Saturday, April 26, 2014

District admn opens enquiry into NHPC’s Release of Water & Warning Procedures

GANGTOK, 25 Apr: The East district administration has taken serious note of a minor girl’s death after being swept away by the Teesta river near Singtam when the water from the Stage-V Dam at Dikchu was released. The water was released without proper warnings being issued, the locals from the area have alleged.
This is not the only incident when apparent irresponsibility in the release of dam waters has led to macabre results. The more recent such event was when a dead body was washed away mid-way through the funeral rites being held along the river bank near Singtam on Thursday. The locals have now raised their voices against the alleged discrepancies in the NHPC’s, ‘Release of Water and Warning Procedure’ (RW&WP).
This has led the district administration to set up an enquiry under ADM, East, Aishwarya Singh on the NHPC’s warning systems.
DM, East, AK Yadav informed today that the administration has taken the matter very seriously since it is the locals who are being directly affected by this alleged lacuna of the NHPC.
“We are taking this matter seriously and have asked the NHPC to present their report on the RW&WP and the precautionary measures adopted by NHPC which they submitted today. Our officers are scrutinizing the report and have also decided to conduct a joint meeting between the stakeholders, NHPC and the enquiry committee who will discuss the total warning protocol and accordingly action will be initiated,” the DM detailed.
The DM also assured that the enquiry will check if the warning systems in place are fool-proof and will also suggest new measures after inspections and feasible suggestions of the stakeholders will be taken into account and the same will be declared by the enquiry team under the ADM within four days.

“If there is any discrepancy then as per the report of the enquiry team new directive will be issued that will be made mandatory for the NHPC Stage-V in future. We will surely find a way jointly on how to improve the existing warning systems and what needs to be further introduced to strengthen the present procedures,” assured the DM.

STTA to organize 9th DB Sir Open TT C’ship in May

GANGTOK, 25 Apr: Sikkim Table Tennis Academy [STTA] is gearing up to organize the 9th edition of DB Sir Open Table Tennis Championship from 09 to 11 May here in the indoor gymnasium hall in Paljor Stadium complex. The championship will have various events from cadet to veteran categories.

Around 200 paddlers from across the state are expected to participate in the championship. Interested players may contact the Academy for further details. 

Gangtok remembers Gabo TSHERING EDEN

GANGTOK, 25 Apr: ‘Remembering Gabo’, a mini symposium on Gabriel Garcia Marquez, was held today at Barad Sadan, Department of Political Science, Sikkim University, 6th Mile Tadong. The programme was organized by Rachna Books in association with the Department of English, Sikkim University. Attended by guest speakers, students and some others, the symposium discussed the life and works of the celebrated author.
Speaking on Marquez and his works, Prof. Basudeb Chakrobarty [HoD Dept of English, S.U] said, “He broke the Western tradition of mimetic realism. He was the first to use magic realism as a tool to explain the reality of the colonized and the downtrodden”. Marquez was an activist writer like Edward Said and Noam Chomsky, he added.
Sikkimese author, Chetan Raj Shrestha, spoke on Gabo’s influence on his writing in which regard he said, “He taught me how to read and I am still learning how to write from him”.
Reading out excerpts from some of Marquez’s works, he shared that he also learned the art of showing action through the passive voice. “I learnt from him that living is more important than knowledge”, added Shrestha.
Prof. V. Krishna Ananth [HoD, Dept of History, SU] talked about Marquez’s work as a journalist highlighting “The Story of a Shipwrecked Sailor”, first published as a fourteen consecutive day series of installments in El Espectador newspaper in 1955.
“Marquez reflected the society of Latin America, a society that was plundered. He is not only but also about magic realism,” said Prof Ananth.
Prof. Satyadeep Chettri [Dept of Chemistry, SGC] shared his introduction to Marquez’s work ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ and also read out an open letter written by the author to former United States President, George Bush on the September 11 attack on the Twin Towers. The Columbian author had criticized the US government’s interference in Latin American politics and the resulting violence.
The guests of honour, Prof. Anisur Rehman [HoD English, Jamia Milia Islamia], Prof. Gulshan Kataria [Punjab University], Dr. Irshad Gulam Ahmed [HoD, Darjeeling Govt. College] and Vice Chancellor Prof TB Subba also addressed the gathering. Later, an open discussion was also held where those present discussed the works of Late Marquez.

