Saturday, February 1, 2014

State grant for marriages with disabled persons

GANGTOK, 31 Jan: A married couple where one or both partners suffer from disability is now entitled to a grant from the state government. For this purpose the State Government, through the Social Justice Department, has framed regulations to encourage more people to accept disabled persons as their life partner.
Furthermore, the other objective is also to enable assimilation of handicapped persons into mainstream society. This is now possible under the Sikkim Grant of Award for Marriages with Disabled Persons Rules, 2013. The quantum of the grant will be notified by the state government.
In the context of applicability of this grant the state has defined disability to include visual and hearing impairment, locomotor disability, mental retardation and mental illness and also leprosy cured.
Disabled Married couple relates to a couple in which either one or both partners are disabled with minimum 40% disability. Further they would have to belong to the Below Poverty Line category. However should the beneficiary enter into re-marriage and in the event of death or divorce of the spouse, the award of grant would cease.
Applications for grant are required to be accompanied with marriage certificate, medical certificate and certificate issued by the Gram Vikash Adhikari stating that the couple have been married and living together for more than 2 years.
The department is required to put in place a selection committee headed by the Secretary for the purpose of beneficiary selection.  This committee is to scrutinize all the relevant documents. The Social Justice department is also the competent authority to sanction grant of award.
Further more it has been stipulated that each beneficiary is to submit a ‘Life Certificate’ in the prescribed format in the month of November each year failing which it will be presumed that the beneficiary is either dead or migrated outside Sikkim. In such an event the payment of the grant or pension shall be stopped.

SMU launches health scheme

GANGTOK, 31 Jan: ‘Sikkim Manipal Swasthya Suraksha’, a health scheme, was launched at Central Referral Hospital, Tadong today. The scheme is meant for the people of Sikkim and especially designed to provide the latest and quality healthcare facilities to the people of Sikkim, which are not only affordable but accessible as well.
Informing about the scheme, Medical Superintendent, CRH, Dr. Shamsher Singh said that this scheme is basically for people who cannot afford to pay for treatment especially specialized treatment. This scheme will cover hospitalization expenses in General Ward only at CRH and only those who do not qualify for any other hospitalization benefits provided by the State Government are eligible, he said.
Mentioning about the aims of this scheme, Dr Singh said that it seeks to cater to those not covered by any other health scheme. In fact, this scheme will cover the excluded but vulnerable population hitherto not covered under any scheme, he said, and also added that, this scheme is a noble initiative of SMU to assist the Sikkim Government in providing liabilities arising out of health setbacks.
Adding further, Dr Sing said that SMU has been playing a pro-active role in the socio-economic growth of Sikkim and its people, especially in the education and health care sectors since its inception. “We are trying to contact different social groups and NGOs, to connect to those who are not covered by any government scheme”, he added.
Similarly, Vice-Chancellor, SMU, Brig. Dr. Somnath Mishra, in turn, said that, this scheme is a unique initiative of SMU which provides universal health care benefits to the people. “In fact, it is one of its kind health care scheme to be launched anywhere in the country, and I ensure that SMU will continue to strive in its efforts to support the Government and be a partner to its development as well”, he added.
“CRH is poised to be a major health care provider in the entire North-East region of the country”, said the VC.
The highlights of the scheme are the cashless facility, entry age-no limit, coverage upto Rs. 1, 50,000 on a family floater basis [family of five members]. The enrollment of beneficiaries starts from 01 February 2014 and will continue till the last week of February. Applicants need to bring an Aadhar Card and have to pay Rs. 800 annually for the health card which is valid for one year.
The function was also attended by the Prof. Dr. Ashish Sharma [Registrar, SMU], Air Marshal [Retd] Dr. GS Joneja, SMIMS, Brig. Dr. Somnath Mishra, Insurance Consultant, SMSS, Pompy Sridhar including PRO, Sarikah Atreya.

SKM’s parivartan rally concludes

GANGTOK, 31 Jan: Sikkim Krantikari Morcha’s Parivartan Rally concluded today after covering all four districts of the state. The rally had started on 26 January.
An SKM press release informs that the rally moved from Namchi and then to Mamring under Namthang-Rateypani constituency and officially concluded at Rangpo today. The rally was welcomed by people at different places along the route, the release adds.
At Rangpo, the party’s secretary general, MK Subba, who led the rally, thanked the participating youth and announced that an even larger rally will be organised in the future.
At Poklok-Kamrang constituency, which is the Chief Minister’s constituency, the people of the area gave a grand welcome to the motorcade and shouted in favor of change in the area, the release claims.
The release further claims that the people of the area placed various grievances and complaints against the present government.

SKM’s Bharati Sharma tours Rhenock

GANGTOK, 31 Jan: Sikkim Krantikari Morcha’s working president, Bharati Sharma visited Taza, Kaijaley, Takchang, Mamring, Amba of Rhenock constituency on Thursday accompanied by her party workers.
An SKM release informs that during her visit, she accused the SDF government of failing to address the needs of the people of the area due to which these areas have remained underdeveloped.
The people of these areas also expressed dissatisfaction over the pace of development and alleged that the area MLA, Minister Bhim Dhungel has been unable to develop the area, the release claims.
Ms Sharma also accused the SDF party of nepotism, neglecting the public and failing to empower women in the state.
She further urged the public to come forward to fight for change.

Awareness on organic farming and certification

GANGTOK, 31 Jan: An orientation-cum-awareness programme on Organic Farming and Certification under Sikkim Organic Mission was conducted by SIMFED on the 29 January 2014 in West Pendam, Gram Panchyat Unit, East Sikkim. The programme also covered a chapter on intensive organic technology for control of pests and diseases in various Kharif crops (both agricultural & horticultural).
A press release informs that the programme highlighted the importance and future scope of organic farming in the state. Managing Director, SIMFED, Kuber Bhandari apprised the gathering on the C 3 Certificate being awarded to the Gram Panchayat Unit by Sikkim Organic Mission, thereby declaring total certification of the area covering 522 hectares, for which he congratulated the farmers and Panchayats of the unit for their cooperation.
The HDO, Duga BAC, Pintso Wangyal Bhutia also addressed the gathering and clarified many questions put to him by the farmers during the interactive session. ICAR, Jr. Scientist, Dr. N. Johnson Singh gave information on the organic method of controlling pests and diseases of kharif crops (both agricultural & horticultural).
Manager (ICS) of SIMFED explained the certification process and marketing of organic products. There was an interaction session between members of the Organic Growers Group Committee of the area and the visiting Departmental officials. The programme was attended by all the SIMFED, ICS field functionaries and officials.




East Zone Santosh Trophy qualifying round concludes with West Bengal and Services through to final round

GANGTOK, 31 Jan: West Bengal has also secured its place in the final round of the ongoing 68th edition of the National Football Championship for the Santosh Trophy. With this Services and West Bengal have qualified from the East Zone for the final round of the tournament.
Playing the last match of Group ‘B’ for East Zone here at Paljor Stadium today, West Bengal held Odisha for a goalless draw. Topping Group B with 7 points from its 3 matches, the Services has qualified for the final round, while Odisha is in second position with 5 points from 3 matches.
Similarly, in the other match of Group ‘B’ played today, Chhattisgarh outplayed Bihar 2-1. Vijayendra Kumar scored the lead for Chhattisgarh in the 13th minute while his teammate Athnes Baxla extended the lead in the 40th minute to finish the first half with a 2-0 lead. In the second half, the face saver for Bihar was scored by Md Aftab Alam in the 74th minute.
In Group ‘B’, Chhattisgarh stood in the third position with 4 points and Bihar finished last with no points.
In Group ‘A’, Services is on the top with 6 points followed by Sikkim in the second position with 3 points and Jharkand in the last position with no points.



Everesters thank CM for Sikkim Khel Ratna recognition

NAMCHI, 31 Jan: The three Everesters from South Sikkim have expressed gratitude towards Chief Minister Pawan Chamling for conferring the prestigious Sikkim Khel Ratna on them during the Republic Day celebrations in Gangtok.
The awardees stated that it was a great honor to receive the prestigious award from the Chief Minister on the special occasion.
Thanking the Chief Minister, the awardees said that the vision of the CM to make Sikkim a world class adventure tourism destination has received a boost with this award and it will further inspire and encourage the upcoming generation to take adventure tourism seriously. They further said that Sikkim has huge potential, especially in the field of adventure tourism which needs to be tapped.
Amongst the awardees are Kazi Sherpa [OSD, Indian Himalayan Centre for Adventure and Eco-Tourism, Chemchey], Ravindra Kumar [IAS, SDM Namchi] and the youngest Everester from Sikkim Anand Gurung of Damthang.
They also thanked the Minister, Tourism Department and the department.

