Friday, February 7, 2014

Gram Swaraj Mela reaches West Sikkim

PELLING, 06 Feb: Chief Minister Pawan Chamling on Thursday distributed various schemes to beneficiaries of West District during the Gram Swaraj Mela (Janata Mela) 2014 organized by Rural Management Development Department (RMDD) today here at Pelling Senior Secondary School play ground.
The CM handed the tokens of different schemes like, Induction Stove, GCI Sheets, CMRHM, solar light and house upgradation etc to the beneficiaries. 11,000 GCI sheets and 1,750 Induction Stoves along with other benefits were distributed to the people from various parts of the district. Apart from this, beneficiaries under the Chief Minister’s Self Employment Scheme financed by SIDICO also received their vehicles.
In his address, the CM urged the people to get their tokens from the respective Departmental stalls or from the respective Gram Vikas Kendras (GVK) within 15 days. He called upon the panchayats and MLAs to stand united against “destructive forces” getting active in the run-up to elections in the state.
Mr. Chamling reminded the gathering about the massive changes and development brought by the SDF Government since 1994. “The SDF government is not about Chamling but it is for the Sikkimese people,” he added.
He further informed about plans to add more floors to houses constructed under the Chief Minister’s Rural Housing Mission (CMRHM) after the 2014 poll result and expressed confidence that SDF will regain power to serve the people more efficiently. “I believe Sikkim will be the first kutcha house free state in India”, he added.
Mr Chamling also appealed to the people not to get confused by the baseless allegations leveled by the opposition parties which deal in falsehoods in the absence of real issues.
Also present were Speaker, Sikkim Legislative Assembly, KT Gyaltsen along with Cabinet Ministers, MLAs and Heads of Departments.


MS clarifies allegations of STNM Hospital forcing inconsiderate removal of corpse

GANGTOK, 06 Feb: The Medical Superintendent, STNM Hospital, Dr. Yogesh Verma has clarified the hospital’s stand on the recent incident in which family members of a deceased 27-year-old youth from West Pendam were allegedly forced to remove the dead body out of the hospital complex on the night of 03 February.
Speaking to NOW! today, Dr. Verma, while detailing the series of events, also contended that some “ill-informed” individuals had given a different “twist” to the entire episode.
According to the MS, the patient was brought to the emergency ward of the hospital on 03 February with liver complications. At around 8 pm the patient passed away in the minor operation theatre at the Trauma Centre. The dead body remained there until, at around 9:30 pm the doctor on duty received new emergency cases that needed immediate treatment in the minor OT. The dead body of the youth was removed from the OT and kept in the narrow passage of the trauma ward.
The Medical Superintendent further added that it was not the hospital administration that asked the family to remove the dead body from the trauma centre initially but other in-patients at the emergency ward who disapproved of the body being kept in the passageway.
“It was the other patients and their families who asked the family to remove the body from the passage after which an altercation ensued between the patient parties and the party of the deceased. It was then that the hospital authorities had to intervene and remove the dead body from the corridor in the presence of police personnel who were witness to the entire episode,” stated Dr. Verma.
He added that the hospital administration had also given the deceased’s family the option to take the body to the mortuary where there were provisions for keeping the same or take the body home. It was said that none of the options was taken by the deceased’s family and instead the commotion at the hospital continued till 11 pm when the family ultimately agreed to take the body home.
“We gave them an option for convenience which they refused to take and now we hear of such allegations. The other in-patients who demanded that the body be removed from the passageway were also entitled to do so as it is not advisable to keep a dead body next to other patients for long periods. The presence of the body had discomforted the entire trauma ward which is why this had to be done as per the rules and regulations,” he clarified.
In a detailed press communiqué issued later this evening, the MS adds that the patient party had initially, while turning down the offer to shift the body into the mortuary, said they would be leaving in 15-20 minutes. Also, when they did eventually leave, they even thanked the doctor when they came back to give the stretcher, the release details.
Looking into the explanation and the version, the undersigned is of the opinion that at no point of time was the patient made to remove the body immediately. In fact the body was kept in the premises within the Emergency of the hospital from 8:00 PM to 11:00 PM. The hospital Emergency is extremely busy and at all times there is an acute shortage of space. In spite of these constraints and compelling needs of other patients the dead body was accommodated in the Emergency for three hours,” the Medical Superintendent goes on to detail.

“The hospital staff at no time had any arguments with the patient party but there were arguments between two groups of patient relatives for reasons mentioned above,” he reiterates.

Social Audit on MGNREGA works held at Duga

GANGTOK, 06 Feb: Social Audit on MGNREGA works was conducted from 29 January to 03 February at Budang-Kameray and West Pendam GPUs under Duga GVK. The audit was conducted by District Resource Institute YODESS.
A press release informs that State Resource Person (SRP) Sawan Rai and District Resource Person (DRP) Sudha Rai conducted the document verification and field visit of Budang Kameray GPU while DRP, NP Dawari and Meena Chettri conducted the same at West Pendam. The teams audited MGNREGA Work like rural connectivity, footpath, bamboo plantation, jhora training.
The public hearing (Jan Sunwai) of Budang-Kamarey was held on 03 February which was chaired by senior citizen LN Dhakal. It was also attended by GVA Duga, SK Pokhrel, APO, AE, ACF, JE, GRS, Mate, job card holder and local public.
Due to the Janta Mela, the Jan Sunwai of West Pendam GPU which was scheduled to be held on 02 February has been postponed to 18 February, the release informs.
Social Audit at Rongyek Tathangchen GPU under Gangtok GVK and Ranka GPU under Ranka GVK will be held from 06-11 February, it adds.


SKM supporters accused of vandalism and robbery

GANGTOK, 06 Feb: A case has been registered against supposed SKM party supporters at the Singtam Thana on charges of vandalizing a vehicle and for robbery. As per the complainant, Bishwas Thapa of Raley, East Sikkim his vehicle was damaged and car stereo along with Rs. 3,000 in cash was taken by SKM supporters at Raley on 04 February.
The incident is reported to have occurred when the complainant along with others was attending a Saraswati puja celebration in the neighbourhood. The SKM supporters allegedly arrived in 4 vehicles and even threatened him and others. The Singtam police have registered a case and while efforts are on no arrests have been made so far.



SKM condemns SDF statements

GANGTOK, 06 Feb: Sikkim Krantikari Morcha has condemned and expressed displeasure over the tone and content of the ruling party’s statement published today in different Nepali and English newspapers. The party has also claimed that the ruling party has already been defeated on every front by a year-old opposition party.
An SKM press release states that the party president, PS Tamang’s [Golay] challenge to the Chief Minister Pawan Chamling for a public debate has alarmed the ruling party. Instead of ridiculing the SKM president, SDF’s publicity secretaries should advice the CM to take up the challenge, the release adds. 

The party has further stated that SDF should first study SKM’s programme declared on its foundation day at Jorethang before giving any statements on it. 

Sikkim Milk Union makes it to Board of National Dairy Federation

GANGTOK, 06 Feb: The Sikkim Cooperative Milk Producers Milk Ltd has now become a member of the Board of Directors in the National Cooperative Dairy Federation of India (NCDFI).
A press release informs that the Sikkim Cooperative Milk Producers Union, represented by Mangal Jit Rai, was elected as a member of the Board of Directors in the National Cooperative Dairy Federation of India in the meeting held on 04 February 2014 at its head quarters in Anand, Gujarat.
Mr. Rai, a member of the Board of Directors of the Sikkim Co-operative Milk Producers Union Ltd, was nominated by the Sikkim Milk Board to attend the National Special General Meeting and to contest for a position in the NCDFI’s Board of Directors on behalf of Sikkim Milk Union.
The present elected board of NCDFI will hold office for next five years. The NCDFI coordinates all the State Level Federations in the aspects of Cooperative Dairy Development at National level.

This is one of the proudest moments and is a significant achievement for the Sikkim Milk Union, the release expresses.

