Friday, April 20, 2012

CM suggests Biotech Park for Sikkim


BIOTECHNOLOGICAL INTERVENTION COULD HELP PROVIDE PERMANENT SOLUTION FOR LANDSLIDES, OBSERVES CM AT 2nd NE BIOTECH MEET

GANGTOK, 19 April: The 2nd North East Biotech Hub Coordinators Meet [19-20 April] organised by State Biotech Hub Centre, Sikkim State Council of Science & Technology, Department of Science & Technology & Climate Change, Government of Sikkim and supported by Department of Biotechnology, Government of India began at Chintan Bhawan today and was inaugurated by the Chief Minister Pawan Chamling.
The meet has more than 100 scientists and research scholars from Government of India and Institutional Hub Coordinators participating where they will discuss protection, conservation, monitoring and evaluation work on biodiversity and also present the progress report of individual centres and other R&D activities of each centre for exchange of ideas to promote Biotechnology in the NE region.
Addressing the gathering of intellectuals from the North Eastern States, the chief guest Chief Minister Pawan Chamling stated that he not only hoped but had a strong resolve that this meeting would undoubtedly help Sikkim and other NE States to step forward towards the advancement of technologies in the field of Biotechnology. “I hope scientists of Sikkim too shall take advantage of this meeting and interactions that follow”, he added.
The world of biotechnology is getting globalised and the acceleration in the growth of biotechnology during the last few decades is due to the various R&D projects being carried out all over the globe, which has led to significant achievements in the broad areas of agriculture, healthcare, animal sciences, environment and industry, he said and added that research should come out of the lab and reach the rural masses as lab-to-land transfer of research has become the demand of the day.
Sikkim accounts for only 0.2 per cent area of the country, but has the richest biodiversity and hosts over 26% of the country’s flowering plants. We have 552 species of birds representing 30% of the bird species of the entire country with 690 species of butterflies making around 50% of the butterfly species of India, he stated.
He further said that as an ecologically fragile state located in the Eastern Himalayas, Sikkim has proceeded very cautiously while undertaking any developmental acitvity. For Sikkim, conservation, protection of eco-system and environmental sanctity has remained a firm priority as Sikkim has a unique biodiversity and the biospheres have to be protected, he added.
Speaking on the issue of Green Sikkim, he informed the gathering of the various initiatives taken by the State government for the protection of forests, such as the State Green Mission, and the recently launched 10 Minutes to Earth where mass planting of trees took place all over the state. Many environmental initiatives over the years have resulted in substantial increase of the forest and tree cover in the state, he added.
The banning of grazing in the Reserve Forest area has resulted in rejuvenation of forest and increase in the population of wildlife, while this has also resulted in increase of water supply to the perennial springs located in wildlife sanctuaries and high altitude areas. An eco-friendly step has been to ban the use of plastic completely in the state, the CM mentioned.
Nature is also a source of livelihood and the state’s economy is being enhanced through judicious harnessing of natural resources, therefore promotion of eco-tourism is the main focus in the state, the CM stated, while adding that there is want of development but not at the cost of the ecology.
The CM further stated that traditional knowledge and biotechnology can also come together towards the conservation of biodiversity in the state.
Speaking on the 18 September earthquake, he asked the Department of Science & Technology to seek institutional support and expertise from central government and related institutions for biotechnological intervention to rejuvenate the natural wealth and also find permanent solution to active landslide zones of Sikkim.
He also requested the Department of Biotechnology [Government of India] to set up a Biotech Park in Sikkim that would cater to the whole of the NE region for entrepreneurship development in biotechnology, which will help in the creation of a gene pool of endemic medicinal and aromatic plants found in Sikkim and also the whole of NE.
He also spoke on Sikkim being the first state in the NE to constitute a Glacier and Climate Change Commission on 17 January, 2008 and the drafting of an action plan on Climate Change, which has become part and parcel of North East Climate Change Programme launched by the German Development Cooperation.
The meeting was also addressed by Bhim Dhungel [Minister for Science & Technology & Climate Change], AK Shrivastava [Principal Secretary, Department of Science & Technology], Dr T Madan Mohan [Advisor, Department of Biotechnology, Government of India], Dr B Ravindran [Institute of Life Sciences, Bhuwaneswar] and Dr Purnima Sharma [MD, Biotech Consortium India Ltd].
The inaugural session also witnessed the release of two books, Sikkim Biodiversity, Significance and Sustainability and another on the proceedings of 2nd North East Biotech Hub Copordinators Meeting by the Chief Minister.
The technical session included the presentations by North East Coordinators, Institutional Hub Coordinators followed by a discussion with the Coordinators of Biotech Hubs. The second day will also have presentations by Institutional Hub Coordinators followed by the valedictory function.

Lost road inflates carriage costs hampering CMRHM constructions in Sakyong-Pentong


A BAG OF CEMENT COSTS Rs. 800 TO REACH SITES NOW
MANGAN, 19 April: For the public of Sakyong and Pentong villages which are still cut-off [ever since the September Earthquake wiped away its link roads], reaching materials and other essential items to their houses from the district headquarter town of Mangan has become an expensive affair. Transporting materials for the under construction Chief Minister’s Rural Housing Mission houses in the area, which need to be completed within the stipulated time as per norms, are proving a heavy burden.
“We have to pay Rs. 800 [regular rates are Rs 390-400 per bag] for a head load of one bag of cement from Mangan to Pentong and we don’t get enough workers as there are several tricky and risky sections which need to be crossed in order to reach Pentong,” informs the Pentong ward panchayat, Phurba Lepcha.  The public and panchayat have expressed that the sanctioned amount under CMRHM is not proving enough to meet their expenses since most of it is spent on carrier charge.
“If the road is restored till Bey village, then it would cut transportation charge by 70%,” added a villager while speaking to NOW!
The residents of Pentong and Sakyong have requested the government to grant additional sanctions under CMRHM for the peculiar situations they are straddled with because of the snapped road network. As these villages are isolated and difficult to access, the villagers depend on Mangan for all their basic necessities.



Out-of-bounds Yumthang hurts tourism stakeholders of the area


HOTELIERS ALLEGE NEGLIGENCE ON THE PART OF TOURISM DEPTT AND GREF
ANUSHA GURUNG 
GANGTOK, 19 April:  Yumthang in North Sikkim which is one of the most sought-after destinations for tourists visiting Sikkim has remained closed since January this year. Bad road conditions worsened by heavy snowfall has made it impossible for vehicles to get to Yumthang while the Tourism Department has remained silent on the issue, said vice president, Lachung Hotel and Restaurant Association, Tshering Lachungpa addressing a press conference here in the capital today voicing the concerns of many tourism stakeholders of the area. Fifteen members of the Association along with Mr Lachungpa were present at the press conference today.
Although the tourist season has started, the flow of tourists to Yumthang is zero which is not good for tourism in the area as most visitors want to see Yumthang, said Mr Lachungpa. When the people of Lachung approached GREF regarding the issue, they were given various excuses and unsatisfactory reasons, he alleged.
The people of Lachung and Lachen are mostly dependent on tourism as their source of income and many have taken loans to open restaurants, hotels, shops and bought vehicles to ply as taxis, he mentioned. Further adding that there are a total of 77 lodges and hotels in North District, Mr Lachungpa stated that in the absence of tourists all these businesses will suffer.
The Tourism department should address these issues as it is responsible for the tourism industry in the state said Mr Lachungpa and added that Department officials should visit North Sikkim to know the ground reality. Members of the association have met with the Tourism Minister, Bhim Dhungel  who has assured that he will make an inspection of the area very soon, he informed.
Similarly, Karma Lachungpa informed that they have approached GREF many times regarding clearing the road for vehicles but were only given assurances. Even though Yumthang has remained closed since January tourists have not been informed about this by the Tourism Department, he further alleged.

SREDA Director offers Solar City scheme to Sikkim


GANGTOK, 19 April: Director, Ministry of New & Renewable Energy, Dr. Arun K Tripathi met with the officers of Sikkim Renewable Energy Development Agency [SREDA] at its office here at SREDA Bhawan, Gangtok today. Mr Tripathi is here to participate in a meeting of the Central Electricity Regulation Commission, informs a press release.
Director, SREDA, Siporah Targain, welcomed Dr. Tripathi and outlined the various projects being implemented in Sikkim like the Jawaharlal Nehru Solar Mission, National Biogas & Manure Management Programmme, Special Area Development Programme and Micro Hydro Projects.
Dr. Tripathi in his interaction expressed his satisfaction over the progress of SREDA and invited the Agency to implement new schemes of the Ministry like Solar City and Green Building Initiative, the release informs.
The objective of the Solar City programme is to enable and empower Urban Local Governments to address energy challenges at the city level and reduce Green-House Gas emission levels. Under this programme the Ministry is planning to support 60 towns and cities and has so far identified 52. Dr. Tripathi invited Sikkim to choose one of its towns under the scheme, the release mentions.
Under the Green Building Initiative, the Ministry is spreading awareness for construction of buildings which would use an optimum amount of energy, consume less water, conserve natural resources, generate less waste and create spaces for healthy and comfortable living, as compared to conventional buildings. Members of the Architects of Sikkim who were also present for the meeting mooted a proposal to hold a symposium in this regard in coordination with SREDA, the release adds.

