.
Before the construction of the Siddheshwari Dhaam, Solophok was a barren valley. No one could have imagined, even in their wildest dreams, that this barren expanse would one day offer them an opportunity to see the Char Dhaams of Badrinath, Kedarnath, Dwarka and Jagannath and Rameshwaram in their own midst. These Dhaams marking the east, west, north and south if India were consecrated by Adi Shankaracharya in the Seventh-Eighth century. The Siddheshwari Char Dhaam of Solophok was consecrated by Reverend Swami Swarupananda Saraswati on 08 November 2011. This has kept the tradition intact and the religious significance of the Char Dhaam has been kept intact at the Solophok complex. Apart from this, the Jyotirlings, as mentioned in ancient scriptures that are present at twelve different locations in India, have also been replicated at the Solophok Char Dhaam premises. A magnificent statue of Lord Shiva has been made on top of the Jyotirlings. The Jyotirlings are: Somnath, Mallikaarjun, Mahakaal, Onkareshwar, Kedarnath, Bhimshankar, Trayambakam, Vidyanath, Nageshwar, Rameshwaram, Ghrishneshwar and Vishneshwar.
Work on the Char Dhaam started on 13 February 2005, and it was inaugurated, as mentioned, on 08 November 2011. Now, within a matter of a few months of its inauguration, Siddheshwari Dhaam has become a major pilgrimage destination. Tourists flock to the Char Dhaam to marvel at the architecture and design, while devotees throng to offer prayers. The number of visitors is increasing by the day.
India is a country of 80 to 90 crore people who have unwavering faith in Hinduism. Lord Shiva is the most worshipped Gods. In Kali Yug, Shiva worship is believed to give instant results. Religion is a very sensitive and emotional issue. In old age we visit Kashi. Some people have the desire to bid goddbye to world in the lap of Kashi Vishwanath along the Ganga. Char Dhaam has become the centre of spirituality and faith for such people. Now, people will place their prayers and make their pledges, and for a few moments lose themselves in the presence of divinity. People will be amazed and happy. They will experience religion, spirituality and faith. They will contemplate on permanence and impermanence. They will wash their sins in their hearts.
This is how I perceive the Char Dhaam. The Vastu techniques used in the temples constructed at Siddheshwari Dhaam have revived our tradition and sense of history. We can feel our heritage here. Char Dhaam has been successful in transcending art, architecture, tourism and pilgrimage. It has given us transcendental contemplation.
For this reason, we must congratulate Pawan Chamling wholeheartedly. We must express our gratitude.
I feel that the people do not contemplate deeply enough on the path of development and growth that Sikkim has charted under his leadership. In 193-94, the Plan Budget of Sikkim was Rs. 120 crore. The erstwhile governments did not do anything to win the name and fame that Sikkim deserved. They just performed routine tasks and duties. There is no need to blame the heads of those governments because not every leader commands the imagination, courage and will power that Pawan Chamling has consistently displayed. As a comparison of his ability to dream big and pull it off, sample this: the Plan Outlay for the entire state was Rs. 120 crore in 1993-94, and within a decade, when work on Char Dhaam began in 2005, the Chamling Government successfully raised Rs. 100 crore for the Char Dhaam project alone. The challenge did not end with arranging the funds alone, because the project demanded much hard work. To reach raw materials to a place like Solophok, arrange labourers, artisans and have the construction meet the Vastu guidelines for such projects was not easy. The Dhaam is spread over a lavish 27 hectares and has been made possible due to sweat and toil of thousand upon thousand man-hours that thousands of labourers poured into it. The proverb, “a tailor’s labour is lost in the coat” holds true here.
It is said that success has many fathers, failure is an orphan. The credit for the successful completion of the Char Dhaam project however has no such complications – it has been possible solely due to the imagination and unwavering commitment of Pawan Chamling.
The Chinese literary figure, Lu Tsun, has said, “In earlier times, the world did not have so many roads and turn. People kept walking and roads started being created.” The Char Dhaam can be considered as a Renaissance of Indian spiritual civilisation. If this comment leads to a counter argument, then this pen is ready for it. Foreign invaders and Mudhal emperors did try to uproot our culture and tradition and force their culture on us whether it was the Somnath Temple which was plundered eleven times by Mohammad Ghazni in the 10th Century or the execution of the Ninth Sikh Guru, Tegh Bahadur by Aurangzeb. Our history is blood stained with such incidents. So, if anybody criticises the Char Dhaam, they should first study our history once again.
The value of Char Dhaam does end with its religious aspect. Char Dhaam is for people of all faiths and beliefs. It has become a popular tourist spot. While faith might be a personal issue, art and architecture carry universal appeal and Char Dhaam is a collective wealth of all. There are no two ways about it.
It is necessary to create infrastructure required to support a place like the Char Dhaam. There should be provision for vegetarian snacks at the premises. Char Dhaam is around 5 kms from Namchi. There is a need for taxi fare regulation and if possible for a shuttle bus service. There should be a dialogue between Namchi municipality and hotel owners there for improvements in services for visitors. There should be no delays in such support arrangements.
Let us hope that we can make Char Dhaam better and provide all amenities in and around the Dhaam. There is a history of the construction of the Golden Temple in Amritsar being started by the Fourth Sikh Guru Ramdas in the 13th Century and being completed by the fifth and sixth Sikh Gurus, Guru Arjundev and Guru Hargobing respectively in the 17th Century. Today, the Golden Temple of Armitsar is the most important pilgrimage for Sikhs.
History tells us that Guru Ramdas had to struggle a lot for the construction of the lake in Amritsar. God does not make historical and religious centres; humans have always been the mediums for such undertakings. Noble intentions and dedication are essential to achieve anything significant. Let us hope that the present generation takes care of an asset as grand as the Siddheshwari Char Dhaam and hands it over the future generation as part of their proud heritage.
[The writer is a former Lok Sabha MP and now Media Advisor to Chief Minister Pawan Chamling]

Play on Gautama Buddha staged at Tintek


GANGTOK, 16 Mar: A play on the life of Gautama Buddha was staged at BAC Tintek in East Sikkim by the members of "Kathakarak Pauranik Jaki" of Lower Samdong, East Sikkim under the presidentship of Santi Prasad Bhattarai.

Manokranti Yogi to carry out underground meditation at Jalipool Mandir


GANGTOK, 16 Mar: Manokranti Yogi Gajendra Raj Nembang Limboo has now announced to go for his underground meditation at Kanchaneswar Mandir premises in Jalipool on 20 March. He is scheduled to carry out his underground meditation from 2 PM on 20 March till 2 PM on 04 April.
A press release issued by Mr Limboo informs that he has already received the permission letters from the District Collectorate [East] and Mandir administration. He was earlier scheduled to carry out his 15-day underground meditation at Sikkim Armed Police headquarter complex at Pangthang from 22 February to 07 March but at the last moment the police administration requested him to shift the venue.

Nepali Sahitya Parishad to hold fifth interactive prog on 18 March


GANGTOK, 16 Mar: The fifth edition of the interaction programme of the Nepali Sahitya Parishad will have senior singer and musician, Ashok Rai, which is scheduled to be held on 18 March from 11:30 AM at its premises here at Development Area.
A NSP press release informs that the Parishad has been organizing this interaction programme by inviting respected personalities to share their experiences and have an interaction with the people.
The release informs that to document these sharing by the personalities, the Parishad has been doing video recordings of all editions and also plans to take out an annual magazine covering all these personalities.

