Friday, November 29, 2013

Chamling outlines 8-point proposal to rejuvenate agriculture and horticulture, Pawar assures earnest consideration

AMEET OBEROI
GANGTOK, 28 Nov: Chief Minister Pawan Chamling today shared details of an 8-point proposal with the Union Minister for Agriculture for the development of agriculture, horticulture and floriculture in Sikkim and for the upliftment of the farming community here. The proposals range from establishment of a College of Horticulture to an Institute of Food Technology in Sikkim and also seeks establishment of a cold chain system, integrated development of orchid, rejuvenation of large cardamom etc. Union Minister Sharad Pawar has assured to take up these proposal into serious consideration and invited the Sikkim Government to submit more detailed proposals.
This discussion featured in the inaugural session of the Conference of Agriculture & Horticulture Ministers of North Eastern States organized by the Ministry of Agriculture, Department of Agriculture and Cooperation, Government of India and Department of Agriculture & Horticulture, Government of Sikkim was held at Chintan Bhawan today.
The conference was chaired by Union Minister for Agriculture and Food Processing Industries, Sharad Pawar as chief guest, and was also attended by Chief Minister Pawan Chamling; Speaker KT Gyaltsen; Minister for Agriculture, DN Thakarpa; Chairman Welfare Commission, BB Gooroong and Chief Secretary R Ongmu.
In his address, the Union Minister stated that he was extremely happy to be here for this conference and added that he had last visited Sikkim around 20 years back when he was in the Defence Ministry.
“The North East Region [NER] holds tremendous potential in the field of agriculture, horticulture and floriculture and around four per cent of the total rice of the country comes from Assam”, he said.
The Food Security Mission on rice for the North Eastern States was started from 2012-13 by the central government, he informed further adding that the Rashtriya Krishi Vigyan Yojana [RKVY] funds have been increased for the NER and this year Rs. 850 crore has been sanctioned for NER. The central government spent around Rs. 63 crore on importing edible oil from outside the country, he stated and added that NER is better suited for cultivation of edible oil and thus urged the NE states to take up this cultivation.
The climate of the NER is suitable for the cultivation of horticulture crops and in the past few years there has been an increase in the production of horticulture crops from the NER, he said and added that even floricultural crops such as orchids, thrive better in the NER. Citing the example of Sikkim’s orchids, he stated that the production of cut flowers can be taken up on commercial basis. NER has grown at the rate of around 4% in the last decade, he informed.
“The main bottleneck for these areas is post production, marketing and above all the problem of transportation of the products. Marketing and food processing need to be focused upon in these areas”, he stated.
Speaking on the proposals put forth by the Chief Minister earlier, he stated that the central government will be establishing a central college of agriculture in Sikkim, a horticulture college and will set up a State Organic Mission at ICAR in Gangtok. The mega food park and cold chain will be sanctioned after the state government puts the proposal to the central government, he added.
He hoped that the conference would be a fruitful one and focus on the critical issues regarding agriculture and horticulture.
Earlier, in his keynote address, the Chief Minister Pawan Chamling extended greetings and warm welcome to the Union Minister and thanked him for his visit and for his continuous support in overcoming some specific challenges faced in the agriculture and horticulture sector by the North Eastern Region and Sikkim.
The CM informed about the initiatives of the Government of Sikkim in the field of agriculture to attain higher level of growth. He stated that the State provided an enabling environment for sustainable growth in these sectors, and thus a variety of programmes were launched in adequate measure to promote these sectors. The unstinted support of the Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India, he said, played a critical role in the transformation of these sectors giving it a much needed boost. “It is with generous support from the Central Ministry that we have accomplished many success stories in the field of off-season vegetables, floriculture, protected cultivation, fruits and spices, cereals and pulses,” he said.
The Chief Minister also threw light on the organic policy adopted by the State by launching Sikkim Organic Mission to make Sikkim a fully Organic State by 2015. He informed that environmental security, product branding, health safety and enhancement in farm returns were some of the important objectives of this challenging decision, now converted into a flagship programme.
Further, the Chief Minister said that the State has been giving enough impetus to the cultivation of Cymbidium Orchid, and informed that the first mother plant of Cymbidium hybrid, which has become a multi-billion dollar industry today, was taken from Sikkim. For this, Chief Minister’s Special Orchid Development Programme in 18 constituencies was launched which had benefited the farmers and the educated youths, informed Chamling. He further elaborated that the programme needed further expansion and consolidation with import of the first release hybrid mother plants which in the coming years would establish Sikkim as a major grower in the national and international sphere. He informed that the State had formulated an ambitious plan for an Integrated Development of Orchid which, in the long run, could become a model for others.
The Chief Minister further informed that the State government had introduced the scheme of providing minimum support price in vegetables, transport subsidy for vegetables upto Siliguri and for flowers to any destination within the country, as part of the convergence initiatives. In order to add special thrust on the development of marginalized farmers of the State, he stated that the government identified dry, backward and remote areas and special programmes were devised to uplift the farmers in these villages by providing suitable incentives and technology support.
The Chief Minister further stated that certain common areas of concern to the North Eastern States would need the intervention of the Union Minister especially in terms of providing special package to tackle food security issues and sustainability of mountain farming system. “Based on inherent strengths of each State, we need to form a large network of cold chain system, bring about farm mechanization, more liberal crop insurance policy, protected cultivation, water harvesting and micro irrigation etc”, stated Mr. Chamling.
The Chief Minister laid down eight proposals before the Union Minister, for the development of agriculture, horticulture and floriculture crops, and the upliftment of the farming community in the State.
Establishment of Horticulture College that would provide large institutional support with promotion of research studies to augment and diversify the activities under this sector.
Sikkim Institute of Food Technology, for the creation of a facility for post-harvest technology and value addition. The facility may be called Sikkim Institute of Food Technology [SIFT] – a Centre of Excellence, with facilities including Physical Grading Centre, Food Processing Laboratory, Food Micro-biology Laboratory, Food Analysis Laboratory, Quality Control and Assurance Laboratory, Nano-technology Application Laboratory, Packaging Research Facility, Market Research Centre, Business and Farmers’ Assistance Centre etc. Besides developing a wide range of premium quality processed food products, it will also be the Centre of frontier research in this niche area being unique in the entire North East region and also generate employment for the highly qualified young professional of Sikkim. The Institute could be an independent entity or a Centre of Excellence within the proposed College of Horticulture.
Cold Chain System: To aid the farmers to market their products better, the need to establish cold chain facilities right from the farm to the terminal market was felt.  For this purpose, 22 number of multi-facility cold storage at primary collection centers and four district level processing units and adequate number of refrigeration plants have been proposed for which a sum of Rs.32.00 crore has been estimated.
Re-designation of ICAR to NRC Organic Farming: As Sikkim is the first State to go organic in totality, the Government has submitted proposal to the Central Ministry with request to re-designate the present ICAR Centre at Tadong as National Research Centre in Organic Farming. The Chief Minister also requested the Union Minister to spare the surplus land available with ICAR at Tadong, Gangtok for building of range of infrastructural facilities for the farmers.
Integrated Development of Orchid: A sum of Rs. 60.00 crore has been estimated spread over a period of four years to achieve the objective which is required to provide tissue culture planting material to farmers, construction of green houses, training and input support and host of other related facilities.
Rejuvenation of Large Cardamom: A huge re-plantation and rejuvenation programme is required to retrieve the lost glory of Sikkim as the biggest producer of Large Cardamom which is mostly exported to other countries. It is estimated that we would require a sum of Rs.25.00 crore spread over a period of 5 years to take up massive re-plantation and rejuvenation work of Large Cardamom.
Special Package for Organic Farming: Since Sikkim will become the first fully organic State in the country; the Government of India is requested to provide a special package of Rs. 100 crore to boost the ongoing programme.
Mega Food Park: The Central Ministry has been pleased to sanction establishment of one Mega Food Park for the State of Sikkim. However, due to scarcity of land certain existing guidelines may be relaxed for State like Sikkim. The 50 acres of land required may be made 30 acres due to the land terrain which the State Government will arrange as per guidelines of the Ministry. The State Government has also represented to the Union Minister for construction of one Abattoir each in South and North Sikkim.
In his concluding note, the Chief Minister expressed the need to strike a fine balance between nature and application of science and technology into the farmland, which could be accomplished by making rational use of available scientific tools and mechanism to undertake off-seasonal cultivation and make the agricultural activities round-the-year engagement. Adoption of right methods and strategy would have the potential to develop the North Eastern region into an organic zone, floriculture zone, horticulture zone and apiculture zone etc.

SSP questions Govt service extension policy for bureaucrats

GANGTOK, 28 Nov: The Sikkim Sangram Parishad has questioned the State Government’s intent behind service extension and “re-appointment” of retired government officials. If these officials are indeed “indispensible” to the State then why does the government not honour them with some award or felicitation, a press release issued by the SSP vice president Rinzing Namgyal Bhutia asks.
The release goes on to speculate on the reasons why some officials are being retained much beyond their retirement and rues that this practice was also blocking promotion avenues for junior officers.