Sparrow Saga in Sikkim & the Citizen Sparrow Initiative


USHA LACHUNGPA

Sparrows or ‘Bhangera’ are bold birds. They actually seem to prefer human company! An integral part of my childhood in Mumbai, they would invariably nest on our living room tube light, shedding bits of dried grasses on the ground below and occasionally fly into the ceiling fan when it was on, much to our distress. Closing the windows was not much of an option. They’d simply wait till we opened them to let in some breeze. The loft above the kitchen was another favoured nesting site. All my Maharashtrian neighbours’s kids grew up on ‘Kau-Chiu’ (Crow-Sparrow) stories while being fed by doting mothers and grandmothers. So ubiquitous, somehow we never thought of sparrows as wild birds. Indeed House Sparrows are called Passer domesticus!
We moved to Sikkim at the end of 1985 with the lofty intention of raising a family at high altitude. I had spent a good part of adolescence and college days as a Bombay Natural History Society or BNHS member, which included a fair bit of bird-watching. The only copy of ‘Birds of Sikkim’ I saw (surprisingly a Sikkim Forest Department publication), by famed Indian ornithologist Dr. Salim Ali an important BNHS family member, was with Ms. Ritchie, Principal of Paljor Namgyal Girls’ School, when she called me to have a look at a strange bird lying dead in her compound. It was a Chestnut-winged Cuckoo, a ‘lifer’ for me. Though properly skinned and deposited in the Deer Park Museum at Tashiling Secretariat it disintegrated along with all the other stuffed specimens, over several wet weather years. The book however was resurrected due to the timely intervention of the Sikkim Nature Conservation Foundation kind courtesy of Mr. K. C. Pradhan and Late Mr. Tashi Topden.
Sparrows are a type of Finch, birds with short stubby beaks or bills meant mainly for cracking hard grains and seeds. They are (or were) about as common as crows and pigeons and usually we club them together when talking of ‘common’ birds. Strangely during his survey, Dr. Salim Ali did not observe any House Sparrows in Sikkim back in 1958-59. He found though that the Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus was a common resident. He also did not come across a third Sparrow the Cinnamon Tree Sparrow or Russet Sparrow Passer rutilans. I was hence taken aback when on a routine wildlife survey, 30 years later in around 1988, I came across scores of House Sparrows in the bustling township of Melli Bazar in South Sikkim. Many were nesting. One day, in 1990, while walking on Gangtok’s New Market or MG Road, I saw one pair, just one pair of House Sparrows, on the verandah above Panorama, a photo studio and shop owned by my husband’s school buddy Babulal. Perhaps someone had brought a caged pair and they had escaped from captivity? It was just a hunch.
A few years later, we were having a Green Circle meeting on the top floor of Chumbi Residency, where the verandah overlooks the doctors’ quarters above the STNM Hospital, a stone's throw from MG Road. It was evening and the trees down there were filling up with sparrows. A closer look revealed that among the scores of Eurasian Trees Sparrows with characteristic black beauty-spots on their cheeks, there were a few House Sparrows, comfortably ‘at home’ with their cousins, the dapper males strikingly standing out in sharp contrast to their duller mates. No binoculars needed to confirm! And I wondered if they were interbreeding!
In 2003 I wrote an article in the local papers about sparrows roosting in the lone ‘Dhupi’ tree outside the STNM Hospital OPD, called the ‘Singing Tree’ to draw attention to this little bird we take for granted as much as it does us! (Technically, roosting calls are not songs, but I rather liked the attractive title of my article!) An edited extract:
2 February 2003: Singing Tree: It was uncanny, but the Out Patients Department of our government hospital STNM, Gangtok, seemed immune to the magic of birdsong on its doorstep. The steady streams of vehicles, the piercing whistles of the traffic policeman, the chatting of passers-by……..hardly anyone paid heed to the cheery chirping of scores of tree sparrows as they prepared to roost for the evening in the lone ‘Dhupi’ tree. Apparently they too were unaware that all hospital areas should be ‘Silence Zones’!
Almost every urban area has several such ‘singing trees’. I looked up the trunk of this particularly lonely tree and showed my children what none seemed to notice. In the darkness of the foliage, tiny fluffy brown bodies dotted every thin branch. The whole tree was alive with these invisible bundles of energy. It was around 4.00pm and going to be dark in a while, but as we watched more and more of these little birds dived into its shelter. Not one could be seen outside the tight foliage of this exotic tree. Like perfume, the tree was exuding all this song! And no one was listening. It was amazing that none of the human traffic underneath so much as even noticed all that cheerful commotion over their heads as they passed beneath. How immune one gets!
Over this last decade people began noticing a decline in sparrow populations in many parts of the world. Was it due to some infection? Pesticides perhaps? Or global warming, changing climates? There were some theories. Mobile Tower radiation? People began worrying about a bird they had never bothered about before. We now actually have a World Sparrow Day on 20 March!
CITIZEN SPARROW 01 April-31 May 2012: Recently this two-month initiative was launched by BNHS and other conservation organizations in India such as Nature Conservation Foundation, National Centre for Biological Sciences and the Environment Ministry of the Government of India to document information on declining populations of House Sparrows at www.citizensparrow.in. There is also a Facebook page to rope in as many people as possible. We in Sikkim also joined in.
6 April 2012: That afternoon, as I left the Emergency Room of the STNM Hospital after my 3rd shot of Rabies vaccine, I saw this male House Sparrow alight before a parked vehicle. As I fumbled in my bag for my camera, it hopped under the front bumper and brought down what looked like a winged termite. Luckily I could take a couple of quick photos before it flew off. Nearby perched on the air-conditioner box were some Eurasian Tree Sparrows chirping away. Good to see that my joint group of House and Tree Sparrows still live amicably at STNM Hospital complex!! I could not stay longer as it started raining and people began staring!!
These days, on the MG Promenade, we can see some House Sparrows fearlessly darting among the tourists seated on benches, pecking at tidbits. In the Forest Colony at Balwakhani, about a km from MG Road, we also have Russet Sparrows. Ali Hussain, renowned Mirshikar Bird Trapper of BNHS fame had helped me trap some in BNHS mist nets in the Himalayan Zoological Park at Bulbuley and we ringed them around 1996. That makes it three Sparrow species just in Gangtok itself! Recently during our morning walk, we saw a House Sparrow pair at the VIP Colony gate above Gangtok at around 2000m altitude; Range Forest Officer Mr. Ongden Lepcha wrote about sparrows declining during last year’s World Sparrow Day; Teacher Mr. Niraj Thapa photographed House Sparrow feeding chicks at Tashi Namgyal Sr. Secondary School complex; Forester Mr. Karma Zimpa photographed Tree Sparrows at Forest Colony; Assistant Professor Dr. Bhoj Kr. Acharya recorded House Sparrows at Lingee-Payong,.... the numbers are few, but can we say that they are perhaps moving a bit higher every year? It would be interesting to find out.
So do we conclude Sparrows are safe in Sikkim? Are they fleeing the pesticide and mobile tower filled plains and moving uphill to the sanctuary that organic Sikkim offers? If so, it is good news for us as they would rid our neighbourhood of pests while pollinating our plants; but are they being displaced by the aggressive ‘Roopie’ or the Common Myna? We need young researchers to take this up as a serious study and prove or disprove our assumptions.
Meanwhile all’s not well in our Forest Colony. We miss the din created by a large flock of Tree Sparrows which used to fearlessly nest under our roof and nearby Camellia Trees along with Green-backed Tits (Chichinkotey) and Blue Whistling Thrushes (Kalchura). A growing army of domestic cats breeding unchecked, many now stray and feral, patrol the neighbourhood ensuring that they will never return. Gone is our privilege of having wild creatures nesting confidently within arm’s reach. Food for thought…
[The writer is Principal Research Officer with the Forest Department, Govt of Sikkim]

STUDENTS UNION CONDEMNS SU INTRANSIGENCE VIS A VIS STUDENTS


Letter:
It was pretty sad to learn that some of the students of Sikkim University have been restricted from exercising their fundamental rights guaranteed by the constitution of India. As per the matter highlighted by the desperate students of SU through the section ‘Letter to the Editor’, which came to light in today’s edition of various local dailies, it seems that the desperate student are in constant pressure through the SU authorities. The Students Union of Sikkim [SUS] have taken the pain to find and refer the earlier edition of “We have lost very good teachers at Sikkim University”. The SUS truly feels that the students have expressed that the article deals with expression of students gratitude towards their teachers, who were teaching them earlier but could not make it up in the recent recruitment process due to some or the other reason. It has nothing to do with the reputation of the university as such; nothing directly has been pointed out to the institution as such.
SUS truly condemns the act of threatening the students of ‘ruining up their carrier’ for mere writing an article pouring their personal views upon the whole issue. The SUS stands by those desperate students in full support.
All the more the SUS also would like to call upon the HRDD Ministry, NGOs and associations to step forward in the matter which is definitely of serious concern.
With special reference to HRDD Ministry the SUS looks forward for their intervention of into the matter to the soonest and sort out the ambiguity, ensuring freedom of desperate students from mental harassment by the University authority.
Pankaj Rai, Seceratary, Students Union of SIkkim

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Power Minister tours still cut-off Bey-Pentong in Dzongu