Meeting on Financial Literacy held at Rongli and Dalapchand


GANGTOK, 16 Mar: Youth Development Society of Sikkim (YODESS) organised a two-day Coordination Meeting on Financial Literacy for members of Self Help Group (SHG), Farmers Club and representatives of Non Governmental Organizations with the support of National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) Gangtok.
A press release informs that on 14 March, a meeting was organised at YODESS Office, Rongli, East Sikkim which had NABARD General Manager, PC Choudhri as chief guest along with resource persons , Rashtriya Gramin Vikas Nidhi (RGVN) Tadong, Executive Officer, Tshering Peki Bhutia, Spices Board Field Officer, SS Bora and board members of YODESS, different SHG members, Farmers Club.
YODESS chairperson cum Deputy Director ICDS, Narendra Chettri welcomed the gathering and shared the objectives of the meeting. RGVN Executive Officer, Ms Bhutia spoke on the importance of Savings Deposit, Financial Inclusion and Field Officer, SS Bora spoke on Kishan Credit Card (KCC) and procedure of Work Keeping, Schemes of Species board. NABARD General Manager, Mr Choudhri and Gati Infrastruture Limited Associate, Thinley Ongmoo Bhattarai also addressed the meeting.
Similarly, on 15 March a meeting was organised in the multipurpose hall of Dalapchand Gram Prasashan Kendra, East Sikkim which was chaired by Panchayat President, PC Rai while NABARD General Manager, PC Choudhri was present as the chief guest, the release informs. Resource persons, Panchayat members, different SHG members, Farmers Clubs also attended the meeting. The welcome address and objectives of the meeting were presented by YODESS vice-chairperson cum teacher, TN Poudyal.
The release further mentions that Executive Officer, Tshering Peki Bhutia, SISCO Bank, Rongli Branch Manager, Bikash Gurung, Cooperative Department, Rongli Sub-Division, Assistant Register Cooperative Society (ARCS), Fadung Bhutia spoke on the programmes and policies and importance of Financial Literacy. NABARD GM spoke on the importance of Saving and Kishan Credit Card (KCC).

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE - HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATION AND THE CONCERN FOR THE SOCIETY AT LARGE


Letter:
The Deorali suicide case of Nupur Gupta is a well known incident that has shaken the state as well as the society at large. As per information gathered by the team of the All Sikkim Human Rights Association [ASHRA], consisting of Bimal Sharma, Manish Jain and Bhola N. Sharma who had visited the Deorali Police Station as well as other officials it was found that Nupur Gupta who was the wife of Rajen Gupta was a resident of Deorali School Road and a permanent resident of Sikkim and had been blessed with two children. But the reason for the alleged suicide of Nupur Gupta is still unknown. It is also stated that circumstances which led to the suicide of Nupur Gupta, (leaving her infant two infant children), is a question that demands an answer. The question arises why a young lady with two children and family take such a drastic step? Was she a victim of domestic violence or was suicide the only option left to free herself from family tension?  That is the question which the Investigation Authorities need to answer.  ASHRA stands for justice for all the members of the society and further we hope that late Nupur Gupta gets the justice that she deserves. Such incidents may tarnish the image of the State which is known for tolerance for all the communities and equal rights for all the sections of the society.  Taking the concern of Drug Abuse, Suicides and Domestic Violence, ASHRA has decided to organise a public debate on the above issues in the coming weeks and will try to find the solution to these problems from the civil society.
General Secretary of ASHRA - Manish Jain

Friday, March 16, 2012

Students for Acharya


Students from classes 6 and 7 of West Point Senior Secondary School and Kyi-De-Khang Secondary School lining up to enter the Denzong Cinema Hall to watch a free screening of “Acharya”, the Nepali movie by Prashant Rasaily on the life of Bhajan Shiromani Bhakta Raj Acharya, which has gained much acclaim from people from all walks of life. On Friday, students of the Sikkim Government College will also be given a free screening. 

Vehicle ownership leaps more than threefold in rural Sikkim


CENSUS OF INDIA 2011 FIGURES FOR HOUSES, HOUSEHOLD AMENITIES AND ASSETS RELEASED
AT 0.9% EACH, SIKKIM HAS AS MANY PLACES OF WORSHIP AS IT HAS HOTELS; MORE FAMILIES WATCH TV THAN LISTEN TO RADIO IN SIKKIM
GANGTOK, 15 March: For all the complaints one hears of the increasing number of vehicles on the roads, only 11.1% of the households own either a car or a two-wheeler. Totalling 14,222, the number of such families adds up to a substantial amount and for all the fear of growing emission, what should gladden the hearts of the planners is the revelation that prosperity, if vehicle ownership were taken as one of the yardsticks, has injected rural Sikkim more expansively than it has touched the urban spread. As per the Census of India 2011, “Houses, Household Amenities and Assets” figures released recently, vehicle ownership has grown from than threefold in rural Sikkim!
Four-wheelers remain the preferred purchase in Sikkim with 8.3% of the households owning either a car, jeep or a van [against a national average of 4.7%]. Only 2.8% of the households have two-wheelers and bicycles have interested only 0.9% of the population here.
A decadal comparison on vehicle ownership throws up impressive results. Household level vehicle ownership increased five-times in the ten years between 2001 and 2011. While only 2,409 households in Sikkim owned a four-wheeler in 2001, by the time Census enumerators returned in 2011, the number of such households had ballooned to 10,635, nearly half of which are in rural Sikkim.
While vehicle ownership is still more dominant in urban Sikkim [where 15.2% of the households own a four-wheeler now against 7.3% in 2001], it is in rural Sikkim that it has taken the largest leap. Vehicle ownership among the 92,370 rural households has grown more than three times from 1.5% in 2001 to 5.3% now. Now, 4,896 rural households own a four-wheeler against the 1,192 families which did so in 2001.
There are however, 23,320 families out of 1,28,131 households in Sikkim, which have neither a radio, nor a TV or a computer or a phone, cycle or any vehicle. They constitute 18.2% of the households in Sikkim.