SKM coordination meeting held in Mangan

MANGAN, 28 Nov: Sikkim Krantikari Morcha organized a coordination meeting for North district here in residence of former chairperson Chumki Saring who had joined SKM on 06 October last month. She was today nominated as the North district women’s wing in-charge of the party.
The meeting was presided over by SKM’s North district chief coordinator, Chewang Jigmee Lepcha.
Also today, party vice presidents for the three constituencies of North district was announced- for Lachen-Mangan, Hissey Lachungpa; Kabi-Lungtsok, Chewang Norbu Lepcha and for Dzongu constituency, Phurba Bhutia.
On the occasion, Ms. Saring hoisted SKM flag at her residence and at all her commercial buildings in Mangan bazaar and also distributed party CD’s. And it was also informed that very soon, a district level open meeting will be organized in Mangan.

SAMETI and MANAGE train agri field functionaries

GANGTOK, 28 Nov: SAMETI [State Agricultural Management & Extension Training Institute], in coordination with National Institute of Agricultural Extension Management [MANAGE], Hyderabad, conducted two trainings simultaneously at   SIRD, Karfectar, for field functionaries of the Agriculture Department. The training modules are “Management Development Programme for Women in Development Sectors” and “Effective Communication”.  The training, held from 25 to 28 Novembner, had Dr. G. Jaya and Dr. K.  Uma Rani from Hyderabad as coordinators and is being attended by 80 Field Functionaries (Village Level Workers, Block Technology Managers and Subject Matter Specialist) from the four districts, an official press release informs.
On the inaugural day, HoD, English Department, Sikkim Government College, Pankaj Thapa, and HoD, Commerce Department, SGC, Dr. SS Mahapatra, addressed topics like writing skills, interpersonal communication and assertive communication
The next day, Dr. S. Manivarariran, Dr. K Uma Rani, and Dr. G. Jaya covered presentation skills, project management, motivation, leadership theories and functions and observation and feedback. On 27 Nov, president Citizens’ Forum, Thukchuk Lachungpa, and Sonam T. Venchungpa, Dean, ICFAI College spoke on stress management, principles of management and persuasion skills.

Relic Tour touches hearts in Gangtok exposition

ANAND OBEROI
GANGTOK, 28 Nov: It has been five days since the Maitreya Heart Shrine Relic Tour has opened for public audience here at Tshuklakhang and already some 10,000 people have taken a darshan, the organizers inform. As can be expected for an exposition as religious as this, many devout have been deeply touched, the blessings proving such a powerful experience that apart from the mental calm and peace it has brought them, some are even reporting physical relief. On display as part of the exposition are around 63 relics, including a relic belonging to the Sakyamuni Buddha. The experience is rare and potent, billed aptly by the organizers as: “The tour spreads peace throughout the world by inspiring each person to develop kindness within the heart. Being in the presence of the relics brings visitors into their own hearts. That is why it is called the Maitreya Heart Shrine Relic Tour.”
The exposition which opened to public on 24 November, has been attracting people not only from all over Sikkim, but also neighbouring Kalimpong, Darjeeling, Bhutan and Nepal. The relic tour arrived here after stopovers at 66 countries, its last halt being Bhutan. The line of devotees at Tshuklakhang stretches from the palace gates itself and with only two days of the exposition left, the numbers are expected to swell over the weekend.
“The great meditators spent their lives cultivating a loving heart and great wisdom. These relics embody that spiritual enlightenment,” explains Sonam Ongmu Denzongpa, coordinator of the relics exposition committee.
“Some people look at them in wonder. I personally experience miracles every day. People feel a shift, a transformation, a release of pain or fear and sometimes physical healing,” she shares, while adding that the exposition in the past few days has deeply affected several people who state that they have been relieved of body ailments and other forms of illnesses that allopathic medicines have still not managed to cure.
It may be informed that the purpose of the Relic Tour is to inspire people of all spiritual traditions and paths to come together to experience the blessings of the relics.
The sacred relics that come from among the cremation ashes of Buddhist spiritual masters, including the Buddha have been found and preserved by several generations of monks who describe the relics as small pearl-like crystals called ringsels that devotees believe embody the knowledge and compassion of the enlightened.
The free public exhibit that will close on 01 December showcases many 2,500-year-old relics of the Sakyamuni Buddha as well as ringsels from many masters from India, Tibet and China, organizers say.
It may also be informed that some relics of the Buddha are from the collection of the Dalai Lama, rescued from Tibet in 1959 after the invasion of China, but the tour is the creation of another master, Lama Zopen Rinpoche.
“By meditating on loving-kindness, peace naturally arises in our hearts and in our surrounding world. According to Buddhist scriptures, Maitreya will be the next Buddha to bring teachings of loving-kindness to the world. I also want to add that the donations and offerings will be used for the construction of the 150 feet tall Maitreya Buddha statue at Bodhgaya where the relics will be enshrined after the Maiterya Heart Shrine World Tour,” stated Sonam Ongmu.
It may also be informed that purification prayers to energize the relics are being conducted at the venue every morning by lamas that include Phey Rinpoche from Rumtek Monastery, Tulkus from Tsuklakhang, Ven Tshering Dorjee and Ven Lodey Sangpo. Yangthang Rinpoche will conduct prayers at the venue on 30 November, organizers inform.

Cops compete in Special Tactical Sports Meet


NAMCHI, 28 Nov: A “Special Tactical Sports Meet” for the police personnel of South and West districts was held here at Jorethang public ground today, organized by the South district police department.
DGP Sikkim Police, Jasbir Singh, was present as chief guest accompanied by IGP [Law & Order] Akshay Sachdeva and IGP [retd] Tashi Namgyal present as special guests.
Addressing the programme, the DGP congratulated South District police for organizing this event and said that it was a good venture for all the police personnel to enjoy some relief from the pressure of work.
Delivering the welcome address SP South, Sonam Gyatso said that this is an event organized for the police personnel of South and West districts to offer some recreation. As the general election is approaching and they have to work hard, this event could act as a stress-buster and prepare them for what lies ahead, he said.
Events organized during the event include assembling and disassembling of 9mm pistol (for officers only), 50 mts, Anti-riot drill race in men and women categories, 100 mts. Race for men and women, 50 mts tyre race for men and women in group form, shot-put for men and women, Tug-of-war between South and West district police. The main event was the football match between South and West district police.
A colorful cultural programme was also performed by the personnel from Namchi, Jorethang, Ravangla and Temi Police Stations and groups from New Light Academy and Nandugaon.
The Assembling and Disassembling of 9mm pistol competition was won by PI Kessang Bhutia [SHO Kaluk, West Sikkim] while PI Mahendra Pradhan [SHO Sombaria] came in second followed by Tshering Gyatso [SDPO Soreng] in third position.
In 50 mtrs Anti-riot drill race in men’s category, Constable Anil Chettri from Temi PS stood in first place followed by Bhuwan Chettri from Ravangla PS and Sudan Mukhia from Namchi PS in second and third positions respectively.
Similarly, in 50 mts. Anti-riot drill race for women, Constable Anita Gurung from Temi PS stood first followed by Constable Krishna Ramudamu from Namchi PS and Yankee Bhutia from Namchi PS in second and third positions respectively.
In 100 mts race for men Constable Bhuwan Chettri from Ravangla PS secured first place while Constable Yogel Subba from Temi PS and Constable Suboth from Jorethang stood second and third respectively. Similarly, in 100 mts race for women Krishna Ramudamu from Namchi PS secured the first position and Constable Lila Devi Chettri and Kessang Doma from Ravangla PS took the second and third positions respectively.
In 50 mts tyre race (in group) in men categories Ravangla PS stood in first position which was followed by Temi PS and Namchi PS in second and third positions respectively. In the women category Namchi PS secured the first position and Ravangla PS and Jorethang PS took the second and third positions respectively.
In the Tug-of-War between South and West District police personnel, the Namchi PS group defeated the West district police winning 2 sets against 1 set of West district police.
In the main event of the tactical sport meet 2013, the exhibition football match between West district police and South district police ended with an interesting decision made by the judges panel of the day where the match was decided with a coin toss. The toss went in favour of South district police who were declared the winners of the match. Earlier, the match had ended in 2-2 draw and the tie-breaker also ended in 4-4 draw.
The programme was conducted by SDPO (S) Geegee N. Bhutia while it was also attended by Commandant IRBN 2nd Battalion KB Gurung, Commandant IRBN 3rd Battalion Hemraj Rai, SP Home guard Hissey Zangpo, SP Namchi Jail KI Tenzing, SP (S) Sonam Gyatso, SP (W) DB Giri, SDM Jorethang, Tenzing G. Denzongpa, SDPO Namchi, Jorethangm Ravangla, Soreng, Gyalshilg and other officials from the police department.

Timely detection douses fire at Khangri Petrol Pump in time SKM ACCUSES RULING PARTY OF ARSON ATTEMPT

GANGTOK, 28 Nov: A major incident was averted late last night [intervening night of 27 and 28 November] when a fire at Khangri Petrol Pump at Convoy Ground here in Tadong was detected in time and contained before it could spread or cause any damage.
A major fire had hit the same petrol pump some years ago it may be recalled. While a proper inferno had enveloped the establishment back then, this time, timely detection and quick response snuffed out the fire before it could cause any damage.
While two fire tenders rushed to the spot, the fire, being minor in nature, had been put off by the time. When contacted, officials informed that no police complaint has been lodged with regard to the incident.
The petrol pump stands next to the Sikkim Krantikari Morcha office, and the party, in a press release issued today, has contended that last night’s incident was an arson attempt by the ruling party targeting the SKM office.
The petrol pump, the SKM release points out, belongs to Phuchung Bhutia, an SKM vice president who also owns the building alongside in which the SKM head office is housed.