Gangtok-leg of Himalayan Drive-2 flagged off

GANGTOK, 31 Jan: The Gangtok-leg of the Himalayan Drive-2, a four-wheeler and two-wheeler rally, was flagged off by Tourism Minister Bhim Dhungel and former Indian football skipper, Bhaichung Bhutia from the Sikkim Tourism Complex here at Tadong this morning. Twenty-eight cars and eight motorbikes have participated in the drive.
Earlier, the first leg of the rally was flagged off from Siliguri to Lattaguri on 29 January and then the second from Lattaguri to Gangtok. From here the rally headed towards Darjeeling via Namchi and the final leg will be flagged off from Darjeeling to Siliguri. The rally also aims at spreading awareness on polio.
Organizers inform that the rally was a test of driver’s agility in handling rough roads and the strength and endurance of the vehicle. It is further mentioned that the rally also hopes to send a strong message that such rallies can be held even in hilly terrains.
The Tourism Minister stated that such motor rallies would help to boost adventure tourism in the state. Likewise, Bhaichung expressed that it is nice to see that Sikkim is developing as a adventure tourism destination as well.
Similarly, participating drivers expressed that they have been enjoying the drive in the hilly terrain along the Teesta river.

Awareness on marketing held for farmers at Namthang

GANGTOK, 31 Jan: Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Namthang organized an awareness programme on marketing of hill grass (kucho/ broom) and fresh ginger in coordination with NERAMAC at the conference hall of KVK, Namthang on 30 January.
A press release informs that valuable marketing suggestions for the post harvesting season and ideas of marketing were shared with farmers during the programme.
Sr. Zonal Manager, NERAMAC, PC Roy highlighted on the role of NERAMAC and its objective which he said is to purchase the marketable surplus of fruits and vegetables from the growers, make necessary arrangement for its processing and marketing and to support farmers and producers through input supplies for better productivity under the aegis of Central Sector Schemes.
The release informs that around 25 progressive farmers from in-and-around the Namthang area participated in the programme. An interactive session led by Field Officer (Marketing), Rohini Dangal regarding the present situation and problems faced by farmers in terms of marketing was held, the release adds.

Notice Climate Change

Editorial:-
Studying climate change, understanding what’s happening around the world and comparing it against how Sikkim is faring is much more important now than it was, say even two decades ago.
Till the time when people lived more ‘organic’ lives, their lifestyles more in tune with their immediate environs, changes in weather patterns and the corrective adjustments were instinctive. Now, most of the people, even in what are considered rural belts, live lives too distanced from weather patterns to make one realise even a dramatic change in climate before it is too late. Having a department [the Department of Science & Technology is now also in-charge for Climate Change] dedicated to charting this for the people, sharing its findings and recommending ‘adjustments’ thus becomes a necessary initiative which has been well taken in Sikkim. What is awaited though is delivery by the Department. Among the changes which appear to have already taken place, but have not yet even attracted raised eyebrows is the complete absence of fog from Gangtok this winter. The season is already on its way out, and might go out with a wave of intense cold [given what northwestern India is experiencing], but the heavy fog which used to make driving around Gangtok at night fraught with danger, decided not to envelope the hill this year. Contrast this with the hyperventilating coverage on news channels of fog in Delhi and elsewhere in North India to realize that this phenomenon has subsided. There are other canaries in the climate bubble that are going largely unnoticed and completely unaddressed; Bees, for instance. When was the last time you remember being stung, or meeting someone stung by a bee? One does not see enough of these pollinators around anymore; and even as farmers complain and experts deliberate of failing orchards and plantations, no one is discussing bees enough. Where are the bats? Ask farmers in the Saramsa to Rhey Khola belt about bats, and they will reminisce about how they used to take over trees and invade the area during Spring. No one’s seen them for a while now. And these are only two instances, along with them, there must be many more insects which are rarely seen anymore, crops no one grows anymore and foods we no longer eat; each was an important part of the biodiversity that makes Sikkim a hotspot, and we will lose more if more sensitivity and awareness is not generated.
Clearly, not all loss or change is because of climate change, but not even noticing and discussing things that have gone missing will make Sikkim’s adjustment to Climate Change that much more difficult.

SDF Chelis from Dzongu pledge support to party

MANGAN, 31 Jan: “The chelis of Dzongu should be united for the development of Dzongu as we have been given special priority by the SDF government under the aegis of party president, Chief Minister Pawan Chamling,” said North Zilla Adhakshya, Anguli Lepcha, while addressing the women of Dzongu constituency here at Namprikdang ground in Upper Dzongu on Thursday in a constituency level meeting.
“Our only mission is the victory of SDF in the upcoming 2014 election and it’s the responsibility of all chelis,” she added.
She further highlighted that women in the state were backward and suppressed in the past but now they are no longer oppressed and can contribute to the society in various aspects of development. Ms Lepcha also pointed out that various facilities for women are being provided by the SDF government in terms of reservation, proper health care, education etc and further appealed to all women of Dzongu to help underprivileged women. She also urged the women wings of Dzongu to conduct ward and GPU level meetings.
Similarly, Cheli vice convenor, North, Dawa Phuti Lepcha informed that the Chelis should be the main pillar of the SDF party in the upcoming election. “We should show our gratitude to party with our unconditional support for everything we have been given”, she said. She also highlighted the different schemes and development being provided by the government.
Likewise, Zilla member, Tingvong GPU, Chungden Lepcha highlighted the demand for the construction of mobile tower in Dzongu while Member Primitive Tribe Welfare Board, Phurmit Lepcha highlighted about the different facilities under Primitive Tribe Welfare Board and urged the people to obtain the primitive tribe certificate as soon as possible.
Earlier, the function was welcomed by Panchayat President, Saffo-Passingdang GPU, Pema Lhamu Bhutia and ended with vote of thanks by constituency convenor, Lhakit Lepcha.
A three-km rally was also conducted to show the chelis’ solidarity to the party from Namprikdang ground to Lingdong village.
Also present in the meeting were district convenor, Khimoo Lepcha, zilla and panchayat members and women from the different GPUs of Dzongu.

Stakeholders want Gangtok-Dikchu old route restored

MANGAN, 31 Jan: The Mangan-Gangtok drive, which takes 3 hours at present, will be cut down to an hour-long drive if the old route via Lingdok 9th Mile and Penlong is restored. The people from different blocks and GPUs here have unanimously demanded that this route be restored to facilitate development.
This issue was raised by the people of Navey Shotak, Lingdok, 9th Mile, Dikchu, Mangan, Dzongu and North Sikkim where they stated that restoring the old route will make travel and access more convenient for the people.  
The old route, which was a mule track originally, was severely damaged by the 1968 floods and landslides especially between Dikchu and Lingdok 9th Mile. Around 80% of the old road formation however still exists so it would not take much to restore the entire stretch. However, three bridges need to be constructed at Rakshey Khola, Hem Khola and Andheri Khola.
As per a departmental survey, only 7km of the road needs to be rebuilt. Some sections of the road starting from Dikchu have also been constructed by power project developers.
Many villagers from the periphery of Dikchu trek to Gangtok along this route which normally takes two hours to reach Fatak, Bojoghari.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Martyr’s Day observed at Raj Bhawan

GANGTOK, 30 Jan: On the solemn occasion of the 66th Death Anniversary of the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, the Martyr’s Day was observed at the premises of New Raj Bhawan today.
A press release informs that two minutes silence was observed to commemorate and honour all the Martyrs who laid down their lives in service of the nation. On the occasion, the Governor and the first lady paid homage by offering khadas and flowers at the statue of Mahatma Gandhi located at New Raj Bhawan. Also present were officials and staff of Raj Bhawan.

Kho Kho team prepares for senior nationals at SJS-Rhenock

GANGTOK, 30 Jan: The Kho Kho Federation of India is organizing the 47TH Senior National Kho Kho Championship at SAG Ground, Chicalim in Goa from 12-16 February 2014.
A press release informs that the students of St. Joseph’s School Rhenock will be participating in the tournament and a 15-day coaching camp for the same organized by the Kho Kho Association of Sikkim is underway at St. Joseph’s School Ground.
The camp is being conducted by a team consisting of Anup Chakraborty [Asst. Secretary, Sikkim Kho Kho Association], Piyush Sarkar [Coach, Sikkim Kho Kho Association] and Augustine Rai [PTI, St. Joseph’s School, Rhenock].
The team consists of 12 Boys and 8 Girls from St. Joseph’s School, Rhenock and 4 Girls from Namchi Public School, Namchi. These children have sacrificed their holidays to prepare for the national-level tournament, the release mentions.
The Principal, staff and the entire team of St. Joseph’s School is grateful to the Sikkim State Games and Sports Authorities, Kho Kho Federation of India for their invitation, Kho Kho Association of Sikkim and the coaching team at St. Joseph’s School, Rhenock for their dedicated service and concern for our students, the release expresses.
The Principal, staff and students of the school wish the team the very best, the release adds.

SSB distributes seeds and pesticide spraying machines at Ribdi

GANGTOK, 30 Jan: 19th Battalion Sashastra Seema Bal distributed various articles to the local people at Ribdi on 29 January 2014 at SSB Ribdi campus.
A press release informs that seeds and pesticide [organic] spraying machines mounted on bicycles were distributed to the local stakeholders of Ribdi and its surrounding villages. Panchayat Member of Ribdi, Suman Ray was present during the distribution programme as the chief guest who appreciated the work being carried out by SSB in far-flung areas of Sikkim, it is mentioned.
The items were distributed to Self Help Group Tendong, Himali Aama Samuho and Nag Beli Conservation Association. Sub Inspector, Manish Srivastav of 19th Bn SSB Gangtok organised the said programme.