Training on Cooking and House Keeping begins at Maniram

NAMCHI, 06 Feb: The inaugural function of 21-day Skill Development Training Programme on Cooking and House Keeping under Centre for Practical Livelihood Training, a society of North Eastern Development Finance Corporation Limited in association with Rural Consultancy, was held on 05 February at Maniram Village Tourism Cultural Centre, Maniram, South Sikkim. 
The function was attended by Manager NEDFi Namchi Branch, Abhisek Lama as the chief guest. Altogether 24 interested participants attended the training programme on cooking and house-keeping. This training programme will take place for 20 days starting from 05 February till 25 February.
This skill development training will not only provide additional knowledge to the trainers but will also help in boosting tourism in that particular area, as  Maniram Village is one of the upcoming village tourism spots in South Sikkim. The Maniram Village Tourism has been doing well and is among the best home stay tourism spots in South District. This training programme is expected to enhance the tourism sector here further.
Also present were Director, Rural Consultancy, Nirpad Gurung, Advisor Rural Consultancy and general secretary of Sikkim Association of Tour and Travel Operators, Saran Gurung. Among the representatives from the locality were Purna Tamang, general secretary Maniram Village Tourism and Mentor for the Training Programme, Smita Rai.


‘ONGC’s Swavlamban Abhiyan’ distributes free aids in North Sikkim

MANGAN, 06 Feb: Sixty persons with disabilities were provided with free aids and assistive devices at Mangshila, Panchayat Ghar of North Sikkim on 05 February.
The distribution of free aids was done under the CSR initiative ‘ONGC’s Swavlamban Abhiyan’, a collaborative effort of the Artificial Limbs Manufacturing Corporation of India [ALIMCO] , a Government of India undertaking under Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment and Oil & Natural Gas Corporation Ltd [ONGC] with the support of North District Scheduled Caste Welfare Association [NDSCWA].
The ONGC and Kanpur-based ALIMCO had inked an agreement valuing Rs 250 million for the first phase of the ONGC’s Swavlamban Abhiyan in early December last year.
An assessment camp to shortlist beneficiaries was earlier held on 20 December last year at Mangan. Out of 116 people who attended the camp, 60 were given wheel chairs, hearing aids and other aids on 05 February.
The programme was attended by Panchayat president of the Mangshila GPU, Dilli Ram Limboo as chief guest, President, NDSCWA, Naku Tsh Pariyar and members, Panchayat secretary and local gentries and the scrutiny was conducted Dr. Rajeev Ranjan from STNM. The remaining patients will be provided with aids as soon as the supplies arrive from Guwahati.
The beneficiaries were taught on the use and care of the equipments. The chief guest, Mr Limboo said that this is a great initiative taken up by the ONGC and NDSCWA for the physically challenged of the district. He informed that other remote areas of the district will also be covered.

He also informed that the subsistence allowance for beneficiaries of North district has not yet been received and the matter has been placed to the Chief Minister.

Jigme N. Kazi is the Lone Warrior

RELEASES SEQUEL TO INSIDE SIKKIM: AGAINST THE TIDE
GANGTOK, 06 Feb: Author of “Inside Sikkim: Against the Tide”, Jigme N Kazi has released his new book, “The Lone Warrior: Exiled In My Homeland”, a sequel to his previous book.
A press release informs that the The Lone Warrior highlights the downfall of the Nar Bahadur Bhandari regime, which ruled Sikkim for a decade and half (1979-1994) and subsequent events in Sikkim leading to formation of Pawan Chamling-led Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) government in December 1994.
The book, released on 06 February, 2014, “delves deeply into social, religious and political issues – Assembly seat reservation, income tax, Rathongchu hydro power project, scaling of Khangchendzonga, Gurudongmar lake controversy, Opposition unity – that the Chamling Government confronted during its first three successive terms in office (1994-2009).”
The Lone Warrior: Exiled In My Homeland also seeks to highlight how and why the author – a journalist – left journalism and joined active politics, the release states. Mr. Kazi had joined Congress, but has since returned to journalism.
Mr. Kazi currently edits two weekly English newspapers – Sikkim Observer and Himalayan Guardianand has plans to revive his other publications. In his 30-year career in journalism, he has worked for numerous local, regional, national and international publications and news services, including Eastern Express, North East Daily, The Telegraph, The Statesman, United News of India (UNI), The Independent (Nepal) and Inter Press Service (IPS).
Published by Hill Media Publications, Gangtok, the 276-page book priced at Rs 525, is available at Observer Building, Nam Nang, Gangtok, Sikkim and at the local books shops in Gangtok.


I-League Second Division prelims begin at Paljor Stadium

GANGTOK, 06 Feb: I-League Second Division preliminary round of Group B will be starting tomorrow here at Paljor Stadium. Five clubs from different parts of the country in group B will take each other on to qualify for the final round of the I-League Second Division.
The group A teams are Hindustan FC [Delhi], Kenkre FC [Mumbai], Eagle FC [Kerala], Bhawanipore FC [Kolkata] and Aizwal FC [Mizoram].
Tomorrow, the first match will be played between Aizwal FC and Eagle FC at 11:30 AM, which will be followed by the other match between Kenkre FC and Bhawanipore FC.
It may be mentioned here that Gangtok has been chosen as one of the venues this time for the preliminary round of the I-League Second Division, while another six teams in group A will be playing the preliminary round at Dhanbad.
Sikkim Football Association’s general secretary, Menla Ethenpa informs that all five teams have already arrived in Gangtok and have been practicing at Paljor Stadium as per schedule. “Only the top two teams from each group will qualify for the final round and will join the home club United Sikkim Football Club to play the ‘double leg league’ in the final round. However, the venue has not been decided for the final round so far”, he said.
Mr Ethenpa mentioned that the SFA has been bringing prestigious tournaments for the people of Sikkim and would continue to do so.

Sikkim Football Association has appealed to the people to come to the stadium to witness the matches by I-League teams. 

Home Ministry constitutes committee to look into concerns of people from NE living elsewhere

GANGTOK, 06 Feb: The Ministry of Home Affairs, North East Division has constituted a committee to look into the various kinds of concerns of persons hailing from the North Eastern states who are living in different parts of the country, especially in the metropolitan areas, and to suggest remedial measures which could be taken by the government.
The committee will be headed by MP Bezbaruah [Retd IAS, Member of North-Eastern Council] as Chairman along with HWT Syeim [Retd IAS], Allen Temshi Jamir [Retd IAS], Tape Bagra [Retd IAS], P Bharat Singh [Retd IAS] as Members and S Saha [Deputy Secretary, MHA] as Member Secretary.
The Chairman of the Committee shall co-opt members, one each from the other North Eastern states and Sikkim as well as one lady member. Robin Hibu [IPS, Joint Commissioner of Police, Delhi] will also be in the team of the Ministry of Home Affairs which will assist the Committee.
The Committee will examine the concerns regarding the security of persons from the North Eastern states and other concerns. It will also examine the causes behind the attacks or violence and discrimination against the people from the North East and suggest measures to be taken by the Government to address these concerns. The Committee will also suggest legal remedies for the same.
The Ministry of Home Affairs will provide secretarial assistance and other facilities to the Committee.
Meanwhile, Joint Commissioner of Police, Delhi, Robin Hibu has invited people to share their experiences and suggestions with him. People have been requested to share their experiences of problems/discrimination/apathy at metropolitan cities while you visit/stay/interact with different people/government authorities, etc as well as offer suggestions on dealing with such problems.

The suggestions and experiences can be sent via e-mail at robinhibu@gmail.com or on Whatsapp at 9810083486. People have been further requested to discuss the matter with friends so that elaborate suggestions can be recommended to stop any ill-treatment/racist acts to any North Eastern in metropolitan cities. It is not necessary to mention your name when you send your suggestions.

On Suicides, Again

Editorial:-
This section returns to this worry too often, and that should be reinforcement enough of the magnitude of the problem. It is clear that not enough is being done at any level to address the disconcerting prevalence of suicides in Sikkim. This newspaper, we repeat, had started reporting on suicide cases in the belief that as readers started noticing the frequency with which people were ending their lives in Sikkim, some initiative will shake out of that collective concern. While some noises were made initially, in what appears many years back, and even some sensitisation programmes attempted, nothing meaningful has unfortunately materialised to address the issue. It appears that news-report of yet another suicide has even stopped shocking people anymore. But it should shock. Imagine the trauma a brother will have to carry throughout his life after having found his 15 year old sister dead to suicide, having hung herself with a khada at home. This happened recently in Gangtok, and is unfortunately not a rare occurrence. Suicides have become too commonplace in Sikkim. Some months back, a 10 year old in rural East Sikkim returned home from tuition classes to discover his mother’s dead body hanging from the ceiling fan. Those who have not had to deal with the confusion and trauma of having a near one commit suicide cannot even begin to fathom the shock and horror of such an experience, but all can surely empathise with the suffering of the people in question – both, the suicide victims as well as the families that they leace behind. Time will probably heal the 10-year-old child or alleviate the brother’s sorrow, but in their loss, Sikkim should sit down and work out how it plans to deal with the situation.