Documentary on Naga music invited to 5 international fests


GANGTOK, 25 Apr: “Songs of the Blue Hills”, a feature-length documentary film on contemporary Naga folk music directed by National Award-winning film critic and filmmaker Utpal Borpujari, has created a splash by getting selected to five international film festivals.
A press release informs that the 96-minute film that features a number of veteran Naga folk music exponents as well as younger practitioners, has been invited to the Doc Outlook International Market of the Visions du Reel Film Festival (Nyon, Switzerland), Gothenburg Independent Film Festival (Sweden), New York Indian Film Festival (NYIFF), Eyes & Lenses Ethnographic Film Festival (Warsaw, Poland) and the World Music & Independent Film Festival (Washington).
Produced by Girish Joshi for the Centre for Cultural Resources and Training (CCRT), Union Ministry of Culture, the film is in the competition sections of the festivals at Gothenburg and Washington.
The film features some fascinating music as well as dialogue with musicians like veteran Ao folk singers Sademmeren Longkumer and A. Bendangyanger Tsuwar Jamir, Chakhesang folk veteran Zachunu Keyho, classical pianist Nise Meruno, and groups like the Tetseo Sisters, the Nagaland Singing Ambassadors, the Chancel Choir, Ru’a, Üsou’s Instrumental, Abiogenesis, Nagagenous, Baptist Youth Choir Poilwa Village and Purple Fusion.
In addition, experts such as Dr A Lanunugsang, Lipokmar Tzudir, Gugs Chishi, Theja Meru, Vivee Peseye, Som Kamei, Zubeno Mozhui and Dr Abraham Lotha have shared their views on the changing face of Naga music in recent times, the release mentions.
Shot extensively across Nagaland, the film’s crew comprised Biswajeet Changmai (cinematography), Debajit Gayan (sound), Umesh Kumar (Editor), Atanu Phukan (research & coordination), Aiyushman Dutta (research & art direction).
“The selections mean that the rich tapestry of the various Naga tribes would get showcased through the film in across several countries. I feel this is just the beginning of the journey for this film, and I am sure it would act as a tool to attract tourists to Nagaland apart from introducing the world to a wide variety of Naga music,” said Borpujari.
“Songs of the Blue Hills” comes after Borpujari’s previous documentary “Mayong: Myth/ Reality” got screened at several international film festivals and a nationwide DVD release through Junglee Home Video label, it is added.

9 of a family hospitalised after consuming Bhotay Saag

food poiMANGAN, 25 Apr: Nine persons from the same family have been hospitalized after consuming “Bhotay saag” on 24 April. They were brought to the District Hospital Mangan at around 11 pm.
The family belongs to Namprik village of Tingvong, Dzongu, North Sikkim.
Out of the 9 people, 5 are reported to be in critical condition. Dawa Lepcha [28], Phu Dorjee Lepcha [28], Meena Subba [27], Pem Rikzing Lepcha [28] and Pemba Lepcha [70] have been referred to STNM, Gangtok.
Four minors, Tsheringmit Lepcha [9], Mila Lepcha [8], Saknan Lepcha [9] and Damchun Lepcha [8] are still at the Mangan District Hospital. They are undergoing treatment and their conditions are normal at present, informed hospital authorities.