CM hails Sikkim’s progress in education sector

SSA GENERAL BODY MEETING HELD AT CHINTAN BHAWAN
GANGTOK, 30 Jan [IPR]: The Eighth General Body Meeting of State Mission Authority for Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) RTE Act 2009 under Human Resource Development Department (HRDD) was held today at the Chintan Bhawan. The meeting was chaired by the Chief Minister Pawan Chamling as the chief guest who is also the President of SSA, Sikkim.
The meeting started with the welcome speech by the Secretary, HRDD, Thomas Chandy who also presented a brief report on the achievements of the government through power point presentation. He also highlighted the objective of SSA which he said is to enroll all children between the age group of six to fourteen years, to provide satisfactory quality education at the elementary level and also to bridge social, regional and gender gaps with active participation of the community in the management of schools.
Addressing the programme, the Chief Minister said his government is working for the progress in the education sector which has set an example in the country. He said that the Sikkim Government has already put the best foot forward in the education sector, introducing many opportunities and scholarships to the children of the state. Along with this the state government is also sending students in the best public schools of the country and abroad for higher studies, he added.
In his speech the Minister HRDD, NK Pradhan said that the SSA project taken up by the government has been successfully implemented. The Government of Sikkim under the guidance of the Chief Minister has given constant support in its holistic approach towards the development of education. He said that the state government is committed to develop the education system and improve the quality of education for the people of Sikkim.
The Chief Minister also released three publications namely Revised Guide book on Continuous Comprehensive Assessment (CCA); Inclusive Education in Sikkim- Handbook on Disability its cases, symptoms and management; and Infrastructure Development under SSA, and documentary film on SSA-RTE.
The meeting was also addressed by Under Secretary Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India, AK Tiwari, who congratulated the state government for holding the meeting of SSA on a regular basis. He also appreciated the progress of the state government in implementation of SSA under the leadership of the Chief Minister.
The meeting was also attended by the Chief Secretary, R Ongmu, Chairman, SSA, Secretaries including Finance and Expenditure, Health, IPR, and Social Justice Department, DCs, Officials of HRDD and the nominated members of the State Mission Authority and the guests, Assistant Professor, NERIE, Shillong, SK Panday and Professor NBU, Prof. D Chakraborty.

SPCC observes Martyrs Day

GANGTOK, 30 Jan: Sikkim Pradesh Congress Committee [SPCC] observed the 66th death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi at its office at 5th Mile, Tadong today. The day is also celebrated as Martyrs Day to pay the tribute to him.
An SPCC press release informs that on the occasion the gathering took the pledge to follow the path of the great leader and to solemnly practice the noble values as preached and practiced in his lifetime.
The release mentions that on advice from AICC New Delhi, SPCC working president, Dr AD Subba organized, conducted and briefed about the importance of the day to those present.  

Governor and CM’s greetings on Sonam Lochhar

GANGTOK, 30 Jan: Governor Shriniwas Patil has extended warm greetings to the people of Sikkim, and the Tamang Community in particular, on the propitious occasion of Sonam Lochhar.
As per an official communique, the Governor has said, “The celebration of Sonam Lochhar marks the beginning of a new year and a new season. It is also an occasion to showcase our rich cultural diversity. On this day, people exchange warm wishes and greetings amongst friends, family members and relatives.
May this celebration help in preserving our rich cultural heritage, and may it be a herald of new beginning for the lives of the people of Sikkim.”
Chief Minister Pawan Chamling and Smt Tika Maya Chamling have also extended their warm greetings and best wishes to the people of Sikkim on the occasion of Sonam Lochhar.
The Chief Minister in his message has expressed that this festival provides the society an opportunity to share joy, peace and harmony.

SKM parivartan rally reaches Jorethang

GANGTOK, 30 Jan: Sikkim Krantikari Morcha’s car rally reached Jorethang today after completing its fifth day on tour. The rally had begun on Republic Day from the SKM party headquarters at Convoy Ground.
An SKM release informs that the ‘Parivartan Rally’ started from Kamling crossing Wok, Legship and halted at Tashiding last night. Today the rally toured through Yoksum, Khechopalri, Darap, Pelling, Sakyong, Gyalshing, Tikjuk, Sombaria, Soreng, Daramdin and has reached Jorethang.
Almost 500 vehicles including two wheelers reached Jorethang, where they were given a traditional welcome with the offering of dahi [curd] to youth leader MK Subba, the release informs. The rally received good response in West district, it is added.
The last day of the rally will cover Soreng-Chakung, Zoom-Salghari in West district and Poklok Kamrang and Namthang Salghari in South district, the release informs.

Legislators meet, take stock and discuss emerging scenario

GANGTOK, 30 Jan: Sikkim Democratic Front [SDF] held a closed door meeting of Legislators and senior party members in Gangtok on Wednesday evening which was chaired by party president and Chief Minister, Pawan Chamling. This was in progression of the closing session of the Legislative Assembly session.
In a press release, Lok Sabha MP, PD Rai informs that the meeting discussed various issues of political significance and emerging scenario in Sikkim and India. Various members contributed to the discussion and thanked the Chief Minister for leading the party and government in the most effective way during the current term.
They affirmed their total dedication in working for the party with full unity to win all the seats in the upcoming elections scheduled for April-May this year, the release informs.
The party discussed some of the acts of violence and intimidation of people in various parts of the state by “rowdy elements of SKM moving around in jeeps and motorcycles”, the MP mentions further adding that the motive behind this is to create fear in the minds of the people.
“The Legislators urged the Chief Minister to take stern police action especially in checking the identity of those moving around”, he adds.
The Chief Minister in his address spoke of how the challenges are to be met. He also said that our rallies must be peaceful and show how different we are in securing the peace and security of the people of Sikkim, the release mentions.
Dates for some of the high level meetings of the party were also discussed and finalized, it is informed.

Sikkim & North Bengal Journalists Forum condemns attack on media

GANGTOK, 30 Jan: The newly floated solidarity forum of journalists working in Sikkim and North Bengal has strongly condemned the attack at the printing press of Sikkim Express and Himali Bela. A press release informs that the ‘Sikkim & North Bengal Journalists Forum’ has demanded the State government to take strict action against the culprit and ensure safety of media workers in Sikkim.
“We strongly condemn the attack on media. Journalists from North Bengal express their solidarity with the media persons of Sikkim who have protested against the incident. We demand the Sikkim government to ensure that such attacks on media are not allowed to happen again and freedom of media is ensured,” the forum has said.
Stating that there should be no leniency shown to those who attack the media, the forum has expressed full solidarity towards the media fraternity of Sikkim. “The forum completely supports the steps taken by the Sikkimese media fraternity to protest the attack. We will also join them in their protests”, the release states.

Teesta-V Power Station organizes football tourney in Balutar

GANGTOK, 30 Jan: Teesta-V Power Station in association with the Department of Sports & Youth Affairs, Govt. of Sikkim is organizing a football tournament at NHPC Ground, Balutar. The tournament was inaugurated today by the chief guest, Temi-Namphing MLA, BS Panth.
A press release informs that the tournament is being organized in order to promote rural sports and encourage budding young talent. The opening ceremony was witnessed by various Panchayat members, Official of Sports & Youth Affairs, Govt. of Sikkim along with senior officers of NHPC and large number of locals who came to enjoy the tournament.
The tournament began with the welcome speech of General Manager, Teesta-V Power Station, AB Saha, wherein he reiterated NHPC’s commitment towards community development along with generation of green and clean power. He also thanked the state government for its continuous support.
The chief guest, BS Panth in his inaugural speech appreciated the work done by NHPC for the upliftment of the local community. He wished all the participating teams good luck.
The inaugural match of the tournament was played between the teams of Evershine Club, Dipudara and UKFA, Upper Khani. UKFA won the match by 5-4 in a penalty shoot-out.
The release informs that 16 football teams of the state are participating in the ongoing tournament. The winner of the tournament will be awarded with cash prize of Rs. 30,000 and a trophy, while Rs. 20,000 and a trophy will be given to the runner-up team. The final match of the tournament will be played on 13 February.

NASBO president resigns, joins SKM

GANGTOK, 30 Jan: National Sikkimese Bhutia Organization [NASBO] president, Sonam Lama resigned from the organization and joined Sikkim Krantikari Morcha on Wednesday.
An SKM release informs that Mr. Lama met the SKM leader PS Tamang [Golay] here at the party head office at Tadong along with a group of other monks submitting a letter of support to join the party.
In his joining letter addressed to the SKM party president he has said that the present government has failed to protect the interests of Sikkim and monks in the state whose rights have been suppressed by the state government in the name of democracy.
The monks further said that the distinct identity of Sikkimese people and their culture and traditions have been lost during the 20 years of SDF rule in the state, the release informs.
Meanwhile, NASBO held an emergency meeting today in view of the resignation letter submitted by its president. A NASBO press release informs that the Central Committee after deep deliberation, accepted the resignation and extended all support and cooperation to Mr. Lama in all his future endeavors. The meeting also thanked him for his contributions to the organization and Sikkim.
The meeting further elected coordinator Pintso Bhutia of Pakyong, as the new president. The members offered khadas, both to the outgoing and new president during the meeting, the release adds.