Television has truly beaten out radio in Sikkim with 54.7% of the households having televisions [national average 47.2%] against only 23% of the households here which have radios. Computers at home is a low 11.5%, only marginally better than the national average of 9.5% and internet penetration even worse with only 3.3% of the households here having internet at home. Telecom density also posts some interesting figures with 73% of the households enjoying this service. The rejection of landlines is borne out by the fact that only 1.8% of the households have only a landline phone against 67.7% of the families having only mobile phones. A slim 3.6% of the households have both landline and mobile phones.
Out of a total of 1,69,022 census houses in Sikkim, 16,400 were vacant and 1,52,622 occupied when Census 2011 enumerators carried out the survey. Interestingly, Sikkim has more houses being used to house educational institutions than it has hotels. And while on hotels, the number of constructions used as hotels or lodges is the same as those which are places of worship here.
Of these, 81% houses were residential, 2.9% residences cum offices, 5.5% were commercial, i.e. either shops or offices, 1.6% were educational institutions, 0.9% were hotels or lodges, 0.2% were hospitals or dispensaries, 0.5% are factories or workshops, 0.9% were places of worship, 6% were being used for other non-residential use and 0.6% of the houses were found occupied, but locked.
A staggering 68.2% of the 1,28,131 households in Sikkim live in homes with a GI Sheet or metal roof. The national average for such houses is a mere 15.6%. Interestingly, an equal number of households live in houses with wood or brick walls – 24.6% each. Of the rest, Ekra walls come the closest at 14.7% while 13.8% have concrete walls. The national average for households living in houses with concrete walls is a miniscule 3.5% and the only region with a higher density of concrete wall houses is the Union Territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands where the figure stands at 38.4%.
Sikkim also tops the charts in households with cement floors. With the figure standing at 54.8% [against the national average of 31.1%] for Sikkim, no other state has a higher percentage of houses with such amenity, save some UTs which rank higher. 46.5% of the households in the country, and 27% in Sikkim, make do with mud floors.
The data also reveals that 25.1% of the households in Sikkim are made up of between 6 to 8 family members, while another 22% are 4-member families. Obviously, joint families are on the wane and more and more households are nuclear in Sikkim. This is borne out further by the fact that 71.4% of the households are made up of a single married couple. 16% of the households have no married couples and 10.9% families have two married couples in the same house.
The finding on access to tap water has some interesting data with a handsome 85.3% of the households in Sikkim [against 43.5% in the country] having access to tap water. Only Himachal Pradesh [89.5%] and Goa [85.4%] perform better on this count than Sikkim among the States. However, only 29.2% of the households receive water from a treated source in Sikkim and this will have to be one aspect that the State will need to look into.
Sanitation figures also post some interesting findings. While 87.2% of the households have latrine facilities within their homes, a majority of the 12.8% of the households without such facilities defecate in the open. A mere 1.5% of the households have access to a public toilet and staggering 11.3% defecate in the open in Sikkim.
Data also reveals that firewood continues to be the main cooking fuel in Sikkim with 52.5% depending on it. LPG comes in next with 41.3% of the households [against the national average of 28.6%] opting for it.
Households availing banking services in Sikkim stand at a respectable 67.5% and is bound to increase with the expansive universal financial inclusion scheme launched by the State Government. Ownership of homes these families live in also mimic this statistic with 64.5% of the households living in homes they own while 30.6% live in rented accommodations.

GOVERNOR BRIEFED ON RURAL WATER SUPPLY MANAGEMENT INITIATIVES


Deptt directed to reinforce water supply infrastructure against natural disasters and contamination

GANGTOK, 15 March: A presentation on water supply management in rural Sikkim was made before Governor BP Singh by RMDD Secretary AK Ganeriwala at Raj Bhavan Winter Camp in Rangpo today. Emphasizing the need to distinguish between water supply and drinking water supply, the Governor reminded the concerned officials of the need to strengthen water supply infrastructure in a manner that it was not vulnerable to natural disasters and contamination.
The Governor, a Raj Bhavan communiqué informs, was apprised of the successful implementation of the Rural Water Supply Scheme in adherence to National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP). The Department is undertaking schemes like Dhara Vikas to ensure sustainability of these water sources by recharging the groundwater level.
Some of the interventions are visible in the revival of Dolling Lake at Barfung and Deythang Lake under Ravangla Block, the revival of which now benefits around 90 households and has supported floriculture and horticulture activities in the area.
Under NRDWP, it was informed that out of 2,498 rural habitations in Sikkim, 1,833 have already been fully covered, 665 household partially covered and no habitation left ‘uncovered’.
To mitigate water shortage in dry areas in Sikkim, RMDD has been facilitating construction of roof harvesting structures. Since 2008, a total of 1,704 such structures have been constructed in the State. Further, a number of storage tanks have also been constructed to preclude water scarcity problem.
It was informed that although NRDWP - a Central Government Scheme - follows 90:10 ratio vis-a-vis Centre:State share, the State government’s share, at its own initiative, is close to fifty percent of the total pool.
In order to monitor drinking water quality, the Department has opened two state-of-the-art labs with latest equipment- one at Tadong, Gangtok and the other at Jorethang.
The Governor emphasized the need to distinguish between water supply and drinking water supply to the rural areas. He said that drinking water supply system needs to be strengthened in a manner that is not vulnerable to natural disasters and contamination.
He directed the Department to evolve a more holistic approach to reach safe drinking water to each and every household in the villages.
The Governor was pleased to know that under this scheme, the planning is initiated at the gram sabha level. He wanted the department to promote local initiatives in water conservation. The Department must devise a system that meets complaints of the local people about the quality of drinking water. The system should also allow sharing of information of the nature of contamination in drinking water found in the labs with the stakeholders.

BHARAT NIRMAN IN RAJASTHAN


Villagers stake ownership, deliver well
ANAND OBEROI
JAIPUR, 15 March: Nine journalists from Sikkim arrived here at the Pink City’s Bikaner House yesterday at around 2 a.m. after bad weather delayed the flight from Bagdogra to Delhi by over five hours. The journalists are a part of a ten-member exposure tour sponsored by the Press Bureau of India to better understand the implementation of various centrally sponsored schemes in Rajasthan.
The Press team from Sikkim, accompanied by members of the Jaipur PIB and local government officials, yesterday visited the panchayat Samiti of Bassi in Jaipur district where they interacted with the locals and officials on the implementation of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Guarantee Scheme.
Under MGNRGS, it was found that unlike Sikkim where the Bharat Nirman Rajeev Gandhi Sewa Kendras has not yet started, in the Jaipur district alone 39 such Kendras [in 39 gram panchayat units] have begun, offering the Rajasthan government with a good option to keep tabs on the implementation process.
These small but efficient structures are staffed by employees appointed by the panchayat member committees, are appointed with running water and toilet facilities, computers with internet, fans and electricity which is all generated by power from solar panels installed on the roofs. Villagers from each samiti can get access to their works, bills and follow up their payments from these Kendra’s.
These Kendras are mainly set in areas where a majority of population are Scheduled Caste.
Similarly, under NREGS works initiated in Bassi panchayat samiti, 106 works of different categories are under progress engaging 5,084 labourers. Community-based initiatives and public participation is the name of the game here with each family member employed in various works initiated in each panchayat samiti. One such example is the construction of a ‘Nala Nirman Hanuman Mandir to Samshan Ghat’ footpath project. Members of these Kendras are local heads and elders who have, through their Kendras, developed this project for which an estimated budget of Rs. 27 lakh was sanctioned which interestingly they completed at an expenditure of only Rs. 13.72 lakh, the remaining amount being then utilised to develop other small projects like drains to divert waste water and rain water.
Such is the involvement of the locals in these kendras which they have taken up  as their own ‘office’ from where they function for a better habitation, greatly reducing soil erosion and providing better living conditions to the residents and setting examples for the rest of the country to follow.
Later during the day, the journalists were taken to Kasturba Gandhi Balika Awasia Vidhalaya for girls. There are 200 such residential schools established all over Rajasthan with an average of 100 girls studying free and learning vocational skills along with pursuing education till standard VIII in each school.  The team also visited special education centres for disabled children where they interacted with the children sharing information about Sikkim. The team also visited the government horticulture farm in Dindol, Bassi Block, Jaipur, which is spread in an area of 222 hectares with state of the art farming of fruits, vegetables and flowers.

