Saturday, January 18, 2014

Sikkim networks at India International Travel & Tourism Exhibition

GANGTOK, 17 Jan: Tourism Minister Bhim Dhungel joined the Sikkim Tourism team at the India International Travel & Tourism Exhibition (IITT) being held from 16-18 January at the MMRDA Exhibition Center at the Bandra Kurla Complex, Mumbai. The event is being jointly organized by Asian Business Exhibition & Conferences Ltd and ITE Group PLC and is being supported by the Union Tourism Ministry.
The event is aimed at facilitating networking among domestic and international buyers and giant corporate houses of the travel industry and also to provide a platform for the exhibitors to showcase their services and products to their counterparts across India and the overseas.
In his address, the Minister highlighted the various achievements and programmes of the state in the tourism sector.
“Tourism in Sikkim is the major engine of economic development and Sikkim has grown a lot. We have over 500 registered travel agencies and about 350 registered hotels,” an official press communiqué quotes Mr Dhungel as stating.
He thanked the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India for its support and guidance in setting up the Indian Himalayan Center for Adventure & Eco Tourism and various other projects. The Minister ended his address by inviting all to visit Sikkim.
He also reminded the audience of the lavish endorsement received recently by Sikkim from Lonely Planet.
“Sikkim needs no introduction as for the past number of years it has been winning numerous awards in tourism and has also been voted as the number 1 place to visit in 2014 by the Lonely Planet. The travel advisory of the Lonely Planet has said, ‘Sikkim has set new benchmarks for responsible travel in the country.’ It cited Sikkim’s record in India’s cleanest state and its sustainable community – based tourism in less developed areas,” he detailed.
Apart from the exhibition, IITT 2014 features knowledge seminars on key industry issues, expert perspectives and highlight the challenges of the tourism industry. The event also offers avenues to interact and build relationships for future businesses for the rapidly evolving Indian travel and tourism market in terms of inbound, outbound and domestic travel.

Sikkim Karatekas to take part in Senior Nationals

GANGTOK, 17 Jan: Sikkim State Karate-Do Association [SSKA] players will be representing the state in the Senior National Karate Championship 2014 to be held at Talkotara Indoor Stadium, New Delhi from 24 to 26 January. The state team under the guidance of SSKA general secretary cum chief technical director, Bidhan Ballav Subba will be leaving this Sunday for the tournament.
An SSKA press release informs that 6 men and 5 women are all set to represent the state in the Kumite [fight]. The men’s team has Milan Rai [50 kgs], Buddha Bir Mangar [55 kgs], Sonam Lepcha [60 kgs], Bijoy Gurung [60 kgs], Bhim Bahadur Subba [74 kgs] and Nabin Rai [81 kgs], while the women’s team comprises of Mandira Karki [45 kgs], Dina Rai [50 kgs], Smita Rai [55 kgs], Geeta Karki [60 kgs] and Hem Kumari Rai [68 kgs]. It is informed that Bijoy Gurung and Smita Rai will also be taking part in Kata event in their respective weight categories.
Nine members of SSKA are facing referee and judges examinations, it is added. The state team has undergone a month-long camp under Mr Subba at Paljor Stadium to prepare for the tournament.
The selected Karatekas in the tournament will qualify for the upcoming 35th National Games scheduled to be held in Kerala this year, the release adds.

PADDLERS IN TRAINING IN NAMCHI

NAMCHI, 17 Jan: The winter coaching camp started here at the Indoor Stadium on 16 January. Organised by the Namchi Table Tennis Association [NTTA], the camp has received participation from 18 upcoming Table Tennis talents from different parts of the district. The participating players will be trained by Coach Rupesh Lama during this 22-day camp.

SKM woos drivers

GANGTOK, 17 Jan: The Sikkim Krantikari Morcha [SKM] will now address those in the driving profession as ‘Guruji’ said the party president, PS Tamang [Golay] while addressing a rally at Soreng-Chakung constituency on Thursday.
An SKM release alleges that the ruling party has failed to address problems of drivers in the state and fulfill the Chief Minister’s promise of making every driver a vehicle owner.
SKM will provide admission in good schools for the wards of ‘Gurujis’, the release promises. Life insurance for drivers, 50 percent reduction in license fee and token tax and reduction in vehicle registration fee are some of the other benefits that SKM has promised.
The party has also questioned why High Security Registration Plates [HSRP] costs Rs 2000 in Sikkim as compared to only Rs 500 in neighbouring West Bengal.

SDF sets up new party office at 5th Mile Tadong

GANGTOK, 17 Jan: A new SDF party office was inaugurated at 5th Mile Tadong here under the Upper Tadong constituency, Ward No. 13, today. Party vice president, DT Lepcha, inaugurated the party office in the presence of Lok Sabha MP, PD Rai, area MLA DB Thapa, Deputy Mayor Shakti Singh, East district party president JK Bhandari, Ward Councilors Prabhat Gurung and Bhasker Basnet, party members, workers and supporters and the public.
DT Lepcha, as the chief guest for the function reiterated that 2014 General Elections is a definite win for the SDF party. “Contesting the election will be like renewing a license, as the SDF party will definitely win,” he said.
He thanked BM Rai for giving space in his house for the party office and also congratulated the public of the area for the new office.
The MP, Mr. Rai, in his brief address stated that the SDF government has been striving towards building a secure future for the Sikkimese. Highlighting that the state has developed substantially in all these years, he expressed hope that all will benefit equally from these developments.
Adding that peace and development have prevailed in the state until now, Mr Rai appealed to all to help maintain the same. He also called on everybody to stay united and make SDF victorious in the upcoming elections.
The function was also addressed by Cheli Morcha Convener, Karma Ongmu and President (East), JK Bhandari. Earlier, DB Thapa delivered the welcome address, while the vote of thanks was given by Ashit Rai.

SCPCR at national convention on RTE

GANGTOK, 17 Jan: A two-day national convention on the progress of the Rights to Education [RTE] was organized by National Commission for Protection of Child Rights in collaboration with UNICEF on 14-15 January 2014 at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi.
The Convention was inaugurated by Minister for Women and Children Development Department, Government of India, Krishna Tirath.
A press release informs that the objective of holding the convention was to review the implementation of RTE Act 2009; identify the challenges encountered during the implementation and suggest time bound corrective measures; and to enable sharing of successful practices and experiences from the field. The Convention was attended by Chairpersons and Members of SCPCR of different states, officials and experts.
The Convention deliberated on various issues like need to strengthen public system to make education system most successful throughout the nation, build and enhance the capacity of Headmasters and Headmistress and teachers through training, etc.
Sikkim, SCPCR was also invited to attend and participate in the National Convention which was attended by Chairperson, Manita Pradhan and Members Yangchen Ladingpa, Nim Chuki Bhutia and Karma Chuki Bhutia, it is informed.
In sharing the best practices in Sikkim, the Chairperson Ms Pradhan briefed the convention about setting up of Residential Special Training Centre at District Level in co-ordination with local NGOs to cater to out-of-school children; Introduction of modern subjects i.e Mathematics, English and Science in Monastic Schools; interaction between the Chief Minister and parents and children on various educational issues.

As a whole, the government of Sikkim has put much stress on the education sector even before the enforcement of RTE Act and after the enforcement of the Act the State is in full compliance with the RTE Rules, informed the Chairperson. 

One arrested for raping minor

GANGTOK, 17 Jan: One person has been arrested by the Sadar police for sexually assaulting a 4-year-old girl on 16 January. The victim was rushed to the emergency ward of the STNM Hospital and it was the medical officer on duty there who informed the police of the crime.

The accused, 47 year old Rajdev Sahani, presently residing at DPH Road, Gangtok, is also informed to have forcibly fed alcohol to the victim. He was later picked up by the police. The accused has been charged under section 376 IPC which is for the crime of rape and also under section 511 IPC which is punishment for offences punishable with life imprisonment. 

MLA inaugurates GPU level party office in Kitam-Manpur

NAMCHI, 17 Jan: The Sikkim Democratic Front today opened a GPU level party office at Kitam-Manpur Gram Panchayat Unit of Melli constituency. Area MLA Tulshi Devi Rai inaugurated the new party office accompanied by organization secretary Avinash Yakha, and the party’s South District general secretary cum In-charge RN Rai.
Addressing the occasion, the MLA urged party workers to use the party office to carry out welfare works for the people of the area following the programmes and policies of the party. She said that the SDF government in Sikkim has fulfilled all the basic needs of the people and the state as a whole is moving in the right direction.
“Now it is time for people of Sikkim and every party worker to give back and support the party for all it has achieved till now,” she added.
On the opposition, the MLA said that they will not be successful and SDF will win the upcoming elections as well. Stating that the SDF was a party that has clear principles and beliefs, she alleged that a group in the opposition is trying to mislead the public.
Organization secretary Avinash Yakha in his address said that SKM has no policies or programmes for the people of Sikkim and their only aim is to take revenge and blackmail the ruling government. He alleged that the SKM party is being run by outsiders and added that if it comes to power then the future of Sikkim will be at stake. He urged all the people of Sikkim to think properly before extending support to SKM.
The function was also addressed South District general secretary cum In-charge RN Rai and Zilla Panchayat KN Pradhan. The function was also attended by Panchayat President Ganesh Rai, Administrative Secretary Balvir Tamang, CEC and the CLC members and huge number of party supporters from Kitam Manpur GPU.