EXPRESSES DISSATISFACTION WITH SLOW PACE OF ROAD RESTORATION WORKS
MANGAN, 18 April: During his two-day tour of the isolated areas of Upper Dzongu especially Bey and Pentong villages under Sakyong-Pentong GPU, the area MLA, Power Minister Sonam Gyatso Lepcha, expressed dissatisfaction over the slow progress of road restoration works by the PWD. The villages of Bey and Pentong remain cut-off even after seven months since the September earthquake.
This shows the slackness and negligence on the part of the PWD department, the Minister said.
Several villages of Sakyong-Pentong GPU have been cut off denying access to even basic facilities ever since the earthquake brought along a wave of destruction to this area. The restoration of roads is still underway at Lingzya where there are several slides which need to be cleared and new road formations cut out. The road between Lingzya and Bey which is barely 4kms was severely damaged in last year’s earthquake.
On being asked about the course of action that will follow his visit, the Minister said that he will submit the overall report to the Chief Minister and take other necessary steps.
Also part of the entourage till Bey village were SDM Mangan, PW Lepcha, Zilla member, Sakyong-Pentong, Toknam Lepcha, Panchayat Secretary, Nima Lepcha, representatives of Confederation of Indian Industry headed by Laxmi Limbu Kaushal and Khurshid Dar, Head CII. The entourage walked on foot from 12th Mile till Pentong village which took two days to cover.
The Minister also took stock of the status of under construction projects of the Chief Minister’s Rural Housing Mission in the area and urged every beneficiary to carry out the work focusing on quality and quantity as well. He also met senior citizens of the village in order to learn about their problems. The Minister also enquired whether relief money had been handed over to the affected families.
A short function was held at Gram Prasashan Kendra, Pentong where he held a meeting with local panchayat and the general public. The Zilla member, Toknam Lepcha placed a demand petition of the GPU on behalf of the people regarding up gradation of the ropeway and restoration of road till Bey at the earliest.
While addressing the villagers here, the Minister said that the panchayat being the representative of the village should play an important role in the development of the village and for the proper utilisation of the programmes and policies of the government. He further added that CRHM houses constructed in the area should be earthquake resistant.
As the Bey village is located amidst ample greenery, the Minister urged the villagers to opt for eco-tourism and home stays which can be a permanent source of income in the area. He also directed the concerned panchayat and the health staff to organize some health awareness programme in the village.
While highlighting the issue of panchayat election, the Minister said that there would be 50% reservation for women in the upcoming panchayat election and also said that people should not disturb the peaceful environment of the village on the issue of panchayat election.
The Minister also visited the Ringpi Bridge between 12th Mile and Pentong which was in a dilapidated condition and announced that the reconstruction of the bridge has already been sanctioned. He also announced that four houses damaged by the earthquake at Pentong village will be covered under the Prime Minister’s relief fund.

Govt sets retrenchment rules to secure better treatment for employees


GANGTOK, 18 April: Employees, especially if they are local to Sikkim, working in private companies including power projects here cannot be terminated from service as casually as has been the case thus far. Companies here can no longer retrench staff without liabilities.
The state government, through a notification issued by the Department of Labour recently, has decreed that private companies including power projects, industrial establishments, pharmaceutical companies, public and private sector companies and undertakings in the state, have to adopt a procedure, as provided by the state, when it comes to termination or retrenchment of workers.
Numerous industrial units and power projects have come up Sikkim in the recent years and have been employing a large number of locals as well as people from outside the state who, till date, had no job security and could be terminated or retrenched at any time by the industrial unit or company.
Now, the State government has ruled that the private sector needs to adopt a proper retrenchment procedure which requires the company to serve a three months notice in writing indicating reasons for retrenchment. The retrenchment can take place only on the expiry of the three months or of the retrenched worker is provided three months wages in lieu of the time. In addition to this, at the time of retrenchment, compensation equivalent to 15 days average pay for every completed year of continuous service is also to be paid to the workers.
In another significant step taken by the state government concerning people working in the private sector, the employers are now required to provide employment to the next of kin of employees who die in harness.
In this regard, the Memorandum of Understanding issued in the year 2010 to be executed by investors has been amended to include a clause which states that “in case of death of an employee/ worker of the company during his/ her service period, one of the eligible family members of the deceased employee/ worker who dies in harness shall be considered for compassionate appointment by the unit.”

Final phase of ex-gratia distribution underway for East district


30 APRIL LAST DATE FOR COLLECTING EX-GRATIA
GANGTOK, 18 April: East District administration started the third and final phase of ex-gratia payment for houses damaged in the 18 September 2011 earthquake. The process is being handled through BDOs and the Gangtok Municipal Corporation in the district and began on 16 April. The DAC has appealed to the people in the final list to collect their ex-gratia payment by 30 April, stressing that no payment will be released after that date.
Addressing a press conference today, District Collector [East], D Anandan mentioned that the third and final survey was conducted in the month of January of the left out houses from the second phase and few complaints in segregation in damages in the last phase were also looked into. He added that some complaints were found genuine and were upgraded to higher damaged category.
The third and final phase survey covered 13,821 houses in East Sikkim and allocated Rs 8.17 crore towards ex-gratia payments.
The first phase covered 409 houses and an amount of Rs 1.10 crore was paid as ex-gratia, while the second phase covered 21,104 houses and payment of Rs 16 crore was made in East Sikkim.
The DC informed that a total of 35,334 houses were covered in three phases in East Sikkim and a total of Rs 25.27 crore has been paid as ex-gratia.
The third phase survey covered 1,055 houses in Martam, 1,816 in Gangtok, 741 in Duga, 720 in Rakdong-Tintek, 542 in Khamdong, 281 in Parakha, 1426 in Rhenock, 479 in Ranka, 1673 in Pakyong, 1365 in Regu, 358 in Kabi-Tingda and 3365 in GMC in East Sikkim.
The DC informed that the necessary funds have already been provided to the respective BDOs and GMC officials for ex-gratia payments. He further informed that the concerned officials will also be present in the disbursement centres to identify the genuine person. The beneficiary needs to present a photo identity at the centre to collect the ex-gratia and collection on behalf of someone will not be allowed except in special cases. The DC stressed that the payments will be made only till 30 April after which no further payments would be made.
He informed that the government has decided to reconstruct the totally collapsed houses in the rural area and for the same the RMDD has also made certain guidelines. Following the approval of these guidelines by the government, the works will be taken up immediately in the rural areas.

SIKKIM UNIVERSITY HARASSES STUDENTS FOR HAVING AN OPINION


Letter:
We, the students of Sikkim University, would like to publish the article below which is an important issue among the students of Sikkim University and perhaps also to the other students studying at college level.
The ongoing controversy of Sikkim University has generated several opinions and debates among the masses. Yet here is another such story which perhaps creates ambiguity among the student like us regarding the Sikkim University. In the present case, Mahendra Prasad Gurung, a student of Mass Communication Department, 4th Semester, along with three other students of Sikkim University are being denied their basic fundamental rights.
Mahendra Prasad Gurung had written a Letter to the Editor published in one of the local dailies [NOW!] headlined “We have lost very good teachers at Sikkim University” expressing his opinion regarding the faculty recruitment process. To the notice, the personal opinion was published in the local newspapers which brought about a widespread concern regarding the said matter.
However, the university which was expected to have a proper discussion on the matter with the student and encourage students about the subject of interest, displayed a completely different attitude towards the activities of the students.
The Vice Chancellor through the SU authorities accused the students who had written the letter of “harming the image of the university”. In addition to this, he has been threatened with expulsion for his actions. The said students were directed to bring their parents to the university, failing which they were threatened that their academic careers would be ruinded by expelling them from university itself.
This action of SU is clearly restricting them from exercising our basic right provided by ‘Article 19 (a)’. Hence such reprehensible action against students is not a commendable job for sure. We leave for the readers to decide as to what these students in turmoil should do now.
We are hopeful that the article would be published in your paper. We keenly look forward for the article in the upcoming edition of the newspaper.
Ugen Bhutia, Student of Sikkim University, Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, IV Semester

Congratulations USFC!


Letter:
We the Denzong Boyz F.C. family would like to congratulate Bhaichung Bhutia and all the players of USFC for qualifying the I-League 1st division, which is also one of our aims to play in.  We wish them all success for the coming days. In fact we also congratulate Sikkim Football Association for successfully organizing the 2nd division I-league tournament.
Denzong Boyz FC family, Gangtok Sikkim


USFC signs on Kolkata-based Uro as title sponsors


GANGTOK, 18 April: United Sikkim Football Club [USFC] has signed up with Kolkata-based Uro Group of Companies as the title sponsor of the club. This was announced at a joint press conference addressed by USFC co-owners, Bhaichung Bhutia and Executive Chairman of Dubai-based company, Fidelis World, Ananth Krishnan, and URO CMD, B Giri here this evening.
About the reason behind the tie-up with USFC, Mr Giri said, “It was just because of my respect for Bhaichung and my love for the North East Region and football.”
Bhaichung mentioned that private companies stepping up in support of the club is a great sign for football in Sikkim. He further expressed his happiness on the fulfillment of his dream of getting his club into the I-League.
Mr Krishnan in turn welcomed USFC’s promotion as a historic moment for the club and now it was important for them to remain consistent and top the I-League as well.


Sonam Lachungpa serves legal notice to Govt in follow-up to police GD against Minister


GANGTOK, 18 April: Following the lodging of a police complaint with the Sadar police alleging misappropriation of public funds by Minister RB Subba from the Sombaria branch of the State Bank of Sikkim during his first term in office, Sonam Lachungpa and others have now issued a legal notice to the State government seeking details on the action taken on their police complaint.
Earlier, the body calling itself the “Fact Finding Team on Corruption” had released a book alleging that the Minister was behind the SBS Sombaria branch scam. Armed with this publication, Mr. Lachungpa had approached the Sadar police and lodged a complaint. A general diary was registered by the police. Subsequently, the complainant had also approached the Director General of Police with his complaint and allegations.
Now, seeing that no action has been initiated, a legal notice was issued by Mr. Lachungpa today to the DGP and the Chief Secretary to explain the action or inaction on the complaint lodged with the police. The legal notice has been issued by advocate Udai P Sharma and it is informed that a week’s time has been provided for a response.

Editorial: Thank You, Bhaichung!