Centre clears Rs. 1,269.15 cr for earthquake rehabilitation


MORE FUNDS TO COME FOR PROJECT SPECIFIC DPRs BY INDIVIDUAL DEPARTMENTS FOR RESPECTIVE MINISTRIES
GANGTOK, 15 March: The State government has been sanctioned a total of Rs. 1,269.15 crore, as of now, by the central government as package for the rebuilding and restoration measures to be undertaken in the wake of the 18 September earthquake. This also includes the Rs. 1,000 crore package announced by the Prime Minister during his Sikkim visit after the earthquake. Of this sanction, the state has received Rs. 296 crore thus far, it is informed.  The remaining amount is expected to be released with the submission of detailed project reports by the respective departments.
It is informed that the DPRs of most of the line departments have been submitted. With this formality completed, it is expected that the remaining amount, along with further funds under different schemes, will now be released in the next financial year.
Apart from the Rs. 296 crore, the state has also received Rs. 227.51 crore from the National Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF) which was sanctioned to the State to undertake immediate relief and restoration measures such as the restoration of power lines, road network, classrooms etc. Another Rs. 41.64 crore was released for restoring rural water supply infrastructure in the state.
The total amount so received as of now is against the DPR amounting to Rs. 1,471 crore put up by the state government. It is informed that departments such as PHE and others are also in the process of preparing special detailed project reports for submission to their relevant ministries in the central government for special sanction of funds. The total amount will depend on the final preparation of the DPRs and their evaluation by the central ministries.
Of the Rs. 1,000 crore sanctioned by the central government under the Prime Minister’s package and of which Rs. 96 crore has been received, Rs. 193 crore is for the rebuilding and reconstruction of the damaged Tashiling secretariat; Rs. 391 crore for rural housing woks; Rs. 216 crore for roads; Rs. 170 crore for reconstruction of damaged buildings including school and other government buildings and Rs. 30 crores for restoration and rehabilitation of drinking water supply in different areas in the state.

HC issues notices on petition by labourers seeking regularization of services at army base


GANGTOK, 15 March: The High Court of Sikkim has issued notices to the Central government and the army establishment based here against a petition filed by labourers demanding regularization of their services. A total of 16 daily wage labourers engaged at the Army base here in Sikkim have moved the High Court demanding that their services be regularized. They have also demanded that they be provided wages as per central government regulations.
The daily wage labourers are engaged by the army supply unit for loading, unloading, stacking and maintaining of stocks, and, by definition, are engaged for the welfare of the troops here. As per their submission, the labourers have been engaged by the army for around 10 years or more. The labourers were provided by the Department of Personnel, Government of Sikkim on muster roll to the army establishment after the army had sought them for the army supply corps.
After having worked as daily wage labourers for a number of years, the lot of 16 is now seeking regularization of services; moreover, they have also sought that they be provided daily wages under the central regulations. At present, their wages are computed under the State regulations which is said to be lower than what the central government provides as minimum daily wage for their kind of work. The army contends that the rules were already known to the said labourers when they were engaged and further that the workers are hardly engaged for more than 20 days a month.
The labourers had earlier also sought redressal of their grievances in the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT), Kolkata, where their petition was dismissed. It is learnt that the CAT noted that their subject matter did not fall under the Tribunals’ Act and further suggested that they approach the appropriate authority.
Subsequently, the petition was filed here in the high court and last week the court issued notices to the respondents.

Sachet Berojgar join issue with SU recruitment embroglio


VC AND REGISTRAR RIGGED INTERVIEWS TO FAVOUR THEIR OWN, ORGANISATION ALLEGES
GANGTOK, 15 March: The Sikkim Sachet Sawrojgar Berojgar Sangathan [SSSBS] has become the first group in Sikkim to join issue with the recruitment embroglio at Sikkim University which blew out with a section of the faculty members going public with their allegations of the Vice Chancellor having ignored standing directives of the Ministry of Human Resource Development on the powers of the VC and provisions enshrined in the Sikkim University Act on how recruitments need to be conducted.
In a press release issued today, the SSSBS had accused the VC and the Registrar of managing the recruitment process in a way to favour their candidates at the cost of local aspirants and more deserving candidates.
The group highlights that not all is above board in the SU recruitment process, not just in how regular faculty was recruited, but also in how the non-teaching vacancies are being filled.
The SSSBS has also questioned why, when the posts were granted by the UGC back in 2008-09, did the VC rush the recruitment process only towards the end of his tenure at SU [starting Feb 2012]. This last-minute haste, despite the ample time at hand, has led to important guidelines being ignored and the candidates not allowed enough time to not only prepare for the written examination or interview, but in some cases to even to make arrangements to attend the same.
The release contends that in “normal process”, candidates need to be informed at least 3 weeks in advance before an interview or written examination. The SU however called candidates for this process on much shorter notice with even the admit cards for written examinations not distributed properly. In this regard, it highlights the manner in which the LDC examination was conducted on 11 March with the distribution of admit cards beginning only on 05 March with even the format of the examination not properly mentioned.
The organization has alleged that the Vice Chancellor Prof Mahendra P Lama and Registrar Dr JP Tamang organised the process in a way so as to favour “their own people” and tried their best to keep local candidates out. The release argues that the SU is a central university for Sikkim and local candidates should get the opportunity to fill job vacancies in it.
The release has been issued jointly by the SSSBS president, Karma Gyurmie Bhutia, and publicity secretary Khemraj Pokhrel.

Fire razes shop near Lall Bazaar


GANGTOK, 15 Mar: A major disaster was averted here today when a fire in a closed shop near Lall Bazaar was doused in time. The shop is situated opposite the Lall Bazaar Shopping Complex.
Today being a Thursday, shops in and around the Lall Bazaar were closed for the day. It was only when neighbours saw smoke coming out from the shop in question, that they immediately alerted the Fire and Emergency Services.
Upon receiving the information, the Gangtok Fire Station crew rushed to the spot with one fire tender and one AFT and started the operations. The firemen brought the flames under control within 25 minutes and stopped the blaze from spreading further. The entire firefighting exercise however took longer and it was only after an hour that the fire was completely put out.
“We received the call at around 1 P.M. and immediately sent three Fire teams to douse the fire,” informed Deputy Chief Fire Officer, Prakash Rai, while speaking to the media later. The shop had old wiring which caught fire due to a short circuit, he said.
“Because we received the call in time the fire personnel were able to reach in time and douse the fire,” he said, adding that by the time the fire personnel arrived, local people were also doing their bit in putting out the fire.
“It is propitious that nothing major happened and there was no loss to life. The fire personnel have done a good job by responding immediately and putting out the fire in time,” commented SDPO [East], DSP Ongmu Bhutia, while speaking to the media.
The building belongs to Purna Bahadur Rai, while the shop which caught fire was being run by Nanda Kishore Prasad for the past 25-30 years. The shop was not occupied at the time and was being used as a godown. A room at the back was under renovation to be appointed as a sweets shop soon. A tailoring shop adjacent to the shop was lucky not to catch fire.
A desktop computer [the CPU was completely burnt], home theatre, gym equipment a wooden alimarh, important papers were some of the items lost in the fire. Sikkim Police personnel and neighbours also helped in the firefighting operation.