SDF Cheli Sachetna programme held in South Sikkim

NAMCHI, 30 Jan: Sikkim Democratic Front party (SDF) held a constituency level Cheli Sachetna cum picnic for Namchi-Singithang constituency today here at Ngadak Gompa premises. The programme was organised by SDF South District Cheli Morcha, which was attended area MLA Namchi-Singithang Constituency Binod Rai as the chief guest.
Addressing the occasion MLA Binod Rai said that the SDF government in Sikkim has brought all round development in Sikkim and SDF is a pro-poor party which has its set of ideologies, policies and programmes for the people of Sikkim. “It is the people’s responsibility to strengthen the efforts of our leader to give continuity to his mission and vision for Sikkim”, he said.
He alleged that the opposition has no ideology and spreading fear and terror, burning vehicles and assaulting people is their programme and objective. Further accusing the opposition of misleading the youth of the state he urged everyone to fight for their rights which he stated only SDF can ensure.
South District Cheli Convener, Tirtha Subba in her address said that such a function is being organized in order to make the chelis aware of the present government’s work for women’s empowerment in Sikkim and also to inform them about party policies and programmes. She said that women of this state must feel proud to work for this party and take individual responsibility to spread awareness about the works and policies of our party at the grass root level.
On behalf of the Cheli Morcha she also condemned the recent attack on the staff of English daily Sikkim Express and Nepali daily Himali Bela and demanded strict action against the accused person. Ms Subba further denied that the accused belongs to SDF party. SDF party can never encourage the youth to indulge in such violence, she stated and stressed on the need to find out the truth behind the incident in order to dispel allegations being leveled by the opposition.
Secretary Organization, Basant Rai who recently quit SKM and joined SDF in his address said that based on his experience with SKM he can say that the party is only misleading people for their selfish interests.
The programme was also addressed by general secretary in-charge, RN Rai while the programme was also attended by Chairman Labor Welfare, Passang Rinzing Sherpa, Advisor Ecclesiastical Affairs Department, Lakpa Ghising, Secretary Organization Satish Chandra Rai, Vice Chairman NMC, NH Ansari, Zilla and Ward Panchayats along with other party members and supporters from Namchi and surrounding areas.
A colorful cultural programme was also organized during this awareness meeting cum picnic.

RBI DyGM completes M.Phil study on Nathula

GANGTOK, 30 Jan: Deputy General Manager, Reserve Bank of India, Gangtok, Anil Kumar Yadav has been awarded an M.Phil degree by the Madurai Kamaraj University of Tamil Nadu.
A press release informs that Mr Yadav, an alumni of Sikkim Government College here, was awarded the M.Phil degree for his dissertation titled “Study of Problems Faced by Traders of Sikkim in Indo-China Border Trade through Nathu La”.
The study was conducted under the guidance of Associate Professor & Head, Department of Commerce, Sikkim Government College, Gangtok, Dr SS Mahapatra.
The study traces the historical evolution of border trade in Sikkim till the resumption of border trade again in 2006, the release adds.

Paljor Stadium to host 2nd Division I-League from 07-15 Feb

GANGTOK, 30 Jan: Gangtok will once again serve as one of the venues for the qualifying round of 2nd Division I-League this year. The qualifying matches of the second division I-League are scheduled to be played here at Paljor Stadium from 07 to 15 February. The other venue for the qualifying round of 2nd Division I-League this year is Dhanbad in Jharkhand.
Sikkim Football Association [SFA] president, BK Roka highlighted that this was a good opportunity for Sikkim and Sikkim football. He informed that five teams will take each other on in the qualifying round here at Paljor Stadium. These five teams are Bhawanipore FC [Kolkata], Aizwal FC, Eagle FC [Kerala], Kenkre FC [Mumbai] and Hindustan FC [Delhi].
The top two teams each from Gangtok and Dhanbad venues will advance to the final round of the 2nd Division I-League. Since the home team United Sikkim Football Club played in the I-League senior division last season, they do not have to play the qualifying rounds and are already in the final round of the 2nd division I-League.
The SFA president has invited everyone to the I-League matches and cheer for their respective favorites.

Sikkim crashes out of Santosh Trophy

…GOES DOWN TO SERVICES 0-1
GANGTOK, 30 Jan: Sikkim’s hopes of remaining in the ongoing 68th edition of the National Football Championship for the Santosh Trophy for East Zone here at Paljor Stadium were dashed today. Playing its last match in group-A this afternoon, Sikkim went down 0-1 to the Services.
Both teams played an attacking game from the start but missed some good opportunities to take the lead in the match. The first half almost ended in a goalless draw until Lalan Ramniengmawia scored the lead for the Services in the 42nd minute and finished the first half with 1-0 lead.
No goals were scored in the second half and the Services won the match with the solitary goal. With their second consecutive win, the Services has now qualified for the final round of the tournament to be played at Kanchenjunga Stadium in Siliguri from 24 February to 09 March.
Last matches in group ‘B’ will be played on Friday, in which West Bengal will take on Odisha in the first half at 11 AM and the second match will be played between Bihar and Chhattisgarh at 1:30 PM. Only one team from group B will advance to the final round.

Sikkim Express attack accused makes bail

GANGTOK, 30 Jan: A lower court in Gangtok has granted bail to Phurba Sangay Sherpa (38) who had been arrested on charges of attacking the printing press of Sikkim Express and Himali Bela. He received bail on Wednesday evening and was released from judicial custody at Rongyek Jail.
Phurba had been arrested on Tuesday morning after he attacked technicians and attempted to vandalise the printing press here at Daragaon, Tadong. A media delegation led by Press Club of Sikkim president Bhim Rawat met Deputy Inspector General (DIG Range) Mandeep Singh Tuli today in the afternoon to inquire on the matter.
The DIG told the delegation that he would go through the order of bail. “If there are grounds, we will file an objection before the higher court against the bail”, he said.
Tuli assured that police patrolling would be intensified in Tadong area where most of the Gangtok media houses are based.
Meanwhile, the vandalized vehicle of Sikkim Express is yet to be released by the police.

Can’t Whisper a Campaign

Editorial:-
Rumours deliver only one service - entertainment. Many would like to believe that they also spread confusion, seed division or sway opinions, but to believe so would be underestimating the intelligence of the people. They always know where the information ends and speculation and plants begin, but invariably play along for the vicarious pleasure that being made privy to rumours and speculations provide. Rumours, at the end of the day, titillate, scandalise and then evaporate. In most cases, the receivers and perhaps even the circulators of such gossip know that no one believes the rumours and everyone partakes in it only get over the boredom of routine. There is really only one way to handle a rumour – ignore it. But while it is easy to ignore something when it is only whispered in street corners, it becomes difficult to do so when they are palmed out in the public domain.
Most rumours are brought into wider circulation by political parties, both ruling as well as opposition, by way of press releases and public speeches. Newspapers, by the very definition of their jobs, are required to allow the space for such public statements. Unfortunately, the political parties which play rumours into the streets are not required to be accountable. What is worse, few demands are made of them to even be professional. Allegations are raised without even prima facie evidence and claims are made without any supporting evidence. To deny them the space by way of news coverage would be unfair to the profession of journalism, but to sensationalise their statements means being even more unprofessional. It is a difficult call, but given the extremes to which claims and counter-claims swerve in the political domain, the only hope is that the readers can see through weak fronts on their own and sift the gossip from the news [when it is about claims and counters]. That would be the ideal situation, but we don’t live in an ideal world.
For those who have an issue with rumour-mongering, the best defence is offered by a strong implementation of the Right to Information Act. The moment people have real fears or suspicions, they should be able to draft an application and seek the right information which should be lucid and should reach them quickly. But information by itself is worthless if the debate that follows is not informed and coherent. Thus far, public debates have essentially been shouting matches with no heed paid to putting things in context or explaining the issues. The people had to make do with slanging matches instead. If the people desire, things can be different now. They can inform themselves in advance [thanks to the RTI Act] and then hear out the politicians to decide whether their arguments and interpretations are sound or not. At the end of the day, the only weapon against rumours is the truth. Circulate it in the public domain and embarrass those who deal in rumours.