Too many people, all over Sikkim and across all age-groups are ending their own lives. Suicide is no longer a rarity or an aberration and returns too often to haunt Sikkim and claim fathers, mothers, grandparents, and also too often, even children. It is not enough to deduce that people end their lives because of problems they cannot deal with any more or due to poverty. Everyone has problems and many are poor, not all of them commit suicide. It is also obvious that the psychiatric help which keeps things in balance in one’s mind is not adequately available in Sikkim. Contemplating suicide is one thing, to actually commit it quite another. Obviously, not everyone attempt it, but those whose mental make-up has been debilitated by an unnoticed and untreated ailment are more wont to do so. Depression is rampant in Sikkim and although more people are coming forward nowadays than earlier to seek medical help, there are too many who still obviously don’t. Fact also remains that of everyone who requires it, started seeking medical help, there simply won’t be enough psychiatrists around to attend to anyone. And that is where paramedics, NGOs and social organisations will have to come in. With the comforting cushion of a large family gone, the pressures of modern lifestyles get the better of many and some snap under it. It is an accepted fact that a majority of the suicides can be prevented if the right psychiatric help and counsel were made available at the right time. Sikkim needs to figure out how it will do so. And it will have to figure this out fast, before another minor stumbles on to a suicide by a family member or another parent learns of a suicide of a child...

Lineman electrocuted

GANGTOK, 06 Feb: A lineman with the Power Department was electrocuted while on duty. The incident occurred on 04 February at Kumrek under Pakyong police jurisdiction. The lineman, Ash Bahadur Tamang, 53, had climbed up an electric pole at around 6 in the evening for minor maintenance works. However, he did not shut off the main supply line. While he was working he was hit by a jolt of electric current throwing him off the 10 m electric pole. He later succumbed to his injuries. He was a resident of Kumrek Bhasmey.

15-year-old commits suicide

GANGTOK, 06 Feb: A 15-year-old girl is reported to have committed suicide here in Gangtok. According to reports, the teenager was found hanging by her brother on 04 February in their home. The deceased was a resident of Sichey, Gangtok.

State shortlists handloom and handicraft items for National Award 2012


GANGTOK, 06 Feb: The selection of Handloom and Handicraft items for National Award 2012 was convened in the CDAC centre of D.H.H. complex today. Three Handloom and Handicraft items were selected by the Selection Committee to be sent to New Delhi for selection of National Award 2012.
Director, D.H.H., Ganga D. Pradhan was present as the chief guest along with Assistant Director, MSEC, office of the Development Commissioner (Handicrafts), Ministry of Textiles, PC Bairagi, who is the Convenor for National Award Selection 2012 for the state of Sikkim.
An official release informs that this is an annual feature of the Ministry of Textiles, Government of India and during the programme Mr Bairagi informed about the award and benefits like cash prize, Merit Certificate and old age transferable pension for spouse from the age of 60 years.
The chief guest, Ganga D. Pradhan while addressing the gathering urged for mass participation from weavers and artisans in the coming years and thanked all Members of the Selection Committee for National Award 2012.

Also present today were Project Officer, SRDA, Member, SW Dorjee, General Librarian, Namgyal Institute of Tibetology, Deorali, Member, Tenzing Samphel, Deputy Director (Training), DHH, Member, Chozang Tshering Lepcha, Deputy Director (Project), SHHDC Ltd., Member, PR Ghimeray, Assistant Director (Production), Pema Sangmo, Investigator, MSEC, Deorali, DK Khawas and other officials of DHH.

MESSAGE OF CHIEF MINISTER PAWAN CHAMLING FOR THE SILVER JUBILEE CELEBRATION OF NYINGMA MONLAM CHENMO AT BODHGAYA BEING OBSERVED FROM 31 JANUARY TO 10 FEBRUARY 2014.

“Rekindle heavenly virtues of compassion, understanding, cooperation and mutual respect”
Message
It is with great pleasure and immense admiration that I address this message to this holy congregation on the auspicious occasion of Silver Jubilee Celebration of Nyingma Monlam Chenmo that is being observed from 31st January till the 10th of February 2014. The annual Nyingma Monlam Chenmo is a richly- endowed spiritual experience for the followers to pray for world peace and dedicating their prayers to Bodhisatvas and Guru Padmasambhava, the founder of their tradition.
In this unfolding world of acute materialism and declining human compassion, this Nyingma Monlam Chenmo holds up immense hope to rekindle heavenly virtues of compassion, understanding, cooperation and mutual respect among all the people worldwide. Through holy teaching, we can cultivate and promote a greater sense of inner spiritual well being among our people and establish a more tolerant human society in the world.
I would like to congratulate all of you for being the messengers of peace, love and truth and for your priceless service to the society. I am confident that the Nyingma Monlam Chenmo will go from strength to strength and continue to bring greater peace and prosperity to our precious yet fragile world.
With best wishes
Pawan Chamling
Chief Minister of Sikkim

Thursday, February 6, 2014

SIKKIM AIDS CONTROL SOCIETY EMPLOYEES JOIN NATIONWIDE INDEFINITE STRIKE

AIDS awareness and support services suspended
GANGTOK, 05 Feb: The Sikkim AIDS Control Employees Association [SACEA] is now on an indefinite strike, starting 04 February in support of the ongoing all India strike called by the All India AIDS Control Employees Association [AIACEA] demanding the fulfillment of its six-point charter of demands. Earlier, the association had been on a pen-down strike from 30 January till 03 February.
During the indefinite strike, except supply of ARV Drugs, all other facilities of Sikkim State AIDS Control Society like ICTC centres, DAPCU, STI, OST, Mobile ICTC, Blood Safety, including SSACS Head Office will remain closed until the demands are fulfilled or further notification from AIACEA.
Standard antiretroviral therapy (ART) consists of the combination of at least three antiretroviral (ARV) drugs to maximally suppress the HIV virus and stop the progression of HIV disease. Huge reductions have been seen in rates of death and suffering when use is made of a potent ARV regimen, particularly in early stages of the disease. Furthermore, expanded access to ART can also reduce the HIV transmission at population level, impact orphanhood and preserve families.
SACEA members today informed that even the ARV drugs supply facility will remain open only till 09 February. It is added that most of the states have already stopped ARV drugs supply facility joining the nation-wide strike.
It is informed that there are 96 HIV+ve persons taking ARV drugs at present and they are given a month´s supply at the beginning of each month. The patients administer the drugs themselves. It is learnt that some of them have already taken their supply of ARV medication for the month.
“90% of the local patients [HIV+ve people] are on ARV drug treatment. Since it is important for the patients to take it every day we do not want to stop the supply so the authorities should fulfill our demands at the earliest”, the striking association members said.
SACEA members also urged the state government to take the issue to the concerned authorities at the centre.
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 sent by DAC in January 2014.

Task force set up to oversee major infrastructural projects

GANGTOK, 05 Feb: A task force has been put in place by the state government for the execution of some major centrally funded infrastructural projects being undertaken in the state. While these projects have been underway for several years the purpose of the task force is to see that there is timely completion of the works and that the projects are operationalised within the scheduled time frame.
Most of these projects such as the Railway link to Sikkim and the alternate highway have been pending for a long time with little or no significant progress ever since they were contemplated and announced as feasible.
All the listed infrastructural development projects that come under the terms of reference of this task force, headed by the Chief Secretary as Chairperson, are being funded by the central government and come under various central government ministries.
These include the Airport being constructed at Pakyong which is under the Civil Aviation Ministry; the Sevoke to Rangpo Railway link under the Railways Ministry; the construction of the alternate route to Sikkim which supposedly has been approved from and cuts through Jalpaiguri and emerges at Rhenock, Sikkim and is under the Road Transport & Highways Ministry and finally the upgradation works on the national highway 31A which is also under the Road Transport and Highways Ministry.
The key purpose in putting up such a task force is to identify bottlenecks and potential problems that are likely to crop up in the phases leading to and during construction; subsequently the task force is then to take timely corrective action to ensure the completion of these projects in Sikkim.
All action taken or to be taken are to be communicated to the Ministry of DoNER.
Besides the CS other members of the Task Force include the Principal Secretary, Finance; Development Commissioner; Secretaries, Transport, Tourism and Civil Aviation, Roads & Bridges and representatives of concerned central government ministries including Railways, Civil Aviation and Roads.
Also included as a member is a representative of Ministry of DoNER, Joint Secretary, VB Pathak.