A much pregnant lady from these parts was pleasantly surprised when, during a routine check-up, a gynaecologist attending to her in Kolkata, upon noticing an exceptionally active child in the womb, exclaimed, “Your child appears to be a strong kicker. That’s a Bhaichung in the making!” In another instance, another easily excitable child, from these parts again, running amok in a departmental store in Mumbai was called out by the floor attendants as “Hey Bhaichung!” when they tried to calm him down and save their store.
Before the Tinkitam Express exploded on the national football scene, the store attendant would have probably shouted out, “Aey Bahadur” or some other disparaging variant of the call that anyone from these parts would have received at some or the other time in ‘mainland’ India. Barely 36 years old, Bhaichung, with his individual brilliance on the field, exceptional personal integrity and complete passion for the sport, has achieved much more by way of recognition, identity and pride for the people from the Hills than, dare we say, claims of special status or unique identity which are often thrown about. What is more, he continues to do so. He is still recovering from an injury, and the multi-tasking he has embraced with the overhauled United Sikkim Football Club which he now co-owns, is obviously not allowing him enough time to recover fully and play as much as he and his fans would want him to. But even though he sits on the bench for most the matches, it is clear that he is completely invested into lifting professional football in Sikkim to a whole new, hitherto uncharted, level. On Tuesday afternoon, 17 April 2012, USFC held higher ranked Mohammedan Sporting to a 1-1 draw at Paljor Stadium and collected enough points to top the second division I-League standings and win a promotion to play among the big boys of Indian football. A Sikkim club is now in first division I-League! Bhaichung has again given Sikkim a reason to cheer. And he has done so consistently. Back in 1993, still a student at Tashi Namgyal Academy, Bhaichung had dazzled with his prodigious footballing skills while playing for Sikkim Blue at the Governor’s Gold Cup. Not yet filled out into the footballer he would become in later years, his raw passion for the sport and selfless team spirit was obvious to all. For a region which loves its football, this was the first time that brilliance had dazzled in such a complete package – a striker who was willing to create openings for others to score, a striker who was willing to run back and bolster the defence, a team player who worked with the team and not strut around as a star. Over the years, there have been many who have commented that the region has produced better footballers than Bhaichung in the past who could not reach the heights that he has scaled. They might even be right when their comments are limited to specific skills, but are wrong when it comes to the sport. There can be no denying that no sportsperson has given himself/ herself so completely to the game as Bhaichung has done, and it is because of this commitment that he has reinvented himself so successfully, so many times in a professional career that already spans 19 years! He retired from international football only in August 2011, and because he still wears the colours for a First Division USFC team, he continues to be a professional footballer.
But Bhaichung is more than a player. He is one of the few sportspersons who has put his money where his mouth is. At a stage when could have retired and explored other options, even commentating or coaching or invested in a whole new venture, he decided to commit himself to creating a professional club where every service and assistance he would have wanted as a younger player were made available to the team he took under wings. This must not have been easy. Managing sportspersons is never easy; there are too many egos, too much attitude and too many communication gaps to span. USFC has players from diverse backgrounds, cultures and languages. It goes without saying that there must be frequent friction, that’s part and parcel of professional sports, and it is obvious that Bhaichung is the lynchpin that holds the club together. On Tuesday, as the tension levels rose and nerves were getting frayed on the field, Bhaichung entered as a substitute much earlier than has been the norm for him of late. He was there to keep the team on course when less experienced minds could have imploded under the pressure as nearly happened a couple of times on Tuesday and in previous matches. But all that is in the past now. Bhaichung has raised the bar yet again and moves in a rarefied realm of few equals. He presents himself yet again as the best brand ambassador not only for the sport but also for Sikkim and continues to evolve more virtues for the young to emulate with him as role model. USFC’s promotion to the senior division is a dream come true for him as Bhaichung has himself shared, it’s his achievement no doubt, but along with the congratulations and celebrations, the game and the people of Sikkim need to thank him as well for the consistency with which he has reflected pride on the State and its people and the inspiration he continues to provide. Thank you, Bhaichung!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

USFC draws into history with first division I-League promotion



BECOMES FIRST SIKKIMESE CLUB TO DO SO, COMES OUT ON TOP IN THE SECOND DIVISION AS WELL
GANGTOK, 17 April: The handsome number of fans who turned up at Paljor Stadium today were treated to history being made as Bhaichung’s United Sikkim Football Club [USFC] held its nerve to hold Mohammedan Sporting to a 1-1 draw and with the one point it so collected, winning a promotion into first division I-League. What is more, drawing level with ONGC [the other team qualifying into the senior division] on points [22 each], USFC also topped the league having beaten ONGC in an earlier meeting. This is a substantial achievement, coming as it does within a year of Bhaichung having rejuvenated the club with a new management model and professional handling.
When the final whistle blew, confirming that USFC had made history by becoming the first club from Sikkim, in fact the entire region, to break into the first division, the entire stadium erupted in joy even as the downcast Mohammedan Sporting squad fouled the air challenging the referees and fourth officials. But that was swamped out by celebration which took over Paljor Stadium today. Fans had come in not just from Gangtok and the surrounding areas but even driven in from Gyalshing and Namchi. There were also some long-time Bhaichung fans from Kolkata in the stands today.
This was USFC’s second showing at the League.
The last match of the Gangtok leg was crucial for both teams – Mohammedan Sporting needing a win to return to the first division and USFC getting through, as happened, with a draw.
It was a special day and an important match with even the Chief Minister Pawan Chamling arriving as chief guest and spending time with both teams before the kick-off.
The home club came out on the ground with full support of the local crowd, especially students. The stadium was packed with spectators cheering for the local club till the final whistle of the match. Both teams played their hearts out right from the start.
Towards the end of the first half, a golden opportunity presented itself for USFC from a clear foul by a Mohammedan Sporting defender inside the penalty area. The penalty was converted by Daniel Bidemi Ayeni. However, this decision of the referee was protested by the Mohammedan Sporting players and the match witnessed some heated moments.
USFC could not keep the lead for long as Alfred Jaryan scored the equalizer for Mohammedan SC in the second half of the match. The match continued to play out to aggressive attacks and counter attacks but both teams missed the net a number of times and the match finally ended in a 1-1 draw.
Speaking to media persons after the match, an elated Bhaichung, who played the final 30 minutes of the match, said that he is very excited about the club’s qualification in the senior division I-League. He added that it was his dream to be in the I-League and the team has made this dream come true this year.
Bhaichung expressed his gratitude towards the club’s fans and local crowd for supporting the team and especially thanked the Chief Minister for encouraging the team with his presence today. He added that he will now visit every school to thank the students for supporting the club.
Likewise, USFC Coach, Philippe De Ridder, expressed satisfaction on the team’s performance and added that he will now prepare the team for a good performance in the first division I-League. USFC co-owner and CEO of Dubai based company, Fidelis World, Ananth Krishnan, stated that it is a dream come true to play in the senior division I-League within barely a year of the club’s debut in the I-League. He added that the dream continues with the aim to be the best team in the I-League.
Aizwal FC captain, David Lalrinmaura was awarded the Best Player trophy during the prize distribution ceremony.

Roads & Bridges Deptt rescinds work order for road project challenged in High Court


GANGTOK, 17 April: The Roads & Bridges Department has rescinded the work order issued for the Sangkhola Sumin Road cancelling the road construction project which had come under the scanner of the High Court following a writ petition filed by Delay Namgyal Barfungpa.
An order issued by the Department on 16 April states that the work order for the upgradation and premix carpeting, including protective & drainage works, for construction of the road along with Sangkhola Sumin Road from KM 15 to KM 19 and another work comprising 3 km of road from Sangkhola Sumin to Mangthan which had been awarded to Amit Agarwal has been rescinded. This follows the observation of the High Court of Sikkim earlier that the process of the awarding of the work to the said contractor by the State government prima facie appeared to be illegal and arbitrary. As earlier reported, the court had issued a stay order on further construction of the said road project.
Following the cancellation of the work order the court noted that the petition was now infructious. Mr. Barfungpa today claimed that this was a victory. It remains to be seen as to what the department will do with the central funds of Rs. 7 crore sanctioned for the said road project. Furthermore counsel for the respondent contractor claimed that Rs. 2 crore had already been invested by him in the road project.
The project pertains to the Sangkhola Sumin Road, for the construction of which the Cabinet had sanctioned Rs. 7,08,46,979 some months back. The road project was sanctioned under a centrally sponsored scheme relating to the north eastern region of the country. With the documents made available, it was observed that work to the tune of Rs. 46,39,880 out of the total cost had been executed by the contractor which comes to only 6.5% of the works having been completed.
In its last order, the High Court had observed that it was absolutely clear that the respondent contractor had been allotted two different contracts without advertisement. The court had further noted that the allotment of the two works without advertisement was prima facie arbitrary and illegal action on the part of the department and had ordered a stay on further execution of the works by the respondent contractor.
With the petition being disposed today, the court also observed that it was up to the respondent contractor to claim compensation for his expenses on the works from the department and for which a fresh petition could also be filed.
Appearing for the petitioner was Advocate Sudesh Joshi with Ms Manita Pradhan; for the state was Additional AG, JB Pradhan and for the respondent contractor, advocate Gulshan Rai Nagpal.


More than 100 scientists and scholars to participate in 2nd NE Biotech Meet on 19-20 April


MEET TO DISCUSS PROTECTION, CONSERVATION, MONITORING AND EVALUATION WORK ON BIODIVERSITY
GANGTOK, 17 April: The 2nd North East Biotech Hub Coordinators Meet [19-20 April] will be held at Chintan Bhawan and will be inaugurated by the Chief Minister Pawan Chamling on 19 April, informed Minister for Science and Technology & Climate Change, Bhim Dhungel today, while addressing a press conference regarding the same at Hotel Sonam Phalgey.
The meet is organised by Biotech Hub Centre, Sikkim State Council of Science & Technology, Gangtok, Department of Science & Technology & Climate Change, Government of Sikkim and supported by Department of Biotechnology, Government of India.
The meet will have more than 100 scientists and research scholars participating where they will discuss protection, conservation, monitoring and evaluation work on biodiversity, the Minister informed and added that the progress report of individual centres and other R&D activities of each centre will also be presented in the meet to foster exchange of ideas to promote Biotechnology in the NE region.
The Minister [who is also the Minister for Forest, Environment & Wildlife Management Department] spoke on various programmes of the department and the State government taken for the protection and conservation of biodiversity in Sikkim. He further stated that Japan International Cooperation Agency [JICA] assisted Sikkim Biodiversity Conservation & Forest Management Project [SBFP] has given more than Rs. 320 crore to be utilised by the department for biodiversity conservation programmes in the state.
A German technical and another financial corporation, the Rural Management Development Department [RMDD], the Forest Department and the Science & Technology Department will also be taking up biodiversity conservation programmes in the State, he further informed. He added that eight department officials will be going to Japan for training under Biodiversity Conservation next month. The team will be headed by Anil Minera [Principal Director, SBFP].
He further stated that the Eco Tourism Policy had also been framed for Sikkim and this was the first of its kind in the country. The Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Environment have asked other states of the country to follow the Eco Tourism policy of Sikkim, he added.
He informed the gathering about the department’s initiative towards patenting the traditional Lepcha Hat made from cane in Dzongu and about the identification of more than 150 mother trees to be declared as heritage trees following the process of measuring their girth and age, which is going on. The Namchi-Damthang-Ravangla Road would also be declared as an Eco-Highway, he added.
He also informed of the ongoing projects and other programmes of the department on the anvil or which are going to be launched soon.
Also present for the meeting were PCCF-cum Additional Chief Secretary, Manjeet Singh and officials from the Science & Technology & Climate Change Department.