CHIEF MINISTER PAWAN CHAMLING’S ADDRESS AT THE 8TH GENERAL BODY MEETING OF THE SARVA SHIKHSHA ABHIYAN HELD AT CHINTAN BHAWAN ON 30 JAN, 2014

“We have tried with considerable success to provide quality elementary education”

Hon’ble Minister, HRDD, Shri NK Pradhan, Chief Secretary Smt. R. Ongmu, Principal Secretary HRDD, State Project Director of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and other officials, ladies and gentlemen
The rapid progress made in the field of education in Sikkim is exemplary. This is largely due to the consistent policy formulation of the State Government to develop education sector as a priority for the last nineteen years. I would also like to record the noble contribution of our teaching community towards achieving this goal and commitment shown by the officials.
Education is free in the State and perhaps we are the only State to have earmarked over 20 percent of our annual allocation in the education sector. Over the decades, Sikkim has recorded an impressive improvement in the literacy rate from 56 percent in 1993-94 to 82.2 percent today. The teacher pupil ratio of 1:13 is perhaps one of the best found in the country.
At the outset of this 8th General body meeting of Sarva Shikhsha Abhiyan, I would like to note that this flagship program has greatly helped our efforts in Sikkim to promote education and reaching out to the remotest corner of the State covering children of all age group. The noteworthy contribution made by Sarva Shikhsha Abhiyan towards promotion of Elementary Education and realization of the universalization of education policy in the State is commendable.
We need to reassert that SSA-RTE is not just a project to universalization of Elementary Education, but has the added responsibility of implementing its various programmes and activities in accordance with provisions made under Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009 implying compulsory admission, attendance and completion of Elementary Education for the children.
In compliance with these directives and in order to encourage cent percent admission and attendance including that of drop-out children, the State Government has established Special Training Centres to cater to these children. In these centres the children are provided bridge course to make them ready for joining the mainstream, age-appropriate classes. The Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidhyalaya (KGBV) in West District has been established to cater to the educational needs of those girl children who dropped out of school at class V. The Vidhyalaya provides education with hostel facilities free of cost to encourage these girls to continue their schooling and complete elementary education on a compulsory basis.
We are aware that the concept of educating Children with Special Needs has changed with the passage of time. In the past, we used to have a system of ‘Special School’ exclusively for these differently-abled children. However, with the passage of time, it was felt that this system of schooling gradually segregated these Children with Special Needs from the society and it ultimately became counter-productive. Inclusive Education under Sarva Shikhsha Abhiyan, makes it mandatory for children with special needs to be treated as an integral part of the general education system and for schools to enroll these children with special needs.
Another intervention of Sarva Shikhsha Abhiyan is the education of Scheduled Tribe and Scheduled Caste children. The main aim of this intervention is to increase the enrolment of Scheduled Tribe and Scheduled Caste Students in schools and discourage dropout of these students. As a result of this intervention students especially in the rural areas get enrolled into schools and get exposed to modern teaching-learning methods and extra-curricular activities of which sports and games being the major attraction. It was therefore decided that sports and games would be made one of the medium of achieving retention of the Scheduled Tribe, Scheduled Caste children in the School. Not only this, our children belonging to other categories such as Most Backward Classes and Other backward Classes should receive similar treatment. Sarva Shiksha could be all encompassing.
Accordingly, Sarva Shikhsha Abhiyan decided to make sports items available to the schools having a high Scheduled Tribe and Scheduled Caste enrolment. Sports Teachers were provided under RTE and provision for play ground was made for the successful implementation of this policy.
Distribution of free uniforms, textbooks and school bags form an integral part of inclusive incentives introduced by the State Government since 1995.. The opening of 62 schools till date is also commendable. Shiksha Ka Haque Abhiyan was also undertaken by Sarva Shikhsha Abhiyan for the purpose of Community Mobilization and for conveying the message of the RTE Act to all the children, teachers, parents and the Stakeholders of the State in its right perspective.
To find out how effectively the provisions of the RTE Act have been implemented in our government schools, a survey was conducted and information was collected through a format send by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India. I am happy to learn that the SSA cell has been successfully implementing all these provisions of RTE Act and call upon the public in general to take maximum benefit from this Act.
Computer Aided Learning, in short CAL, was implemented in the State of Sikkim for making learning of subjects like science and mathematics easy, enjoyable and fruitful with the aid of computers and other modern tools and equipments. The CAL programme was a support mechanism to make learning of various subjects more effective and productive for the students. The SSA cell took charge of the implementation of CAL in the State and indentified 20 schools to be modelled as Ideal CAL centres. 100 other schools were also later identified as CAL centers. These Junior High Schools, Secondary Schools and Senior Secondary Schools are being located evenly in the four districts of the state. The age group of students earmarked for this purpose was between the age group of 11-14 years i.e. standards VI, VII & VIII.
Over the decades, the State Government has initiated a large number of incentives special to State of Sikkim. Flagship program of the Central Government like the SSA has proved beneficial for promoting elementary education in the State.
No fees is levied to children upto the College level. Free Uniform & Free textbook upto class VIII are provided by the State Government. Text books on 50% concession are available for class IX to XII. Very interestingly, girl enrolment is higher than the Boys at all levels and no child is deprived of Free and compulsory Education
We have provision for Financial Assistance to BPL Students of Government colleges in Sikkim. The State Government has also introduced Merit and Prerna Scholarships to encourage merit and Girl students at elementary and Secondary levels. Children studying in Rashtriya Indian Military College, Dehradun and Sainik School, Golpara, Assam also avail of special scholarship.
The innovative Chief Ministers Merit Scholarship and Special Merit Scholarship are available to our children who are placed in best public schools in the Country and for those who secure admission in the top 20 Universities of the world.
Interest free Comprehensive Education Loan amounting to Rs.15 lakhs for Foreign University, Rs.7.5 lakhs for Indian Colleges & Rs.5 lakhs in Colleges within Sikkim is also provided to our students.
To encourage students in Science subjects, existing scholarships has been raised from Rs.1200/- to Rs.1600/- for under Graduate courses in addition to the existing Rs.10000/- contingency grant per annum. For Research and Innovation, Fellowship grant has been increased from Rs.5,000/- to Rs.8,000/- per month for M.Phil & PhD courses. There is cash incentives of 1 lakh each for Class X and XII Toppers for Humanities, Commerce, Science and Vocational streams.
I hope that the SSA cell will keep up its good work and continue to serve the children and society with utmost dedication and sincerity for accomplishing the goals envisaged by the RTE Act.
Education has always been considered as the greatest liberating force and powerful weapon of social change. The role of education in improving the quality of life enhancing social, moral, spiritual and economic productivity is well recognized. Education, in its broadest sense of development of youth, is the most crucial input for empowering people with skills and knowledge and giving them access to productive employment in future.
At a more objective level, programs like Sarva Shikshya Abhiyan has focussed on universal admission, retention and completion of elementary education with emphasis on education for life, bridging all gender and social category gaps at primary stage and elementary education level.
Child population encompasses that proportion of the total population of the country which lies in the age group of 0-6 years which is an important indicator since it overlooks a delicate segment of the population.
India is the second most populous country in the world where 13.12 percent of her population lies in the tender age bracket of 0-6 years as per the provisional Census 2011 figures. In Sikkim, we have over 11 percent children falling under the age group of 0-6 years. Therefore, with strong will and commitment, we can collectively ensure 100 percent schooling for our children.
We are aware that we have many constitutional, legal and national pronouncements for universalization of elementary education including the Constitutional Mandate of 1950 calling upon states to “endeavour to provide, within a period of ten years from the commencement of Constitution, for free and compulsory education to all children until they complete the age of 14 years." Next is the National Policy of Education, 1986 with injunction to "ensure ... free and compulsory education of satisfactory quality .... to all children up to 14 years of age before we enter the twenty first century" and also the Unnikrishnan Judgement of 1993 providing for right to free education for children until he completes the age of fourteen years.
As against the national scenario, the State Government has already made huge investment in the education sector to open new schools, create new or strengthen existing school infrastructure through provision of additional class rooms, toilets, drinking water, maintenance grant and school improvement grants.
Existing schools with inadequate teacher strength are provided with additional teachers, while the capacity of existing teachers is being strengthened by extensive training, grants for developing teaching-learning materials and strengthening of the academic support structure at a cluster, block and district level. We have tried with considerable success to provide quality elementary education including life skills with special focus on girl's education and children with special needs. In order to bridge the digital divide, we also provide computer education to our children as part of regular school curriculum. We spend over 20 percent in the education sector compared to the Country spending over 3.6 % of Gross National Product in Education Sector.
I would like to congratulate the Minister for HRD, my Cabinet Colleagues, MLAs, Secretary and all officials involved in the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan for their hard work and devotion.
I extend best of wishes to all of you who are engaged in the greatest task of educating our citizens- yesterday, today and tomorrow.
Thank you

BJP Sikkim condemns attack on media house

GANGTOK, 30 Jan: Bharatiya Janta Party [BJP] Sikkim unit has also strongly condemned the attack on the printing press of Sikkim Express and Himali Bela. A BJP state-unit press release states that the party was in the process of lobbying for peace bonus for the state but the attack on the media has proved that there is no peace in Sikkim. The release states that BJP wants to ensure the security of journalists in Sikkim and the party has demanded stringent action against the accused.