State-level football trials held for State Sports Academy vacancies

GANGTOK, 05 Feb: Eighty-three footballers from all four districts attended the state-level selection trials for admission into the State Sports Academy here under the Department of Sports & Youth Affairs held today at Paljor Stadium. There are 15 seats lying vacant in the Academy and these trials were held to fill up those seats.
Footballers aged between 14 to 17 years were shortlisted from the district-level selection trials held earlier. In the district-level trials, 42 footballers from East district, 12 from West, 22 from North and 07 from South district were selected. The district level trials were held on 28 January for West and North districts, 30 January for South and finally for East district on 04 February.
The contenders were selected by a 3-member state level selection committee comprising of former national footballers from Sikkim, Hangu Norden Lepcha, Kushal Subba and Nima Thendup.
SYA Deputy Director [coaching], Thupden Rapgyal informs that the total strength of the State Sports Academy is 30, and at present 15 positions are lying vacant as some of its students have joined reputed clubs within and outside the state, some got jobs and others left the Academy after finishing class XII.
He informs that the selection committee will be releasing the merit list of 30 footballers from the state-level trials by Thursday evening.

Mr Rapgyal informs that on the basis of the merit list, players will be admitted into the academy after completion of the process of verification of documents, etc. 

SOA thanks CM for considering demand for Multi-Purpose Sports Complex

GANGTOK, 05 Feb: Sikkim Olympic Association has expressed gratitude towards the Chief Minister for considering the demand of the sports fraternity to create a Multi-Purpose Sports Complex with office and car park at Fishpond near Paljor Stadium.
An SOA press release issued by its general secretary, Kuber Bhandari further expresses gratitude to DoNER, Government of India for considering the proposal and to the Sports Minister, NK Pradhan along with the State Sports & Youth Affairs Department.
The release informs that the estimated cost of the project is Rs. 11.32 crore, which has a two-level Car Park facility, Sports office, offices of Sports Associations along with Olympic Associations and Multi Purpose Hall at the top level.

The elective general body meeting of Indian Olympic Associations is scheduled to be held on 09 February at New Delhi for the election of office bearers of the Indian Olympic Associations, the release mentioned further adding that SOA president, CK Basnet and general secretary, Kuber Bhandari have been authorized to participate in the election process. 

SKM accuses SDF of two attacks on Tuesday

GANGTOK, 05 Feb: Sikkim Krantikari Morcha [SKM] has accused ruling party supporters of pelting stones at SKM vehicles on Tuesday night at Marchak and Lumchok-Mumrang. The party has given a 24-hour ultimatum to the administration to arrest the culprits failing which they will take to the streets in protest.
SKM supporters were returning to their respective homes from the party’s foundation day celebration at Jorethang last evening.
In a press release, SKM has alleged that the accused in the Marchak incident have not been arrested even after an FIR has been lodged against the accused whom the party has named.
Regarding the incident at Lumchok-Mumrang under Melli constituency, the party has accused a panchayat president and his supporters belonging to SDF of pelting stones at SKM vehicles. Stating that Jorethang Police immediately released the accused, SKM has also accused the police of sheltering SDF supporters.

Shiva Gram Sewa Samiti thanks CM for community hall

GANGTOK, 05 Feb: Shiva Gram Sewa Samiti of Pani House on behalf of all the people of Pani House has thanked the Chief Minister for setting up a community hall in the area. A press release of the organization expresses that the community hall has been very beneficial for the people of the area.

The release informs that the executive members of the organization have already met the CM and thanked him. The organization has also thanked the Upper Tadong MLA, DB Thapa for his support and guidance. 

Training on ICS for Organic Farming at Tingchim Mangshilla

GANGTOK, 05 Feb: Awareness cum Capacity Building Training programme for farmers and field supervisors on Internal Control System (ICS) for Organic Farming Implementation and Certification was held at Panchayat Bhawan at Tingchim Mangshilla GPU, North Sikkim today. The programme was organized by the Service Provider, International Traceability Systems Limited, Sikkim under the guidance and supervision of Sikkim Organic Mission, Govt. of Sikkim.
A press release informs that 60 farmers participated in the training which was also attended by Panchayat president, Dilliram Subba, Zilla Panchayat, Tshering Doma Bhutia and F.A. Sungrap Bhutia, from the department. Training was imparted on seed treatment, preparation and use of liquid herbal pesticide for pest & disease management with the locally available farm inputs by Project In-charge, ITSL, Ramjee Prasad.

In due course, ward wise trainings will be conducted by Project In-charge and Field supervisors for successful implementation of organic farming, the release adds.

Committee set up to examine viability of Namchi Ropeway

GANGTOK, 05 Feb: The Tourism & Civil Aviation Department has put together a committee for the purpose of examining the safety features and viablity of public use of the Namchi Ropeway.
The Committee, headed by the Chief Engineer, Tourism, is to issue a ‘Fit for Passenger Traffic’ Certificate for the Namchi Ropeway.
Other members include Chief Engineers of UD&HD, Roads and Bridges and Power Department; also included is the Additional CE (S/W), Tourism, the Superintending Engineer (S/W), Divisional Engineer (South) and Assistant Engineer (South) all from the Tourism department.
A representative of the consultant company, M/S Rites Ltd, involved in the construction of the project, has also been included.

                               


Training on handloom weaving begins in Lachen

GANGTOK, 05 Feb: Sixty-day Group Approach training on handloom weaving was inaugurated by Pipon of Lachen, Chyo Bandu Lachenpa on 04 February. The training was held under Integrated Handloom Development Scheme sponsored by the office of the Development Commissioner (Handlooms), Ministry of Textiles, Government of India and implemented by Directorate of Handicrafts & Handloom, Government of Sikkim.
A press release informs that twenty handloom weavers of Lachen, North Sikkim participated in the training. The weavers were selected in consultation with the Pipons of Lachen while the Master Trainer, Bimal Kanti Das, was brought from Kolkata in consultation with Weavers Service Centre (Kolkata), Ministry of Textiles, Government of India.
The aim of the training is to help the weavers get acquainted with new modernized frame looms in different counts of yarn with new design and make them capable of earning higher income, the release informs.
The chief guest Chyo Bandu Lachenpa was very impressed with the training and thanked the department for organizing such training in their area, the release mentions.

Also present at the inaugural function were Deputy Director (North), D.H.H., Mangan, Tshering Dorjee Bhutia, public of Lachen and local gentry. 

Golay’s invitation for debate “comic” says SDF

GANGTOK, 05 Feb: Sikkim Democratic Front has ridiculed the invitation of the Sikkim Krantikari Morcha president, PS Tamang [Golay], to the Chief Minister Pawan Chamling for an open debate.
The party has alleged that Mr Tamang is only copying the Chief Minister, who, the party highlights, has always called for debates on various issues concerning the state.

An SDF press release claims that the CM has made numerous appeals for debate on social, economic and other issues but no opposition leader has dared take up the challenge so far. Terming Mr. Tamang’s invitation as “comic”, SDF has suggested that the SKM president first prove his mettle and work his way up by taking on a ward panchayat president  following which the party would take it to the next level. 