Fire guts kutcha house

GANGTOK, 17 Jan: Fire gutted a kutcha house at Bojoghari here yesterday. The incident took place late in the afternoon of 16 January. The kutcha house situated at Penlong Fatak near Navey Shotak Monastic School was occupied by Hasta Man Subba and Manoj Rai. No one was injured in the fire which completed burnt down the house. It is suspected that short circuit of the electrical wiring caused the fire.

Labourer falls to death

GANGTOK, 17 Jan: 20-year-old Rabiul Haque, engaged as a labourer at a building construction site in Sichey fell to his death from the seventh storey on 16 January. It is not clear as to how he fell and as per police reports, no foul play is suspected.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Kagyu Menlom concludes in Bodhgaya - WANGCHUK BHUTIA


BODHGAYA, 16 Jan:  The 31st Kagyu Menlom which had started on 04 January concluded today here at Terger Monastery in Bodhgaya in Bihar. The prayers saw the participation of more than 8,000 monks and 20,000 devotees from India and abroad. The Menlom was led by Karmapa Ugen Trinley Dorje along with eminent Rinpoches from different monasteries.
From 04 to 06 January, the Karmapa gave talks on ‘The Torch of Certainty’ and various other topics related to Buddhism. Between 07-10 January, prayers for the Embodiment of the Three Jewels were held.
The Karmapa also oversaw the display of an immense 30-foot, appliqué thangka of Guru Rinpoche. In the thanka, Guru Rinpoche is holding a vajra and skull cup, is surrounded by Yeshe Tsogyal, Mandarava, and the Guru's eight manifestations, all of which figure in the practice text of the Tsechu and the lama dance which was performed on the final day of the Tsechu, the tenth of the month.
From 11 to 16 January, prayers for world peace and well being of all sentient beings was conducted as a part of Menlom.
The venue for the Kagyu Menlom this year was shifted to Terger Monastery due to space constraints at the Mahabodhi Stupa premises, Tashi D Lharisang [Secretary, Karma Shree Nalanda Institute Rumtek] informs.

TIGHT SECURITY IN PLACE AT MAHABODHI TEMPLE

Elaborate security arrangements are now in place at the Mahabodhi temple complex in Bodhgaya, Bihar, following the serial blasts at the temple last year. As part of the security arrangements now, mobile phones and cameras are prohibited within the temple premises.

Congress pushes ‘Karmapa to Sikkim’ proposal at Centre

GANGTOK, 16 Jan: Will the 17th Karmapa, Orgyen Trinley Dorje, finally be allowed into Sikkim? There have been several attempts to get the central government to allow the 17th Karmapa into Sikkim, both by the State Government and the monk fraternity here, and the latest effort is by the State Congress unit to get their central leadership to allow the spiritual leader into the state. Following this, the Congress high command, it is informed, has okayed the proposal put up by the state Congress and placed the matter before the government of India. As a senior Congress leader informed, the matter is to be brought before the Union Cabinet for final approval.  
“The Sikkim Pradesh Congress Committee has put up a strong representation before the Congress high command on the matter of allowing His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa into Sikkim. They have said that it is the aspiration of the people of Sikkim to see the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, Orgyen Trinley Dorje in Sikkim. The party high command is seized of the matter especially as it is the aspiration of the Sikkimese people. It has been put up to the government of India which will take a final decision on the matter considering the aspirations of the Sikkimese people. I cannot say the time frame within which the decision of GoI will be taken or when the 17thGyalwang Karmapa will visit Sikkim”, stated Luizinhi Faleiro, AICC member in-charge of Sikkim, while speaking to NOW!
He did however add that Rumtek could not be included in the list of places to be visited by the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa as there was a court case underway on the matter. When contacted last, a Cabinet memo was informed to be in the process of preparation on the matter, it is informed.
“There was a Congress chief ministers’ meeting in the last week of December, 2013 in New Delhi where all 12 Congress chief ministers were present including the Home Minister, Finance Minister and Sonia Gandhi. Later, the meeting took up discussions on the Karmapa and our request to allow him to Sikkim. The discussion went on for an hour and finally all including the Home Minister agreed to allow him to visit Sikkim,” informs senior State Congress leader, Anil Lachenpa.
With all hassles seemingly cleared, there is now only the procedure of the proposal being passed by the central cabinet.
It was reportedly submitted before the Congress high command that both Rumtek and Ravangla could be kept out of the tour programme.  Rumtek, as it was still mired in a legal battle over the trusteeship of the 16th Karmapa’s properties and Ravangla, as it is the seat of Gyaltshap Rinpoche, one of the trustees. However Gyaltshab Rinpoche could meet with the Karmapa in any of the other places he is proposed to visit.

Jorethang Maghey Mela concludes

JORETHANG, 16 Jan: The three-day Jorethang Maghey Mela 2014 was declared officially closed by the Speaker, Sikkim Legislative Assembly, KT Gyaltsen. He was present as the chief guest of the valedictory function held today here at the public ground, Jorethang. Speaker Mr. Gyaltsen was given a warm welcome by the mela organizing committee. He also visited the departmental stalls and the traditional huts.
The main attraction of the closing day was the final of the ongoing Inter-Constituency Football Tournament 2014 which was played between the teams of Daramdin and Yangthang constituency. The match ended in a draw and Daramdin won the match in the tie-breaker.
The winning team was awarded cash prize of Rs. 30,000 and a trophy while the runner-up team received 20,000 and a trophy.
With this official closing of the mela, all the departmental stalls have been closed while the Saras fair will continue till 23 January. River rafting, Tambola, paragliding and the wholesale stalls will continue at the river bank of Rangeet.
As usual, thousands of visitors from different corners of the state as well from outside visited the Jorethang mela this year.
While talking to this correspondent, area MLA cum Chief Patron of the Mela Organizing committee Madan Cintury said that, the mela at Jorethang this year was a big success. On behalf of the organizing committee, he thanked the Governor Shriniwas Patil and Chief Minister Pawan Chamling for visiting the mela.
General secretary of the Organizing Committee, Kamal Chettri thanked all those who contributed in making the mela a success.
The draw of the postponed raffle of All India Chief Minister’s Gold Cup Football Tournament 2013 was also held today in the presence of SDM Jorethang, Tenzing D Denzongpa, OC Jorethang PS, PI Sonam Wangdi and SE RMDD, Kewal Sharma.
In the evening, Indian Idol 4 finalist Saurabhi rocked the stage marking the closing of the three-day Maghey Mela at Jorethang while local artists also shared the stage.
The closing ceremony today was also attended by In-Charge Jorethang constituency and also the political advisor to the Chief Minister, KN Rai, Tenzi Sherpa and government officials.

SPCC congratulates Sikkim RTI Forum

GANGTOK, 16 Jan: Sikkim Pradesh Congress Committee [SPCC] has congratulated Sikkim RTI Forum and its workers for “exposing” corruption in the state government by using the Right to Information Act 2005.
In a press release, the party has lauded the Forum’s work in the case of illegal domiciles and other corruption cases in the state. It has added that government documents procured through the RTI Act by the forum proves that there is huge corruption in the state government and that the general public is being duped by the state.

NASBO demands apology from CM

GANGTOK, 16 Jan: National Sikkimese Bhutia Organization [NASBO] has demanded an apology from the Chief Minister, Pawan Chamling for what it has termed a “gross act of callousness” and an attempt to “belittle” Buddhist tradition and culture.
In a press release issued today, NASBO president Sonam Lama Kaleon has accused the Chief Minister of misusing his power during the consecration ceremony of Ngadag Monastery at Namchi, South Sikkim by occupying the “high throne” [Jyu Thri], a seat reserved for monks. He states that other than monks only the Chogyal can sit on the Jyu Thri. Even the Choyin Jindag (benefactor of dharma) sits lower than junior monks attending the ceremony, he adds.
He has further demanded the resignation of Mr. Chamling and the Secretary, Department of Ecclesiastical Affairs for hurting the sentiments of Buddhists across the world.

Jain Sadhvis in Gangtok

GANGTOK, 16 Jan: As part of the ongoing 100th birth anniversary celebration of Acharya Shri Tulsiji, the disciples of Acharya Maha Pragyaji, Sadhvi Pramila Kumariji along with three associates reached Gangtok today.
A press release informs that the group walked to Sikkim as per their normal practice and were welcomed by the Jain community here. They will be staying in Gangtok for three to four days, during which they will preach about Jainism especially the teachings of Lord Mahavira.
It is informed that during the preaching they will also be elaborating on ‘Anubrat’ where ‘Anu’ means atom and ‘brat’ means to obey. ‘Anubrat’ seeks to enhance the quality of one’s day-to-day life, it is added.