SSLSA trains Rongyek inmates as Para Legal Volunteers


GANGTOK, 17 April: The Sikkim State Legal Services Authority [SSLSA] as per the guidelines of National Legal Services Authority organised a three-day para legal training programme in the State Central Prison at Rongyek from 12 to 14 April, informs an SSLSA press release.
Two convicts Rajesh Rai and Mani Kumar Thapa were identified and trained as Para Legal Volunteers, the release informs. Professor of Law College, Government of Sikkim, Dr Dilip Pandey Trained Trainer on Para Legal Volunteers and Panel Advocate of SSLSA, SS Hamal imparted the training as Resource Persons.

Fire Prevention Week underway across the state


GANGTOK, 17 April: The Sikkim Fire and Emergency Service [SF&ES] under the Police Department has been observing the ‘Fire Prevention Week’ across the state since 14 April. The said week will continue till 20 April and is being celebrated on the theme ‘Smoke Management Saves lives’.
Addressing media persons, Deputy Chief Fire Officer [DCFO], East, Prakash Rai stated that the fire prevention week is being observed across the nation since 1963 as recognized by the Central government and during the week, fire stations across the nation conduct numerous fire safety programmes with an aim of generating awareness amongst the masses.
Informing about this year’s weeklong celebration, he mentioned that during this week all the fire station in-charges across the state carry out bazaar inspection with respect to fire safety along with generating awareness on fire safety, teaching the public how to use fire fighting equipments during an emergency and other safety measures related to fire or natural calamities like earthquakes, lightning strikes, landslides and more.
Likewise, the department in order to make the fire prevention week interesting is even organising a painting competition for the first and second grade school students in selected schools of all the four districts. The painting competition is on the theme ‘Fire Safety in Government Schools’ and the winners of the competition will be rewarded by the department, added Mr Rai.
Four schools namely Tashiding Government School [West], Mangan Government School [North], Kitam Government School [South] and Thamidara JHS [East] have been selected for the competition. Mr Rai added that since 2009 till 2011 almost 75% to 80% schools, Panchayats, Block Administrative Centers and Bazaars across the state have been covered under the fire safety awareness campaign along with the local public. The objective of holding such a week is to educate the general mass on utilizing the installed fire extinguishers during fire breakouts, informed Mr Rai.
With respect to forest fires he went on to add that this year there have been scanty reports on forest fires across the state as compared to earlier years and the SF&ES wants to continue the same efforts in minimizing fire incidents in the state in the days ahead too.

Forest Minister hands out cash awards to top 5 Green Schools of the state


GANGTOK, 17 April: Minister for Forest, Environment and Wildlife Management Department [FE&WMD] Bhim Dhungel released the balance amount of the enhanced cash awards to the top 05 schools under the Green School Programme-2011 here in the Capital in a small function today.
The heads of the top 5 schools were handed the enhanced cash award by the Minister.
The Chief Minister Pawan Chamling during his address on the occasion of the World Environment Day celebration on 05 June, 2011 at Chintan Bhawan had announced enhancements in the cash award from Rs. 50,000 to Rs. 5 lakh for the first position and from Rs. 25,000 to Rs. 1 Lakh each for second to fifth position. The awards scheme with the most prestigious Chief Minister Green School Rolling Trophy was also launched on the same day and the award scheme has been notified vide official gazette No. 627 dated 2/12/2011.
Likewise, the meritorious schools for 2010-11 session to receive the enhanced cash awards are Middle Camp Secondary School [first], Reshi SS [second], Lower Samdong SS [third], Lingchom SS [fourth] and Linkey SS [fifth] respectively.
The said award scheme has been introduced to encourage more schools to participate in the environment management programmes.
The Minister apart from handing over the enhanced cash amount to the top 5 schools under Green School Programme-2011 even honored the heads of Dentam SSS, Deorali Girls SSS and Tingley SS who bagged the first, second and fourth Gobar Times Green Schools National Award 2011-12, recently.

Editorial: Centre Should Respect States More


Centre-State relations are making headlines with Chief Ministers not directly dependent on the Congress high command in isolated Delhi for survival, standing up against the Centre’s aggressive attempts to intrude upon one more aspect underlining the federal make-up of the country. The latest point of divergence strikes off from the Centre’s attempts to purloin more powers away from the States by claiming more say in matters of law and order. National security is being invoked to push through the latest intrusion. Unfortunately, in the process, National Interest is being sidelined. National security is not the Centre’s responsibility alone and it is offensive to even suggest that State Government’s are not motivated enough to deliver on this count. The manner in which security agencies not required by law to work in coordination with State governments bulldoze local interests and refuse to take anyone into confidence is understood well enough by all border people to distrust any moves to have forces with their masters in distant Delhi posted among them. While the voices from the margins are easily drowned out because of their miniscule presence in Parliament, now that larger states are at the receiving end of such overtures, the issue has made the news. This is not an attempt to underplay the importance national security, but instead, an effort to highlight the heightened levels of suspicion with which every arm of our democracy is now engaging each other. The judiciary is growing increasingly dismissive of the executive and the legislative, the Centre distrustful of the States and vice versa, the executive scoffs at the legislative and the legislative blames the executive for non-delivery of policy initiatives. And then there is the Fourth Estate which censures everyone. At a very shallow level, each attitude wins applause [not so much for a correct stand as for running some other agency down], but scratch deeper and very quickly the damage being wreaked on the country at large stands exposed. When the arms empowered by the Constitution keep busy pushing and pulling at each other, clich├ęd as it may sound, the task of nation-building suffers.
There is enough being written about the latest spat between the states and the Centre with regard to the NCTC, so we will stay away from that debate here. What we will highlight here is a growing fixation at the Centre to direct other aspects of State affairs like development, and the pitfalls that remain unaddressed. Finance, generating revenue and deciding expenditure, is rested in the control of individual states by the Constitution which saw India strongest as a federal structure. And yet, increasingly, especially when it comes to the affairs of smaller states like Sikkim, the Centre is exerting more control. At one level, this comes by way of centrally sponsored schemes. While many sees these as ‘good’ initiatives, most CSS efforts stumble the moment they leave the doors of babus in Delhi who scheme them. This is not because of ‘rampant corruption’ alone, but more so because of an overbearing set of conditions which come attached to such schemes. These one size fits all conditions decided in Delhi are not only impractical, but also impossible to ensure across the board. When the start itself poses a challenge, making compromises and taking short-cuts follows easily. For example, the cost analysis for a road cannot follow the same percentage break-ups in hills states as they would in the plains. Even in hilly terrains, the cost analysis will differ depending on aspects like remoteness, weather conditions and access to labour and materials. And yet, a copy-paste model is extended everywhere with the controls held by the Centre which does not understand ground situations. It is important for States to demand that funds, even when tied to specific goals, be released with the processes and priorities left in the control of individual states. The MG-NREGA for instance could be made more effective if it was kept open to course corrections and adjustments which would ensure that the final aim of financial security for rural households was delivered. In its present structure, it forces implementating agencies to settle for tokenism or undertake superfluous projects just so that the wages can be dispensed. To drive home the point, sample this: Included in the Rs. 1,400 crore plan outlay announced for Sikkim for the last financial year 2011-12, Rs. 161.55 crore was for JNNURM projects and Rs. 117 crore for something that goes by the acronym AIBP. Through the year, Sikkim received a miniscule Rs. 37 crore under JNNURM and nothing through AIBP. For a long while one has blamed bureaucrats for having failed the State by not preparing good enough DPRs to receive the earmarked funds. On closer enquiry, it becomes clear that this is only part of the problem and a larger contributor to such cosmetic offers not materialising is Delhi’s refusal to either release the funds or understand how pricing and projections work in States like Sikkim. We are witnessing the same with the red-tape tying up earthquake restoration funds. Irrespective of what one may think of Sikkim’s bureaucrats or politicians, the idea that a whirlwind visit by Central Government officers can decide whether Sikkim’s claims are genuine or not should offend everyone here. There is definitely a trust deficit at play across the country, and there are also very valid reasons for this general lack of faith, but that still does not justify the supercilious attitudes which lace the Centre’s engagements with the States. Smaller states like Sikkim have had to suck it all in and play subservient, but now, with the federal structure gaining strength with the rise of regional parties in larger states, the colonial carryovers are getting challenged. Once Delhi learns to work with the States instead of constantly trying to bypass them, maybe things will work better, until then the larger issues facing the nation will be lost in the din of posturing and muscle flexing.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Govt works towards regularizing Taungya settlements in forest reserves