Coordination meet held for school heads of Regu GVK

GANGTOK, 28 Nov: A coordination meeting with school heads was held at Conference Hall HRDD, GVK, Regu today. The meeting was organized by HRDD, GVK Regu and attended by Assistant Director, School heads from 35 schools and CRC Coordinators.
The programme started with welcome address by CRC Coordinator, KP Dawari who highlighted the objectives of the meeting.
As per a press release, Assistant Director, HRDD, GVK Regu  Kumar Pradhan informed the heads of schools about the training for the heads of schools/concerned teachers of Secondary and Senior Secondary Schools on online registration and data transfer of CBSE scheduled to be held on 04 December at the conference hall of HRDD, Gangtok. He also informed that the Head Cooks of MDM of all secondary, senior secondary schools, monastic schools and Sanskrit pathshalas have to attend one-day training/orientation programme at Modern Secondary School, Gangtok on 07 December.
Information regarding the CM’s Meritorious Scholarship Scheme Examination for session 2013-14, which is going to be conducted on 21 December was also given to all present. The heads of schools have been requested to complete the nomination procedure in time. The sanctioned strength of teachers for different subjects in different schools and the vacancies were also placed before the house for the information of the concerned school heads. The same has already been sent to the department for further necessary steps, the release mentions.
The other important agenda discussed in the meeting were filling up of quality monitoring formats under SSA, submission of utilization certificate and vouchers of Ancillary/Stationary Grants, and submission of requirement of computers by Primary and Junior High Schools.
During the meeting, setting up of an HRDD stall in the Public Information Campaign at Community Hall, Rongli was also discussed. The Public Information Bureau, Govt of India is conducting the programme from 04 to 06 December. The meeting concluded with the vote of thanks by Dawa Lhamu Sherpa, IEV, Regu, the release adds. [from SHITAL PRADHAN]

NEC Secretary visits DHH


GANGTOK, 28 Nov: Secretary, North Eastern Council, Ameising Luikham, visited the Directorate of Handicrafts and Handloom complex here at Zero Point on Wednesday.
A DHH press release informs that the Secretary was received by the Director and officers of the Directorate and shown around the Sales Emporium, Crafts Museum and ongoing construction training-cum-production unit of Soft Toys building.
He was very much impressed with the smooth and proper execution and implementation of the project and assured all possible assistance from his end and committed the grant of exhibition-cum-sales pavilion for North Eastern Regional states in Sikkim as well, the release adds.

ADDRESS OF CHIEF MINISTER PAWAN CHAMLING AT CONFERENCE OF AGRICULTURE MINISTERS OF NE STATES, CHINTAN BHAWAN, 28 NOVEMBER, 2013 “Make rational use of available scientific tools to make our agricultural activities round-the-year engagement”

Hon’ble Union Minister of Agriculture and Food Processing Industries respected Shri Sharad Pawarji; Hon’ble Speaker Sikkim Legislative Assembly, Ministers of Agriculture from North-Eastern States; my Cabinet Colleagues; Parliamentary Secretaries, Union Secretaries, Secretary North East Council, Principal Secretaries and Secretaries of the North Eastern States; distinguished officers from Government of India; officers from North-eastern States; distinguished guests, media persons; ladies and gentlemen,
At the outset, I take the privilege of extending my warm greetings and hearty welcome to Hon’ble Union Minister and all the delegates to the Land of Orchids and a State known for its peaceful ambience, neat and clean and one of the most progressive in the Country. The North East endowed with immense natural resources with similar climatic variation and a gateway to the South East Asian Nations, is well positioned to play significant role in market extension, product diversification and knowledge sharing with the rest of the Country and the World. As we come together to deliberate on the agriculture scenario in the North East, we utilize this opportunity to evolve common strategies to promote the North East region as a composite entity to develop this sector for a common goal and outcome.
And present with us today is respected Pawar-ji, Union Minister of Agriculture, himself an avid agriculturist and a distinguished national leader, to support our cause and overcome some specific problems we face while promoting this sector in the region. I join all of you to thank him for sparing his valuable time to be with us today.
The significance of agriculture in Indian economy needs no further explanation. You are aware that Sikkim joined the mainstream much late and was not part of the country’s development saga as in the case of other States. And in the overall context of the North East, the region also lagged behind in mainstreaming of agriculture and allied sectors. However, people in the region are more dependent on land, forest and its resources for their livelihood, and as such the present Conference has added significance for the region.
Sikkim is a land blessed by Mother Nature with bountiful resources. Recognized as one of the biodiversity hotspots, the region hosts diverse forms of flora and fauna with approximately 4,500 species of flowering plants in the State. The climate is highly varied with wide ranging agro-ecological situations varying from sub-tropical in the lower valleys to alpine in higher elevations.
In spite of limited cultivable land area, agriculture and horticulture continue to dominate the rural economy with over 65% of the people directly or indirectly being dependent for their livelihood on land resources. Our primary strength lies in highly developed mountain agriculture system inherited from the age old wisdom of our forefathers. Due to variety of reasons and small land holdings, agricultural activities need to be further expanded and diversified in the State to come out of the subsistence level.
Under Agriculture, the State Government has scaled up initiatives to attain higher level of growth. Various programmes have been launched in adequate measure to promote these sectors to their fullest potential by providing the most enabling environment for sustainable growth. The unstinted support of the Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India under various schemes have always played critical role in the transformation of these sectors giving much needed boost. I take this opportunity to record our sincere thanks and gratitude for all the support from the Central Ministry. It is with generous support from the Central Ministry that we have accomplished many success stories in the field of off-season vegetables, floriculture, protected cultivation, fruits and spices, cereals and pulses.
With protection of fragile Himalayan ecology in mind, the State Government has adopted organic policy by launching Sikkim Organic Mission to make Sikkim a fully Organic State by 2015. Environmental security, product branding, health safety and enhancement in farm returns are some of the important objectives of this challenging decision, now converted into our flagship programme. We are working in the farm and off the farm to make Sikkim organic. The process of organic certification of our land is going on together with extensive training for our farmers and officials. We are also building up awareness programme across the State among all the stakeholders with effective shift from use of chemical fertilizers to organic manure.
We are happy that the Union Minister Shri Sharad Pawar-ji has kindly released the book “Organic Sikkim-Leading the Change” written by Dr. Tej Partap and Dr. CS Vaidya a short while ago, appreciating our leadership in organic field.
With Floriculture emerging as a major sector having tremendous scope for commercialization, we are focusing on Cymbidium orchid which is our natural strength. I also take the privilege to share our pride with the visiting dignitaries that the Cymbidium hybrid which has become a multi-billion dollar industry today, the first mother plant was taken from Sikkim.
For providing the much-needed impetus to the emerging cymbidium industry, Chief Minister’s Special Orchid Development Programme in 18 constituencies has been launched which has benefited our farmers and the educated youths. The programme needs further expansion and consolidation with import of first release hybrid mother plants which in the coming years shall establish Sikkim as a major grower in the national and international sphere. We have formulated an ambitious plan for an Integrated Development of Orchid which, in the long run, could become a model for others.
Sikkim is a natural home for growing orchid and other species of flowers. In fact, Floriculture is being developed on top priority in the State, to be promoted as the new occupation of the Sikkimese people. We have been successful to a great extent as large numbers of our people spread across the State are today engaged in the floriculture activities. We are moving ahead with a mission mode to be just as efficient as Holland in the production and marketing of flower in the Country and abroad. Therefore, the Central Government is requested to further support us in our endeavour.
As part of the convergence initiatives, the State government has introduced the scheme of providing minimum support price in vegetables, transport subsidy for vegetables upto Siliguri and for flowers to any destination within the country. In order to add special thrust on the development of marginalized farmers of the State, the government identified dry, backward and remote areas. Special programme have been devised to uplift the farmers in these villages by providing suitable incentives and technology support.
Further, being a bio-diversity hotspot, Sikkim provides a unique landscape to utilize the indigenous species for breeding programmes to evolve hybrids of different crops suited to Himalayan climate. Developing such varieties would ensure more resilience to climatic uncertainties and its adverse effect.
There are certain common areas where the North Eastern region may seek the generous intervention of the Union Minister with special package to tackle food security issue and sustainability of mountain farming system. Based on inherent strengths of each State, we need to form a large network of cold chain system, bring about farm mechanization, more liberal crop insurance policy, protected cultivation, water harvesting and micro irrigation etc.
With the potential of its immeasurable wealth ideal for growth and development of agriculture, horticulture and floriculture crops, the State Government would seek kind indulgence of the Hon’ble Union Minister to the many initiatives undertaken by us. I would specifically flag off the following areas of activities and confident of your blessing and assistance to carry forward our program in the interest of the farming community in the State.