Rotary Club hands over Pulse Polio IEC materials to Health Deptt

GANGTOK, 16 Jan: The handing over ceremony of Information, Education and Communication [IEC] materials for the upcoming Pulse Polio Immunization Programme [19 to 21 January and 23 to 25 February] by the Rotary Club of Gangtok to the State Health Department was held at the European conference hall of the STNM Hospital today.
Present for the programme were Dr Yogesh Verma [Medical Superintendent, STNM Hospital], Dr PM Pradhan [Mission Director, NRHM], Dr Phumsay Denzongpa [Joint Director, Immunization], Dr Praveen Somani [President, Rotary Club of Gangtok] and members of Rotary Club of Gangtok.
Speaking about the Pulse Polio Immunization Programme, Dr Phumsay Denzongpa [Joint Director, Immunization] informed that the last case of polio in India was reported in the month of January, 2010 and then in February, 2012 the World Health Organization [WHO] removed the name of India from the list of countries still having polio cases. In March, this year the South East Asian Countries Commission will be stamping its seal making India a polio free country, after a span of three years of the last case reported from the said country, she added.
Since there are some polio free countries that have reported cases of polio re-infection after being declared polio free countries the Government of India is taking all the necessary steps to eradicate polio completely, she said and added that due to budget constraints regarding the programme, the Rotary Club of Gangtok had been helping the Health Department with providing IEC materials for the past many years. This, she added had helped in the promotion and success of the programme immensely.
Dr Yogesh Verma [Medical Superintendent, STNM Hospital] informed that after the success of the pulse polio programme in the Philippines, the Rotary Club had taken it up as a challenge to eradicate polio completely in India and this, he stated had been possible with the help of the Government of India, WHO and other such organizations making India a polio free country for which India will be receiving certification within a span of three years.
The programme will begin on 19 January [Pulse Polio Sunday] where children between the age of 0 to 05 years will be given the two pulse polio drops at the 850 plus polio booths which will be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. all over the state and then the next two days [20 and 21 January] where house-to-house activities will be done to ensure that no children have been left out, especially new born, sick or handicapped children who could not come to the booth for their polio drops, he said and added that this would be done again on 23 to 25 February.
Dr PM Pradhan [Mission Director, NRHM] informed that the Health Minister had held a meeting recently where he had congratulated all the doctors and people involved in the Pulse Polio Immunization Programme. It has been more than a decade since a polio virus case was reported in Sikkim, he said and added that it has been over three years that India has been declared a polio free country.
In the end he thanked Rotary Club for their endless support not only for providing IEC materials for the pulse polio programme but also for providing good support in various other health related issues.
Dr Praveen Somani [President, Rotary Club of Gangtok] informed that Rotary Club has been helping out with IEC materials for the children for the past several years. He further requested the media fraternity to propagate the message about the pulse polio programme so that every child in the state of Sikkim is immunized.
The Rotary Club has supplied 200 Aprons, 200 caps for children, 850 plus banners and 10,000 whistles for children as IEC materials for the pulse polio programme to the State Health Department.

Father accuses in-laws of setting son on fire

VICTIM SUCCUMBS TO INJURIES, RECORDS DYING STATEMENT
GANGTOK, 16 Jan: Pankaj Verma, rushed to hospital with 80% burn injuries late last night, succumbed to his injuries at the Central Referral Hospital here today. Before he breathed his last, he is reported to have recorded his statement with the Magistrate.
The incident, it may be recalled, transpired late Wednesday evening in Tadong here in the home of the in-laws of the victim. Four other persons sustained burn injuries on their hands, it is further informed.
Uday Pratap Verma, the father of the deceased is now alleging that his son was set on fire by his in-laws who first conspired to bring him over to their house. The deceased, it is alleged, was estranged from his wife and in-laws for the past one year.
The deceased, his father contends, met his in-laws at the Ranipool Maghey Mela earlier in the day and was invited over to their home in the evening. The father maintains that it was then they poured kerosene on him and set him alight. He further maintains that this was also detailed by his son in how statement to the Magistrate.
The father adds that his son’s father in-law had beaten him up and ransacked his rented home in Ranipool last year as well, an incident which is currently under trial.
He adds that no one from the in-laws family informed him about the incident and that it was the police which contacted him last night after his son was admitted into hospital.

More than 10,000 expected to participate in State Agri-Horti Show 2014

GANGTOK, 16 Jan: More than 10,000 participants are expected in the State Agri-Horti Show 2014 to be held at Saramsa Garden on 18 and 19 January. The two-day state-level agricultural and horticultural show is scheduled to be inaugurated by the Chief Minister Pawan Chamling on 18 January at 10 AM.
This was informed during a press conference today at Krishi Bhawan conference hall, which was addressed by Food Security & Agriculture Development Principal Director-cum-Secretary, PT Bhutia and Horticulture and Cash Crop Development Principal Director-cum-Secretary, DK Rai and other officials.
It is informed that around 8000 progressive farmers along with Panchayats, researchers and scientists from different organizations, government officials, entrepreneurs, general public, traders and representatives from different companies associated with agriculture, seed and equipment dealers and tourists as well are expected to participate in the show.
It is further informed that the estimated budget for the show is around Rs 80 lakh to be pooled from the Centrally Sponsored Schemes [CSS] and other resources.
The main objective of the two-day event is to showcase the horticulture and agriculture potential and achievements of the state and to demonstrate new concepts and technology for adoption. The show also seeks to provide a platform for local farmers to exhibit their skills and excellence, to inculcate the spirit of peer competition for enhanced growth and to educate various stakeholders associated with agri-horticulture sectors.
The event will have a competition section for potted Cymbidium Orchids and other types of cut flowers and also in vegetables and fruits. The exhibition section will have various farm produce including organic foods and bamboo crafts, tools, farm machinery, modern types of farm equipments, new concepts and technology and etc. Conference sessions and awareness programmes will also be part of the event.
On the inaugural day, 10 progressive farmers will be felicitated by the organizing committee. It is informed that a total of Rs 11.43 lakh of prize money will be given away in the competition sections of the show. There are 119 stalls for different competition sections and 60 stalls for firms and companies of national level to display their products.
The valedictory function will have the Agriculture & Horticulture Minister as the chief guest, while area MLA, BB Rai will be the guest of honor on 19 January.

Sikkim RTI Forum accuses STCS of misappropriation in sourcing of GCI sheets

GANGTOK, 15 Jan: Sikkim RTI Forum has alleged misappropriation of public funds to the tune of Rs. 3 crores in the procurement of GCI sheets by the State Trading Corporation of Sikkim [STCS]. The Forum has further alleged that “every rule and law related to supply ad open bidding were bent down by the STCS just to make way for corruption of public money”.
Addressing a press conference today, Sikkim RTI Forum general secretary, DK Chettri, informed that the STCS had called a tender for supply of 1,92,000 pieces of galvanized GCI sheets on 12 June 2013, but that without even opening the Tender documents, the STCS placed the supply order immediately with one Vinod Enterprises [on 19/06/ 2013] at the rate of Rs 754.62 per sheet [weighing 9.1 kg].
The Forum goes on to contend that when the tender submissions were opened, a Gangtok-based supplier [JP Enterprises] was the lowest bidder quoting Rs. 639 per sheet and on 30/07/2013 the STCS sent an approval letter confirming that JP Enterprises was the lowest bidder and asked the supplier to send acceptance letter for the rate it quoted.
Following the same, JP Enterprises sent the acceptance letter to the STCS, it is informed.
While releasing documents received through an RTI application filed at STCS and other sources supporting their allegations, Mr. Chettri alleged that JP Enterprises never received the supply order from the STCS despite being the legally qualified supplier according to tender.
He went on to point out that by giving a supply order for Rs 754.62 per sheet to Vinod Enterprises against the rate of Rs 639 quoted by JP Enterprises, a loss to the tune of Rs 2.21 crores was caused to the State exchequer.
He went on to allege that the GCI sheets supplied were also not up to the standard specified in the supply order. He added that the against an order made for GCI sheet of 9.1 kg per sheet weight, the supplied sheets were 500 grams lighter causing a loss of Rs 42 per sheet amounting to Rs 80 lakh.