Poll Speak

Editorial:-
Ridicule and criticism are necessary ingredients of a political speech, but need they also define the intellectual limits of political engagements? The campaign juggernaut has not yet rolled out, but the bugles have been sounded and aggressive posturing is noticeably winning over reasoned debate. It is important for politics in Sikkim to realise that criticism is only part of a political campaign, and spite cannot be the only ingredient of public speeches. Criticism is best deployed to put issues in perspective and highlight failures and shortcomings of opponents. Once the premise has been established, political debates should build onwards on how the aspirant in question would have handled the situation better and how they propose to repair what they see as ‘damaged’ or ‘compromised’. The substance of the public addresses has to be in the solutions that the respective parties and their speakers have devised, the vision they have sketched out for Sikkim and its people, and not in how colourfully they can discredit their opponents. Of course, vicious public rhetoric will make a leader a popular public speaker, but it is yet to translate into votes even in Sikkim.
Politics in Sikkim offers itself to no easy interpretations and parties in Opposition should not believe that they can ride an anti-incumbency wave and elevate their poll chances just by scratching away at the incumbent government’s failings. The current scenario has a new spin in the sense that the perceptibly strongest Opposition group is made up of former ruling front leaders, members and supporters. For them, the challenge will be to win over former opponents. As things stand, the level of public discourse from all sides is working only at retaining existing support bases. With only a few months left for the elections, this base needs to be consolidated and then inroads made into other camps. For that, the brickbats will have to be supplemented with clearer details on policy commitments. Bullet-point promises will no longer do; not in a situation where even the Election Commission has announced that political parties also explain the process by which they plan to deliver and fund promises made in their manifestos. Superficial commitments might still draw an applause from the hardcore supporters, but will not win new support because, accept it, as far as promises and commitments on paper go, there is not much to tell parties apart in Sikkim, or even at the national level apart. The swing votes will then go to groups with the most convincing supporting arguments. And that needs self-appraisals, not name-calling.

After every low-blow has been delivered, every cheap shot taken, the audience will be softened, and the knock-out punch of complete conversion will have to come in the form of a convincing plan for the future. Although politicians, both, in the ruling as well as the Opposition camps, and their coteries might be obsessed with settling scores, it is not something that occupies the minds of the voters. The voters are weighing options for the next five years, and five years of witch-hunts don’t rank very high in their list of priorities. It will take more imagination than painting enemies, it will have to be about sharing visions. The political debate should be about who has a better plan for Sikkim, not about who has been bad or who could be worse...

Three-day training on use of improved agricultural tools in cultivation

GANGTOK, 05 Feb: Three-day training program on ‘Cultivation Practices of Crops through Intervention of Improved Agricultural tools in Sikkim’ was inaugurated at the College of Agricultural Engineering and Post Harvest Technology, [Central Agricultural University], Ranipool on 04 February.
Nineteen state government official [Agriculture, Horticulture, Agriculture Engineering Department], and field functionaries from KVKs, ICAR participated in the training. The objective is to introduce improved agricultural tools and equipment to the Government Agencies for transfer/exchange of technologies with the farmers and other beneficiaries.
Ex Dean of Agricultural Engineering College of NDUAT, Faizabad, Uttar Pradesh, Dr. MR Barma was present as the chief guest.
During the function, Dean, CAEPHT Dr. PK Srivastava addressed the participants and urged them to know more about the agricultural engineering aspects from the experts of the college through discussion and interaction by actively participating in the training. Extension Officer of the College and Training Co-coordinator, Dr. AB Sherpa has designed the course curriculum based on the feedback from participants to include more interactive learning so that the benefits gained by the participants may be useful for application at field level through KVKs, ATMA, SHGs and farmers clubs etc.
More emphasis has been laid on demonstration and field operations of different equipments briefing the skills around each equipment and technology. It is expected that the participating state officials and field functionaries may learn the technologies and facilities available in the college for the benefit of the farmers of Sikkim.
Similar, trainings may be organized in future based on the requirements of the Sikkim Government to equip the field functionaries on the recent know-how of improved agricultural equipment and technologies for the benefit of the farmers, informed Prof cum HOD, FPM, CAEPHT, SK Rautaray.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

CM announces two more floors for CMRHM houses

GRAM SWARAJ MELA FOR SOUTH DISTRICT HELD AT NAMCHI
NAMCHI, 04 Feb [IPR]: “Sikkim was governed for more than 332 years by many dynasties and political parties but none worked towards uplifting the poor. It is only the SDF Government which has worked for the poor with a long term people-centric vision,” said Chief Minister Pawan Chamling while addressing the Gram Swaraj Mela or Janata Mela organized by RMDD today for South District at Assangthang Helipad, Namchi.
He added that progress has reached every nook and corner of Sikkim under the present government and the government has also worked to empower the poor in every way.
Mr Chamling informed the mammoth gathering of more than twenty thousand people gathered at the venue about the government’s plan to add two more floors to the CMRHM houses, one floor after the elections and the third one later making the CMRHM house a complete three-storied building.
The government’s next step is to provide medical advance of Rs 2 lakh to people belonging to BPL section informed Mr Chamling. Sharing the vision of the government in developing the state, he said that within two years Sikkim will become the only ‘Kutcha House Free State’ in the country.
The initial aim of the present government was to uplift the poorer section of the society and has been in action since then dedicating all of the works towards strengthening the rural areas and rural people of the state, said Mr Chamling.
“Unlike its predecessors, the present government today has maintained a democratic environment where the people are their own masters and not a slave to anybody. The various self-reliant schemes endorsed by the government and utilized by the public only goes to support it and make it realistic”, underlined the Chief Minister.
Highlighting the various basic schemes and amenities provided by the government, he said that all the basic amenities and schemes are found free of cost here in the state to better the lives of the Sikkimese people whether in the sector of education, health, social, professional or any other essential field. He informed that at present in Sikkim about one lakh eleven thousand people are receiving rice at the subsidized rate of Rs 2 per kg.
On this note, the Chief Minister asked all the beneficiaries to collect their tokens from their respective GVKs within 15 days before the upcoming elections. He assured that in case of genuine beneficiaries whose names have not been included in the list, the matter would be looked into by the government.
While sharing the achievements of the government, he said that educating the youth would be top priority and urged the youth to avail of all the opportunities. He called upon the parents and elders of the society to motivate and encourage the youth to educate themselves at the highest level. He further urged the youth to choose a constructive path and not get misguided by rumors spread by vested interests and other anti-social elements.
The Chief Minister also congratulated Panchayat President of Tingmo Lamaten GPU, South District, Mingma Sangay Sherpa for the National Award for Excellence in GPU category and RMDD for the National Award for Excellence in MG-NREGA in State category.
During the program, the Chief Minister handed away tokens to many beneficiaries from different constituencies of South District. Line department stalls were set up to distribute the tokens while the beneficiaries are required to collect their benefits from their respective GVKs.
Minister RMDD, CB Karki also gave details about today’s program. Earlier RMDD Secretary, DR Nepal welcomed the gathering while ADC (Dev), Benu Gurung ended the program with the vote of thanks.

SKM celebrates anniv with release of “pre-election manifesto”

JORETHANG, 04 Feb: Sikkim Krantikari Morcha [SKM] celebrated its first foundation day anniversary here at Jorethang today with the release of its 46-point “pre-election manifesto”.
The party declared its policies and programmes which it promised would be fulfilled within 100 days of coming to power. Safeguard of Sikkim’s distinct identity under Article 371 F of the Indian Constitution and implementing the Local Protection Act to protect the rights of the Sikkimese people are top on the party’s agenda, it was informed.
SKM’s pre-election manifesto also promises to eradicate communal differences, safeguard the 12 Bhutia-Lepcha seats in the State Assembly, secure Limboo-Tamang seats in the State Assembly, Scheduled Tribe status to Rai, Gurung, Mangar, Bhujel, Thami, Jogi and Dewan communities including the upper caste communities of Chettri, Bahun and Newar and setting up of a separate development board for Bhutia Lepcha communities.
Also on the day, PS Tamang [Golay], officially took over as the party president and announced that he would lead the party towards change without compromising on the party policies or principles. The upcoming assembly and parliamentary election will be fought on the basis of policies, programmes and political dedication, he stated.
If SKM is voted to power then all the “wrong doings” of the SDF government will be investigated by a national investigating agency or Lokayukta, Mr. Tamang announced today.
Meanwhile, the pre-election manifesto also promises the formulation of employee friendly transfer, appointment, promotion and retirement policies for state government employees. It also assures better healthcare facilities in the state.
Decentralization of education system and the establishment of a state education board besides setting up of a medical college in the state are some of the other highlights of the pre-election manifesto.
The SKM president also accused the Director General of Police of playing unfair in granting of venues to Opposition parties for political meetings. “The role of the police is to protect and serve the state and nation, not to serve Pawan Chamling”, he said.
Mr Tamang further expressed gratitude for the constant support from the youth. SKM will be releasing its party manifesto for the elections on a later date, it is informed. 