ASESE&UA applauds SAOWAS decision on no farewells for colleagues on extension


GANGTOK, 15 March: The All Sikkim Educated Self Employed & Unemployed Association [ASESE&UA] has welcomed and applauded the resolution reportedly passed by the State Agriculture Officers Welfare Association of Sikkim [SAOWAS] not to organize farewell send offs for colleagues seeking service extensions.
Referring to news-reports on the SAOWAS resolution, the ASESE&UA in a press release issued by its president, Nawin Kiran, has congratulated the newly elected SAOWAS executive body on the resolution and welcomed and applauded the ‘bold step’.
The release highlights that the ASESE&UA has “always stood for a public cause and has always stood against this evil practice of service extension/ reemployment as this practice bars the way for new recruits as well as effects the rights and timely promotions of the junior staffs.”
“We do not like to comment on why and who enjoys extension/reemployment as everyone in Sikkim is well aware that this political reward (extension/reemployment) is given to those who are willing to do everything illegal/unwanted things for their bosses,” the release contends further.

SNM volunteers clean up STNM Hospital


GANGTOK, 15 Mar: The Sant Nirankari Mission [SNM] of Gangtok undertook a cleanliness drive at the Sir Thutob Namgyal Memorial [STNM] Hospital today.
“Actually, we wanted to carry out this Safai Abhiyan on 23 February as it would have concided with the birthday of Nirankari Baba Hardev Singh, but we could not get permission in time due to certain reasons,” informed Sewa Dal Volunteer Member, Sanjay Kesari, while speaking to NOW! today.
Such safai abhiyans have already been completed at the South District Hospital at Namchi, he informed, while adding that this was an annual feature of the organization to mark Nirankari Baba Hardev Singh’s birthday. Their engagements also include tree plantation drives and blood donation camps all over the State.
The Safai Abhiyan here was carried out by around 60 SNM volunteers.
Meanwhile, the Media PRO of SNM, Ajay Kesari informed that on 19 April, SNM will be holding a Blood Donation Camp at the STNM Hospital, where more than 250 blood donors [all SNM members] from all over Sikkim will be donating blood.
“The SNM members of Sikkim have been donating blood for the last 10 years like our branches all over the country and we have also been awarded the Highest Blood Donors Award by the World Health Organization [WHO] which we have been winning for the last three years continuously,” he further added.
Later on, the SNM members also distributed fruits to all the patients admitted in the STNM Hospital. Also present for the safai abhiyan was the president, Gangtok Branch, Sikkim Zone, Meena Chettri.

Forest fire beaten down in Namchi, major calamity averted


NAMCHI, 15 March: Prompt action by Namchi Fire Station personnel and able cooperation from the residents ensured that a runaway forest fire was brought under control in time yesterday and property worth lakhs which the fire had potential to consume, saved.
A major fire broke out yesterday at around 1:30 pm here at Upper Ghurpisey on the private land holding of Laxmi Prasad Chettri, Bir Bdr. Chettri and Hom Bdr. Chettri. The Namchi fire station was alerted but when the team reached the spot, they had to improvise on the spot when they found the spot not approachable by road. A 500 ft span of hosepipe was pressed into service and the fire doused after an hour of intense firefighting, informs PI, Namchi Fire Station, IK Rai. Two fire tenders were used in the operation.
Although the cause of the fire is still under investigation, the PI has applauded the able assistance provided by the locals in extinguishing the fire.
Though the fire occurred on a private holding, it posed a serious threat to a clutch of residential houses nearby. The houses of Bhagirath Sharma, Laxmi Psd. Chettri and Dawa Bhutia are located exactly above the spot where the fire broke out and ensuring that flames did not spread towards the posed the biggest challenge for the fire personnel yesterday.
The locals have extended their gratitude towards the Namchi Fire personnel for their prompt action.

Editorial:Now, Focus on the Left-Out


The socioeconomic indicators for Sikkim, as recorded in the Census 2011 data for household amenities and assets data released recently, show an impressive improvement when compared against the indices recorded ten years earlier in Census 2001. While congratulations are aptly due for the State Government for having ensured such a substantial improvement within a decade, the data also flags sectors which need special attention. While the socioeconomic improvements have been universal, in that the amelioration has been across the board, what remains a worry is that those who have been left out remain cut off from the most of amenities.
To begin with sanitation levels in the State, Sikkim was deservedly the first State to bag the Nirmal Rajya award for the total sanitation it achieved some years ago. There has been a qualitative improvement as well in this sector with 75% of the households now having water closet latrines [with flush] as against 32.1% in 2001. Sikkim is the best performing State on this count, posting the best figures among the States with only the metropolitan union territory of Chandigarh doing better at 87.1%. This is obviously conversion from pit latrines to the better water closet option because the number households with pit latrines has come down from 32.1% in 2001 to 12% now. If one were to focus just on the rural scenario, the numbers remain as impressive for Sikkim. The State, as its Nirmal Rajya award has already testified, tops the listings among State with 68.5% of the rural households having water closet latrines, a huge leap from the merely 24.3% in 2001. Against the 40.6% of the rural households which had no latrines in 2001, the number had come down to 15.9% in 2011. These statistics for urban Sikkim are also the best in the country with 91.8% of the urban households having water closet latrines, 3.3% having pit latrines, and 8.2% having no latrines. The overall figure for Sikkim reveals that against 36.6% of the households in Sikkim had no latrines in 2001, now only 12.8% are so disadvantaged. This is indeed a noteworthy achievement. A rural-urban comparison reveals that the improvements in sanitation levels has been more marked in rural Sikkim where the number of rural households without latrines has come down from 40.6% in 2001 to 15.9% in 2011. For urban Sikkim, the numbers have dropped from 8.2% in 2001 to 4.8% of the households now. When the percentages are converted to numbers, one learns that of the 1,28,131 households in Sikkim, 16,400 households have no latrines. This denial is explained to the large migrant population in Sikkim and the less than adequate tenements available to them [39,208 families in Sikkim live in rented accommodations]. But what needs immediate attention is the worrying fact that only 1,922 households [of the 16,400 without latrines] have access to public toilets. The remaining 14,478 households have to rely on open latrines. And this is a worry. Most of the already underprivileged and denied section of the population here remains left out from access to proper sanitation. It is important that immediate measures are undertaken to expand the footprint of public toilets to ensure that this section of the people receive at least the most basic of amenities.
Another section of the ‘left out’ from the strides made in socioeconomic indicators are the 18.2% of the households here which have none of the “assets” common to the rest of Sikkim. 23,320 households here own neither a radio, nor TV, computer, telephone or a vehicle. This section obviously needs to be prioritised in the release of whatever aids or grants released by the State Government. Admittedly, a substantial number of this group might not qualify to make it to the beneficiaries list, so the least that can be done is extend all civic amenities to them which they deserve by way of their residence in Sikkim. Undoubtedly, the entire lot of households without latrines will fall in this category as well.