Rs. 20 cr Ngadak Monastery dedicated to Sikkim

NAMCHI, 15 Jan [IPR]: The ‘Ngadak Thupten Shedup Dhargay Choeling Gompa’ was inaugurated here today by Chief Minister Pawan Chamling in the presence of the Taklung Tsetrul Rimpoche, the head of the Nyingmapa sect of Tibetan Buddhism, who performed the “Rapney” [consecration ceremony] of the new monastery constructed at a cost of a little over Rs. 20 crores.
The older monastery also stands at the same complex, preserved and maintained in its original form. The Chief Minister was accompanied to the inauguration by his wife, Mrs Tika Maya Chamling, his Cabinet colleagues, senior government officials and other guests.
It may be recalled that the Chief Minister had laid the foundation stone for the new monastery on 20 May 2007.
The Ngadak Chyangter Gompa is located in Ghurpishey a short distance above Namchi bazaar and has been taken up under the South East Asian Regional Buddhist Cultural, Traditional and Heritage Study Centre in the form of a project which has been initiated and conceived by the State Government to incorporate this Monastery as a museum and a centre for learning and preservation of Buddhist Culture, Tradition and Heritage.
In this context, the Ngadak Monastery has become another historic Buddhist institution to be added to the list of other prominent religious tourist spots like the statue of Guru Padmasambhava at Samdrupste nearby, Char Dham at Solophok and Buddha Park at Rabongla in the South District.
The history of Ngadak Monastery is interesting, seeped in the era of monarchial system in Sikkim as well as foundation of Buddhist here.
It must be mentioned here that the original monastery has not been torn down and still stands here for the visitors to see with everything, including all the old features persevered and intact. For the present, the State government has put up metal props around the old structure of Ngadak Chyangter Monastery because of its fragile and dilapidated state after the earthquake of 1989 which rendered the monastery unsafe, adding upon the centuries old architect and materials used which consist of timber beams and post framework.
This old monastery is a two storied structure with the ground floor having stone and mud flooring and the first floor has timber planks and mud with husk in between the floor and ceiling.
As per the technical details presented by the Chief Engineer, Buildings & Housing Department, Rinzing Dorjee, the total cost of the project till date has been revised to Rs. 2,076.79 lakhs owing to the additional works of the project.
The notable features of the new monastery include the “yabring” in the foreground of the monastery; intricate traditional carvings on the wood and concrete, paintings, religious decorations in the exteriors of the monastery; and most importantly are the huge statues of three eyed Guru Rigzin Thongdup, Chenrezig and Guru Dorjee Dakpo Chal (Yap Yum) crafted at the site and installed in the Altar said to be rarest and important combination of divine statues.
The main monastery has a plinth area of 48,300 sq ft. The project was completed with the collaboration of various teams like Ecclesiastical Department, Buildings & Housing Department and Ngadak Duchi Committee. Artisans from Nepal, Bhutan and Sikkim were engaged in the project.
The vision of the Chief Minister in undertaking such ambitious projects was accentuated in his public address today. He shared that in the days to come, he hopes to make Sikkim the Pilgrimage and Religious Destination for people of all faiths and religions and from all walks of life. A part of this vision materialized today and took another step forward with the inauguration of the Ngadak Gompa.
“In the near future, Sikkim will become a place of worship for all people in the world with the ongoing pace of creation of holy places and monuments here,” the Chief Minister said in his inaugural address. He further stated that this monastery was dedicated to the people of Sikkim in its materialized form and congratulated them upon its official opening.
This monument has not been constructed merely in the form of a monastery but as a monument to preserve and protect the culture, heritage and custom of Buddhism, the Chief Minister underlined.
He added that the monastery will become a study centre for learning the language, history, literature and spiritual aspect of Buddhism for all enthusiasts. It has always been the aim of the state government that whenever a religious place or a monument is created for any community, all the necessary aspects are respected, conserved and protected giving them timeless form, underlined the Chief Minister.
The CM went on to comment that physical comfort given by materialistic development was not sufficient to achieve complete development in human lives and highlighted that spiritual development was more important to achieve inner peace and overall progress.
Religion should bring about purity not only in the minds of the people but on all other parts of the society and even to Politics, he said.
The CM highlighted that one of the most important achievements of the present government has been the maintenance of peace and tranquility in the state.
Informing the people of various other upcoming and ongoing projects of religious significance, he went on to recall that during the term of the present government, there has been the maximum development of religious places and protection of all the communities in the state. In this regard, he mentioned the ongoing Ropeway project in Namchi to Samdrupste which would elevate the tourism prospects of Samdrupste even more.
He informed the youth of the State government’s initiative to provide vehicle loan support for them to service and benefit from the tourism boom and further informed of other government’s financial aid for them in the business related to hotels/ fast food, horticulture, dairy/poultry farming and related sectors.
The state government will undertake all initiatives to strengthen and encourage the youth of Sikkim, emphasized the Chief Minister. He urged the people to live in peace and harmony and come together with the patriotic sentiment to safeguard the peace and tranquility of the state.
The Chief Minister was felicitated today by the Ngadak Duchi Committee for his support and initiative in the construction of the new monastery. Other officials, engineers, workers, Monks involved in the project were also felicitated by the Chief Minister.
The inaugural ceremony was also attended by Speaker KT Gyalsten, Chief Secretary R Ongmu, Ministers DN Thakarpa and Tilu Gurung, a host of other official dignitaries, religious delegates, and members of Ngadak Dichu Committee.

Rai Brothers lift Tiger-5 cup in Namcheybong

GANGTOK, 15 Jan: ‘Rai Brothers’ emerged victorious in the finals decided through penalty kicks to lift the Winter Soccer Tiger-5 tournament organized by Nagbeli Pragati Sangh at the Namcheybong public ground. The tournament attracted the participation of 40 teams from the Pakyong sub-division and was played from 25 December 2013 to 13 January 2014.
The final match was played on Monday between Rai Brotehrs and ‘Marcus’, a press release from the organizers informs. The final day had Kuber Rai, executive member of the Sikkim Democratic Front as chief guest accompanied by Deena Rai, Panchayat President and Salina Subba, member of Namcheybong GPU, as guests of honour.

Maghey Mela at Jorethang

Jorethang, 14 Jan: Chief Minister Pawan Chamling inaugurated the Maghey Mela here on Tuesday. The CM also inaugurated the 5th Saras Mela organized by Sikkim Rural Development Agency and visited the stalls hosted as part of this fair. Through the day, the Chief Minister also attended the traditional cultural programme presented as part of the inaugural function. Interestingly, although the CM completed the inaugural formalities and stayed at the venue for a better part of the special function, he did not address the gathering yesterday.
Meanwhile, the main attraction of the inaugural function was the exhibition football match between the Nepal XI girls team and the Sikkim XI Girls squad. The Sikkim Girls emerged victorious 2-0.
Also during the inaugural function, the CM released a book, “Bhanu Smarika-2013”.
Later in the evening, artists from Jorethang-based Prabal Sangeet Sansthan along with other local artists took the stage and put up an entertaining performance.  
This three-day long traditional cum cultural festival will be showcasing colorful cultural events, will include an inter-constituency rural sports festival (football boys) along with stalls put up by government departments and SHGs, and traditional huts. Also arranged as part of the Maghey Mela here are paragliding, river rafting, tambola and a Mini Mela.
The CM was accompanied to the inauguration by Lok Sabha MP PD Rai, Chief Whip Ugen Gyatso, his Cabinet colleagues and HoDs.

KVK-West organizes health checkup for farmers

GANGTOK, 15 Jan: Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Gyaba Gyalshing, West Sikkim, organized a health awareness and checkup programme at Karthok in West Sikkim for farmers. The programme was organized under the NABARD-sponsored Integrated Tribal Development Project, an official press release informs.
The inaugural function was chaired by UK Sharma, Zilla Panchayat member  of Timburbong-Karthok and was also attended by Panchayat President and all members of the GPU, Dr. Laxuman Sharma, Programme Coordinator of KVK-Gyalshing, Dr. Biren Subba of Soreng PHC, Bhison Pradhan, Dr. Rinchen Ongmoo and Tulasha Sharma of KVK, staff of Soreng PHC and more than 100 farmers with their families, the release details.
The function was addressed by Passang Lepcha, member of the Farmers Club, who presented the feedback on the project being implemented by KVK and also proposed to form JLG and SHG comprising members exclusively from the Lepcha community.
Dr. Sharma of KVK highlighted the different components of the project and briefed the gathering on the activities taken up and the future strategies of the tribal development project in the village. Dr. Biren Subba in turn spoke on the common diseases prevailing in the villages of Sikkim and appealed to all farmers to frankly discuss health problems during the health check up.
UK Shama, the chief guest, thanked the KVK fraternity for conducting the programme in the village and stressed on the need for health education. He also credited the able leadership of Minister RB Subba, the area MLA, for his efforts to support such programmes. The programme ended with vote of thanks by Panchayat President Bhudhi Maya Lepcha.
The health checkup was taken by around 100 farmers and an awareness programme was also held for women on childcare.

Sikkim farmers attend Assam Intl Agri-Horti Show

GANGTOK, 15 Jan: Horticulture & Cash Crop Development Department, along with women farmers of Lower Diu, South Sikkim, participated in the first Assam International Agri-Horticulture Show 2014 held at Guwahati, Assam, from 08 to 11 January 2014.
The team was led by Addl. Director Horticulture, DK Bhandari and HDO, South, D. Bhujel, a press release informs.
The international Agri-Horti Show saw the participation of representatives from China, Italy, Holland, Israel, Laos, and farmer groups all the northeastern states and National ICAR Institutes.
The Horticulture Department of Sikkim received a large number of international and national visitors who showed keen interest in it, the release adds.
The women farmers from Lower Diu expressed gratitude towards the Chief Minister of Sikkim and the HCCD Department for the exposure tour, the release adds.