1. Establishment of Horticulture College: The establishment of Horticulture College in Sikkim would provide a large institutional support with promotion of research studies to augment and diversify our activities under this sector. Therefore, I am sure that the proposal already forwarded to the central ministry will receive highest consideration by the Hon’ble Union Minister for positive outcome. The State Government shall be glad to provide suitable land which is available.
2. Sikkim Institute of Food Technology: The farmers of Sikkim generate various agricultural, horticultural and animal-origin produce which, on majority of cases, does not fetch the farmer desirable monetary returns. This situation is just suitable for the creation of a facility for post-harvest technology and value addition. The facility may be called Sikkim Institute of Food Technology (SIFT) – a Centre of Excellence with facilities including Physical Grading Centre, Food Processing Laboratory, Food Micro-biology Laboratory, Food Analysis Laboratory, Quality Control and Assurance Laboratory, Nano-technology Application Laboratory, Packaging Research Facility, Market Research Centre, Business and Farmers’ Assistance Centre etc. Besides developing wide range of premium quality processed food products, it will also be the Centre of frontier research in this niche area being unique in the entire North East region and also generate employment for the highly qualified young professional of Sikkim.
The Institute could be an independent entity or a Centre of Excellence within the proposed College of Horticulture.
3. Cold Chain System: With the allied agriculture sector being thrust area of the government, the famers in Sikkim are now producing marketable surplus in the field which cannot be consumed locally. Therefore, the Government has planned an Electronic Auction Centre and integrated pack houses under APEDA. To support the programme and for successful implementation, cold chain system is extremely necessary. A project has been drawn to install cold chain facilities right from farm gate to the terminal market. Therefore, support for laying of cold chain system in the State has also been proposed.
For this purpose, 22 number of multi-facility cold storage at primary collection centres and four district level processing units and adequate number of refrigeration plants have been proposed for which a sum of Rs.32.00 crores has been estimated.
4. Re-designation of ICAR to NRC Organic Farming: As Sikkim is the first State to go organic in totality, the Government has submitted proposal to the Central Ministry with request to re-designate the present ICAR Centre at Tadong as National Research Centre in Organic Farming. Due to scarcity of land, may I also take this opportunity to request the Union Minister to spare the surplus land available with ICAR at Tadong, Gangtok for building of range of infrastructural facilities for our farmers. The State Government will be grateful to the Union Ministry for the same.
5. Integrated Development of Orchid: Cymbidium is indigenous to Sikkim and many a first generation hybrids of Cymbidium world over was developed from the mother plants taken from Sikkim. Therefore, taking advantage of the conducive natural atmosphere, Sikkim has embarked on the development of Cymbidium in a big way besides development of other floriculture crops. Sikkim is the only State which has taken Cymbidium for commercial cultivation systematically with an eye for the international market. The Government has drawn an ambitious plan for development of Cymbidium and other tropical orchids covering 2000 educated youths in the next 5 years.
A sum of Rs. 60.00 crores has been estimated spread over a period of four years to achieve the objective which is required to provide tissue culture planting material to farmers, construction of green houses, training and input support and host of other related facilities.
6. Rejuvenation of Large Cardamom: The Large Cardamom is indigenous to Sikkim which suffered a major setback. Due to terminal viral disease, production of large cardamom has come down drastically. This may need a combined effort from various agencies including ICAR, Spices Board and the Horticulture Department. A huge re-plantation and rejuvenation programme is required to retrieve the lost glory of Sikkim as the biggest producer of Large Cardamom which is mostly exported to other countries. It is estimated that we would require a sum of Rs.25.00 crores spread over a period of 5 years to take up massive re-plantation and rejuvenation work of Large Cardamom.
7. Special Package for Organic Farming: Since, Sikkim will become the first fully organic State in the Country, the Government of India is requested to provide a special package of Rs. 100 crores to boost the ongoing programme. Agriculture requires organic inputs in the form of bio-fertilizers and manure. I may state that Sikkim’s withdrawal from the use of chemical fertilizers implies that it no longer avails associated subsidies. To provide alterative to farmers, rural compost units and vermi-compost units are being constructed. More investment is necessary on these inputs to achieve the State’s Organic Mission.
8. Mega Food Park: The Central Ministry has been pleased to sanction establishment of one Mega Food Park for the State of Sikkim. However, due to scarcity of land certain existing guidelines may be relaxed for State like Sikkim. The 50 acres of land required may be made 30 acres due to the land terrain which the State Government will arrange as per guidelines of the Ministry.

The State Government has also represented to the Hon’ble Union Minister for construction of one Abattoir each in South and North Sikkim. Hon’ble Sir, we are confident of positive outcome.  
In view of the emerging global challenges of climate change and its impact on our eco-system, dedicated research aimed at evolving location specific technologies is necessary. What we generally observe is that our farming practices has largely remained archaic, say some 300 years old, following seasonal farming practices. Annual cycle of sowing, reaping and harvesting largely depends on Nature. And many a time, it is influenced by erratic monsoon, lack of or excessive rainfall and other forms of natural phenomena. This puts us again at the mercy of nature and farm production is good only when climate is favourable. Hence, given the global trend, we may ask ‘would traditional farming methodology still hold good? can we make our farming practices economically sustainable?
Therefore, with all these in mind and recent development regionally, nationally and internationally we adopted organic farming. In the world elsewhere, they are augmenting farming output by creating artificial environment, creating congenial environment for off-season agricultural products.
With excessive dependency on Nature alone, we may not be able to harness our full potential. Therefore, as per changed circumstances and change in natural condition, we may need to strike a fine balance between nature and application of science and technology into our farmland. This we can accomplish by making rational use of available scientific tools and mechanism to undertake off-seasonal cultivation and make our agricultural activities round-the-year engagement.
This is the need of the hour. If we also adopt similar technique, we can be a leading country in the world where the majority of people are dependent on agricultural activities. And in the same context, the North East states can effectively come together to finalize strategies to develop this region into an Organic Zone, Floriculture Zone, Horticulture Zone and Apiculture Zone etc.
At the end, I would like to once again extend my warm welcome to the Hon’ble Union Minister and all delegates of the Conference and express my sincere thanks and gratitude for having chosen Sikkim as the venue for this historical event. I am confident that the outcome of the deliberations that is to follow will surely make larger impression on the overall agriculture, horticulture and floriculture output in the region.
With these words, I wish all of you a very comfortable stay in Sikkim and wish the Conference a grand success.

Thank you
Jai Hind

Nathula border trade season closes on a high

EXPORTS SOAR TO Rs. 7.84 CRORE; IMPORTS RECORDED AT Rs. 1.16 CR
GANGTOK, 28 Nov: The seventh season of Border Trade over the Nathula this year has been the most productive one thus far. Border trade closed for the season today in light of the winter season which has set in and will resume in May 2014.
The closing ceremony today featured a colourful function at the border mart of Sherathang which was attended by traders from both sides of the border. This season, trade closed two days ahead of the scheduled time, i.e 30 November, since the last two days of this month are non-trading days.
This season saw over Rs. 7.84 crore worth of goods being exported to China with the figure till 27 November coming to Rs. 7,84,96,435. Last year Indian goods worth Rs. 6.06 crore were exported to Tibetan Autonomous Region.
Exports include goods sold directly at Rinchengang in TAR by Sikkim traders as well as goods sold at the Sherathang trademart to traders coming in from TAR. In fact, in the month of September this year, Sikkim traders exported goods worth Rs. 1.40 crore over Nathula and imported Rs. 21.14 lakhs worth of goods despite inclement weather and road blocks due to landslides on the way to the border.
There has been a slight increase in imports this year with figures crossing the Rs 1 crore mark. While last year imports amounted to Rs 1 crore, this year imports from TAR amounted to Rs 1.16 crore.
These figures include Chinese goods at the Sherathang trade mart as well as those brought in by Sikkim traders from Rinchengang, the trade mart on the Tibetan side of the border. Sikkim traders have imported primarily three items - carpets, readymade garments and blankets & quilts in September.
On the last day of trade today, there were as many as 60 trucks from Tibet which crossed over to Sherathang and about 50 vehicles from Sikkim travelled to the other side. This last week has seen a large number of TAR traders crossing over to engage in trade. On an average, there were between 150 to 180 Tibetan traders coming over every day compared to 50–60 Indian traders moving to the other side.
Besides this, Chinese Customs officer, Li-Ping along with traders crossed the border today while the Indian side was represented by Customs department officials, Secretary Commerce & Industries Deptt, PT Euthenpa, Joint Secretary Sumitra Pradhan along with officials of the Ministry of Commerce and Industries.