GANGTOK, 16 April: At long last the State government has taken up the case of Taungyadars [forest plantation labourers] in the state and explore the possibilities of regularization of their land-holdings in forest reserves. There are numerous reserve forest areas in the state which have been settled down the years by individuals, however, for the purpose of regularization, the State government is only examining those cases and encroachments which took place before the enactment of the Forest Conservation Act, 1980.
Taungyadars had been engaged by the Forest Department to carry out plantation works in the reserve forests during the pre-Merger [pre-1975] times, much before the provisions of the Forest Conservation Act of 1980 were extended to Sikkim.
The Taungyadars were settled inside the reserve forest areas and are now seen as encroachers as per the new rules in place. Now, the Forest Department has decided to invoke the guidelines under the Forest Conservation Act which provide for the regularization of the forest land occupied by the Taungyadars after fulfillment of certain conditions. For this purpose, committees have been set up in each district to examine and recommend the cases of the Taungyadars and other encroachers of Forest Land who have been staying continuously in the forest lands prior to the enactment of the Forest Conservation Act, 1980. The committees consist of the DFO (Territorial) of the respective districts, Social Welfare Officer and the SDM.
For the purpose of examination of the cases of the Taungyadars and encroachers the committees will conduct joint inspections of the forest land occupied by them. Before seeking alternatives in terms of relocation, the committees will first ascertain and make sure that the occupants or the Taungya or encroachers of the forest land were settled prior to the date of the enactment of the Forest Conservation Act, 1980 which is 25 October, 1980. In the event that the Taungya or encroacher village is located in the middle of the reserve forest, the possibility of re-location of the village to the periphery of the forest area is to be explored as well.
Joint surveys are also to be conducted on forest lands to ascertain which of the lands were encroached by individuals within the district other than the Taungyadars prior to the enactment of the Forest Conservation Act, 1980 and following this a proposal for their regularization is to be submitted.
On completion of the inspections and the cases a complete proposal is to be put up to the Secretary, Forest Department for examination and further action.


BRO to construct 11 road tunnels, two in Sikkim


GANGTOK, 16 April: The Central Government is planning to construct a set of 11 tunnels to improve road reliability along the China and Pakistan borders, reports suggest. Two of these tunnels, the reports inform, are proposed in Sikkim. These tunnels are to be built in ‘strategically important’ road stretches close to the China border. As per reports these are to be all-weather tunnels to be constructed by the Border Roads Organisation and are planned and intended to help rapid mobilization of troops and equipment besides providing better connectivity to local residents.
It is reported that the BRO is likely to undertake the feasibility study of the proposed tunnels in Sikkim, Jammu & Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh. The road network along the border with China has been left largely under-developed, a policy which has its roots in the belief that better road network could help the Chinese forces to spread in case of an invasion. In fact, at a recently held meeting both at the central and state levels, this was expressed on the part of the army establishment as a reason why road networks along the border regions in Sikkim had not been developed, inform sources.
However, now it is informed that this doctrine has been changed and several road development works are being undertaken by the BRO, which is funded by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH). In fact, it is funds from this Ministry which has enabled the BRO to undertake the black-topping works currently underway along the NH 31A. As regards this, BRO officials inform that the black-topping works are expected to be completed by July this year. This work was actually scheduled to be undertaken in 2013.
As for tunnels, 2 all-weather tunnels are planned for Sikkim, reportedly located 19.3 and 24.6 kms from the border with China. As per reports, an 800 metre long tunnel is also expected to be constructed at Rangpo.
A BRO presentation made to the highways ministry earlier this year shows that the completion of strategic roads has so far been unsatisfactory. Out of the 18 strategic roads totaling 1,693km, only four (102km) have been completed so far. Work on about 1,096 km remains in progress. The BRO faces hardship in mobilization of men and material and they execute the projects under tough conditions.
At a review meeting on the progress or road projects under BRO earlier this year, the road construction wing of the Army told the highways ministry officials that the feasibility studies of projects are under progress. Two of them - the 12km Zojila and the 6.5km Z Morh tunnels - fall in Jammu and Kashmir and are crucial for connectivity between Srinagar and Leh. These two regions often remain cut off during winter as snow covers the highway connecting the regions. The third project has been planned near Rudraprayag in Uttarakhand.
The BRO is also to take up construction of two tunnels, totaling 25.4km on Balipara-Charduar-Tawang road that would improve connectivity to Tawang region throughout the year.

Martial artist Ugen Gurung to undergo two-week training in Seoul


IN PREPARATION FOR THE UPCOMING 1ST JUNIOR AND 2ND SENIOR ASIAN CHAMP
GANGTOK, 16 April: Ugen Gurung of Sikkim Amateur Taekwondo Association [SATA] is among five martial artists from the country to be sponsored by the Taekwondo Federation of India [TFI] to undergo a two-week training at Seoul, South Korea in preparation for the upcoming 1st Junior and 2nd Senior Asian Taekwondo Poomsae Championship scheduled to be held at Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam on 04 and 05 May.
Four martial artists from Sikkim had qualified in the 30-member Indian team to represent the country in the championship but only Ugen was able to get the TFI sponsorship for the coaching camp. Other three were Trilok Subba, Rajen Subba and Sabitri Pradhan wherein it is confirmed that Ms Pradhan will participate in the championship and is undergoing a coaching camp under SATA chief coach, Trilok Subba at MCM Dozang at White Hall Complex. Ugen is leaving tomorrow for his coaching camp at Seoul, while Ms Pradhan will go later along with the Indian contingent to the championship at Vietnam.
In a small function held at MCM Dozang this afternoon, SATA members expressed their best wishes to Ugen Gurung and Sabitri Pradhan.
The Chief Coach said that Ugen and Ms Pradhan both are confident and outstanding martial artists who have already played in the national and international championships winning medals and bringing laurel. Ms Pradhan said that to represent the country in the Asian championship was her target and she hopes to win medals and laurel for the country. She encouraged her juniors to continue with their hardwork and training to achieve their goals in the future.
18-year-old Ugen stated that he will be taking part in the Asian championship for the first time and it is also his first time participating in the senior category. He expressed his full confidence to give his best in the championship by making full use of his Seoul training. He gave credit to support from his family, coach and others for his achievements till date.




USFC to take on Mohammedan Sporting today for only spot left in first division I-League


GANGTOK, 16 April: Bhaichung’s United Sikkim Football Club [USFC] will take on Mohammedan Sporting Club, Kolkata in the last match of the final round of the second division I-League Football at Paljor Stadium on Tuesday.
A win is crucial for both teams to qualify into first division I-League Football. As only two teams will be promoted for the first division I-league and one place has already been occupied by ONGC [Mumbai], it is now a do or die situation for both USFC and Mohammedan Sporting.
The odds are however slightly in USFC’s favour since it will go through to the first division even with a draw. Mohammedan Sporting however needs to win to get promoted. After playing 11 matches each in the final round of the second division at Siliguri and Gangtok, USFC has 21 points and Mohammedan SC 20 points so far.
Speaking to media persons at Paljor Stadium today, USFC coach, Philippe De Ridder, mentioned that the players have assured to give their best to win the match. Stating that each player needs to defend and each needs to attack to score in the match, he added that the players were extremely motivated for the Tuesday match.
The coach mentioned that the team is all set for the match but added that some good players are suffering from injuries. Mohammedan Sporting is a good team and the match will be a competitive one, he said. Mr Ridder urged the fans and general public to fully support the home club through its good and bad times as the club was battling hard to qualify for the first division.

Two new titles from Sikkim hit the bookstores


TAKE YOUR PICK – A BOOK ON YUMAISM OR A COLLECTION OF ‘FLORID HAIKU’

GANGTOK, 16 April: Two new titles by Sikkim writers with as divergent contents as religion and poetry were released recently. “Yumaism, the Limboo Way of Life” by JR Subba and “Florid Haiku and Pseudo-Haiku” by the Late Kunga Gyatso Bhutia are now available at bookstores here.


YUMAISM, THE LIMBOO WAY OF LIFE – A PHILOSOPHICAL ANALYSIS
The preface of the book describes it as an attempt “to explore the conceptual beliefs – ethnic ideas, elementary ideas or folk ideas, including supernatural powers such as the Great Goddess Tagera Ningwaphuma, other supernatural powers and spirituality, the Eight Souls tradition [Yetchham Thim], the eighteen stages of life and other spiritual practices of Yumaism.”
Yumaism is the way of life or religious beliefs held by people of the Limboo tribe and the book attempts to study this ancient belief system from a philosophical point of view. This effort is also aimed at strengthening the social and religious institutions under Yumaism which are “not effectively functioning in the society because of their insignificant relevance to the administration of the multi-ethnic society on the one hand, and lack of knowledgeable members on the other.”
The author, JR Subba, a Post Graduate in Agriculture Science from Indian Agriculture Research Institute, New Delhi joined the State Agriculture Department as Plant Protection Officer in 1975. He retired as Principal Director, Agriculture in 2007. Mr Subba has authored over two dozen books on various subjects.
Published by Yakthung Mundhum Saplappa, Gangtok, Sikkim the book is priced at Rs 240.

FLORID HAIKU AND PSEUDO-HAIKU
The book is a collection of poems written in the Japanese poetic form ‘haiku’ and in the author’s words are mostly “light, didactic, narrative, idyllic and satiric”. The three-line verses are inspired by persons, objects and occurrences. The book is divided into three sections namely Persons and Objects, Aspects and Happenings and Perceptions and Contemplations. The poems are accompanied by photographs of flowers mostly orchids found in Sikkim.
The Late Kunga Gyatso Bhutia, retired as a Secretary to the Government of Sikkim, passed away in February. His latest collection was released posthumously.
Published by UBS Publishers’ Distributors Pvt Ltd, New Delhi the book is priced at Rs 225.