AN OPEN LETTER TO THE CHIEF MINISTER

Sikkim should consider enacting an anti-racism law
Respected Sir
This is with regards to the very unfortunate incident of hate crimes in the national capital against those from the Northeastern states. The recent instance of Sikkimese students leaving Himachal Pradesh, was not even mentioned in the national media, why? Why was it not made an important issue? Are we less Indians than other Indian citizens or was our government too meek to stand up and fight for the students’ rights or was the national media never allowed to enter the state? A thousand unanswered questions that deserve answers and accountability from the representative of the people. Even now it is not too late to demand justice for the helpless students.
Racism in particular has no colour and Sikkim is not immune to this disease, we cannot just shout about the injustice meted out to North Easterners in other parts of the country while our very own backyard is dirty. There have been a number of hate crimes in the state against outsiders or students from other states residing in Sikkim. The two cases which I remember are the Manipal University case (fight between the locals and outsiders) and the death of a student from Manipal (where he was mercilessly beaten and succumbed to his injuries). As always the law is taking its own course. The state should ensure a speedy trial for these cases and the government needs to seriously look into the matter.
Sikkim is a preferred destination for outstation students and it’s a tourism hotspot too, so this calls for a strong anti-racist law to be enacted in the state legislative assembly so that such hate crimes can be dealt effectively and can act as a deterrent for the future. This will probably set an example in the nation and as always we should be the first state to get rid of this disease of racism. Let’s begin the journey of a thousand miles with a single step first!
Yours truly,

Bibek Rai [recvd online]

Winter is Fun commences in Singhik

GANGTOK, 04 Feb: Winter is Fun, a weeklong children's engagement program conducted by Creative Craft, the children's engagement division of 24hours Inspired commenced at Singhik, North Sikkim on 03 February and will conclude on 09 February.
A press release informs that 100 students from five different schools namely Nadey primary School, Singhik Secondary School, Manul Secondary School, Pakshep Junior High School and Zenith Primary School are participating in this weeklong winter program.
Talking about the program, Lachen-Mangan MLA, TW Lepcha expressed his joy at seeing children from different schools come together to learn new things. He added that such programs should be conducted at other rural areas of the state as well. Headmaster of Singhik Secondary School, KT Bhutia said that he was happy that such a productive project started from his school, the release mentions.
Chief Learning Officer, 24hours Inspired, Dewaker Basnet thanked the area MLA, Mr Lepcha for his support and guidance in conducting the camp and Headmaster, Mr Bhutia for extending support as well.
Head, Creative Craft, Upashna Khawas said that the students were quick learners and disciplined. She further expressed hope that they would benefit immensely from the camp, the release adds.

SKM convoy pelted with stones at Lower Tintek

GANGTOK, 04 Feb: Five vehicles carrying Sikkim Krantikari Morcha [SKM] supporters were pelted with stones at Marchak Bridge, Lower Tintek in East Sikkim this evening.
The vehicles were part of the SKM convoy from North Sikkim which was returning from the party’s foundation day celebrations at Jorethang.
When the vehicles reached Marchak Bridge at around 7:30 p.m., they were reportedly pelted with stones from the cliff above.
Following the incident, SKM supporters blocked the Mangan-Singtam highway demanding the immediate arrest of the culprits. An FIR has also been lodged at Dikchu Out-Post.


Saraswati Puja celebration at Upper Sichey

GANGTOK, O4 Feb: Pancha Kanya Samaj Sudhar Samiti [youth wing] of Shusanta Gram, Upper Sichey celebrated Saraswati Puja with a Musical Nite at Upper Sichey this evening. Earlier, the puja was held at 9 in the morning where devotees offered prayers.
Around 33 participants took part in the dancing, singing and painting competition. A painting competition had also been held on 01 February. Chief guest on the day, Senior SP, Prabin Gurung gave away the trophies to the winners. The winners of the painting competition are Munna Kumar, Poonam Rai and Rabin Bhattarai in the first, second and third positions respectively.
The day was also attended by the organizing secretary cum publicity secretary, IB Gurung, president of Kanya Samaj, Ugen Bhutia and all the members of the Samaj.


The Janta beams at Janta Mela

GANGTOK, 04 Feb [IPR]: Three educated unemployed youth who had undergone 3 months motor (driving) training at the State Institute of Capacity Building Karfectar received their vehicle loan under SIDICO today during the Gram Swaraj Mela.
Chandrika Chettri of Chisopani is now a proud owner of a Sumo Gold vehicle which she will be using as a taxi. She expressed her gratitude to the Chief Minister and the state government for giving opportunities like this to women and empowering them.
Santosh Limboo of Kholaghari will be using his new Bolero for tourism purposes.
As a youth, he expressed his immense gratitude to the Chief Minister and the State Government for giving him this benefit which will help him to become self reliant.
Subit Narayan Chettri of Lower Mamley, who got a Sumo Gold, also conveyed his deepest gratitude to the Chief Minister and the State Government for this opportunity to become independent and said that he was able to fulfill his dream because of them. He said that he will be using the vehicle as a tourist vehicle.
Saroj Rai of Nandugaon says he will be also using his Hyundai Eon as a taxi. He also conveyed utmost gratitude to the Chief Minister and the State Government for this opportunity. 
Their unanimous message to both educated and uneducated unemployed youth of Sikkim - “Please avail of the facilities provided by the state government to become self reliant and proud owners and support the government in fulfilling its aim to make Sikkim a Self Reliant State.”
And then there are the ladies who received Induction Cooking Stove along with utensils.
Sabitri Chettri of Dalep Temi Namphing and Manita Tamang of Namthang Rateypani received induction stoves. They said that they were both happy to receive this benefit and thanked the CM and State Government. Mrs Chettri said that she would now stay away from the ‘chullah’ and use the induction stove after learning how to use it from her daughter.
Under Land Bank Scheme there were 100 beneficiaries for 2013-2014 wherein two persons received their tokens today.


Sikkim Graduate Teachers' Association meeting held

GANGTOK, 04 Feb: A meeting of the executive body of Sikkim Graduate Teachers' Association was held at Namchi today chaired by its president, Johna Targain.
A press release informs that during the meeting, the house passed the resolution to change the name of the Association to Sikkim Graduate Teachers' Welfare Association and apply for registration soon.

A team was also formed to meet Chief Minister Pawan Chamling to place the grievances and demands of Graduate Teachers of Sikkim, it is informed.

Soft loans to rehabilitate victims of Rhenock fire

CS CHAIRS MEETING ON RELIEF MEASURES TO BE TAKEN
GANGTOK, 04 Feb [IPR]: As a follow-up to the action required for relief measures to the affected victims of the Rhenock fire the Chief Secretary, R Ongmu chaired a meeting with various Heads of departments, today. Also present was Minister Forest & Environment, Bhim Dhungel who is also an MLA from Rhenock.
The meeting took the decision of immediately establishing a Fire station at Rhenock, making available soft loans to the victims and waiving of old loans wherever possible. In order to see that the livelihoods of victims were not jeopardised the Chief Secretary instructed the Social Welfare department and UDHD to make available any soft loans and equipments such as sewing machines to the tailors and artisans who had lost their equipments in the fire. 
It was also decided to issue school uniforms and textbooks for the students and the District Collector was directed to facilitate to re-issue all certificates such as trade licences, voter cards, COI certificates and other such documents that may have been lost in the fire. The Water Supply department was directed to immediately ensure adequate water supply and installation of Fire hydrants at the earliest.
The Power department was also asked to undertake repairs of all electrification in the township so as to ensure safety. The UDHD department was directed to undertake the work of debris clearance and demolition of the damaged buildings. The Land Revenue department was directed to sanction adequate funds to meet the relief and rehabilitation works on an immediate basis.
The Chief Secretary while thanking all the district officials on the commendable work of immediate response to the calamity also emphasised the need for proper post disaster measures. She called upon all the departments to efficiently carry out the decisions of the meeting so as to meet the directives of the Chief Minister who during his visit to Rhenock had said that relief, restoration and rehabilitation were to be undertaken earnestly by the State administration. 

The area MLA also thanked the State administration on behalf of the people of Rhenock and hoped that the same enthusiasm would be displayed in the works to follow.