Forest fire at Lower Lingding


GANGTOK, 15 March: A forest fire in a private land holding at Lower Lingding in East Sikkim was reported on Wednesday evening. Gangtok Fire Station received the fire alarm at around 3:30 PM and a team led by Fire Station Officers Phuchung Lepcha, Subash Subba and Samsher Subba, rushed to the spot with two fire tenders. After around 2 hours of effort, the fire was brought under control.

Sikkim readies 100-member contingent for NE Games


GANGTOK, 15 March: The Department of Sports & Youth Affairs is sending a 100-member contingent to represent Sikkim at the upcoming 26th edition of the North East Games to be held from 20 to 23 March at Aizwal in Mizoram.
The state teams will take part in seven disciplines - athletics, boxing, badminton, football, table tennis, taekwondo and volleyball and will be led by Assistant Director, CL Rai.
The contingent members were shortlisted on the basis of their performance in the recently concluded State Level North East Games held at Paljor Stadium, Tashi Namgyal Academy ground and Tathangchen Secondary School ground from 12 to 14 March.
The team will be leaving for the tournament on Saturday.

CM inspects infrastructure development work at SGC Tadong


DIRECTS DEPARTMENT TO PREPARE DPR ON THOUROUGHFARE PROBLEM, ANNOUNCES 2 NEW BUSES FOR THE COLLEGE
SAGAR CHHETRI
GANGTOK, 14 Mar: Chief Minister Pawan Chamling, accompanied by the HRDD Minister, NK Pradhan, UDHD Minister, DB Thapa who is also the area MLA, and Chief Secretary Karma Gyatso, visited the Sikkim Government College, Tadong today.
The objective of the visit was to inspect the ongoing infrastructure development works in the campus and to resolve the long pending problem of the thoroughfare faced by the people living in the periphery of the college. The people living in this area have been facing the problem of thoroughfare as the road they use passes through the campus. The people have hence been demanding an alternative road towards the colony in the periphery of the college.
The Chief Minister, after listening to the problem, directed the concerned department to take a holistic approach and prepare a comprehensive project report to solve the problem once and for all. Sanctity and security of the college should not be a compromise while preparing the project report, the Chief Minister stressed.
Further, college being a public property illegal interference and encroachment of college land should be dealt with very seriously, he directed. In this regard, he also urged the people to take the responsibility of maintaining the sanctity of the educational institution.
“The government is trying its best to give world class educational facility to the students but the responsibility has to be borne by the people as well. It is very much important that the mindset of the people changes,” the Chief Minister added.
While going through the details of the ongoing construction work and advising the engineers and the contractors on quality issues, the Chief Minister directed the Human Resource Development Department for up-gradation, carpeting and proper drainage system of the existing road inside the college premises. Stating that quality should not be compromised at any cost he added, “We are trying to make our state a model in every aspect and people from every walk of life should give their cooperation for this job. The students should take the social responsibility and voice their grievances on issues of quality”.
Later, in his interaction with lecturers and students, the Chief Minister stated that the present work, projects and schemes of the government were aimed towards ensuring a better future for the people of Sikkim. On the same, he stressed that equal contribution and participation by the students and people of the state would help the government reach its mission to make Sikkim a model state.
Speaking on saturation of government jobs, the CM stated that if the people accepted this reality, then half of the problems would be solved because ample opportunities had been created in other sectors. The State is trying to move in the direction of developed countries and the students should reset their mindsets accordingly and aim big and not get misguided by negative and irresponsible elements, said the CM.
The CM also encouraged the students to contribute to the government’s effort towards ensuring quality education and to be responsible towards the state by guiding and supervising it towards prosperity.
Responding to the college’s demands, the CM announced 2 new buses and one bus each to other government colleges across the state except the Gyalshing Degree College. He also directed the PHE Department to set up drinking water facilities for the students in the college campus. He assured to provide audio-visual facility and computers to the college and to work on every other demand placed by the college.
Directing the heads of different departments to prepare a comprehensive DPR to work on the needs of the college he said that all fund provisions will be considered under the Vote of Accounts.
The College Principal, Dr MP Kharel highlighted the various requirements of the college and urged the concerned departments to complete the ongoing works within the scheduled time. Likewise, lecturers and students also spoke on the various needs of the students and the college.
The Chief Minister was also accompanied by his Political Advisor, KN Rai, District Collector [East], D Anandan, SDM Gangtok, Dr AB Karki, Councilors, heads of various government departments and local gentries.

New set of land records formalized for Ravangla


GANGTOK, 14 March: Ravangla has finally got a new set of land records. The old land records of Ravangla bazaar and its surrounding areas, prepared in 1976-1983 and dating much further back to the time of the Chogyals and when the Ralong monastery ‘owned’ the bazaar and surrounding areas, have now been notified by the state government to have ceased to be in operation. New land records prepared by the Land Revenue Department from the year 2006 to 2010 have now replaced the old records. In the process, all persons allotted land by the monastery have now had their respective land holdings regularized.
The preparation and implementation of new records for Ravangla and surrounding areas was very much needed and was acutely felt to resolve the impression of dual ownership or authority over the area by both the Ralong gumpa as well as the State administration.
In fact, it has only been in recent years that the administration of the area has come gradually and completely into the hands of the state administration from the gumpa which earlier exercised control over the area and in the allotment of plots. The monastery even collected taxes etc from the people which has now passed on to the State administration but with the monastery receiving 50% of the revenue thus collected and freed from utilizing it for development of civic amenities.
The gumpa committee often allotted plots to individuals for which there were no proper records. What further complicated the situation was that some of these lands happened to be forest lands.
The practice of allotting lands to individuals along with the practice of collecting taxes posed the question of relevancy of the administration which was providing all the utilities as well was engaged in the development of the area. While the state has taken over these functions and powers, absence of proper land records posed problems and also the potential to spark disputes among land owners.
At the same time, it was also important that the lands allotted by the monastery be recognized and regularized; this, especially with the formation of municipal bodies. All this necessitated the preparation of new land records. The process of preparing the new records took a number of years and required extensive surveys etc.
The process completed, the monastery can no longer allot plots and the boundaries of the Ravangla bazaar have also been redefined with the Settlement area and Rabong block forming the eastern boundary; Berfung and Deythang blocks forming the western boundary; Seleley Slip area forming the northern boundary and Berfung block and Tea Garden block forming the southern boundary.
Incidentally, the entire land records of Sikkim and which are adhered to by the government were prepared between 1976-1983 and there is a proposal currently for the modernization of the state’s land records.

…no such luck for Gyalshing
GANGTOK, 14 March: While the state government has been able in reconciling and regularizing the land records and holdings of Ravangla bazaar it has not been able to do the same with Gyalshing and Rabdentse. Gyalshing bazaar and surrounding areas also pose the same problem and complications as Ravangla did for the administration. While in the case of Ravangla bazaar, it was the Ralong Monastery which earlier exercised authority, in the case of Gyalshing and Rabdentse, it is the Pemayangste monastery. This is a historical situation carried over from the pre-merger days, and while the State government has attempted to resolve the situation and set the records straight for Rabdentse and Gyalshing on similar lines as Ravangla, the gumpa committee at Pemayangtse monastery has not agreed to the move and preferred to continue its rights on the area. The preparation of new land records in Ravangla was possible because the monastery there had agreed to the proposal of the government. With the Pemayangste monastery not agreeing with the government’s intention at preparing new lands records there could be complications later on.