Court stays ASGEA elections; association defers to allow more time for membership drive

GANGTOK, 28 Nov: Elections for the central executive committee of the All Sikkim Government Employees Association [Group C and D] has been stayed by the lower Courts. According to an order passed by the Principal District Judge, East Sikkim, the election has been restrained by the court following a motion moved by CB Rai of the Drivers’ Association which is also a member association of the ASGEA.
The Court has also issued a showcause to the respondents, six in all, to appear in person or through pleader before it on 05 December. They are also to file their showcause “…as to why the exparte ad interim injunction as prayed for the Appellant/ Plaintiff should not be confirmed, failing wherein the said injunction will be heard and determined exparte”.
The order was issued on 27 November, Wednesday. The six respondents include Phursang Lepcha, the chief election commissioner for the ASGEA polls, Narsing Rai, Sikkim Subordinate Accounts Service Associaton, Laxmi Tamang and Chultim Bhutia. They have also been restrained from “…proceeding with the election process… until the hearing of this Appeal or until the further Orders of this Court”. The election date had earlier been set for 07 December.
The election process for the CEC of the ASGEA has been mired in controversy for a while now with two contesting groups. On 27 November, the same day that the lower court passed its stay order, there was a meeting of the constituent units at the ASGEA office in Gangtok. While details of the meeting are not available it seems there was an attempt to find a consensus candidate for the post of Chairman. This seems to have failed as there are two candidates contesting for this post in Phurzang Lepcha and Minguir Bhutia. In the recent past, one of the aspiring candidates for the post of Chairman of the CEC had found himself facing objections to his candidature; it was only through a court directive that he could clear his name and is now contesting for Chairmanship.
Current office bearers, when contacted, stated that they had no idea on the reason or issue behind which the court had been approached by CB Rai and the subsequent stay order issued by the court. This, despite the fact that they are required to reply to the show cause on 5 December. Other sources inform that the issue is primarily to do with the membership drive. While there are around 27,000 state government employees in the C and D categories who are eligible to be members of the ASGEA, the total membership of the association is just above 3,000. There seems to be an allegation being made that the membership drive has been so conducted as to limit the number of members. This, however, is not confirmed.
On the other hand, a press release issued by the ASGEA states that the election has been deferred upon requests by both contesting teams to postpone the last date for membership registration drive up to 24 December. Following such requests, the release issued by Narsing Rai, informs that the Election Commission had consented to this appeal and hence, the scheduled date for the election, 07 December, had been deferred.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

CM launches North East Rural Livelihoods Project in Sikkim

GANGTOK, 27 Nov [IPR]: Chief Minister Pawan Chamling in the presence of the Minister of State, DoNER, Paban Singh Ghatowar, formally launched the North East Rural Livelihoods Project (NERLP) today in a function organized at Chintan Bhawan, here in the capital.
The NERLP, funded by the World Bank, is a multi-state rural poverty alleviation project. The project’s objective is to improve rural livelihoods especially that of women, unemployed youth and the most disadvantaged in four North Eastern States [Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and Sikkim].
The project is being implemented in two districts each of Sikkim (South and West), Mizoram, Nagaland and in five districts of Tripura. Apart from the two districts in Sikkim the project will also be implemented in 15 poorest wards of East district.
The project has been officially announced with effect from March 2012. The various activities to be taken up are defined in terms of prescribed component costs and financial projection is made year wise and for the whole five year period.
The project will cover nearly 3,00,000 households in 1,624 villages of 60 blocks covering 11 districts of the above mentioned four states.
The various financial supports envisaged in the project in Sikkim for enhancing the livelihood of the poor are; seed capital for Self-Help Groups; Livelihood funds to SHGs/Federation of SHGs; Community Development plans for resource management and critical infrastructure to community development groups; Start-up and working capitals to Producers Groups; Training of unemployment youth for self-employment and placement; Innovative fund; partnership development with technical institutes.
After formally launching the project while addressing the gathering, the chief guest for the occasion, the Chief Minister stated that it gave him immense pleasure to make a landmark beginning in the Rural Development Programme for the North East region.
In the context of Sikkim, he said, “I am very happy to mention that this will lend added dimension to the ongoing programs of capacity building and livelihood training schools which the government has already established across the State of Sikkim”.
Mr. Chamling also informed that Sikkim has become the first state in India to offer wide-ranging training on capacity building of the youth through skill development and augmentation. Youth are trained in different service sector industries, the Chief Minister said.
Duly strengthening the existing Directorate, the State Government also established the State Institute of Capacity Building as an autonomous Institute to undertake skill development of the youth of Sikkim. Under the programs at the Institute, the capacities of unemployed youth are developed to enable them to earn their livelihood and make them economically sound.
42 Livelihood Schools across the State have been established. The trainees in Livelihood Schools generally come from low income groups of far flung areas. The Government pays scholarship grant of upto Rs. 3000 per month to the trainees, he added.
“We all know that we can progressively tap potentialities in our rural areas; our state economy, social values, culture are being preserved and promoted by our rural community. The State Government is committed to the holistic development of the entire state with emphasis on rural upliftment through various central and state programs including village tourism, homestays, floriculture, horticulture and activities under animal husbandry sector”, the Chief Minister affirmed.
Mr. Chamling further informed the gathering that in the same line, his government is going to begin another important poverty alleviation programme called ‘Sikkim State Rural Livelihood Mission’ with the same aim of universal mobilization of rural community, building Self Help Groups and their federations covering entire households in the project area.
“On principle, both National Rural Livelihood Mission and NERLP are similar projects having almost identical objectives and implementing strategies and therefore I expect both these projects to develop a common platform to share experiences, exchanging lessons learnt and developing a common strategy workable for our community. They must work together towards attaining the project objectives and for betterment of the community”, he stressed.
Mr. Chamling also expressed his happiness that with this project the principles of empowering rural poor particularly women, building robust grass-root institutions, and making them capable by improving their knowledge and skill will get a huge impetus.
He also called upon all the project team members to take the advantage of ideal atmosphere prevailing in Sikkim towards promoting developmental initiatives and to develop partnership and understanding with rural community for making effective delivery of services.
Minister of State, DoNER, Government of India, Paban Singh Ghatowar who also addressed the inaugural session expressed his happiness to see the project being launched in Sikkim and hoped that the real populace of the two concerned districts and 15 GPUs of East district will take full advantage of the project to empower especially women of the areas.
He also informed that the project is one of the best implemented projects in the country and 11% of the total amount will be spent in Sikkim. The project’s objective is to improve rural livelihood especially that of women, unemployed youth and the most disadvantaged in four North Eastern States. In fact, this is one of the very unique projects taken up by the Government to strengthen the grass-root level, he added.
“We are delighted to launch the project, which was rated one of the best projects in the country, in Sikkim”, said Mr Ghatowar.
Earlier the programme began with the welcome note by the Secretary Rural Management Development Department, D.R Nepal.
The function was also addressed by Secretary, NEC & Chairman NELPS, NERLP, Ameising Luikham and Project Director, NERLP, H.K Hajong who gave the over view on the project.
The Chief Minister and the guest of honour, Minister of State, DoNER, Government of India, Paban Singh Ghatowar also presented cheques to Community Based Institutions during the function.

3 killed in 2 accidents in West Sikkim

NAMCHI, 27 Nov: Three persons lost their lives in two separate road accidents on the same day in West Sikkim on Monday.
Two persons were killed in a road mishap that took place near Rohtak in West Sikkim around 5 kms from Jorethang on 25 November. The vehicle [Bolero, SK-02J-0541] had 12 occupants on board returning after watching the Chief Minister’s Gold Cup football finals at Jorethang. The mishap claimed two lives while ten others escaped with injuries.
On the same day, a Scorpio [SK-01P-4747] met with an accident at Zoom, 3 Kms away from Naya Bazaar. The accident claimed the life of one person, Rinchen Lepcha and left three injured. The vehicle was going to Jorethang from Chakung.

40% in-service candidates among 819 who took Teacher Eligibility Test ANAND OBEROI

GANGTOK, 27 Nov: The Human Resource Development Department held its first Teachers Eligibility Test (TET) here last week with a total of 819 candidates from all the four districts sitting for the same. The results for the test are expected to be announced by December.
Passing the TET is now a mandatory requirement for any teacher (GT or Primary) under the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 and Sikkim is one of the last states to have initiated and completed this process. The TET criteria is also mandatory for any teacher wanting to join regular government service.
A total of 832 candidates, including in-service, adhoc and contractual teachers had registered for the test conducted by the HRD, GoS out of which only 819 sat for the test.
“TET is a step towards providing quality education which is why the department is committed in its execution. The tests were held successfully and without hindrances. The response from aspiring candidates as well as ad-hoc candidates has been over whelming since over 40 percent candidates are in-service”, stated the Joint Director, Examinations while speaking to NOW! today.
While informing that the recruitment process and the declaration of vacancies was a policy matter of the state government which would give its report on the same in the coming days, he added that the TET was a mandatory criteria required to be fulfilled just like the requirement of a B.Ed. degree for the post of a Graduate Teacher and a 2-year diploma in elementary education, TTI passed for primary teachers.
He also informed that from the 819 candidates, 549 candidates were Graduate Teachers (GT) and 270 candidates were Primary teachers. Of the 549 graduate teacher candidates, 484 were Humanities teachers and 65 Science teachers.
He also informed that a candidate would be given as many chances to sit and pass the TET till they reach the age limit for joining government service (30 for general and 35 years for the rest).