Battling the Big C

Editorial:-
Tuesday, 04 February was World Cancer Day, and of the many Days that are observed in State, this was one that should have received some attention. As the world over, Cancer is on the rise in Sikkim as well and even as better healthcare facilities are extended to patients and their families, it is important that wider awareness is generated on this health issue so that infection rates are brought down and detections made earlier. The CATCH programme of the State Government is a welcome step towards institutionalizing annual health check-ups because it is primarily such healthcare habits which will ensure timely detection. CATCH, if developed well, could popularize preventive healthcare against the present practice of going to hospitals and doctors only after one has taken ill; in cases like Cancer, too often, this stage is too late. And make no mistake, Cancer is a major concern which is only going to loom larger in the years to come. Look around, just about everyone has some experience on the matter, either through a relative who has been diagnosed with “C.A.” or a friend who has someone in the family with Cancer. If it is any consolation, Sikkim is not alone in the nightmare and the increase in Cancer cases here reflects a global trend. A recent report of the UN shows that cancer is now the world’s biggest killer – with the number of cases set to explode in coming years. A new global cancer report compiled by UN Agency, The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) shows that as a single entity, cancer is the biggest cause of mortality worldwide with an estimated 8.2 million deaths from cancer in 2012. Global cancer incidence over four years increased by 11% to an estimated 14.1 million cases in 2012. What is worrying is that Cancer cases worldwide are forecast to rise by 75% and reach close to 25 million over the next two decades!

The exclamation point reinforcing the worry, it is clearly time then that Sikkim also begins addressing this health issue on more levels than just referring Cancer patients to treatment outside the State. When one talks of a War on Cancer at the global level, one refers to the effort to find a cure for cancer by increased research and the development of more effective cancer treatments. These obviously do not apply to Sikkim and the State should consider itself lucky if it gets a good Oncology centre here itself. The multispecialty hospital being planned by the State Government is projected to have an Oncology Centre. Hopefully, the policy makers and the babus will ensure that no corners are cut in establishing the best such facility possible. So while the world works on R&D, Sikkim should focus its energies on prevention, earlier detection/ diagnosis and screening. Sikkim also needs wider awareness about Cancer, not just as a preventive measure, but also as a support system for families combating cancer in the family. The latter is a growing pool, hence it is unfortunate that Sikkim has not worked out a support system for patients and their families. Awareness is also important because as per WHO, more than 30% of cancer deaths can be prevented by modifying or avoiding key risk factors.

25-yr-old commits suicide

GANGTOK, 04 Feb: A 25-year-old youth has reportedly committed suicide in West Sikkim. The deceased, a resident of Khecheopalri reportedly committed suicide by hanging himself on 03 February.

Lanco construction site burgled

GANGTOK, 04 Feb: Several construction items have been reported stolen from the site of the Lanco Infratech’s Teesta Stage VI HEP area at Delep, South Sikkim. A case has been registered by the Temi Police against unknown persons for the theft of two Anchor Plates and 35 MS pipes [of 4 inch diameter] each used for the removal of stagnant water at the construction site. These were reportedly stolen between 31 January and 01 February from the site at Delep, Lower Namphing. No one has been arrested so far.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

District administration conducts assessment of damages in Rhenock fire

TWO BUILDINGS RECOMMENDED FOR DEMOLITION 
GANGTOK, 03 Feb: Following the midnight inferno at Rhenock bazaar on 02 February the district administration is currently engaged with the assessment of the damages. The SDM along with BDO, Rhenock and other officials today conducted an assessment of the affected bazaar area recording the total loss of property in terms of their monetary valuation.
The assessment of damages took the whole day and was expected to be completed late in the evening. Thereafter, it is expected that the DC, East will hold a meeting on Tuesday to discuss on the assessments made. There were a number of shops which were razed and the inventory of their items along with other items in houses which were burnt were being recorded till late this evening.
Two buildings which have been affected by the blaze have been recommended for demolition. One of the structures belongs to Ashok Agarwal. These buildings, having been damaged in the inferno, now pose a threat to other standing structures in the bazaar area and it has been understood that they can possibly collapse.
In view of this, a recommendation has been made to the UD&HD for dismantling the structures. 
In fact the BDO, BL Adhikari informed that the UD&HD would be sending over a team next morning to start the dismantling process. As for the affected families they have shifted to the residences of their relatives. It was initially proposed to open a shelter but the affected people preferred to move in with their relatives.
On the other hand the Rhenock police has registered an FIR concerning the incident and while enquiry is still on as to the cause of the fire, the initial suspicion, as a fire department official informs, is still on a short circuit in one of the houses from which the fire started.

On 02 February at around 1:45 a.m., a fire broke out at Rhenock bazaar which gutted 11 houses/shops and partially damaged another 9 buildings. Three persons were also injured in the fire that took nearly 4 hours to be completely doused.

SLYA organises counseling session for students

GANGTOK, 04 Feb: The Sikkim Lepcha Youth Association, in collaboration with Human Resource and Development Department, organized an orientation-cum-counselling programme on 02 February. SLYA is also organizing winter coaching classes for under-privileged students of class X and XII since 10 December 2013.
A press release informs that the resource person Addl. Director (Scholarship section) HRDD, KD Bhutia deputed by the department, spoke on the various aspects of higher studies and scholarship programmes provided by the government of Sikkim.

The organisation thanked the HRDD department and KD Bhutia in particular for their earnest support and guidance.

SHSC builds support with membership drive

GANGTOK, 03 Feb: Sikkim Himalayan Sporting Club [SHSC] is currently busy with a membership drive to draw support from the people for young talented footballers of the club. The club launched its membership drive on 25 December last year and in the period of around one month the club has registered 100 new members.
SHSC executive members held a meeting with its members today at the club’s office here at Tathangchen. In the meeting, SHSC president, Tenzing Lamtha gave the financial and other reports of the club to the members.
He stated that the membership drive was mainly to draw support from the people of Sikkim for the young talented footballers to provide them the best coaching and facilities. The club has succeeded in getting 100 members so far and now aims to work more aggressively to draw more members, he mentioned. He shared that the club also has plans to set up a hostel for footballers and provide coaching in other disciplines in the near future if it gets support from the people. 
Mr Lamtha mentioned that as a goodwill gesture, the club will be using 20% of the membership fee to give prizes to members through a lucky draw every month. The club will also be placing the financial and other report to its members every month, he added.
The meeting was also addressed by the SHSC publicity secretary, Zigmi Y Lepcha.
The lucky draw winners of the first month are Phurba Lakey Sherpa of Arithang who won the first prize, while Tashi Pintso Bhutia of Tathangchen and Sunita Subba of Lower Tathangchen won the second and third prizes respectively.  
Around two years old, SHSC has been providing football coaching to 90 boys and girls. The club has engaged coaches Pranay Subba and Devendra Gurung for boys and Anuradha Chettri for girls.

The club also recently appointed former national-level footballer, Karma Thinley as its Technical Director. 

PAC takes note of agreement loopholes allowing project developers to renege on expectations

GANGTOK, 03 Feb: The Public Accounts Committee [PAC] has taken serious note of various lapses while awarding power projects to private players in 2008-09. The 96th Report of the PAC on the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India for the year 2008-09 was tabled in the Legislative Assembly on 29 January last month.
The PAC has taken serious note of the fact that once the projects are awarded to private developers after the fulfillment of necessary procedures, the failure of the company to construct the project within the stipulated time frame or instances of shutting down after the commissioning led to consequent loss of potential energy revenues of the state.
The Audit Report had revealed that the state government did not incorporate specific conditions in agreements to safeguard its interests in such cases where the power plants had to be shut down.
The PAC has asked for details of the visits conducted by the Eastern Region Power Committee, GOI and that of Sikkim State Electricity Regulatory Commission and their consequent findings on failures of private developers, if any and necessary action taken thereof.
Further, the CAG report had also revealed that modalities and strategy for transfer of projects on expiry of agreement period including the manpower engaged in the projects had not been formulated by the state government.
The committee has recommended that these be worked out and completed within a clearly set timeframe.
The Audit Report had disclosed that as per the agreement entered with the Independent Power Projects [IPPs] in six joint venture projects of 100 MW and above with the state’s share of 26 percent equity by way of execution of equity subscription agreement, which was supposed to be executed within six months from the date of signing the agreement for award of the power projects, had not been signed even after three years of award of project.
In response, the Energy and Power department had stated that the process for execution of equity share subscription agreement had been initiated and a draft agreement has been forwarded to the state government for approval.
The PAC report adds that the state government is working out details of the equity amount to be infused by the state and other aspects in coordination with developers.
With regards to 10 power projects signed between 2002-03 not being charged any ‘processing fees’ or ‘upfront premium’ the department said that it was a “conscious decision of the state government not to charge the upfront premium on the developers since the developer had to do the pre-feasibility study at their own cost and collection of such fees would unnecessarily burden the capital cost of projects thereby raising the cost of generation”.
It was further stated that this was done in order to attract more developers to the state.