Hee-Gaon farmers fetch the highest price at 6th large cardamom auction


GANGTOK, 14 Mar: The 6th large cardamom auction was conducted by NERAMAC Ltd today at Spices Board’s auction centre at Rangpo.
A press release informs that the total arrival of large cardamom in the auction centre from all the four districts of Sikkim was 3.684 MT. Total quantity sold from the 42 lots was 2.604 MT worth Rs. 18,23,025 and 1.080 MT was withdrawn for next auction to be conducted on 28 March 2012.
Sukhlal Limbu from Hee-Gaon, West Sikkim fetched the highest price of large cardamom i.e Rs. 900 per kg (Rs. 36,000 per mound) in the auction which is much higher than the prevailing market price whereas minimum price was Rs. 635 per kg for inferior quality, the release informs. The average price of large cardamom in the 6th auction was Rs. 739 per kg i.e. Rs 29, 560 per mound.
Sr. Zonal Manager of NERAMAC Ltd, PC Roy has thanked the large cardamom growers and dealers for their participation in the auction and expressed his hope that the next auction to be held on 28 March will be more successful.
Mr Roy informed that the large cardamom growers who contributed maximum crop in the first year’s auction for the year 2010-11 will be awarded in a Seminar on “Fruit-wine and its commercialization” on 23 March at Denzong Regency, Gangtok, the release further mentions.

CM appreciates newly established NCC Girls headquarter at SGC


GANGTOK, 14 Mar: Chief Minister Pawan Kumar Chamling, during his visit of the Sikkim Government College today also visited the newly established headquarter of 1 Sikkim Girls Battalion NCC at the college.
A press release informs that the CM appreciated the efforts put in by Colonel Ranbeer Singh, Shaurya Chakra, Commanding Officer and his team in raising the battalion HQ. He expressed his utmost satisfaction as this will provide a platform to the young girls of Sikkim in building their personality and empower them to contribute towards nation building, the CM added, the release informs.

Governor apprised of State Government’s strategy to restore and rebuild earthquake damaged monasteries



GANGTOK, 14 Mar: A presentation on the State Government’s strategy to restore and rebuild the monasteries damaged during the 18th September 2011 earthquake was made before the Governor of Sikkim, BP Singh by the representatives of the Ecclesiastical Department, Cultural and Heritage Affairs Department and Building and Housing Department at Raj Bhavan Winter Camp today.
The representatives were led by the Additional Chief Secretary, R Ongmu and the presentation was made by Additional Town Planner, UDHD, Devika Chettri.
According to a press release issued by the Governor’s PRO, Mr Singh was informed that the Ecclesiastical Department had received reports of damages from 326 monasteries. Acting on the reports, the Ecclesiastical Department and the Building and Housing Department had undertaken a joint survey of monasteries. Following this, the Building and Housing Department has submitted detailed project reports for restoration, repair and minor retrofitting of 124 monasteries to the Ministry of Cultural Affairs, Government of India.
The Government of Sikkim has recognised 6 monasteries (Ringhim, Chawang,  Tashiding, Chungthang, Hungri and Tholung) as critically damaged and accordingly, DPRs for restoration works have been submitted to the Culture Ministry of the Central Government. The restoration process is being planned by involving the experts and also through design research, mapping and documentation, the release mentions.
The Governor emphasised that the monasteries in Sikkim lend a unique identity to it among the union of States. The State should do its best to ensure that the sanctity and beauty of the monasteries are maintained.
The release further informs that the Governor directed the Building and Housing Department to ensure that the restored and reconstructed monasteries, be made earthquake resistant. He also called for involvement of the local communities in the rebuilding process.
The Governor also expressed the need to create inventories of all the relics in the monasteries, the release adds.


Sikkim Theatre Training Centre artists present ‘Hum Hi Apna Aap’ play in Nepali


GANGTOK, 14 Mar: Local artists of the National School of Drama’s Sikkim Theatre Training Centre presented a play ‘Hum Hi Apna Aap’ in Nepali here at Defence auditorium this evening. The play will again be staged on Thursday evening at 5:30 PM.
The play is inspired by Padma Sachdeva’s Hindi novel, ‘Ab Na Banegi Dehari’, scripted by Asif Ali Haider Khan and was translated in Nepali by Jagdish Sharma. The play is designed and directed by Bipin Kumar. Padma Sachdeva also writes in the Dongri language.
The play is about a widow Rewati and the saint Giri Baba who fall in love with each other. Rewati is willing to give up everything and settle down with Giri Baba, but the fear of the society gets the better of him. The initiators of religion are afraid of the consequences of this romance. They believe that the society is bound to lose their faith in God if they found out about such a love story between a widow and a saint. They convince Giri Baba to take up Samadhi. The play thus opens with the festive scene going on in the premises of the village mandir. The play also tries to highlight the struggle faced by a widow in the society.
The play was staged beautifully by local artists of the state trained by the Sikkim Theatre Training Centre of the NSD. The first day of the play had Prof Sudeep Kulkarni of the NSD as the chief guest, who was accompanied by writer, Biru Bangdel. The play was also attended by the NSD faculty members from New Delhi.
NSD Sikkim Theatre Training Centre started on 01 May last year with 19 students.

36-year-old commits suicide


GANGTOK, 14 Mar: A case of Unnatural Death [UD] has been registered at the Singtam Police Station after a 36-year-old man committed suicide by hanging on 13 March.
According to telephonic information received from Sheluk Bhutia, resident of Namgaythang in East Sikkim, the deceased was an alcoholic and unemployed.
On 13 March at around 8 AM the deceased went out of his house as usual. Later at around 4.30 PM the complainant found him hanging by the ceiling beam of the cow shed, which is approximately 50 feet below his house.
The autopsy of the body was conducted today and no foul play was detected.

Editorial:IT for Sikkim


Among the demands raised by students during Chief Minister Pawan Chamling’s visit to the Gangtok college campus on Wednesday, was one seeking internet access for the college. While it is appalling that the college does not already have such a facility, it really should come as no surprise from an institution which has displayed a strong regressive tendency at the management level [what with the uniforms its students have to now wear]. IT tools are no longer luxuries that can be ignored, they have become necessary skills not just for employment but even to remain informed and connected. Even employment in the State Government now requires a basic level of computer proficiency, and this even though e-Governance is still many year away. While the demand [for internet connectivity for the college] has been granted, it is important that clear directions are passed to make it meaningful. It will not set back the state’s budget by too much to wifi the entire campus, not just at Tadong College, but for all the colleges in the State. Since it is obvious that no college here has adequately appointed computer rooms, another scheme that the government could consider is offering substantial subsidies to students wishing to acquire a computer. Computers are now important assets for learning and although computer access in Sikkim is marginally higher than the national average, a few policy tweaks can take it to much higher levels and soon its benefits will become obvious. As per the “Houses, Household Amenities and Assets Figures” released as part of the Census of India 2011 recently, 11.5 per cent of the 1,28,131 households in Sikkim have computers. When it comes to internet connectivity, the number dips substantially. Only 3.3 per cent of the families in Sikkim have computers with internet access, almost the same as the national average of 3.1. Poor internet and telecom services are the obvious reasons why a majority of the households which have invested in computers have not logged into the web yet. The initiative recommended for the colleges could seed wider computer and internet penetration in the State and the results of such an opening up can only be good.