TAAS and SHRA lobby DoNER for exclusive promotion to Sikkim in Incredible India campaign

GANGTOK, 27 Nov: TAAS and SHRA, in a joint representation made to the visiting Minister of State for Department for Development of North East Region [DoNER], have sought support of his office to urge Ministry of Tourism for separate and exclusive promotion of Sikkim in the Incredible India Campaign by virtue of the State having being declared a must Visit Destination for the year 2014 by Lonely Planet.
The TAAS and SHRA presidents called on DoNER Minister Praban Singh Ghatowar here today and jointly submitted a memorandum detailing their requests.
The memorandum also requests the Minister to simplify the documentation process for subsidy being provided to hotels by DoNER.
“The process of documentation can be further simplified and eased out thus making it a simple process for the hoteliers /entrepreneurs to easily understand and further go into the process of seeking the subsidy,” the memorandum details, while adding that the Minister “look into the matter that 40% of the payment related to the payment as labor wages, supply of the sand, pebbles, stones and all quarry materials be considered to be made through cash as these above said suppliers do not accept payment by Cheque”.
The DoNER Minister, a joint TAAS and SHRA press release states, assured to provide all possible support to requests made and suggested that the associations also submit the same proposal to the Tourism & Civil Aviation Department as well as to the Department of Commerce & Industries, Govt. of Sikkim, as well as Union Ministry of Commerce & Industries.

SSP demands immediate regularization of all temp employees

GANGTOK, 27 Nov: Sikkim Sangram Parishad [SSP] Party has demanded that the State government regularize employees hired on Muster Roll, Ad-hoc, Work Charged and consolidated pay basis on the same post and designation in their respective departments first and then transfer them to other departments later.
An SSP release claims that the party has been raising this issue for a long time and the state’s decision to regularize such employees has come very late. The SDF Government must regularize all such employees before the announcement of the General Election scheduled to be held in the month of May, 2014 to avoid unnecessary legal complications like violation of election model code of conduct, the release demands.
SSP has asked the state government to make the regularization process a fair one since it has been receiving many complaints of nepotism and favoritism, it claims. SSP has also urged the state government not to re-appoint retired government officials or extend their service but instead employ educated unemployed youth and those employed on temporary basis.
These demands were made at a meeting of the party held today at the party head office chaired by the party’s working president, Rajendra Upreti. The party has also claimed credit for the notification issued by the state government on regularization of MR, Ad-hoc, Work Charged and consolidated pay employees.

SKM South district wing rubbishes SDF claims

NAMCHI, 27 Nov: Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM) party’s South District wing has condemned a press statement reportedly given by Santoh Giri and NK Chettri of Sikkim Democratic Front from Melli constituency.
While addressing a press conference today at the SKM party office here, the party’s South district wing condemned SDF’s claim that some SKM supporters of Kubenday, Melli and Upper Suntaley had joined SDF.
The press conference was jointly addressed by Tilak Basnet, South District general secretary of SKM, Shadeo Gurung, organizing secretary, South, Rup Bdr. Pradhan (CLC) president Melli Constituency. They alleged that the SDF party had based their party’s programme on false information. They further accused SDF of misleading the people of Sikkim and also the media without any proof. They challenged SDF to support its claims with proof and in turn claimed that the people of Kubenday, Melli and Upper Suntaley completely support SKM.

SKM sets up committees in East and South

GANGTOK, 27 Nov: Sikkim Krantikari Morcha [SKM] convened a meeting today at Rolep-Lamaten GPU of Gnathang-Machong constituency in East Sikkim. Party zonal president Chopel Bhutia, constituency president, Arun Subba, Roshan Lama, Narayan Dhakal, Mon Bdr. Gurung and other active SKM party workers were present at the meeting.
An SKM release informs that Chopel Bhutia in his address alleged widespread corruption and nepotism in Sikkim, a sentiment echoed by Arun Subba.
A ward level committee of upper Lamaten ward No.3 was also formed with Ganga Bdr. Gurung as the ward president and Hissey Sherpa as the general secretary, the release mentions. SKM’s Tashi Gurung said that a similar committee will also be formed at ward No. 2.
The release further adds that a constituency level committee of the party was also formed for Rangang-Yangang constituency in South Sikkim with Ganesh Shreshtha as president, Manoj Khanal as vice president and LR Gurung as general secretary. SKM has claimed that 75 SDF members joined the party today.

Siloh Church celebrates silver jubilee

MANGAN, 27 Nov: The Siloh Church of Kazitar, Dikchu, celebrated its silver jubilee here at the Church premises on 24 November. The function had a special speaker Liya Pabilar from Philippines who delivered the sermon to the gathering on the auspicious day and also spoke on Christianity.
The Siloh Church felicitated the two senior most members Paul Singh Rai and Flora Zemina Lepcha.  A letter of citation was awarded to both from the church.  A cultural programme, choir and hymn was also part of the celebration.
The function was also addressed by Rev. Samuel Lepcha, Issac Chettri and Elder Kishor Tamang. The celebration has attended by people from different areas.

Sachet Berojgar condemn political violence

GANGTOK, 27 Nov: The Sikkim Sachet Swarojgar Berojgar Sangathan [SSSBS] has strongly condemned the alleged attack on SDF party workers at Kaluk by SKM supporters on Monday, 25 November.
In a press release, the Sangathan has urged all party leaders, workers and youth not to indulge in political violence. Violence will not bring change but will only encourage youth towards antisocial activities, SSSBS points out.
The Sangathan has blamed irresponsible leadership and misguided youth for the Kaluk incident. It has further urged the civil society as well to refrain from getting involved in such activities and guide the youth away from such activities.

Namchi GVK organises Jan Sunwai for new projects

GANGTOK, 27 Nov: A Jan Sunwai was held on Tuesday to sort out all issues relating to various departmental works to be undertaken under the Namchi Gram Vikas Kendra. The public hearing was held at the District Administrative Centre conference hall here and was organized by the District Collector (South) and was chaired by the Zilla Adhakshya.
A press release informs that the programme was initiated by the District Collector South which was finalized during the last District Vigilance & Monitoring Committee meeting.
The main objective of the programme is to provide a platform for all to put forth the issues, complaints, grievances relating to various Government Departments so that they can be resolved on the spot to provide speedy public delivery system. It has been decided that such programmes will be held Block-wise on a rotation basis, it is informed.
The meeting saw active participation from the Panchayat members and Line Department officials to sort out various issues. The action taken report of today’s meeting will be discussed in the next Jan Sunwai under Namchi Gram Vikas Kendra.
The District Collector urged all the Line Department officials to seriously take note of all the issues raised and action taken on it to be intimated to him at the earliest.
The Zilla Adhakshya, in his address thanked all the Zilla Panchayats, Gram Panchayats and Line Department officials for their cooperation and specially thanked the District Collector for taking up such a novel initiative which will enhance the public delivery system.
He urged all the Zilla Panchayats and Gram Panchayats to actively participate in the programme as public representatives so that it benefits of public at large.
Head of the Line Departments and other officials including Zilla Panchayat and Gram Panchayat members attended the Jan Sunwai.

Jan Sunwai held for Rhenock, Rongli, Chujachen and Sudunglakha GPU

GANGTOK, 27 Nov: Jan Sunwai of Social Audit on MGNREGA work implemented at Rhenock GPU under Rhenock GVK was conducted today which was facilitated by the District Resource Institution (DRI), East District i.e., Youth Development Society of Sikkim (YODESS), Rongli.
A press release informs that the Jan Sunwai was held at the Gram Prasashan Kendra, Sudunglakha which was chaired by Zilla Panchayat Member for the concerned Territorial constituency, KK Pradhan. The Jan Sunwai was attended by Rhenock Gram Vikas Adhikari, AE & JEs and APO of Rhenock GVK.
As the main agenda of the Jan Sunwai, the findings of the social audit were read out by Benu Prasad Sharma [DRP, East] and Mani Kumar Gurung [DPI]. The public were told about some issues found during the document verification, door-to-door interaction and work site visit. The line department officials and other concerned persons clarified these issues.
Similarly Jan Sunwai of Social Audit on MGNREGA for Chujachen GPU and Rongli-Changeylakha GPU under Regu GVK, Sudunglakha GPU under Rhenock GVK were also held in their respective Gram Prasashan Kendras, the release adds.

Buddhist relics exposition underway at Tsuklakhang

GANGTOK, 27 Nov [IPR]: The sacred relics of Sakyamuni Buddha and other enlightened masters are being exhibited at Tsuklakhang Monastery in Gangtok for a week. These sacred relics arrived in Gangtok on 19 November and the exposition and darshan of these sacred relics started from 20 November and will conclude on 01 December.
Some of the relics include those of Sakyamuni Buddha, Guru Rinpoche, Buddha’s disciples, handwritten script of Khando Yeshe Tsogyal, Milarepa, first and sixteenth Karmapas, Terma relics, sky relics and many more.
The public can take blessings of the relics from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. till 01 December, 2013.

Cultural programme for differently abled in Namchi

NAMCHI, 27 Nov: A cultural programme for the differently abled was organised today here at Central Park, Namchi, South Sikkim.
The programme was organized by North East Zone Cultural Center (NEZCC), Dimapur in collaboration with Cultural Affairs & Heritage Department, Government of Sikkim.
Chairman Tea Board Gagan Rai, ADC(S), Anil Prakash Rai, Amley Aho Research Officer NEZCC and his group, Councilors of NMC and the officers from the Culture and Heritage department were present at the programme.
Musicians and dancers presented cultural performances and entertained the huge gathering at Central Park. On the occasion the Sikkim traditional Yak dance was also performed by the Culture department which was followed by the traditional dances of different communities of Sikkim.