AJKS congratulates Sikkim Khel Ratna awardee Ravindra Kumar

GANGTOK, 30 Jan: Chief Convener of Anushuchit Jati Kalyan Sangh, Sikkim, Binay Gazmer along with Executive Members of AJKS met Sub Divisional Magistrate, Namchi, South Sikkim, Ravindra Kumar today at his office.
A press release informs that the delegation congratulated Mr Kumar for being conferred with the Sikkim Khel Ratna on Republic Day 2014 at Gangtok for successfully climbing Mount Everest. The team also briefed Mr Kumar about the social activities being carried out by AJKS for the welfare of the Scheduled Caste community. Mr Kumar assured to extend all possible support to AJKS in the future.
AJKS has also congratulated Kazi Sherpa and Anand Gurung on receiving the prestigious Sikkim Khel Ratna Award along with Mr. Kumar, the release adds.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Last Assembly session of present term concludes with review and appraisal

CHAMLING SATISFIED WITH SCALE AND DIRECTION OF GROWTH, WILL APPROACH ELECTION CAMPAIGN WITH CONFIDENCE

GANGTOK, Jan 29: Chief Minister Pawan Chamling today stated that the SDF government’s performance in its 20 years in power thus far has been positive and in the right direction, hence the party will approach the election campaign seeking fresh mandate for the fifth consecutive time on a confident note. He urged the people to examine the works that have been done in the state in the last four terms of the SDF government.
The Chief Minister was delivering the vote of thanks in the last Assembly session of the current government. He expressed confidence that SDF will return to power for a fifth consecutive term after the upcoming assembly elections due in April-May.
While addressing the House, Mr. Chamling detailed the achievements of the SDF government in the last two decades and said that decentralization and devolution of power to the grassroots level was a big achievement besides his government’s effort to bring all round development in the state.
The state government has done everything to protect Sikkim and Sikkimese interests, he stressed.
He said that his government has not failed to address public issues and will continue to do so in future, adding that his government has tried its best to uplift the living standards of the people of Sikkim and provide opportunities in the service sector and create white collar jobs protecting Rule 4(4) of Sikkim Government Service Rules 1974 and implement it in toto.
People should believe in what they have seen and received from the government in the last 20 years and vote accordingly, said the CM, adding that his government has not left any stone unturned in protecting the interests of Sikkim and the Sikkimese people.
“Sikkim is one of the fastest growing states of the Indian Union even though it became a part of the nation 28 years after India’s independence,” he said.
Mr. Chamling added that his government has been successful in convincing the central government in Sikkim’s favour on all major issues to address the demands of Sikkimese people.  
The SDF government has provided equitable representation to all communities in local bodies and in the employment sector, even the old business community has been provided reservation in the education sector, the CM pointed out.
The present government has put every effort to build human resources, development resources and employment opportunities enhancing the working culture and capacity to make every Sikkimese self-reliant, he added.
The SDF government plans to connect with the youth in the state through its ‘Sampurna Sampark Yojana’ especially meant for the youth and address the grievances of the younger generation, he informed.
He stressed that the State government has created a large number of employment opportunities both in the public and private sectors, but disinterest among the youth to seize these opportunities was the problem.
The government cannot provide all with government jobs, the young must cash in on opportunities created in other sectors, expressed Mr Chamling.
He described the present Assembly session as the most important one for the people of Sikkim because in it, the work done by the elected members during the last five years was taken into account.
He thanked the Speaker for successfully conducting business of the Assembly and for conducting the house smoothly and also thanked his deputy for the same. He also thanked his Council of Ministers, former Ministers, his sitting MLAs as well as former ones who were with him in working and taking Sikkim towards prosperity. He also thanked the government officials and media persons for their cooperation.
The house was adjourned sine-die by the Speaker before which the Speaker, KT Gyaltsen, in his vote of thanks, noted that the state has achieved commendable success in all sectors for which he credited the Chief Minister for his visionary and innovative plans, policies, programmes and good governance.

Bushfire stamped out near Namok


MANGAN, 29 Jan:  A forest fire broke out here at Pachas Dara near Namok in North Sikkim today but was soon brought under control. Fire tenders and forest officials along with local public reached the spot immediately and managed to douse the fire by afternoon.
One shop located at Pachas Dara which was in danger was saved with great effort by the fire tender Mangan, forest officials, local public and Police personnel.
The North District Administration has requested the general public of North Sikkim to immediately report fire incidents to the district office so that immediate action may be taken.

EAST ZONE SANTOSH TROPHY UPDATE

Chhattisgarh holds Odisha to goalless draw
GANGTOK, 29 Jan: Chhattisgarh held Odisha for a goalless draw today in the ongoing 68th edition of the National Football Championship for the Santosh Trophy for East Zone here at Paljor Stadium.
In the second match of the day, West Bengal outplayed Bihar 2-1. Bijoy Mandi scored the lead for West Bengal in the 37th minute finishing the first half with a scoreline of 1-0.
In the second half, Md Aftab Alan scored the equalizer for Bihar in the 68th minute but within a few minutes Sumit Orao extended the lead of West Bengal to 2-1 in the 72nd minute. With the final whistle, West Bengal finished the match with 2-1 lead.
On Thursday, Sikkim will take on Services in its second match in the tournament.

Two new Bills and one amendment Bill passed

GANGTOK, Jan 29: The second day of the last session of the Eighth Sikkim Legislative Assembly concluded today with the passing of two new Bills and one amendment Bill along with the first Supplementary Demand for Grants for current financial year 2013-14 of Rs. Rs.14677.47 lakh and Vote on Account for the period of six months of Rs.276821.86 lakh starting from April to September for the financial year 2014-15.
The Chief Minister Pawan Chamling who is also in-charge of Finance, Revenue and Expenditure Department tabled the First Supplementary Demand for Grants and Vote on Account for another six months on Tuesday in the Sikkim Legislative Assembly unanimously without discussion.
The Chief Minister while presenting the Vote on Account for another six months on Tuesday informed the floor of the house that the annual plan for financial year 2014-15 and Demands for Grants has not yet been finalized and will take some time and in pursuance of clause (1) sub-clause (a) of the Article 206 of the Constitution of India, the Vote on Account has been prepared for presentation to the Legislative Assembly pending consideration of the details for Grants for the year 2014-15.
Besides these two financial bills, the Legislative Assembly also passed two new legislations ‘The Places of Pilgrimage Management Bill’ and ‘The Sikkim Land Bill’ and one amended legislation unanimously.

SSP condemns attack on Sikkim Express workers

GANGTOK, 29 Jan: Sikkim Sangram Parishad convened a meeting chaired by the party’s working president, Rajendra Upreti, today at its party office in Development Area and passed a resolution condemning the recent and past attacks on the press and media.
An SSP press release informs that the party has strongly condemned the attack on the staff of Sikkim Express and Himali Bela by Phurba Sangay Sherpa on Tuesday. The release alleges that the SDF government failed to book the real culprits and give justice to the victims of the attack on Hamro Prajashakti on 04 July 2008. The party adds that a similar attack was repeated with Sikkim NOW! and was followed by the recent incident.
The release states that the SSP party will pressurize the government to enquire into Tuesday’s incident thoroughly and to punish all culprits of whatever stature in order to prevent such incidents from happening again.

Sikkim AIDS Control Employees Association to join all-India strike seeking regularisation

GANGTOK, 29 Jan: The Sikkim AIDS Control Employees Association (SACEA) will go on pen-down strike from 30 January and indefinite strike from 04 February 2014, supporting the all India strike called by All India AIDS Control Employees Association [AIACEA].
A press release informs that the strike is being called for the fulfilment of AIACEA’s six-point charter of demands. The demands include Regularisation of all employees working under Department of AIDS Control (National AIDS Control Organisation, State AIDS Control Societies and its peripheral units); Till the regularization, salary should be given at par and with all benefits as per central government employees (PF/DA/Maternity leave/Paternity leave/Medical benefits/risk allowances etc); Revised salary should be implemented w.e.f. April 2012 because National AIDS Control Programme (NACP)-III phase actually completed in April 2012; All employees should be continued/merged in next phase without removal of any post; Representation from association in policy making in DAC (2 members from All India AIDS Control Employees Association) and; Immediate withdrawal of new salary order send by DAC (Order No. A- 11011/23/2013-DAC (HR) dated 9/1/2014.

The release informs that during the period of strike, all facilities of Sikkim State AIDS Control Society like ICTC centres, DAPCU, STI, ART (ARV Drugs will be dispensed during the strike period) OST, Mobile ICTC, Blood Safety, including SSACS Head Office) will remain on indefinite strike until fulfilment of the demands or further notification from All India AIDS Control Employees Association.
“The Sikkim AIDS Control Employees Association (SACEA) requests all the stakeholders, PLHA networks, NGOs/CBOs closely working with SSACS to kindly support and bear with us until the demands are fulfilled”, the release adds.