In a welcome first, Governor visits Jorethang’s Maghey Mela

 
JORETHANG, 15 Jan: Governor Shriniwas Patil was here today as the chief guest of the second day of the Maghey Mela celebrations. With this gesture, Mr. Patil has become the first Governor of Sikkim to attend the famous Maghey Mela of Jorethang. The Governor was accorded a warm traditional welcome this morning, as much in keeping with the hospitality record of Maghey Mela here as in celebration of the significance of the maiden gubernatorial visit to the festival.
The Governor also visited the different handloom and handcrafts stalls and interacted with members of the different Self Help Groups participating at the Saras Mela being held here alongside the Maghey Mela.
Addressing the function later, the Governor remarked that Sikkim was a blessed land with nature as its greatest resource which must be saved and preserved.
Apart from its abundant environment, the Governor also commended the State and its people for the communal harmony maintained here and reiterated the need for people and communities to continue living in amity and work together to preserve and nurture traditions and culture.
The Governor also watched the semifinal match of the Inter Constituency Rural Sports Festival football tournament 2014.
The first semifinal was played in between Zoom Salghari and Yangthang constituencies. Winning 2-0, Yangthang became the first team through to the finals. The second semifinal was played between Melli and Daramdin constituencies. Daramdin won 1-0.
The Governor also visited the different traditional food stalls and tasted different food items on offer there. He was escorted by the area MLA Madan Cintury, Political Secretary to the CM, the SDF’s Zoom-Salghari in-charge KN Rai and other officials.  
Later in the evening, the musical band of Ravangla’s ‘9 Bikas’ entertained the people.

Board exam coaching by Bhutia Kay-Rab progressing well

GANGTOK, 15 Jan: Coaching classes arranged by the Bhutia Kay-Rab Yargay Tshogpo at Gangtok for students taking the Board exams in March are now halfway through. The coaching classes had begun on 21 December and are being taken by 140 students from all four district of the State.
A press release of the organization informs that the coaching classes are progressing well covering all the subjects of class X and PCM and English for class XII. Students are happy and satisfied with the teaching and accommodation facilities, the release adds.
“It is the moral obligation of BKYT central body to apprise all members of the association about the ongoing coaching class,” the release explains, adding that the teachers attending to the students are doing a very impressive job.
BKYT has also extended its gratitude towards the Rajya Sabha MP, Hissey Lachungpa, Minister Thinley Tshering Bhutia and all well wishers “for their moral and some financial support including commodities for the noble cause”.
It is informed that besides teaching, extracurricular activities and culture-related programmes are also being held to encourage the students to learn and appreciate the culture of the Bhutia community.
Meanwhile, the BKYT members have also deeply condoled the passing away of the South district president of the BKYT, SW Bhutia, Head Lama Language Teacher, stating the sudden death was shocking and big loss to Bhutia community.

Handloom training begins in Dalapchen

GANGTOK, 15 Jan: A three-month long capacity building training programme on Rari/ Lukuni/ Handloom weaving sponsored by Department of Border Management under Border Area Development Programme was inaugurated at Dalapchen by MK Rai, Panchayat Secretary, Dalapchen GPU here on 13 Jan. The training programme is being implemented by the Directorate of Handicrafts & Handloom.
The inaugural programme was also attended by other Panchayat members of the of Dalapchen GPU, local gentry and public of the area, an official press release informs.
Addressing the gathering, the chief guest urged the trainees to strive and become self-reliant through their new skills and also thanked the Department and government for organizing such training in their area for the upliftment of the womenfolk of the area.
Jigme Pintso Bhutia, Assistant Director, DHH, informed the weavers and gathering about the programme and the different schemes and programmes being formulated by the central government for the benefit of weavers.

Army Day celebrated

GANGTOK, 15 Jan: The 66th Army Day was celebrated by Black Cat Division here on 14 and 15 January with Maj Gen YVK Mohan, GOC Black Cat Division, laying a wreath on the memorial at the Hasimara Military Station in memory of the martyrs of Indian Army, a press release informs.
Army Day is celebrated to commemorate the ‘Taking over the Reins’ of the Indian Army by an Indian General in Independent India. It was on this momentous day in 1948 that General (later Field Marshal) KM Cariappa became the first Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army when he took over from General Roy Butcher.






CM chairs coordination meet with HoDs, reviews work, reiterates pending tasks

GANGTOK, 13 Jan [IPR]: Chief Minister Pawan Chamling chaired the coordination meeting of all Heads of Government Departments here at Chintan Bhawan today. The Chief Minister reviewed the status of works carried out as a follow-up of the last coordination meeting held on 18 June, 2013. The Chief Minister laid down issues that need urgent intervention from all Departments, and also made a series of important announcements.
After reviewing the progress of work stipulated in the last meeting, the Chief Minister made the following reiterations:
1) Databank of employees of all Government Departments to be prepared on priority basis.
2) Officers of the level of Special Secretary and above to invariably visit the Districts once in two months.
3) Salary of Namchi Blind School employees to be immediately dispatched.
4) 17,000 unemployed youth to be imparted skill training within two years.
5) Need to render adequate publicity to the Helpline created for mitigation of issues like crime, rape, suicides and any unlawful activities in the State.
6) Adequate training to Lines-men working in Power Department for aversion of any accident.
7) Immediate construction of Village Level Workers'(VLW) Quarters. Issues like land acquisition to be dealt with effectively.
8) About the goal of the Government towards making Sikkim a total Organic State by 2015, the Chief Minister informed that the State has achieved 100% organic certification. This, he said, should be complimented with adequate awareness to the people, especially the farming community, for sustenance of the Mission.
9) The Chief Minister recalled a directive issued two years back to the Forest Department for the supply of substantial quantity of timber to the RM&DD for construction of houses under CMRHM and REDRH. He called for immediate compliance.
The Chief Minister further laid down a list of deliverables:
1) He announced the dates for Janata Mela to be held in all the District Headquarters; 31 January in Mangan, 02 February in Gangtok, 04 February in Namchi, and 06 February in Gyalshing.  In this connection, he directed concerned departments like RM&DD, Agriculture and Animal Husbandry, Horticulture, SIDICO and SAABCO to ensure availability of all required materials, sanction list, grant in the form of schemes and cheques to be handed over to the beneficiaries. He made a special mention of grant of vehicles to beneficiaries considering the upsurge of tourism industry in the State.
2) Tourism loans should give more impetus to individuals establishing tourism-related amenities. Also, preference to be given to activities like poultry, dairy farming, floriculture and agriculture.
3) He directed the UD&HD Department to regularise all unauthorised houses especially in areas like Rongli, Rangpo, Nayabazar and Rorathang within the month of January.
4) He directed the Power Department and RM&DD to facilitate electricity and water supply schemes in villages which have been completely left out.
5) The Chief Minister issued a directive to the Forest Department to use the timber from the road widening for implementation of schemes like REDRH and CMRHM. He also directed for the establishment of a saw mill each in Melli, Legship and Ravangla for supply of timber to RM&DD for timely implementation of the Rural Housing Schemes.
6) He called for urgent action to regularise all ad-hoc employees who have served for 10 years and above. He added that the Government has already regularised employees who served for 15-20 years.
7) He directed the HRDD to remove all bottle-necks related to posting and transfer of teachers in all schools, timely supply of books and uniforms before the beginning of the next session. He was loud and clear in his directive that all problems related to the above issues be redressed within the month of January.
8) The Chief Minister also called for timely up-gradation of schools.
9) The Chief Minister directed the DOP to carry out promotions, transfers and other staffing related to work on priority basis.
10) He urged the concerned department to tap any shortage of food and essential commodities before and during the upcoming elections.
11) He also urged the concerned department to use State quotas for food grains like wheat very judiciously.
12) The Chief Minister directed the Police Department to increase police cover in sensitive areas and be vigilant about any peace-thwarting elements operating from within the State.
13) He directed the Power Department to make all the water fountains functional.
14) He directed the DOP to remove issues related to variation in pay structure of employees of different categories before the initiation of the 6th Pay Commission.
15) He further directed the DOP to remove the Assured Career Progression Scheme, and expedite the process of employee regularization in a few departments like IPR and HRDD.
16) The Chief Minister called on the HODs to come out with suggestions to improve the administrative setup for a more advanced and transparent system of functioning, with impetus on accountability and responsibility among the subordinates. He also stressed on the need to improve e-governance and power decentralization at the level of the GVK.
17) He called for making annual recruitment drive mandatory for filling up vacancies.