Jagadish Sharma [Officer on Special Duty of the Cultural Affairs & Heritage department] said that our youth today need to be aware of their culture and traditions and these cultural programmes aim to do just that.
The programme is for the differently abled but it also aims to promote and spread awareness on culture among the masses and to help in preserving and protecting vanishing cultural legacies, he added.
It is a combined effort with the NEZCC to spread awareness on Sikkim’s culture and also to give a platform to many talents of Sikkim to perform. It is due to the policy and good governance of the state government of Sikkim that such a programme is being organized, said Mr Sharma.

Similarly, Mr. Sharma also informed that they had also organized a cultural programme by women on Tuesday at Upper Salghari under Zoom-Salghari Constituency. He informed that there are many forms of folk dance in Sikkim which are performed only by women and which are vanishing from our society.

Sikkim Police celebrates 117th raising day

GANGTOK, 27 Nov: Sikkim Police celebrated its 117th Raising Day at the Sikkim Police Headquarters today by donating blood, inauguration of Sikkim Police Cafeteria and holding a musical programme cum Band display at MG Marg in the evening.
The day’s programme started with a blood donation camp held at the police headquarters, where around 40 police personnel of the State Reserve Lines and some senior police officers including Dr MS Tuli [DIG, Range] and Prawin Gurung [senior SP, Lines] donated blood. Doctors from the Blood Bank, STNM Hospital were present to oversee the blood donation camp.
The blood donation camp was followed by the inauguration of the cafeteria/canteen at the premises of police headquarters by the DGP, Jasbir Singh, while also present were other senior police officers for the inauguration. The cafeteria has been built at a cost of Rs. 17 lakh.
The cafeteria with all modern facilities is basically meant for police personnel who have to work during odd hours and also for extended periods of time. The menu of the canteen takes care of all tastes. For the lower subordinate officers the canteen will provide fixed meal at the minimum possible rate of Rs.40 per meal.
The DGP then formally dedicated the Subsidiary Police Canteen located at the police headquarters [the facility established recently under the aegis of the Central Police Forces Canteen, Government of India] to all serving and retired members of the force and their families.
Under the scheme the canteen is providing all basic consumer goods and other household items at cheaper rates that is about 30% to 40% cheaper than the market rates. It is similar to the facility being provided by the Indian Army through CSD canteens. This facility is also being extended to State Armed Police and India Reserve Battalion in various locations.
To mark the occasion the Sikkim Police Band organized an entertainment programme for the general public and tourists at MG Marg from 4.30 p.m.

Border Trade closes today for this season

GANGTOK, 27 Nov: Trade over the Nathula border will close on 28 November this year. As per the communication received from Commerce and Industries Department, Government of Sikkim, the Indo-China Border Trade through Nathula was scheduled to close on 30 November. However, since 30 November is a non-trading day, trade will close on 28 November which is a trading day.

Mahila Patrakars urge Govt to conduct annual study tour

GANGTOK, 27 Nov: Sikkim Mahila Patrakar Sangh has expressed hope that the state government will conduct the annual study tour for women journalists of Sikkim this year as well.
In a press release issue today, the Sangh has stated that every year the government sponsors a study tour for women journalists and the lessons learnt during the tour are published in their annual souvenir ‘Sikkim Shree’. This year too, we hope that the state government will send women journalists on this study tour, the release states.
The Sangh has further expressed hope that the government will also distribute laptops to journalists which would help develop rural reporting in the state.

South farmers taken on exposure trip to Pune

GANGTOK, 27 Nov: A 4-day Training cum Exposure Visit on Integrated Organic Farming System was completed successfully by 15 farmers of Sadam, Phongla and Subin Khor of South District. The training cum exposure visit was held from 15 to 18 November at Institute of Natural Organic Agriculture [INORA] in Pune.
Tashi Gyatso Bhutia [village extension worker] was the officer in-charge deputed by the State Organic Mission, informs a press release issued by the officer in-charge.
The training cum exposure visit was funded by the State Organic Mission and consisted of lectures, discussions, demonstrations, practical and field visits based on the latest techniques in the field of organic farming where the farmers were enriched with new ideas and knowledge about the methods of farming in every aspect, the release adds.
The farmers wholeheartedly thanked the vision of the Chief Minister and also the State Organic Mission for giving them a chance to be a part of the training cum exposure visit, it is stated.

Explain Stands

Editorial:-
Elections are approaching and even though the fever is yet to catch on among the voters, electioneering, as in campaign engineering, is very much underway. Soon, there is going to be confusion galore in the public domain and the electorate is going to get pulled along caste and community divides, the easiest fault lines to tweak when politicians find themselves short on time and issues. The violence and communal elbowing is already in the air and there is also a profusion of claims, allegations, counter-allegations and promises. What Sikkim does not have yet, and has not experienced in past elections either, are coherent arguments debated by responsible and intelligent voices which clearly delineate parties on clear ideological stands on different issues. Now is the time for the voters to demand that their aspiring representatives for Elections 2014 come clean on exactly where they stand and why. Get the correction fluid out, the “where” is frequently announced because irrespective of the camp or party, all politics and politicians in Sikkim are about protecting Old Laws, respecting Article 371F and securing benefits for Sikkim Subjects. Recent mixes to this are the OBC aspirations and Schedule Tribe seat reservation. It is interesting that all parties espouse full commitment to these issues. They also accuse each other with same passion of not being serious in their commitment to these issues and insist that they remain true. Accept it, this is lazy politics. No party, ‘national’ parties included, in Sikkim will admit to anything but the complete support for protection of Old Laws and related aspects. So that should not even figure in public discourses unless they are going to explain their stands [the ‘whys’] beyond their ‘commitment’ to the sanctity of Article 371F of the Constitution. Leaders need to credit the electorate with more intelligence and explain their stands and solutions in more detail. Say for example the Companies Act and the confusion over it. Every party, including the ruling party, is against the repeal of the Sikkim Registration of Companies Act of 1961. They all want it protected because it is an Old Law. What no party of leader has explained is how and why an Act of 52 year vintage is better than an Act drafted in 2013. Shouldn’t they? And there is the seat reservation issue for the Limboos and Tamangs by virtue of their having become Scheduled Tribes. Every party says it will deliver these seats, none [save the State Government] has shared how. Sikkim’s Old Laws, Article 371F and the Sikkim Subject Certificates are emotional issues for all Sikkimese and it is easy to play on their emotions on these matters. It is time that the people demanded clearer explanations from its leaders and aspirants on these issues and tested their understanding of these matters beyond the customary emotional support. The run up to the elections allow the people to make these queries. They should not waste the chance.
As mentioned, the “where” about positions on these emotional issues is clear, it is the justification for that position which needs to be explained, and now [this period till elections are officially announced] is the best time for voters to seek details. As elections draw even closer, parties will split and re-form, allies will come together and part ways and confusion will reign after the tickets are announced. Once that stage is reached, coherence will get even more muddled. People need to convey to politicians that they have had enough of readymade inferences, claims and claims to having solutions; such speeches mock the intelligence of the masses. Too often, the people have been served “issues” by politicians in Sikkim; it is time that the people discussed and conveyed what really matters to them and what “issue” they want the aspirants to debate in the next elections…

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Expedite laptop distribution process, SUSA urges

GANGTOK, 26 Nov: The Sikkim United Students Association [SUSA] held a meeting here today during which various issues concerning students were discussed. The meeting was chaired by SUSA president, Meghraj Chettri, it is informed.
During the meet, the drive started by the State government of distributing free laptops to students from Class XI to college level was welcomed as a good initiative. But the students of South Sikkim are yet to gain from this initiative, states a press release issued by the SUSA president. There are still a lot of schools in East, West and South Sikkim who are yet to receive the laptops, he adds.
The students informed SUSA that the term of the 3rd year students of the colleges will be ending on 12 December this year and it would not be fair if they did not get laptops by that time, the release adds.
SUSA has requested the government to provide laptops to remaining students as soon as possible.

SLYA campaigns for Primitive Tribe job reservation

GANGTOK, 26 Nov: The first phase of the Interaction and Revival Tour of District Branches and Village Level branches of the Sikkim Lepcha Youth Association [SLYA], Central Executive Committee concluded on 24 November.
A press release informs that two teams comprising of SLYA president Ongden Tsh. Lepcha and vice president Passang Dorjee Lepcha visited the West District, South District and some parts of East District.
The main agenda of the programme was a signature campaign for equal reservation in government jobs for the Lepcha youth in the state. The Lepcha youth from the village level want the government to provide equal opportunity to Lepchas in government jobs as they are far behind as compared to other communities of Sikkim, the release states.
They have urged the government to consider this long pending demand of the Association.
The Lepcha youths of Sikkim particularly from the rural areas are dissatisfied with the HRDD for not implementing the 5% reservation for Primitive Tribes in higher studies this year even after the Chief Minister had declared it last year, the release mentions.
During the tour the executive body of the village level branches was also formed. SLYA nominated Phup Tshering Lepcha as president and Nim Tshering Lepcha as general secretary of Rhenock branch, Dong Tshering Lepcha as president and Jabina Lepcha as general secretary of Daramdin branch, Budup Lepcha as president and Nimkit Lepcha as general secretary of Dentam-Gitang branch, Chentheo Dorjee Lepcha as president and Norchoo Lepcha as general secretary of Namthang-Palitam branch.
The Sikkim Lepcha Youth Association CEC has also appealed to all the Lepcha youth of Sikkim to come forward and help the Association in this signature campaign which has to be completed by mid-December 2013.
The Association further appeals to all the Rong aspirants to send their wards who are appearing for the Board examination next year for the Winter Coaching Class provided by the Association at T.N.S.S. School. The enrollment forms will be issued till 10 December.
The two-month coaching will start from 15 December. BPL students from other communities are also welcome. Applicants of the Lepcha community will have to show their Primitive Tribe certificate for enrollment.
The Association’s second and last phase of the Tour will resume from the first week of December in the North and East District, the release adds.