First meeting held on implementation of Climate Change Adaptation programme

GANGTOK, 25 Apr [IPR]: The first Steering Committee Meeting for Implementation of the programme “Adaptation to Climate Change in North Eastern Region: Sikkim” in collaboration with the German Technical Cooperation (GIZ)”  was held at the Conference Hall, Mannan Kendra, Gangtok on 24 April 2014.
The Steering Committee Meeting chaired by Chief Secretary AK Shrivastava was attended by Joint Secretary, Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DONER), AM Singh, Finance Revenue & Expenditure Department (Special invitee) Development Commissioner, Principal Secretary and other members. Project Coordinator GIZ New Delhi, Dr. Indrani Phukan was also present.
The meeting began with the welcome address by Secretary, Department of Science & Technology & Climate Change, SK Shilal. The Department of Science & Technology & Climate Change is the nodal department which coordinates the Climate Change Adaptation-NER (CCA-NER) programme in Sikkim.
The GIZ has signed an MoU with the State Government to support: Preparation and Implementation of State Action Plan on Climate Change (SAPCC); Greening of value chain; Capacity building, knowledge management and networking.
The Chief Secretary and Chairperson of the Steering Committee, in his address informed that the climate change is happening globally and impacting both human kind and the entire biodiversity. Climate changes, having a bearing on agriculture, livestock and is also the cause of new disease patterns. Every sector, whether it is rural or urban, agriculture or horticulture, forestry or wildlife, are getting affected.  Unplanned tourism in addition is also affecting ecology and environment, the Chief Secretary added.
He thanked Ministry of DONER and GIZ for selecting Sikkim for implementation of CCA-NER programme and for providing support in preparation of SAPCC-Sikkim. He also suggested all those involved in the planning programme to give importance to the need of the communities than that of the mankind’s greed.
The Joint Secretary, DONER, AM Singh appreciated that Sikkim is first among few states in the country to have submitted SAPCC and the same has been endorsed by the Ministry of Environment and Forest, Government of India. While addressing the members he further informed that the state of Sikkim has been in the lead in taking advantage of CCA NER programme of GIZ, the other two states being Meghalaya and Nagaland.  He was of the opinion that under CCA-NER, Sikkim should take maximum benefit for which Ministry of DONER shall extend all possible support.
National Coordinator, GIZ CCA-NER programme, Indrani Phukan presented the activities undertaken for the State of Sikkim, namely: Preparation of SAPCC; Village water security plan for Kitam area, Tendong, South Sikkim; Strategies for oak regeneration & management and; Capacity building, trainings provided to state government officials etc. Further it is informed that the CCA NER programme has been extended till 2015 hence suggested taking maximum benefits by the state.
The Principal Secretary, FRED suggested to involve UDHD, Tourism and also the Power Department during the implementation of SAPCC.
The Development Commissioner, N Ethenpa on her remarks on the whole programme appreciated that a good beginning on CCA in the state of Sikkim has started and suggested to involve all the stake holders for integrated programme as climate change is impacting all sectors. During the meeting Secretary, Land Revenue & Disaster Management department suggested taking up joint programme on the impacts of Climate change on natural disasters in Sikkim. Similarly, Secretary Agriculture suggested taking up studies on linking organic farm products with the consumers.
Secretary, Irrigation department, SK Chettri also sought support for maintenance of the irrigation projects so that the irrigated adequate water could be provided at the farmland. Special Secretary, RMDD, Dr. Sandeep Tambe suggested to extend the village water security plan programme in the entire state.
Similarly, Director, AH&VS Department informed that number of vector borne diseases on livestock has been on the rise.  Impact of climate change vis-a-vis the livestock diseases could be studied.
The meeting ended with the vote of thanks proposed by Additional Director, Department of Science and Technology and Climate Change, DG Shrestha.

High Court pulls up State Govt and BSNL for poor services beyond Mangan

GANGTOK, 25 Apr: The division bench of Sikkim High Court today pulled up the State government and BSNL for failing to deliver proper services in areas beyond Mangan in North Sikkim.
Chief Justice Narendra Kumar Jain along with Justice SP Wangdi had undertaken a three-day tour of North Sikkim last week and observed that the road conditions worsened after crossing Mangan.
The Bench, while hearing a number of Public Interest Litigations today, commented that the State Government’s performance in providing basic infrastructure including road connectivity which is technically under the Border Roads Organisation, left a lot to be desired and observed that the state government should address these issues instead of being a mere spectator on the pretext that it does not have jurisdiction.
The division bench has also directed the state government to file an affidavit to ensure basic facilities for people living in the border areas. The division bench further said that the state government’s disinterest and lack of proactive initiative not only undermines people’s pride but also reflects poorly on the government’s attitude towards forward areas.
Despite several directions by the High Court in more than five PILs including those regarding improvement of roads, the government’s attitude has been found wanting which is not good for the state and nation, the bench observed.
“One cannot imagine the fate of the people living beyond Mangan if the army authority was not active there,” the bench remarked, directing the senior counsel representing the state to visit these places in order to understand the ground realities.
The Ministry of Defence has sanctioned three bridges on the road connecting Dikchu-Sangkalang to Mangan on 23 April, some stretches of which are under BRO, after the High Court passed strict directions to expedite the matter within three weeks.

Public joins hands with Army and Fire Brigade in controlling forest fire in West Pendam