In the course of the meeting, the Chief Minister also made a few important announcements:
1) 50 units free electricity to rural household would be increased to 100 units w.e.f. 1st April 2014.
2) Grant of financial assistance to Government College students to be revived w.e.f. 1st April 2014.It may be mentioned here that the scheme had been discontinued for a brief period.
3) 75% subsidy will be given to any educated unemployed youth to start a business. The relaxation in subsidy will extend to areas like driving licence, environmental clearance etc.
4) Mabong Singyang GVK, currently under Chakung West Sikkim, be shifted to Soreng for public convenience.
5) BPL category people seeking medical treatment should be granted a one-time advance grant of 2 lakhs. Any expenditure above this amount should be reimbursed subsequently.
6) Admission rate to schools should be 100% and drop-out rate should be brought down to 0%.
7) The Chief Minister accorded in-principle approval for the construction of a Football Academy at Rangpo Mining Ground, Mazitar, East Sikkim. He stated that the ground does not have the required facilities for a cricket ground and hence suggested for the football academy.
The meeting had the presence of Chief Secretary, R. Ongmu, DGP, Heads of Departments, DCs and SPs from all Districts.

Cervical cancer vaccination launch postponed

GANGTOK, 13 Jan: The state government has postponed its vaccination programme against cervical cancer till further notice. The vaccination drive was scheduled to begin on 16 January.
In an official statement issued today, the Health Department has stated that the launch of the Rs. 36 crore Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccination project has been postponed to allow for more time to create awareness and educate the general public about its efficacy and usefulness.
Sikkim Krantikari Morcha had registered its protest against the vaccination project stating that the efficacy of the HPV vaccines is yet to be proven and pointing out that a Public Interest Litigation has been filed in the Supreme Court against the use of these vaccines.
Addressing a press conference today, SKM members Dr. Michung Bhutia and Pavitra Bhandari warned of a state-wide protest if the government goes ahead with the HPV vaccination programme. The duo informed that health activists Kalpana Mehta and Dr. V. Rukmini Rao had filed a complaint with the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) chairperson Kushal Singh on 11 January requesting her to enquire into the matter and ask the Sikkim Health Department to withhold the vaccination drive.
In the letter, Ms. Mehta and Dr Rao have said, ‘‘Without investigation into safety and efficacy of these vaccines in the Indian context such a step is premature and could prove to be a health hazard. There is no hurry to vaccinate girls as the vaccine will not have any consequence to their health for 30 years as this vaccination if successful will only prevent cervical cancer when these girls reach late forties”.
They have also requested the NCPCR to investigate how this programme got administrative and financial sanction in Sikkim.
Stating that these vaccines were licensed in India without proper procedure, the complainants had also requested the Health Ministry to get a premier investigating agency to enquire into the matter.
The two SKM members also presented a copy of a letter from the Union Health Ministry written to the Secretary, Health department, Sikkim on 05 December giving details about the Indian Council of Medical Research’s advice regarding the vaccination scheme. In the letter, Dr. Sudhir Gupta, the Additional Deputy Director General of the Health Ministry has stated that “the ministry is not currently supporting introduction of HPV vaccine in public health programmes”.

Taklung Tsetrul Rinpoche arrives in South Sikkim

HEAD OF NYINGMAPA SECT TO LEAD CONSECRATION PRAYERS FOR NGADAK MONASTERY
NAMCHI, 13 Jan: Taklung Tsetrul Rinpoche (Simla Rinpoche), head of the Nyingmapa sect arrived at Namchi helipad at Assangthang this morning. He is scheduled to conduct the Rapney [prayers] at the newly constructed Ngadak Gumpa at Upper Ghurpisey, Namchi on 14 January.
The new Ngadak Gumpa will be officially inaugurated by the Chief Minister Pawan Chamling on 15 January in an official function. Phurpa Wang will be distributed on 24 January 2014 at the Gumpa premises.
Today, the Rinpoche was given a warm welcome here at Assangthang Helipad by the monks and devotees. Representing the Sikkim Government, Sangha MLA, Phituk Tshering Lama escorted the Rinpoche from Bagdogra airport while he was received at the Namchi helipad by MLA Namchi-Singithang, Binod Rai.

Rorathang Maghey Mela marches strong on revival mode

GANGTOK, 13 Jan: The third edition of Rorathang Maghe Mela 2014 started today with numerous cultural performances by local and guest groups along with traditional food stalls, Meena Mela and other activities at the river bank of Rorathang in East Sikkim.
Speaking to media persons today, the organizing committee president, Deo Kumar Pradhan said that the people of the surrounding areas led by the area MLA came forward to revive this Mela in 2012. The main idea behind this was to bring back the charm of this Mela and to connect it with tourism activities to create more opportunities for local people.
This year, the five-day mela includes performance by various local and guest artists and groups. The venue also has traditional food stalls along with stalls by the health department, JICA and Fire Department Pakyong. There is also the Lingey Ping and Meena Mela.
The first day saw performances by Fauda Singh of Dooars along with Chorus Band of Siliguri and other local artists; while the second day will have performance by Indrajit Mizar and other guests and the third day will have Lok Dohori by groups from Nepal.

Governor and CM’s greetings on Maghe Sankranti

GANGTOK, 13 Jan: The Governor of Sikkim, Shriniwas Patil and the First lady of Sikkim, Rajanidevi Patil have extended their warm greetings to the people of Sikkim on the occasion of Maghe Sankranti.
As per a press release, the Governor has said, “The celebration of Maghe Sankranti marks the end of the month of Poush, and the beginning of the month of Magh of the Bikram Samvat Nepali Calendar. It heralds the reawakening of hope and progress in our lives.
May this festival help our people and community to come together to strengthen unity in diversity. Let it bring a new ray of hope and dimensions in their lives.”
The Chief Minister Pawan Chamling and Mrs. Tika Maya Chamling have also extended their warm greetings and best wishes to the people of Sikkim on the occasion of Maghe Sankranti.

Hishey urges people to preserve heritage, celebrate Sikkim

GANGTOK, 13 Jan: Rajya Sabha MP, Hishey Lachungpa, today urged the people of Sikkim to preserve and promote their cultural heritage and traditions. Mr. Lachungpa was speaking as the chief guest of the inaugural function of Rorathang Maghey Mela 2014 at the river bank of Rorathang in East Sikkim.
In his address, Mr Lachungpa further suggested to connect the Maghey Mela with different tourism activities to make it a popular tourism festival in the state. He added that such activities would help to promote the whole area as a tourism hub.
Stating that the whole valley has immense potential in tourism, he urged the people to take advantage of various tourism opportunities. The state government has prioritized the tourism sector in the state to provide maximum benefits to the people of the state, he added.
While speaking about the opposition Mr Lachungpa said, “SDF is not worried about the upcoming elections as we will come back with a clean sweep. Our focus is on carrying on the work we have started and fulfilling the pending demands of the people”.
The opposition parties go to the people only during elections and instead of listening to them people should prepare a blueprint of the developmental works required in their respective areas, he added.
Sikkim Democratic Front vice-president, KB Chamling, who was present as the guest of honour, said that the Rorathang Maghey Mela was the most popular and oldest Mela in the state but after the flood of 1968, things changed. He congratulated the area MLA and people of the area for reviving the Mela from 2012.
Tourism Minister, Bhim Dhungel, who is also the area MLA, informed that this was the third year of the Mela since its revival and more than 30,000 people have been coming each year.
The inaugural function concluded with the vote of thanks by the president of the organizing committee, Deo Kumar Pradhan.

Mangan councilors and PHE staff conduct joint inspection of Mangan water source

MANGAN, 12 Jan: On 11 January, the Mangan Nagar Panchayat president, Karma Jigdal Bhutia, and Councilor PK Malu, accompanied by Junior Engineer of PHE Department and staff of Mangan district inspected the Khamsing Dara and Ringhim water reservoir sites to try and work towards resolving the water scarcity problem being faced by Mangan bazaar since December last year.
It was found that water levels at the reservoir were slightly low but still enough to meet the demand of Mangan bazaar. Therefore, the field staff were directed to check water supply connections and solve the problem at the earliest.
PHE water supply pipelines and RCC water tanks are old and damaged starting from the Kalaow area up to Mangan bazaar and need immediate maintenance work. In view of this, President MNP suggested that the engineers of the department should conduct proper survey and submit a report to higher authorities for approval.
It was also informed that, the department is facing a shortage of field staffs (fitters) and one control room needs to be set up near Khamsing Dara so that at least one field staff can stay there to ensure proper service. The new RCC water tank situated above Mangan Post Office which was completed in 2008 is still not functional. Department engineers deliberated on making this water tank functional at the earliest.
Another water supply project was started at Rabom under Kalaow ward and the area had good water supply, but the supply pipelines were damaged in the earthquake of September 2011. The MNP President suggested that repair works should be initiated to meet the increasing demands.