District level SDF party meeting held in Mangan

MANGAN, 26 Nov: Sikkim Democratic Front [SDF] held a meeting of its party workers in North District here at the Party office in Mangan on 25 November. The meeting was chaired by party vice president In-charge, Hishey Lachungpa and was also attended by area MLA Dzongu, Sonam Gyatso Lepcha, area MLA Kabi-Lungtsok, TT Bhutia, Zilla Adhakshya North, Anguli Lepcha and general secretary ASDLF, Norjang Lepcha.
During the meeting it was decided that all the constituency level, block level and ward level offices should function every day from 9 am to 5 pm. District presidents and district committee members shall supervise all CLC, BLC, and WLC members and mobilise them for party activities.
All CEC of respective constituencies shall go to the constituency, block and ward level party office regularly.  District committee members including conveners,  vice convener youth and Cheli in their respective wards shall visit ward level, block level and constituency level offices twice in a month and hold co-ordination meetings with the committee members and general public and submit grievances to the head office.  
It was also decided to expedite the formation of Block Development Committee in all the constituencies as per the notification of RMDD.  The meeting further decided to open remaining party offices in all wards of the district.
The function was welcomed by Khamsoong Lepcha [North district president] and the programme was conducted by general secretary North district, Hangu Tshering Bhutia.
Also present in the meeting were CEC members, CLC, BLC, WLC, zilla and panchayat members and the party workers.

SC gives Govt time till 05 Dec to respond to lathicharge enquiry report

GANGTOK, 26 Nov: The Supreme Court today allowed time till 05 December to the state government to file its reply to the petition filed by Sikkim Krantikari Morcha against the State and IGP Akshay Sachdeva in the case regarding the lathicharge at the SKM headquarters in February this year.
SKM members informed that the state had sought a month’s time to reply to the report of the inquiry commission but the court, according to them, has allowed time only till 05 December when the matter is due to come up again.

Sharad Pawar to inaugurate NE conferences in Gangtok, tour Sikkim

GANGTOK, 26 Nov [IPR]: Union Minister of Agriculture and Food Processing Industries, Sharad Pawar, is scheduled to be in Sikkim from 27 November to 01 December 2013.
During his stay here, he will be inaugurating the conference of the Agriculture and Horticulture Ministers of North Eastern States at Chintan Bhawan, Gangtok on 28 November 2013.
On 29 November the Union Minister will be presiding over the Conference of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries Ministers of North Eastern States at Chintan Bhawan, Gangtok. The programme on both the days will start at 10 am. During his visit the Union Minister will also be visiting the College of Agriculture Engineering, Marchak, East Sikkim and Temi Tea Estate, South Sikkim on 30 November.
This conference of the Agriculture and Horticulture Ministers of North Eastern States is an annual event in the agriculture calendar of the country, held with the main objective to discuss important issues related to development of agriculture, horticulture, animal husbandry and allied activities in the Northeast region. This is the highest platform to formulate agriculture policies for the Northeast.
A very high level delegation from the Department of Agriculture, Horticulture, Animal Husbandry and Cooperation, Government of India headed by the Agriculture Minister shall be attending the conference. The Northeastern states shall be represented by their respective Ministers accompanied by departmental delegations.
The states will be presenting their respective achievements in both agriculture and horticulture sector vis-à-vis investments, projecting growth trends. Also, the burning issues needing immediate attention will also feature during the deliberations.

Be Political, Not Violent

Editorial:-
Political violence had abated in the past few months and then the West Sikkim incident happened on Sunday night and reared again on Monday. But when one says abated, one is speaking only of direct physical violence because as far as vicious verbal duels go, the hostilities had only escalated as politicking grew more frenetic and desperate.
It goes without saying that violence should not be condoned, and every time anyone oversteps civilized limits of exchange, there should be immediate and unequivocal censure from all sides. One must bear in mind that political violence should find no place in any society because it strikes at the very core of the democratic process sabotaging the possibility for the coexistence of different political ideologies. The moment violence is resorted to to ‘settle’ differences of opinion, dialogue is abandoned and the people suffer. Political violence invariably engages party workers and hardcore supporters, and that makes the whole exercise futile because political support cannot be beaten out of party workers; if anything, assaults will only make established positions stronger. What political violence then ends up achieving is denying people access to voices other than the ones which have muscled into their vicinity. Political differences should not lead to violent confrontations, that no one can have an issue with, but that is also, sadly, how politics plays out in the country. But Sikkim can try and be different and one way of achieving this would be for the lay people to find a collective voice of condemnation of all political violence. At present, only political parties, and that too only the ones involved in the skirmish, comment on such incidents. When everyone else withholds comment, it suggests that either the incident was minor or the assault justified. It’s never so when it comes to political violence because beyond the physical injuries sustained, the acts are more about outshouting opponents and denying people access to choice. People and their social organizations need to hence step up and speak out against violence, demanding all aspirants to behave better and ensure peace. It should not be about deciding who drew first blood or who instigated individual incidents because that will only draw new lines of confrontation. The law should take its own proverbial course, but as far as the people are concerned they should demand that politics become more civil.
People tend to look at political violence as individual incidents, and while it is true that individual lapses of reason lead to conflict, it is the nature of political debate which set supporters up for violence. Political speeches are rarely anymore about vision and ideology and increasing about allegations of how debased and immoral the other side is. This sets supporters up for conflict because it shoulders them with the task of saving the people. Convinced of their own righteousness, they will not tolerate counter arguments and see “oppressors and detractors” in everyone signed up for the ‘other side’ and when such convictions rule, teaching a lesson to the other camp and challenges become automatic responses and violence follows. The process for more civilized forms of disagreement and debate will have to begin with people conveying clearly to leaders and aspirants to speak about themselves and their political ideologies instead of running down others and thereby painting targets on opponents. This engaged in the politicking, which only become more passionate as elections draw closer, need to be told that political violence is not only unacceptable, but also abhorrent not just to democracy but to the idea of human rights itself.

Spices Board holds demo for electric cardamom dryer

MANGAN, 26 Nov: The Spices Board conducted a display and demonstration of a mechanical dryer developed exclusively for Sikkim’s large cardamom by Chennai-based Kardi Dryer Pvt Ltd.
The demonstration was conducted at ICRI, Spices Board farm at Pangthang in East Sikkim from 24-28 November.
This mechanical dryer helps to retain colour and maintain consistent quality which helps fetch better prices for the large cardamom.  This dryer is fully automatic and can be run by only one operator.  It requires electricity and can also run on fuel [diesel, kerosene, LPG or firewood].
The said machine can dry 200 kg of large cardamom at a time. The State Horticulture Officers from Sikkim headed by Principal Director Horticulture, DK Rai, Additional Director Horticulture, GP Chawan, along with officials from Spices Board visited the display and demonstration centre at Pangthang today.   KM Manikandan, MD Kardi Dryer explained about the operation of the dryer.
The demonstration will also be held in Kalimpong, Darjeeling District of West Bengal from 29 Nov - 01 Dec. A brief training on operating the machine was also provided to department officials by the company.

Bodybuilders win two bronze medals at Mr. Eastern India c’ship REBYNA RANA

GANGTOK, 26 Nov: Two bodybuilders from Sikkim State Bodybuilding Association [SSBA] have returned with two bronze medals from the 11th Mr. Eastern India Bodybuilding & 4th Women Fitness Championship 2013 held on 22-23 November 2013 at Rourkela, Odisha.
The championship was organized by the Odisha Body Building & Fitness Association where more than 100 participants from the nation participated. Two SSBA members, Pema Dorjee Bhutia [70 above kg], who’s also the Mr. Sikkim [2009] and Llyod Hazarika [70 kg] participated in the championship. The team was led by Team Manager cum national level judge, IB Gurung along with Coach cum national level judge, Sunil Gurung.
“It wasn’t easy at all to compete with such strong contestants who had come from different parts of the nation but I gave my best and am happy with my performance,” said Pema Dorjee Bhutia during a press conference held here in the capital today.
“This is my seventh time at the championship where I have won silver and bronze medals four times. I hope to win gold in the upcoming championships and make the state as well as SSBA proud”, he stated.
Chief State Coach [SSBBA], IB Gurung, said that he is satisfied with the performance of the state’s body builders. He expressed gratitude to the public of Sikkim for their support. Coach Sunil Gurung also addressed the gathering today.
An SSBA team is all set to participate in the All India Federation Cup 2014 slated to be held in the month of February 2014 at Midnapur, Kolkata.