SKM motorcade rolls through West Sikkim

GANGTOK, 29 Jan: Sikkim Krantikari Morcha’s ‘parivartan rally’ has now reached the West district after touring South Sikkim. The rally entered the West district from Kamling and then travelled through Wok, Legship, Tashiding, Yuksom, Kechopalri, Gyalshing and Pelling finally halting at Dentam.
An SKM press release informs that in the past four days of the rally, the number of vehicles and bikes has been increasing every day and on the fourth day today there were more than 400 cars and almost a hundred motorcycles.
This morning the rally started from Sadam and the motorcade received a grand welcome from locals while entering Namchi-Singhithang constituency, the release states. The rally then moved from Sadam to Melli Gumpa, Melli, Rong-Bul, Singhithang, Poklok-Kamrang and received a warm welcome at Namchi, it adds. On Thursday, the rally will proceed to Soreng, Sombaria and Jorethang.

SE vandal under five days police custody

GANGTOK, 29 Jan: Phurba Sangay Sherpa [38], accused of assaulting two technicians at the printing press of Sikkim Express and Himali Bela situated at Daragaon, Tadong on Tuesday has been put under five days police remand.
The accused is a resident of Sombaria in West Sikkim and at present resides at College area in Tadong.
A case under sections 324, 452, 506 [voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means, house-trespass after preparation for hurt, assault or wrongful restraint and punishment for criminal intimidation- if threat be to cause death or grievous hurt] of the Indian Penal Code has been registered against him at the Sadar Police Station after an FIR was lodged on Tuesday morning by the Publisher of Sikkim Express. The case is under investigation.

11 ICFAI students placed with IBM

GANGTOK, 29 Jan: The ICFAI University Sikkim (IUS), organized a campus recruitment drive in Gangtok recently where 11 of its students were selected by the IT company, IBM.
A press release informs that all final year students of BBA, BCA & BHTM participated in the recruitment process. After several rounds of interviews 11 students were selected. The selected students got lucrative salary offers and other benefits, the release mentions.
IBM is a blue-chip company having operations in India & abroad in the field of IT and ITES services. This was the second recruitment visit made by the team, led by Head – Campus Recruitments, IBM, Manoj Jinghan, it is informed.
The 3-member team met Vice Chancellor, SG Tashi, Registrar, Prof. ST Venchungpa and Dean, S Joshi and applauded the performances of last year’s selected students in their respective jobs. The team has appreciated the all-round performance and potential of students pursuing their studies at IUS, the release adds.

KVK Namthang organises free eye check-up

GANGTOK, 29 Jan: Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK), Namthang, South Sikkim organized a health camp under  Bagan (Wadi) Project for farmers of Kabrey, Kateng, Karek, Rabitar, Rabikhola, Nagi Deorali, Bokrang and nearby places of Namthang.
A press release informs that the programme started with the welcome note by Programme Coordinator, Tilak Gajmer. Zilla Upadakhshya, Devi Maya Baraily was present as the chief guest of the programme while Gram Vikas Adhikari, Robin Sewa was the guest of honour.
Doctors Dr. Twinkey Bhutia (Eye Specialist), Dr. Anju Rai, Dr. Binita Pariyar, Dr. Bijendra Rai (MD Ortho) and their team attended to patients at the camp, the release informs. A brief awareness programme on eye ailments was conducted by Dr. Twinkey Bhutia.
There were around 230 farmers present for their health check up. The camp was supported by two medical mobile units which carried out various blood tests, X- rays and other tests, it is informed.
Medicines and spectacles were also distributed to patients which were free of cost. Around 150 farmers were provided with glasses and medicines by Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Namthang, South Sikkim, the release adds.

Jai Ho!

Editorial:-
The violent trespass by a vandal at a newspaper printing press in Gangtok on Tuesday was the latest in a string of violent incidents in the capital. There have been a substantial number of political clashes, incidents of arson, stone pelting etc over the past couple of years and the continuing trend suggests that the situation will only get worse as the poll campaign heats up. Every act of political violence is reprehensible not only because violence drags civilisation down, but also because when politics resorts to violence, it abandons communication and persuasive skills which make it about people. Played with violence, politics becomes a dance, okay confrontation, between supporters aligned with different camps instead of being a contest of ideologies to win people’s endorsement. It hence becomes necessary for the society at large to step in and demand better conduct. Even if social organisations and community groups feel awkward commenting on turf battles between political groups, attack on the media should provide them with the neutral ground to slip in their say, condemn the incident and set out the rules. Unfortunately, that does not seem to be happening. The only groups condemning the recent attacks on media-persons and printing press are either journalist groups or political parties; the former is an affected party and the latter always ready with  comment anyways.
No social group has bothered to comment on the incident and in this silence screams a worrying sign for Sikkim.
It is becoming increasingly obvious with such displays of indifference that the social engagement required to keep society safe and priorities straight, is acutely wanting in Sikkim. And before one suggests that this comment comes only because the media is affected at present, one hastens to add that similar, and in fact more disturbing indifference, has also been rued in this section when the problem of suicides and addiction go largely unaddressed at the societal level. What is even more worrying in Sikkim’s case is that the society at large is not only disinterested, but also increasingly dismissive, reading of drug busts and instead of getting scandalised and worried, commenting that the right palms must not have been greased. Or say in the case of attacks on the media, believing that the media somehow deserves to be slapped around from time to time. When one says that these signs are worrying, it is not just because the indifference makes media more unsafe or youth more exposed to drugs, but because the lack of conscientious civic engagement is compromising everything else as well, from the quality of governance to the delivery of services to work culture. When people and their representative organisations join issue with events, incidents and occasions they are not directly related to, they establish links, build connections, set up a network of organisational reciprocity which, as it grows stronger, leads to civic solidarity. Societies which are so reinforced have been proved to produce such results as better schools, faster economic development, more inclusive growth, lower crime and also more effective governance. The virtues of better social connectedness are obvious because with improved coordination comes amplified representation and as groups learn to work better together, they also shed their suspicions and become better at resolving differences. That is a rather desirable future to head towards and the process begins as simply as by starting to notice, react and comment without the blinkers of established positions…

Compensation disbursement for Rongni Chu HEP affected awaits verification

GANGTOK, 29 Jan: A total of 18 families have been identified by the DC East office for disbursement of compensation relating to damages to their houses caused by blasting by Madhya Bharat.
Madhya Bharat is developing the 96 MW Rongni Chu hydroelectric project at Sumin in East Sikkim. The total amount to be disbursed has been calculated at around Rs. 37 lakh. However another matter that has cropped up in the wake of this is that some of the families claiming compensation may have already received compensation under the earthquake relief.
The company has been undertaking blasting works for the construction of the head race tunnel for the project at Sumin with the use of explosives. Due to this, families in the area had raised the issue that the blasting had caused damages to their houses. Cracks on the floors and walls are said to have begun to appear which were attributed to the excessive blasting works.
Following this a survey of the damages had been conducted by the Building & Housing department some time ago; while the allegations had been found to be genuine there had been a counter survey by the company itself which found a much lower number of families affected and therefore, the total amount to be disbursed as well. While earlier the figure was informed to be around Rs 50 lakh for around 40 families this has now come down to Rs. 37 lakh for 18 families.
While the DC, East, J Raje stated that the compensation would soon be disbursed there was one more verification to be conducted. It has now emerged that some of the affected families claiming compensation have already been compensated under the earthquake relief for house damage. In fact there are 10 families identified in the existing list of 18 affected families by the BDO are informed to have received compensation for house damage due to the earthquake of 18 September.
It is this which needs verification in terms of whether they have actually received the compensation and whether the damages that they claim to their dwellings are post earthquake or not.  A family cannot be compensated twice for the same damage and therefore as soon as this has been verified the compensation amount for the affected families will be disbursed, the DC, informed.

Roshan Pradhan gets interim bail in Yakha assault case

GANGTOK, 29 Jan: Roshan Pradhan, the main accused in the attack on SDF party worker, Avinash Yakha, on 22 January has applied and been given interim relief by the South district courts in the form of an interim bail.
According to information received, Roshan Pradhan was granted the interim bail today. This is an interim relief which will be in operation till 06 February when the actual hearing will be held for anticipatory bail as applied by the accused in the courts. What this means is that Roshan Pradhan cannot be arrested by the police at least till 06 February on the said case. Beyond that the court will deliberate further.
Roshan Pradhan is the main accused in the assault on Avinash Yakha at Temi in which the latter was hurt and was then admitted at the CRH, Tadong. The accused, along with other SKM party workers, was booked by the police on charges of attempt to murder, assault and other charges.
In relation to the assault on Avinash Yakha, an incident  in which two journalists had a narrow escape, the police have already picked up 4 SKM party workers.