Roads and Bridges Minister inspects ongoing road construction work in West Sikkim


DIRECTS CONTRACTORS AND OFFICIALS TO EXPEDITE WORK ON WAR-FOOTING
GANGTOK, 14 Mar: Minister Roads and Bridges, RB Subba inspected two ongoing road construction works from Intake power house to Jhakri Dhunga and Sopakha to Chewabhanjyang in West Sikkim on Tuesday. He was accompanied by Superintendent Engineer, Roads and Bridges [West], Divisional Engineer, Roads and Bridges Deptt [Gyalshing], DFO [Wildlife], ACF [Territorial], Assistant Engineer and Junior Engineer Roads and Bridges Deptt [Kaluk Sub-division], concerned contractors, panchayat and local public.
A press release informs that the Minister walked throughout up to 3.40 Kms length along trace cut road of Jhakri Dhunga. He expressed displeasure at the slow pace of work and directed the contractors and the officials to expedite the work on war-footing and complete the work at the earliest.
He further directed the contractors to make the trace cut length of 3.40 Kms trafficable within 40 days without fail, for which he took an undertaking from the contractors, the release mentions. He has directed the officials of the Department to extend maximum support by issuing requisite stock materials and machinery to the contractors. He observed that the road needs to be re-aligned to avoid massive rock cutting involved in the original alignment in order to ensure timely completion of the road.
While re-aligning the road private lands need to be acquired for which the Minister directed the Panchayats and public to pursue the matter with the landowners and submit NOC to the department at the earliest. For connectivity to the Upper Ferek busty he expressed that it would be better to provide a bifurcated link road of about one kilometre from the road towards Jhakri Dhunga. He also directed the officials to conduct a survey for the link road to Parengaon.
The release further informs that regarding the 18 Km long road from Sopakha to Chewabhanjyang under construction he directed the contractor to make the road trafficable up to 5.50 Kms within 20 days positively. Beyond 5.50 Kms, 12.50 Kms length of the road runs along the reserved forest land and Kanchanjunga Biosphere. For necessary clearance he has directed the DFO [Wildlife] and ACF [Territorial] to render full cooperation to the Department so that the Government’s top priority project is completed within the stipulated time, the release adds.

SHRPP team continues West Sikkim tour


GANGTOK, 14 Mar: Continuing its West Sikkim tour, the team of Sikkim Himali Rajya Parishad Party central working committee members interacted with party workers and people of Pelling, Chumbong, Bhaluthang, Singmartan and its surrounding areas on Tuesday. The team is led by vice-president, LM Subba and district vice-convener, RL Ghimirey.
An SHRPP press release issued by its general secretary, Tara Shrestha claims that during their interaction, people of these areas complained that they were yet to receive the relief and compensation for damages caused by the 18 September 2011 earthquake and alleged unfairness in the relief distribution.
The release further informs that the people of Pelling and Chumbong voiced their concern over a power project being developed over Sedang Khola. The people complained of damages sustained due to blasting in the area by the project developers and further expressed that they want the project to be stopped, the release adds.

SICB takes livelihood school trainees for hands-on organic farming training to Madhya Pradesh


GANGTOK, 14 Mar: The State Institute of Capacity Building (SICB), Karfectar, South Sikkim has organized an exposure-cum-outreach program for 19 (nineteen) trainees of Martam-Rumtek and 06 (six) trainees of Rhenock Livelihood Schools respectively along with two escort teachers for undergoing one month hands-on training on “Dhabholkar’s Method of Organic Farming” and “Natueco Farming” at Malpani Trust, Krushi Teerth, SHARAN, at Madhya Pradesh.
A press release informs that the trainees will learn sustainable soil making without any market input. They will be trained on various aspects like  Soil Management, Root and Canopy Management, Pruning, Water Management, Treatment of Sick Plants, Importance of Biodiversity, Enrichment of soil by recycling biomass and by establishing a proper energy chain, Harvesting the sun through proper plant canopy management for efficient photosynthesis, Development and maintenance of white root zones of the plant for efficient absorption of nutrients and Minimizing the use of external resources including water. They will be also trained on “How to plan your own farm”.
According to the release the trainees will also be trained in Natueco Farming which has a strong correlation with how we use energy and water as a resource. In an age where farming is considered as a source of income, Natueco brings home the point that such activity needs to be holistic and stem from a larger vision.
Natueco farming and its practice requires one to draw connections of their life with this culture and live in sync with the other elements in their immediate environment. For instance, healthy soil with balanced composition of elements and microbes improves not only the health of the plant but also transcends into the life of people interacting with this environment, the release mentions.
SICB has taken this task as a Pilot Project, to have ‘Visible Productivity'  in the field of Agriculture and other allied sectors, the release adds. The whole program was coordinated and collaborated by Deputy Director (C.P & E), Ranjan Rai under the guidance of Chief Administrator of SICB, SD Dhakal.

Three-day refresher course for Zilla and Gram Panchayats begins at Namthang BAC


NAMCHI, 14 Mar: A 3-day refresher course for Zilla and Gram Panchayats cum Rural Development Functionaries under Namthang Block Administrative Center is being conducted here at BAC Conference Hall, Namthang, South Sikkim. The training course is organized by BAC Namthang with support from State Institute of Rural Development.
At the inaugural function today, Zilla Panchayat President, Devi Maya Baraily was present as the chief guest while the programme was also attended by BDO Namthang, Robin Sewa, AE Namthang BAC, Sumitra Chettri, APO Biwas Kheral and FF, KB Chettri.
Addressing the programme, BDO Namthang, Robin Sewa highlighting the importance of planning, implementation and monitoring of rural development work said that the state government had sanctioned many works and scheme but their implementation at the village level has not been up to the mark. He further said that panchayats had huge responsibility in ensuring better implementation of government schemes and programmes.
Appreciating the work and coordination of the Panchayats under BAC Namthang Mr Sewa congratulated all the panchayats for good implementation of MGNREGA work in the GPU. Mentioning that Namthang being a drought prone area has projects in water conservation for this year, he urged all the panchayats to cooperate with the BAC and come up with new ideas and plans for better results.
AE Namthang BAC, Sumita Chettri in her address informed about the Chief Minister’s Rural Housing Mission and its objectives to the participants and mentioned that Namthang BAC had 71 houses to be built under this scheme. She also gave technical information on the construction of the houses and urged all to ensure that they are built within the stipulated time maintaining quality and transparency in the work.
The programme was also addressed by APO, Biswas Kharel where he informed about MGNREGA work and its implementation. During the programme FF, KB Chettri informed that the participants will be taken on a field visit to Melli Dara GPU on 15 March to learn about the implementation of the different complete rural development work in their GPU. The participating panchayats will also be informed about Community Led Total Sanitation, TSC and Solid and liquid waste management.