Hip-hop returns with ‘Vengeance Revolver’ - REBYNA RANA

GANGTOK, 12 Jan: Starting in the 70s, hip-hop music peaked during the 90s and was then gradually overtaken by pop and rock in the popularity charts. With some new hip-hop artists starting to make an impact in the music scene in neighbouring Nepal of late, the genre seems to be regaining lost ground here as well.
While Urban Inc and Bosing are the better known names in hip-hop here in Sikkim, there are not many bands or hip-hop groups as compared to the number of rock or metal bands. So here is some good news for hip-hop fans, a group of class 12 students of Tashi Namgyal Senior Secondary School [TNSSS] have formed a new hip-hop band ‘Vengeance Revolver’.
The band consists of 6 members- Ashish Gurung [Manager], Dilly Pandey, Devendra Pandey, Jenistar Rai, Johanan Lepcha and Subham Tamang. The band was formed in the month of September last year.
While talking to NOW!, Manager, Ashish Gurung said that the band members had always been big hip-hop fans especially Eminem. “It was a long cherished dream to start our own hip-hop band and we are super happy that it has finally come through”, he added.
The band believes in creating original music and is in the process of bringing out their first album. The album titled ‘The Mix Tape’ will have 6 songs and is expected to be launched sometime later this year. Since all the band members are busy preparing for their class 12 board examinations, they will complete the album after the exams are over.
Vengeance Revolver gave its first performance during the awareness program on HIV/AIDS organized by All Sikkim Students Association held at TNSS School, recently. They also released their first single ‘Make it happen’ recently.
The young band hopes to make it big someday and all the members have thanked their parents for supporting their love for making music.

SDF sounds poll campaign bugle with youth meet at Makha

MAKHA, 12 Jan: Chief Whip, area MLA [Tumin-Lingee], Ugen T Gyatso Bhutia, today announced the commencement of 2014 general election campaign by the ruling SDF party for 2014. He urged the youth to work tirelessly for the party for the next 2-3 months leading up to the elections.
Mr. Bhutia was addressing a handsome gathering at Makha, East Sikkim under Tumin-Lingee constituency. Attacking the opposition, he called them opportunists and accused them of misguiding the youth of the state.
“They have a single point agenda- to grab power even if it requires exploiting and misleading the people,” he alleged.
He asked party youth to help the party win the upcoming elections. “It becomes the duty of our youth to guide those who are being misled and misguided by a bunch of opportunists who call themselves the Opposition,” he added.
The programme held today at Makha was the first youth meet of Tumin Lingee constituency. Also present today were KN Rai, Political Secretary of Chief Minister, Urban and Housing Minister, DB Thapa, MLA, Singtam Khamdong, Am Prasad Sharma, party vice president DT Lepcha, senior party leaders JK Bhandari, Lakila Tongden, Rudra Khatiwara and others.
The Chief Whip further termed those who are misusing social media as “fools”.
“We do not have time to think and talk about those who have left the party for not getting a cabinet berth. SDF has worked hard beyond caste, creed, religion in its 20-year rule and will hold its fort”, said Mr Gyatso.
He went on to inform about the development of infrastructure worth crores coming up at Tumin Lingee. He expressed his concern over opposition from some people against mega projects like “Jantra-Mantra-Tantra” and “Ramayan Basti” in the constituency.
Chief guest, KN Rai in his address criticized the Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM) party and its announcement of providing employment to 30,000 youth if it came to power.
“SKM can provide employment only in drug trade, torching vehicles and pelting stones”, he countered. He said that SDF has consistently defeated opportunists in the past and this year too it will emerge victorious in the elections.
The youth meet also saw colourful cultural presentations by various groups from in and outside the state.

Govt re-issues SPICL order to arrange state share of 26% equity in hydel projects

GANGTOK, 12 Jan: The state government has re-issued the notification constituting the Sikkim Power Investment Corporation (SPICL). This was constituted for investing the state government equity in the private hydroelectric projects.
When contacted, the Power Secretary explained that the SPICL had been put up as a vehicle to get investments into the power projects; this is because the state government cannot do this directly. These funds or investments are procured from financial institutions by the SPICL and infused in the hydel projects under Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode.
The primary responsibility of the SPICL, it is informed, is to arrange for the state share of 26% equity which it is required to infuse in all the hydel projects under PPP mode. Only last year did it manage to put in its 26% equity into the Teesta Stage III.
Apart from arranging for funds, the corporation is also to ensure that these investments give healthy returns later. In fact it is this latter aspect which is critical to the finances and revenue of the state government. As in the case of Lanco Teesta Stage VI, as informed, this equity will be put in by the state only after the project is commissioned.
The board of directors consists of the Development Commissioner as chairperson; Secretaries Finance and Power departments as Directors with the Power Secretary also to function as the Managing Director.
The Chief Engineers, (Electrical) South/West and North of the Power Department along with the Director, (Accounts), Finance, have been appointed as subscribers to the Memorandum of Association and Articles of Association of the SPICL on behalf of the government. They have been designated as such as per the Registration of Companies Act, Sikkim 1961.

3D art and Sikkim artist at intl art camp in Assam

GANGTOK, 12 Jan: Artist Dhiraj Pradhan represented Sikkim in an international art camp held in Guwahati, Assam recently.
A press release informs that Kala Samannayaa 2014, the international art camp cum festival was organized by the Aesthetic Guwahati Organisation from 03-08 January in Shilp Gram, Guwahati.
“It was a great experience as it was my first international art camp. We learnt about installation and 3D art. We were also created public art on the streets which was well appreciated,” said Mr Pradhan speaking about his experience.
He hopes that his participation will open doors to other local artists to participate in international art camps.
Altogether 38 artists from Sikkim, New Delhi, Gujarat, West Bengal, Hyderabad, Odisha, Bangalore, Madhya Pradesh, Assam, London, Serbia, Slovakia, Thailand and Bangladesh participated in the camp. These artists were selected from around 20,000 entries to participate in the camp.

Sikkim karatekas bag 13 medals at International C’ship

GANGTOK, 12 Jan: Sikkim’s karatekas have bagged 13 medals at the recently held 4th Open International karate championship in Kolkata. Nine karatekas from Sikkim had participated in this tournament and have returned with a rich haul of 6 gold, 4 silver and 3 bronze medals, informs a press release. The team was led by coach Shihan Kulahari Rai.
Binam Gurung won 4 gold medals while Kojal Thapa and Bishnu Rai bagged a gold medal each in different categories. Tenzing Chopel Bhutia, Tarun Chettri and Bishnu Maya Subba bagged silver medals. Anil Chettri, Babina Subba and Pravesh Pradhan won bronze medals.
The release mentions that all the players have thanked their coach Shihan Kulahari Rai for the opportunity to participate in this tournament. They have also thanked their trainer Binam Gurung, it is added.

Jorethang prepped for Maghey Mela 2014

JORETHANG, 12 Jan: The biggest extravaganza of the New Year in South Sikkim is all set to kick off here at the border town of Jorethang. The still popular Jorethang Maghey Mela is scheduled to be inaugurated by Chief Minister Pawan Chamling on 14 January. The three-day festival will continue till 16 January 2014.
While the main venue of the mela will be on the river bank, events will be held at Jorethang playground as well. Chief patron of the mela organizing committee, the area MLA [Zoom-Salghari], Madan Cintury, said that more than one lakh visitors are expected to visit Jorethang mela every day through the fest.
He further informed that all the departmental stalls, SHG stalls, Saras Mela and the traditional huts have been given space at the main bazaar area while other commercial stalls have been allotted their sites at the river bank.
Besides the colourful cultural events, other attractions like paragliding, river rafting, tambola, inter-constituency rural sports festival (football boys) are going to add more glitter to the mela this year, he added.
The inaugural day on 14 January will also feature an exhibition football match between the girl teams of Nepal and Sikkim while both the semi-finals of the ongoing football tournament under inter-constituency rural sports festival will be held on 15 January. The final match will be played on 16 January 2014, he added.
As a large number of visitors are expected, security has been tightened in the town and its surrounding areas while Jorethang hospital has been asked to stay on alert for emergency medical assistance, said Mr. Cintury.
He also informed that for the first time in the history of Sikkim, the Governor of Sikkim will be visiting the Maghey Mela at Jorethang. On 15 January, Governor Shriniwas Patil will be here as the chief guest, he informed.
General secretary, organizing Committee, Kamal Chettri informed that on the evening of the inaugural day artists from Prabal Sangeet Sansthan of Jorethang along with other local artists will entertain the crowd while the army band from Ravangla, ‘2 Bikas’, will perform on the evening of 15 January. The Indian Idol 4 finalist Saurabhi will rock the stage on the last day of the mela on the evening of 16 January.
Mr. Chettri said that the organizing committee is working hard to make this mela a grand success and to provide visitors with a peaceful environment to enjoy the mela. On behalf of the organizing committee, he thanked the Chief Minister and Governor for accepting the invitation.

Jorethang Open Badminton C’ship from 26 to 28 Jan

GANGTOK, 12 Jan: The 6th edition of the Jorethang Open Badminton Championship will be held from 26-28 January 2014. This was decided during a meeting of the executive body and members of the Badminton Association of Jorethang (BAJ) on 10 January 2014, informs a press release.
During the meeting it was also decided to accept entries from participants of North Bengal and Nepal besides Sikkim. The categories include Veteran, Open and Junior among both Men and Women, it is informed.
The entry forms can also be downloaded and submitted online from the Association’s website www.bajsikkim.com which will be launched on 18 January 2014.