Editorial: Build Pressure to Make Delhi Safer for Women


A recent sting operation by Tehelka exposed what can only be called the misogyny that manifests in Khakhi in Delhi-National Capital Region. In a two-week long investigation, Abhishek Bhalla and G Vishnu of Tehelka spoke to more than 30 senior cops in the Delhi-NCR region. As the magazine itself flagged, “More than half had shockingly ugly views on rape victims. This is the face of law exposed. How can the system effect justice through men like these?” While prejudice, nepotism [most of the perpetrators of rape are well-heeled and well connected] and rank apathy among the police in Delhi does not come as a surprise, what is shocking is that the attitude proliferates through the ranks and no attempts appear to be in the offing to ensure more effective sensitisation. It did not require a sting operation and hidden cams to expose how the police thinks in Delhi when it comes to rapes; the men in Khakhi have been ugly enough on national TV and at press conferences already, as was proven at a press briefing some months back about the gang rape of a minor. The media briefing by an SP not only released all details of the victim, but even cast aspersions on her “character”. She was a minor, remember. What the hidden cam fleshed out was the ugliness of mindsets which are expected to investigate rape cases. Speaking on the incidents of rape, apart from their offensively narrow-minded comments on non-local [to Delhi] victims, senior Delhi cops were caught on tape saying things like, “She asked for it; It’s all about money; They have made it a business; It is consensual most of the time”...
Inexcusable as such comments are, they are dangerous for more than the small-mindedness they expose. Such attitudes are dangerous because they also infect the investigation. When officials investigating a rape are themselves convinced that the violation was somehow “invited” by the victim herself, it will lead to a shoddy charge-sheet, ineffectual investigation, influenced compromises... all of which will collaborate to secure an acquittal for the accused. When more than 65% of the rape accused walk away free, it emboldens more to target women with sexual violence. The latest data for Delhi reveals that conviction rates for rape cases is a dismal 34.6%. What this means is for every 35 men convicted for rape, 65 accused escape punishment, almost always due to procedural lapses by the cops. It is worrying that the procedural lapses are not just because Delhi cops, like those in the rest of the country, are poorly trained, but more so because they approach rape investigations with a warped belief that the victim is working an entrapment. The victims obviously know this, which is why against the 414 rape cases reported in Delhi NCR in 2010, there must actually have been 20,700 incidents of rape in the national capital, a staggering 20,286 victims preferring not to even report their rape! Studies by women’s groups have revealed that for every reported case of rape, 50 go unreported. For a long time, people have been fed the myth that social stigma holds victims back; it is obvious that it is lack of faith in the keepers of law that convinces women not to become victims all over again. As aspect left unaddressed in the Tehelka sting is the possible reason why cops in Delhi can afford to be so inconsiderate. Apart from the fact that they are expressing prejudices common on the streets, what cannot be ignored is that the victims are almost either not originally from Delhi or utterly underprivileged while the perpetrators are ‘local’ and, as mentioned earlier, ‘connected’.
Given this situation, Delhi NCR cannot be expected to undertake any effective course corrections, which is why State Governments and lay people from other states need to exert pressure on Delhi to mend its ways. The North East support centre with a helpline and website was a welcome development, but what is required is for political and social pressure from the region to be stepped-up in Delhi to build an aggressive lobby that demands, in a stronger voice, more diligent and effective persecution of rape accused. They will find allies in groups working on human and women’s rights issues, and with such a collaboration they can invade TV news studios more often to shame the Delhi Government and its police more publicly and by doing so, build enough pressure on them to facilitate the delivery of justice more effectively. If that is achieved, the higher conviction rate of perpetrators of rape will work as an effective deterrent to keep more women safe in Delhi. Given the number of daughters and sisters from these parts, as also other parts of the country, who go to Delhi to work and study, ensuring this safety becomes a collective responsibility of all.

Road mishap on NH 31A near Melli claims 5 lives


SANJAY AGARWAL
RANGPO, 16 April: Five people were killed and another five critically injured when taxi vehicle [SK 01 J-0578] skidded off the road and crashed into the gorge at Lapchey Jhora on National Highway 31A near Melli under Kalimpong Police Station in the Darjeeling district of West Bengal today at around 3:35 pm. The vehicle is reported to have been travelling to Gangtok from Darjeeling. All the injured persons were administered first-aid at Melli PHC and referred on to nursing homes in Kalimpong and Siliguri it is learnt.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Sikkim writer to debut with David Davidar’s Aleph Book Company


CHETAN RAJ SHRETHA’S ‘A SONG AND TWO SEASONS’ TO ARRIVE IN OCTOBER 2012
GANGTOK, 15 April: Chetan Raj Shrestha, a conservation architect by training and an elegant writer by passion, will make his literary debut in October 2012 with Aleph Book Company, a new venture which has the publishing scene breathless in anticipation as it marries the respected editing and publishing skills of Indian publishing’s poster boy David Davidar with the established sales and distribution network of Rupa Publications. Aleph announced its first list of titles last week. Chetan is among the 25 books handpicked by Aleph for release over the year, to be published across the five seasons. Chetan’s “A Song and Two Seasons” is slated for an October [autumn] release.
Readers in the region are familiar with Chetan’s work, given that his fiction and reportage has featured extensively in publications not just in Sikkim, but even national and international periodicals. Come October, readers will have in their hands, Chetan’s debut book, “A Song and Two Seasons”, a set of three linked novellas set in Sikkim.
For a taste of what the book promises, check out alephbookcompany.com and download the ‘Book of Aleph’, a catalogue of the 25 titles Aleph has announced for the year ahead. The catalogue includes a lengthy excerpt from the first of three linked novellas.
The catalogue introduces the excerpted story as one “which is visceral in its immediacy and power, a shocking act of violence on New Year’s Eve destroys the family of Puran, a small-time Sikkimese policeman”.
Aleph Book Company, as mentioned, is a new venture [its first title was released on 09 April to mark the Spring releases] set up by Mr. Davidar in partnership with Rupa Publications India.
Mr. Davidar, one would recall, took Penguin India to new height and returned last year after leaving his job as CEO Penguin Canada. As a publisher [for over a quarter century], he has edited and worked some of world's most renowned authors, including, Kiran Desai, Arundhati Roy, Vikram Seth, Vikram Chandra, Rohinton Mistry, Salman Rushdie, Upamanyu Chatterjee, Khushwant Singh, RK Narayan, Shobhaa De, Romila Thapar, Shashi Tharoor, Suketu Mehta, William Dalrymple, Mohsin Hamid and Ramachandra Guha. As an author, his “The House of Blue Mangoes”, published in 2002, has been translated into 16 languages and was a New York Times Notable Book and a Book Sense Pick. His second novel, The Solitude of Emperors, was published in 2007 and was a finalist for the Commonwealth Writers' Prize.
The Letter from the Publishers introducing the Aleph catalogue, has David Davidar and Ravi Singh explaining: “When Aleph Book Company was set up last year to publish fine writing by South Asian authors (and international authors writing about the subcontinent), there were some things we knew we wanted to do. We knew that we wanted to keep our list exclusive and manageable, so that we could lavish on our books the sort of hands-on editorial care and attention to design and production quality that we are obsessive about.”
In a series of interviews leading up to the release of Aleph’s first list, Mr. Davidar explained the rationale behind Aleph thus: “...We wanted to marry the strengths of large publishers to that of the small publishers. The large publishers have obvious positives, scale, penetration, resource etc. However, there is also a downside - when you are publishing 150-200 books in a year, you do not have enough resources to concentrate on everything that is involved in promoting a book the right way. By resources, I mean marketing. With so many books, you don't have the manpower or the resources to give each of the books the marketing or the attention it deserves. Small publishers give each book the attention that they deserve, but they just don't have the resources to distribute the book broadly enough and market it enough, as it deserves to be.”
The publishers also admit: “What we didn’t know was whether we would be able to find enough books to publish that possessed the literary and artistic excellence, originality and style that we were looking for: books that we would truly love, as opposed to those that were merely products occupying slots in sales catalogues, production schedules, warehouses and balance sheets.”
As for the quality of Chetan’s writing, as endorsed by his being selected among the first 25 to be published by Aleph, sample how the publishers narrate the begging of Aleph: “Over the past year, the doubt, uncertainty and nervousness have all fallen away. Not only have the ambitious goals we set ourselves (we wanted to launch with twelve books) been exceeded by the sheer number of brilliant and original writers who have chosen to publish with Aleph, the books themselves have turned out to be wondrously alluring creations.”
“We cherish each of the twenty-five books that we are launching Aleph with for their brilliance, insight, style, panache and sheer readability. Judge for yourselves,” David Davidar and Ravi Singh sign off their Letter from the Publishers in the catalogue.
It is obvious that Mr. Davidar is pouring in his entire experience in and passion for publishing into establishing Aleph as a “premium publishing brand” [his words] and it would have been exciting enough just to receive the range of books they publish over the year, a wait made even more so because among the list will be featured a writer whose oeuvre, although enjoyed for some time by readers here, was crying for a wider readership and earnest publishing it deserved.
Chetan was born in Gangtok in 1978. He is a trained architect (his specialization being conservation architecture). He has lived in Darjeeling, Bangalore, Mumbai and Sydney, and is currently working in a collaborative architectural practice in Gangtok.