The PAC accepted this explanation and recommended the department to ensure that such projects ultimately benefit the state in the long run. 

West Sikkim lad plays for Madhya Pradesh

GANGTOK, 02 Feb: Karma Gyaltsen Bhutia of Yangsum, under Rinchenpong constituency in West Sikkim, has been signed by MP United Football Club for this season’s second division I-League. He features as a stopper in the first-11 of the Madhya Pradesh club.
Karma Gyaltsen is already playing as a stopper for Madhya Pradesh in the ongoing Santosh Trophy at Goa this season.
Talking over the phone from Goa, Karma told Sikkim NOW that encouragement from his parents and good coaches in school days helped him hone his football skills. “I am very happy to be playing in the second division I-League and in Santosh Trophy which is a major boost for me and a great platform”, said Karma.
He thanked his father for inspiring him as a footballer in his school days. He did his schooling from Don Bosco in Soreng and later from Yangsum Secondary School, Rinchenpong.
Coach and Manager, Girls Football Academy Mangalbarey, Palden Bhutia further trained Karma. “We are very proud of his achievements. He is a very sincere, cool headed and well-disciplined player. I wish him every success in life”, said Palden Bhutia.
Karma was born to L T Bhutia and Kilhamu Bhutia in 1990 in Yangsum. After he was selected for SAI Namchi in the year 2009-10, he trained under coach Pempa Tshering Bhutia in the SAI academy and has played various tournaments within Sikkim and outside as well.
He is studying at the Lakshmibai National Institute of Physical Education, Gwalior (M.P) at present.

Voluntary blood donation camp held

NAMCHI, 03 Feb: A voluntary blood donation camp was organized by the Voluntary Blood Donors’ Association of Sikkim (VBDAS) in collaboration with IPCA Laboratories Ltd. of Bharikhola, Jorethang South Sikkim. During the camp 81 units of blood was collected and the donors also received certificates of appreciation along with a Blood Donors Card from the Blood Bank of District Hospital Namchi.
Donors were also given attractive gifts by IPCA Laboratories. The entire camp was coordinated by Administrative Officer of IPCA, Bishnu Dharel and Kishore Baniya of VBDAS. The blood donation camp was organized at the training hall of IPCA Laboratories Ltd. which was also attended by Dr. Barun Subba and all the technicians from Blood Bank of District Hospital Namchi who provided their support during the camp.

Sikkim bags two National Awards under MGNREGA


GANGTOK, 03 Feb [IPR]: The 9th MGNREGA Divas was celebrated by the Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India on 02 February. The Sikkim Mahatma Gandhi NREGA programme bagged two national awards for excellence fourth time in a row.
The Lamten Tingmo - Gram Panchayat, Wok Block, South District and the RM&DD were conferred the national award by the Union Minister, Jairam Ramesh in a glittering function held at the Plenary Hall of Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi. The national awards were received by Panchayat President, Mingma Sangay Sherpa and Joint Secretary, RM&DD, Sarika Pradhan.
This award for excellence in the implementation of this National Flagship Programme holds special significance for the State of Sikkim, since it found representation amongst the top 11 Gram Panchayats selected from all over the country.
Also, the Rural Management and Development Department received the recognition for excellence in convergence initiatives, and was among the 4 states that were felicitated on this occasion.
The Union Minister also released the national report on convergence initiatives, in which the Dhara Vikas initiative of Sikkim to revive Himalayan Springs is featured as the first success story.
This is the seventh national award for Sikkim under MGNREGA over the last four years. The function was attended by a large contingent from Sikkim including officials, Gram Panchayats and job-card holders.
The team thanked Chief Minister Pawan Chamling, RM&DD Minster CB Karki and Secretary RM&DD, DR Nepal for their leadership and guidance.

Sikkim media sensitized on HIV, AIDS

GANGTOK, 03 Feb: A sensitization workshop for media on HIV/ AIDS was organized by the Sikkim State AIDS Control Society [SSACS] here at Gangtok. The programme was organized in order to garner support from the media in disseminating information and spreading awareness regarding HIV AIDS at the grass roots level.
Addressing the programme, Joint Director of ICTC under SSACS, Dr. KT Lepcha, said that the role of media in disseminating information at the grassroots level is very important and should be a continuous process.
Media can work as a bridge between SSACS and the people at the grass root level so media sensitization is extremely important, he stressed. Disseminating information and motivating readers are some things that can be done by the media, added Dr Lepcha.
Project Director of SSACS, Dr. Uttam Pradhan informed about the various safety measures to prevent HIV infections. He also highlighted through presentation the present scenario of AIDS patients in Sikkim.
Dr Pradhan said that every month one or two cases of infection are reported which, although not alarming, is an issue of serious concern.
Among the high risk groups are female sex workers, injecting drug users and homosexuals. Incidence of HIV AIDS is greater in rural areas [57%] than urban areas [43%] while it is higher among males than females, he informed.
The cumulative figures since 1995 of people living with HIV AIDS till the end of 20 January is 298, informed Dr Pradhan.
Consultant, Youth Affairs of SSACS, Chung Chung Bhutia, urged the media to volunteer for blood tests and also to inform people regarding voluntary blood testing and other preventive measures.


Us versus Them, Always

Editoral:-
The latest incident in New Delhi, this one ending in an unfortunate fatality, could, as an individual case, be a confrontation gone horribly wrong, but in the larger scheme of things, is a progression of the racist responses which recently painted the Africans living in Khirki extension as drug peddlers and pimps. Nido Taniam was in Delhi to study, but did not live to get through his teenage years because provincial machismo intervened, and what clearly started off as prejudicial name-calling ended in a death. One could argue that Nido was not targeted because he was from the North East, and he probably was not, but he was obviously ribbed because he wore his hair differently; and it is this attitude which lies at the core of the basic problem of intolerance and clear racism which infects us a nation. One sees much the same prejudices in the blanket painting of all Delhites as ‘racist’ by the northeastern groups protesting the incident and we have displayed much the same traits in how we engage the mainstream in our own domains, whether in Sikkim or Arunachal or anywhere in the margins. The latest death has attracted so much media attention that the perpetrators in the case will at least be charged and their cases processed properly. But the protest is about more than that and now that it has attracted attention, more concerted efforts should be made to devise ways by which people, especially the young, become less provincial, more open and less defensive.
It is obvious that the elders and policy-makers have collectively failed in their responsibilities towards the young in failing to address inherent insecurities, adjustment problems and attitude issues among them, especially when they move to new places or receive people from different communities and cultures among them. As a result, simmering discontent and unresolved differences explode on the streets and sometimes end in fatalities like was the case with Nido. And now, there is a protest underway at Jantar-Mantar, with even Rahul Gandhi in attendance and making headlines everywhere. This release might work to settle nerves for the present and after a few days, the young might return to their classes and work with the aggression levels under control. But instead of just being about ‘justice’ for Nido [which, make no mistake, is important], the situation needs to be taken a step further and used to make better introductions and make better, more tolerant citizens out of all of us. If the Jantar-Mantar demonstration remains just a North-East affair, it will only reinforce the prejudices and expand the communication gap which brought things to such an ignominious pass in the first place.
What is required, and is definitely a very challenging ask, is for all sections – people, governments, residents and institutions to sit down and thrash out the issues. Everyone needs to make better introductions and make more concerted efforts to know the other. On our part, it is important that when the young are sent out, they are encouraged to create wider circles of friends and now settle into familiar circles of home, creating their Little Sikkims, Little Arunachals etc. The world has been opened to them [when the move out], and we do them a disservice if we allow them to withdraw into the smallest corner of the familiar there. Apart from constricting their development, we also allow prejudices to get even more reinforced, adjustments even more difficult. Don’t allow such openness, and another generation is groomed with a chip of their shoulders and growing into society leaders who reduce every situation into us versus them collapse into regressive parochialism. It needs to also be accepted that this disturbing chip on the shoulder is reinforced by constant hammering by short-sighted do-gooders when the focus really should be on healing such insecurities. The young, as they take over from the older generation, will anyways be hemmed in by obnoxious insularity, but while they are still young, we should encourage them to experiment with being less provincial and more open, less insular and more social.