ASSA organizes awareness prog for North Sikkim students

MANGAN, 29 Jan: All Sikkim Students Association (ASSA), organized awareness programme for North district students on 28 January at Mangan Senior Secondary School, Auditorium Hall. The programme was chaired by Joint Director, HRDD North, Sonam Lepcha accompanied by president ASSA, Pritam Singh from Gangtok, vice president, Tsheten Nodu Lepcha, general secretary, Kundhy Pema Lachungpa, Principal NSA, NP Kazi, Principal, MSSS, members of the association and approximately 300 students.
The programme started with a welcome address by the vice president highlighting the importance of the programme and how to further the talents of the students. He also stated that, ASSA is creating a positive environment and providing exposure to talented students.
The resource person from ITC, HIV/AIDS, Mangan hospital, Ganga P Subedi, informed about HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted infections (STI) and urged the gathering not to discriminate against infected persons in the society. He also gave information on prevention of HIV/AIDS.
Nima Tshering Bhutia of MSSS performed a solo song, Aayush Gajmer, little Michael Jackson of North district performed an MJ dance, the ASSA members from Gangtok also performed solo songs and other cultural programmes were also staged by students.
The chief guest, in his address, informed that the HRDD North and North Sikkim Academy is providing free winter coaching classes for the students of class X and above. He said that ASSA is doing good work for students and stressed on the importance of positive relations between students and teachers.
Principal, NSA, in his address appreciated ASSA’s efforts in conducting such awareness programmes. He further urged students to study hard and also participate in extra curriculum activities.
The programme concluded with vote of thanks by general secretary, ASSA, Kundhy Pema Lachungpa.

ASESEUA condemns attack on press

GANGTOK, 29 Jan: All Sikkim Educated Self Employed & Unemployed Association, has strongly condemned the Tuesday attack on a local media house.
In a press release, the association has stated that the attack was on the whole press fraternity and an attack on democracy as well. It is very unfortunate that such attacks are taking place on the media quite often but as always the State Police is not able to take stringent action against the culprits, the release alleges.
It further calls for serious action against police personnel who are responsible for maintaining law and order in order to set an example.
On the ruling party denying that the accused was a member of the party, the association has demanded that the administration and the investigating agency look into every angle of the case and get to the truth. The association has also appealed to the judiciary not to grant bail to the accused till the trial is over and set an example by taking the strictest action against culprits involved in similar cases.
ASESEUA has also appealed to the fellow youths of Sikkim not to indulge in such violent acts.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

PCS submits memorandum on attack to Governor, CM and DGP

GANGTOK, 28 Jan: Press Club of Sikkim (PCS) submitted memorandums on the attack on a local media house to Governor Shriniwas Patil, the Chief Minister’s Office, Director General of Police, Jasbir Singh and Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) vice president KB Chamling today.
A PCS release informs that a three-member PCS delegation consisting of president Bhim Rawat, general secretary Joseph Lepcha and publicity secretary Chewan Krishna Dahal along with Sikkim Express editor Amit Patro and associate editor Bijoy Gurung submitted a memorandum to Governor Patil at Raj Bhavan.
In its representation, the PCS urged the Governor to direct the administration for swift and strict action against the accused person and to ensure stronger security and safe working environment for all media workers in Sikkim. The Governor was also briefed by the PCS delegation about previous attacks on media houses and journalists in Sikkim.
The release informs that the Governor directed Raj Bhavan secretary R. Telang to contact the Chief Secretary, R Ongmu on the grievances and concerns raised by the PCS. Such attacks on media should not be repeated and plainclothes police should be deployed in areas where the media houses are located, he said.
“What happened today should not have been happened. It is the responsibility of the government to ensure security of the media,” said the Governor during the 10-minute long interaction with the PCS delegation, it is informed.
The PCS delegation then submitted a similar representation to the Chief Minister’s office in Samman Bhavan detailing the attack on Sikkim Express. The PCS requested Chief Minister Pawan Chamling for strong action against the miscreant and to dispel fears among the journalists about their safety.
The Chief Minister has directed the Chief Secretary to “initiate strict action as per law”. A copy of the directive spelt out in the PCS memorandum was also dispatched to the PCS office here at DPH, the release mentions.
Executive committee members of PCS along with working journalists also marched up to the Sikkim Police headquarters to submit a memorandum to Director General of Police (DGP) Jasbir Singh. The DGP was reminded about a similar attack of November 2012 on Sikkim Now! Office and his assurances given then to the PCS that such incident would not be allowed to occur again.
Mr Singh told the PCS delegation that prompt action has been taken by the police on the incident. He assured that police will take strong legal approach on the case against the accused person. He further informed that police patrolling along the areas where media houses are located would be strengthened, the release adds.
A high-level meeting will be held with PCS on establishing a security mechanism for journalists during the upcoming elections, said the DGP.
The fourth memorandum on the incident was submitted to the SDF headquarters here at Indira Bypass. The representation was received by SDF vice president KB Chamling who assured that the party would probe the claims of the accused person of being an SDF member and if so, take strong action against him.

Siliguri Press Club [SPC] has strongly condemned the attack on Sikkim Express and Himali Bela office. SPC president, Pramod Giri has demanded that the state government take strong action to create an environment for independent journalism in Sikkim.

Accused not a party member, SDF clarifies, condemns attack on media
Sikkim Democratic Front has clarified that Phurba Sangay Sherpa, who attacked the office of Sikkim Express and Himali Bela on Tuesday is not a member of the party even though he claims to be one. SDF has asserted that it does not take any responsibility for the accused, who, the party states, has tried to defame its name and image.
An SDF press release issued by the publicity secretary, Chudamani Mishra states that it is possible that the Opposition used this person and instigated him into the act to defame the ruling party. SDF has further strongly criticized and condemned the incident.
The party has also demanded strong legal action against the accused in the attack on Sikkim Express and Himali Bela office and on journalists, Prakash Adhikari and Homnath Dawadi earlier on 22 January.
Meanwhile, it is informed that the party has expelled Sonam Tshering Lepcha of Sawreni under Namcheybong constituency from the party for indiscipline.

SKM condemns attack on media, blames SDF
Sikkim Krantikari Morcha [SKM] has criticized and strongly condemned the attack by a person who they are convinced is a member of the ruling party on Sikkim Express and Himali Bela office this morning. The party has alleged that the incident only adds to the long list of attacks on the Press during the 20-year SDF rule in Sikkim.
An SKM press release issued by its spokesperson, MN Dahal, alleges that the accused was a close friend of one of the Chief Minister’s sons in whose name the vehicle is also reportedly registered. With his son being involved in such an incident, the CM should step down as the Chief Minister on moral grounds, the SKM demands.
Stating that no judicial enquiry or action has been taken on attacks on the media in the past, SKM has argued that this proves the autocratic rule of the SDF government.
Passing off party workers as journalists and accusing SKM of attacking them is totally wrong, the release states further, while commenting an earlier incident when journalists belonging to Samay Dainik and Swarnabhoomi were recently attacked by alleged SKM workers in Temi.

SPA condemns
Sikkim Press Association [SPA] has strongly condemned the attack on Sikkim Express and Himali Bela office at Tadong this morning and demanded stringent action against the accused.
An SPA release informs that this was decided during an emergency meeting of the association chaired by the SPA president, Xavier Subba, today. The association has further demanded that the administration ensure the security of media persons in the state. The association highlights that this incident, so fresh on the heels of the attack on two journalists at Temi [in a clash between SKM and SDF], has offered more cause for concern for the security of journalists.


Vandal attacks Sikkim Express press; Overpowered and handed over to police

MEDIA UNITES IN CONDEMNATION
GANGTOK, 28 Jan: The media fraternity was up in arms yet again when another media house bore the brunt of an attack early this morning. A person claiming to be an SDF party worker attempted to vandalise the Sikkim Express printing press here at Daragaon and attacked the staff at work there in the wee hours of 28 January.
The accused, Phurba Sangay Sherpa, claiming to be an SDF ‘youth leader’, was overpowered when he barged into the printing press at around 4 a.m. He first attacked a staff member with an iron rod and then brandished a knife at the workers at the printing press there. Two workers were injured in the attack before he was subdued by the press personnel. He was then handed over to the Tadong police outpost.
Before trespassing into the press he also vandalized the press vehicle parked outside.
This attack on the media comes just a little over a year after the attack on NOW! by members of the ruling party. As police sources inform, the latest attack could have had more personal overtones. The accused has reportedly confessed to being drunk at the time of the incident but what is disturbing is that he was beaming with full confidence of immunity against any serious action. This aspect has become the order of the day and against which not only the common people but the police, too, seem to have no answer.
Later in the day, the Press Club of Sikkim met with the Governor to submit a memorandum and seek his intervention in securing the workspace of media in Sikkim. A memorandum was also submitted to the Chief Minister. A meeting was also held in the chamber of the DGP, Sikkim Police.
The DGP assured full cooperation and enhanced patrolling in areas where there are media offices.
However the media fraternity did not seem convinced at such assurances which have been put forward earlier as well. In an attempt to ensure that the police and the administration take serious note of attacks against the media, particularly at such sensitive times with the general elections a couple of months away, a dharna was also staged at the Gandhi statue at MG Marg. A memorandum was also submitted at the SDF party office where senior party leaders assured to inquire into the incident and take strong action against the accused.
The media fraternity is particularly concerned about the way in which the media house was attacked. As per the memorandum submitted to the DGP, the assault was audacious in that the accused arrived in a vehicle bearing the SDF flag and the forcefulness with which he introduced himself as a youth leader before the media personnel present as well as the police which as stated in the memorandum “…gave the impression that he is immune to any law.”