Two-day training held on Kiwifruit cultivation

GANGTOK, 12 Jan: Kiwifruit is also known as China’s miracle and wonder of New Zealand. Himachal Pradesh and Arunachal Pradesh are leading producers of kiwifruit in India. In Sikkim, the West district leads in terms of area under cultivation and production of kiwifruit especially in Rinchenpong, Deythang and Soreng areas. It is also growing in some pockets of East and North Sikkim.
A press release informs that a two-day program on ‘Technology Demonstration for Training and Pruning in Kiwifruit’ was organised on 10-11 January 2014 under the guidance of Director, Horticulture and Cash Crop Development Department (HCCDD), Khorlo Bhutia and Joint Director, ICAR Sikkim Centre, Dr. R.K. Avasthe.
A total of 39 progressive kiwifruit growers of Dahap, Singyang, Narboo, Yuksam, Nesha, Kaluk, Uttarey, Yangsum, etc areas of West Sikkim attended the program and showed keen interest in learning kiwifruit cultivation techniques to get better production, it is mentioned.
Inaugurating the program, Joint Director, Horticulture and Cash Crop Development Department, Govt. of Sikkim, Jagdish Pradhan highlighted the importance of the kiwifruit training and pruning program and emphasized that this jointly organized program by the state department and ICAR hopes to affect fast transfer of horticultural technologies among the farming community.
Senior Scientist (Horticulture), Dr. Ashish Yadav gave details of the organic kiwifruit production techniques in Sikkim and demonstrated the training and pruning methods in kiwifruit to the progressive farmers of West Sikkim at ICAR Research Farm. Scientist Plant Pathology, Dr. R. Gopi shared information on disease and pest management in kiwifruit under organic production system, it is added.

Handloom weaving training underway in Sakyong-Pentong

GANGTOK, 12 Jan: A 3-month long capacity building training programme on handloom weaving, funded under the Border Area Development Programme sponsored by the Department of Border Management, Ministry of Home Affairs and implemented by the Directorate of Handicrafts and Handloom, was inaugurated by North Zilla Adhakshya Anguli Lepcha, on 10 Jan at Sakyong-Pentong GPU.
The programme was also attended by Panchayat President, Vice-President, Panchayat  Secretary, other Panchayat members of the GPU, local gentry and public of the area, an official press release informs.
While addressing the gathering, the chief guest stressed on women’s empowerment and the need to become self reliant after this training and assured all support to the trainees should they decide to do so. She also urged trainees to form Self Help Groups upon completion of the training.
Jigme Pintso Bhutia, Assistant Director, DHH, informed the weavers about the different schemes and programmes introduced by the Central government for the benefit of weavers. The Panchayat Secretary, Namdup Lepcha, thanked the department and government for organizing the training for womenfolk of the area. The inaugural session ended with a vote of thanks proposed by Tshering Dorjee Bhutia, Deputy Director (North), DHH.

High Powered Committee to re-examine termination of 3 HEPs in North Sikkim

GANGTOK, 12 Jan: The scrapping of three hydro-electric projects proposed for North Sikkim is being re-examined. MoUs with the respective project developers had been cancelled by the Power Department sometime in June 2012. The state government has set up a committee to examine these hydro-electric projects in North Sikkim afresh.
Officials inform that a High Powered Committee had been set up under the Chief Secretary to examine the projects “from all angles and take an informed decision on the matter”. Besides the Chief Secretary, also included in this high powered committee are Secretary, Forest, Finance, the Development Commissioner and the Secretary, Power as Member Secretary. This was following a direction of the High Court to the Chief Secretary to allow the aggrieved project developer an opportunity of a hearing.
In turn, the CS has forwarded the matter for consideration of the high powered committee which will take a final decision on the matter. Last December the project developer also had a meeting with the CS following which this committee was given the above reference.
The affected project developers and hydel projects are the Lachung Hydropower Private Ltd which was engaged in the development of the 99 MW Lachung HEP on the Lachungchu; Teesta Hydropower which was engaged in the development of the 99MW Bhimkyong HEP also on the Lachungchu at Bhimkyong village, North Sikkim and Chungthang Hydropower which was engaged in the development of 99 MW Bop HEP also on the Lachungchu in Bop village. The Lachungchu is a tributary of the Teesta and these projects are located upstream from the 1,200 MW Teesta Stage III being developed by Teesta Urja at Chungthang. Earlier while terminating these projects state government officials had informed of a host of factors behind the decision to scrap the projects. These included disinterest of the affected people and the post-18 September Earthquake apprehensions along with the potential environmental impact.
Following the termination, the project developers had approached the High Court of Sikkim with their respective petitions seeking withdrawal of the termination order. It had been brought to the notice of the court that the order of termination was not a “speaking order” and had been passed with reasons assigned in the government file or in the relevant Cabinet decision. While the decision and order to terminate the project was made by the government, no copy of it was forwarded to the company. In other words the decision was not communicated to the petitioning company.
Following this, the Court had directed the state to afford the petitioner an opportunity of hearing and directed the Chief Secretary to consider the matter herself or assign it for consideration before a Committee.

Apex court gives Centre 4 weeks to respond to Delay’s writ petition

GANGTOK, 12 Jan: The Supreme Court has given four weeks’ time to the Union of India for filing counter affidavit in response to the writ petition filed by Delay Namgyal Barfungpa and an intervention petition filed by Anand Lama and Ram Kumar Rai. The petitioners have challenged the Gazette Notification of the State Government on the extension of the Delhi Police Special Establishment Act to Sikkim.
The Supreme Court on 10 January, last Friday while hearing the parties, directed Rakesh K. Khanna, Additional Solicitor General for Union of India, to file counter affidavit within four weeks.  The Apex Court has granted such time after the Additional Solicitor General prayed for more time for filing counter affidavit.
According to Delay Namgyal the state issued the notification to thwart the Central Bureau of Investigation’s (CBI) probe into corruption charges against the Chief Minister and other ministers of his government.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Karmapa presides over Kagyu Monlam in Bodhgaya

HONOURS PADMASAMBHAVA IN SACRED DANCE
Gangtok, 10 Jan: For the first time ever in India, the 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, today performed an elaborate sacred dance honouring Padmasambhava, the Indian mahaguru who was instrumental in establishing Buddhism in Tibet. The prayers and sacred dance are being held as part of the 31st Kagyu Monlam prayer gathering in Bodhgaya in Bihar, an official press communiqué informs.
Padmasambhava is particularly known for having pacified strong opposition to Buddhism during the earlier stages of its transmission from India to Tibet. The elaborate Garchen Tsechu puja is held to prevent obstacles and to ensure peace and prosperity, the release details.
As the release explains, the Karmapa is leading this puja along with the sacred lama dance “with the aim of pacifying causes behind degradation of the environment and in beings, that everyone in the world may be happy, and that all the people in the India, and in particular the state of Bihar and the sacred site of Bodhgaya, may be happy and prosperous”.
Coming six months after the most sacred site of Buddhism was subject to a bomb attack, the prayer gathering reaffirms the Buddhist commitment to non-violence, with thousands of people from across the Himalayan region and from 30 other countries praying for peace in India and around the world.
“No bomb can destroy the Buddha’s love or blessings,” the Karmapa is quoted as saying.
It will not help if we respond to violence with more violence. Rather, we need to take full personal responsibility for our own behavior and our own interactions with others. We need to learn to care more for and about others, and we must especially remember that the fundamental purpose of all religious traditions is the same: to help others.
Held for the 31st time in Bodhgaya, the Kagyu Monlam continues a tradition established in Tibet in the 14th century. Since the 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, began presiding over the annual gathering in 2004, it has grown rapidly and now attracts over 10,000 people, primarily Himalayan Buddhists. It has also expanded to include social service and educational initiatives, including extensive medical, dental and veterinarian clinics.
This year’s Monlam particularly honours the Indian roots of Tibetan Buddhism. The day-long event upholds a unique form of a dance tradition that was brought from India into Tibet over a thousand years ago. Senior lamas of the Karma Kagyu lineage headed by the Karmapa also joined him on the stage to perform the sacred dance, as will nuns from three nunneries across the Himalayas.
In addition to the Padmasambhava puja, the 31st Kagyu Monlam includes Dharma public discourses and empowerment, and five days of intensive prayers for world peace. On the final day, classical singer Shree Vidvan Nanda Kumar will perform a Sanskrit doha by the Indian Mahasiddha Tilopa whose lineage the Karmapa holds today, followed by sacred songs by Buddhists from all traditions. In an event that highlights the musical contributions of India, Bhutan and Tibet, the doha performance will be complemented by song and dance presentations by a troupe from Bhutan and by the Tibetan Institute for the Performing Arts (TIPA).