The Challenge of Being a ‘Chinki’ in Dilli


TSERING EDEN
“Chingles Hotline [Call me. I know you want to.]”
These words appear in bold against a bright yellow background accompanied by a smiling “Oriental-looking” girl staring right at the reader. The phone number in a larger font is placed at the centre of this advert published in a leading national daily’s New Delhi edition a few weeks ago. There is no mention of what this “hotline” is about or other such details leaving everything to the reader’s imagination.
Prejudice, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is ‘a preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience’, and can therefore be said to be an imagined idea of what a people, place, profession etc., is like. The advertisement in question aptly plays with this mix of prejudice and imagination to achieve what it wants to. The ad ran just for a day, but it signifies what has been happening for the past many years and is still happening in the National Capital Region of New Delhi. People from the North East Region of the country, women in particular, fight not just the heat, dust and everyday pains but the deep prejudices held against them by the people of the so-called ‘mainland’.
Seemingly harmless, this sort of warped representation in the popular media actually perpetuates and deepens the already existing prejudice, if not in the conscious then definitely the subconscious minds, of its consumers. The fragmented but in-your-face association of the word “Chingles” [ref chinki], the model used, the underlying [or perhaps obvious] meaning of a ‘hotline’, all come together in the readers mind to form an idea that later turns into opinion that is miles away from reality.
In reality, this kind of off-handed misrepresentation leads to numerous rapes, attempted rapes and molestation cases going unreported. The North East Support Centre and Helpline [Delhi] website [www.nehelpline.net] carries records of some cases that came to them and in most of these cases, no FIRs were lodged with the police. The denial of even lodging an FIR or First Information Report which is the first step and plays a vital role in the successful investigation of a case, obliterates any hope for justice.
Why this denial?
News magazine Tehelka’s latest expose on what the policemen of the national capital think of rape, especially the victims, explains this. In a Gurgaon policeman’s words, interviewed during Tehelka’s two week sting operation, “Yahan pe Darjeeling aur Nepal tak ki ladkiyan business purpose se aye hai… wo jaate bhade pe hain. Baad mein paisa nahi mila to rape case bata diya jata hai (Girls from Darjeeling and Nepal have come here for business purposes. They go with men for money. Later, when the money is not sufficient, it becomes a rape).”
The Tehelka story focuses on the callous, insensitive and debasing attitude of policemen which translates into “flawed first information reports [FIRs], erroneous procedures in collating medical evidence and shoddy investigation”.
Prejudice comes in the way of fair delivery of justice as proven by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) records cited in the story which shows a dismal 34.6 percent conviction rate in rape cases in the capital. When you belong to the North East, Darjeeling, Ladakh or even Nepal, this general prejudice, accentuated by racial discrimination, elevates the problem to a whole new level.
This racial discrimination is a larger problem that prevails in the capital and remains unaddressed to this day. The recent racial profiling that took place during the anti-China protests in the city which saw a large number of ‘Tibetan-looking’ persons getting arrested or detained holds proof. A Shahrukh Khan gets detained at the New York airport for a few hours and it makes national news but the scores of North-Easterns who wound up in police stations across the capital about a month back created no stir as it rightly should have. This writer, on a visit to Delhi at the time, was lucky not to face any unpleasant situation, but was advised by friends to hide the religious threads and pendant [typically Buddhist, therefore running the risk of being mistaken for a Tibetan] around her neck to avoid rousing the suspicions of the Delhi police. Avoid and ignore are some of the keywords that North-Easterns are quite familiar with in the city.
To conclude, Chingles is a mouth freshener/chewing gum by the makers of Rajni Gandha pan masala and the advert ran for one day i.e 01 April. A call to the printed phone number was met by an automated reply which had a woman telling you, in a flirtatious tone, that it was an April Fool’s Day prank, that you had been fooled and finally that you should try their newest product - Chingles. Make any sense?


ENOUGH!
Stop Discriminating People from the North-East India is a group that began two years ago on popular social networking site Facebook and seeks to spread awareness about the region via “constructive engagement with the government, national institutions and the conscious citizens of India”. An update posted on the page on Sunday reads:
Delhi police known for racial profiling: Yesterday I got harassed by two Delhi cops (lead by Senior Police Constable Naresh Kumar) who frisked me and my young DU student friend William without any reason at a grocery market nearby Ber Sarai flyover around 8 pm. 
When I asked why? They abused back by saying “Chup (Shut up)” and questioned why I was carrying a Rs.500 note and said to each other “Lena ke liye gaya (They went for buying that)”. What’s that supposed to mean? Can’t I go to buy vegetables or food? Or do they think north-eastern people are habitual offenders? 
Earlier I used to ignore such ill-treatment by the Delhi cops, but lately I’ve realized that it was partially our fault for not reacting to such situations, which has further increased their wrong perceptions. 
Anyway, it is not too late, let us set this as an example to our fellow brothers and sisters to raise their voice against such discriminatory attitude of Delhi police. Keeping quiet will only alienate us further more. 
RAISE your voice and let justice triumph!” 

Click here to view the page.


Renjyong Mutanchi Rong Tarjum forms new executive body


AGM ALSO FORMS BONGTHING ACADEMY COMMITTEE 
MANGAN, 15 April: The Renjyong Mutanchi Rong Tarzum (RMRT) central body, in coordination with RMRT North district, convened the annual general meeting at Mayal Hotel, Pentok, Mangan on 14 April.  The RMRT (N) formed a new executive body cum Bongthing Academy Committee.
The new RMRT committee comprises of Advisors, Chumki Saring of Mangan, TW Lepcha of Sentam, Khamsoom Lepcha of Chungthang and Choden Lepcha of Dzongu.  NT Lepcha as president, Lobzang Lepcha as vice president, Samten Lepcha & Lakching Lepcha as general secretaries, TT Lepcha & Samdup Lepcha as treasurer, Tenzor Lepcha, PT Lepcha & KT Lepcha as joint secretaries and Norden Lepcha, Laymu Lepcha & Kessang Saring as publicity secretaries. For the Boongthing Academy committee, Sonam Rinchen Lepcha, Kacho Lepcha, Namgyal Lepcha, Dr.OT Lepcha, NT Lepcha and Ton Tsh Lepcha have been nominated from all the districts.
The programme was chaired by Zilla Adhyaksha (N), Khamsoom Lepcha, president (RMRT) centre body, SD Lepcha, general secretary, Dr OT Lepcha, president (RMRT) North, NT Lepcha and members.
The president, RMRT (N), in his address spoke on establishing a unique Boongthing school with all language academy facilities which will preserve the Lepcha culture and identity of the community, for which we all have to approach the government, he  said.
The chief guest in his address said that the idea of starting a Boongthing school is very innovative and added that unity amongst all communities is important.
The general secretary, RMRT, centre body in his address said that, the meeting was supposed to be held last year in September but due to the earthquake it could not be possible. The centre body has been working for the progress of the community in coordination with the government but RMRT works have been delayed due to lack of finance, he shared. So now we have to start monthly membership collection drive for our own security and progress, he added. The Government has sanctioned Rs.16 crore for the construction of 'Fat Fuetyok' at Daramdin to preserve historical artefacts of the tribe and a statue of Munsolong is to be constructed in Upper Dzongu has also been sanctioned, he further informed.
The president (RMRT), centre body, said that the Government has already notified the Lepcha tribe as a backward community and defined as a Primitive tribe under 3(54) Parliamentary Affairs/518 on 18 November 2008 but we have never tried out to find out the benefits of the given status and that is our own weakness.
The house also highlighted on Public hearing of Teesta stage IV of NHPC held on 29 March 2012 which did not take into concern the general affected people and area MLA of Dzongu. DM (N) the chairman of the public hearing panel will be approached for conducting another public hearing for the affected public and place full details of the project and R&R plan.
In conclusion, the house also focused on shortage of teachers in Dzongu suggesting that the department should only appoint local candidates as most teachers are appointed from outside the district and after serving 2 to 3 months obtain transfer orders to other districts.

Lower Rakdong residents complain of erratic power supply


PLAN TO APPROACH POWER MINISTER WITH GRIEVANCES
MANGAN, 15 April: Residents of Lower Rakdong, irked by the erratic power supply in the area, have demanded why the Power Department has not been able to solve this problem which has plagued the area for the past many months.
The people, especially those from the villages of Sokpay, Raidang and 3rd Mile, are tired of the irregular power supply in their villages and allege negligence on the part of the concerned officers at the Power Department for not addressing the problem despite repeated requests.
“The power supply to these villages has not exceeded 8 to 10 days in a month and is sometimes even lower than this,” complained YB Manger while speaking to NOW!
The past week as well, the villages lived in the dark as there has been no supply for the past five days. “We have approached the concerned officials many times regarding the matter but no permanent solution has emerged,” rue the villagers.
The residents here also complain that the department issues the electricity bills on a yearly basis which poses a problem as they have to shell out a large sum in one go.
“We are already spending money on kerosene and when the department sends us the bill at the end of a year that too through our children, it is difficult for us to make the lump-sum payment. The department should send the bill on a monthly basis and we have not even seen the meter reader till now,” adds Besh Lall Sharma.
The only option left for us is to approach the Power Minister with our grievances, informed local residents. It is learnt that the electricity to these villages is supplied from Topakhani.

ON THE PASSING AWAY OF TSHERING RIGZING


Letter:
It was really a touching moment to be able pay my last respect to my late friend Tshering Ringzing who was killed in the USA by a young-man who was driven by negative forces on April 2 2012. An accomplished personality who would have been a significant asset to all of us in Sikkim, express my satisfaction to His Holiness the present Shamarpa Rinpoche who happened to be close by on that fateful day to have personally come and performed Phowa, Transference of mind for the deceased as required under our Sikkimese traditions as soon as one dies. It so happened that when His Holiness first tried see the corpse, he could not do so because of some formalities going on there at the hospital. However, he somehow managed a photo of the deceased and offered some prayers. Not before too long, and driven by the karma of both the deceased and the lama, Rinpoche could make it to his dead body where he elaborately performed Phowa and instructed his resident monks and students to perform necessary prayers and rites. Kudos to the Sikkim Bhutia Lepcha Apex Committee and its team to have quickly corresponded and exerting maximum pressure with the US authority as did the Governments of India and Sikkim for immediate handing over of the mortal remain of the deceased for performing necessary prayers and funeral as per Buddhist tradition in Sikkim. Courteous enough on the part of the US administration for sending its two senior official representatives to see off the dead body, nicely put up in a nicely placed casket at the Airport.
May the deceased, driven by his own merit and virtues, conveniently find bliss in one of the pure realms of the lotus family.
Chewang Pintso, Gangtok