SINGTAM, 25 Apr: The public of different villages under West Pendam GPU in East Sikkim were busy the whole day on Thursday trying to beat down a forest fire nearby. Forest fires in the jungles of Sawney, Upper Bardang, Tachiney, Lower Bardang, Lower Singlebong and Salingey under West Pendam GPU created panic among the local people.
The forest fire, it is suspected, started from Sawney forest, spreading to Upper Bardang, Tachiney, Lower Bardang, Lower Singlebong and reached upto the forest at Salingey.
The joint operation undertaken by the Army in Bardang and the locals saved the house of one Suk Bahadur Sunar but the bamboo grove of a farmer from Singlebong Suk Bahadur Basnet was completely razed to the ground. Fortunately another house of Shankar Chettri of Singlebong was also saved from the fire.
It is informed that the fire started at around 10 AM on Thursday morning and Forest guards, Nursery Mali of Bhaghey Khola, Army stationed at Bardang, Fire Brigade Singtam and local people had to struggle for almost the entire day to bring the fire under control. The Forest Department has estimated that around 15 hectares area was affected in this forest fire from Sawney to Salingey.
Bhakta Bahadur Chettri and Lok Bahadur Chettri of Singlebong did a tremendous job along with the Mali of Bagheykhola Nursery and other local people. However, Bhakta Bahadur Chettri and his 13-year-old son Milan Chettri did a commendable job working till 1 AM today. The department has also appreciated the work of class V student, Milan Chettri.
Singtam RO Manzil Kharel and Rangpo BO, Om Gurung have urged local people, social organizations and everyone to stay alert and to support the department to avoid such incidents. [from NANDU DUTRAJ]

Friday, April 25, 2014

Symposium deliberates on Role of Media in Justice Delivery System

GANGTOK, 24 Apr: A symposium on the ‘Role of Media in Justice Delivery System’ was organized by the Indian Institute of Legal Studies, Siliguri, and Dainik Jagaran in collaboration with Press Club of Sikkim, Sikkim Express, Hamro Prajashakti and Tara Palace, here today. With Justice SP Wangdi, Judge, High Court of Sikkim, as chief guest, the symposium discussed some key issues regarding the role of media in improving the justice delivery system.
Addressing the programme, Justice Wangdi said that good coordination between the media and judiciary can uphold the faith of common people in the justice delivery system to improve and reinforce the democratic system. The Justice also quoted sections from some landmark Supreme Court judgments on cases related to the theme of the day to underline the role media could play in supplementing the judiciary in justice delivery.
While responding to queries posed by IILS students, Justice Wangdi, for instance, referred to the judgment in the Jessica Lall murder case in which the media had played a near activist role and underlined that while it was important and expected of the media to bring issues to light, interference in the administration of justice was not a healthy practice.
Chancellor of Andhra Pradesh Law University, Prof. A Laxminath delivered the key note address where he laid emphasis on the need of constitutional mandate on the role of media in justice delivery system.

The symposium was also addressed by the IILS chairman, principal, Sikkim Law College, and Editor, Sikkim NOW! Students and faculty members of Sikkim Government Law College, IILS-Siliguri and media persons participated in the symposium. 

SARAH volunteers from Australia work in Sikkim schools to generate awareness on rabies and dog bite prevention

Dr. KATE ABEL
Each year there are 30,000 human deaths from rabies in India, and it is estimated that 60% of these deaths are in children. About 15 million people are bitten by animals, mostly dogs, in India every year. The incidence of animal bites is 17.4 per 1000 population. A person is bitten every 2 seconds and someone dies from rabies every 30 minutes.
In Sikkim, more than 1000 people are bitten by dogs and require hospital treatment each year.  In Gangtok alone, there were 539 registered cases of dog bites in humans in 2004-2005. Prior to the initiation of the Sikkim Anti-Rabies and Animal Health (S.A.R.A.H.) Division, there were on average 2-3 human deaths in Sikkim each year from rabies.
This has cost the state of Sikkim more than Rs 4 crore due to the large medical cost, loss of income due to illness, livestock losses, and the physical and psychological effects of rabies. It also affected tourism as the presence of aggressive dogs and the concern about being infected with rabies deters tourists from visiting this beautiful state of India. Each year, rabies prevention and medical treatment alone costs India around Rs 400 crore.
The SARAH Division of the Department of AH, LF & VS in Gangtok aims to eradicate rabies from Sikkim and to improve the health and welfare of animals. By improving animal health, this improves the health of people in Sikkim as animals carry diseases that can be transmitted to people.  This is the first government-sanctioned animal welfare and rabies control program in India. The S.A.R.A.H. Program is a joint collaboration between the Australian charity organisation Vets Beyond Borders, the French charity Brigette Bardot Foundation and the Sikkim Government.
Due to the concerted effort of the S.A.R.A.H program, there have been no human deaths in Sikkim due to rabies since 2006 and there has been a dramatic reduction in dog bite cases in Sikkim. Sikkim will soon be the first Indian state to be declared rabies-free. This is a huge achievement and great milestone for the S.A.R.A.H. Program.
From the past two weeks, four Australian volunteers from Vets Beyond Borders - Dr Kate Abel (veterinary surgeon and program manager), Aashima Auplish, Alison Clarke and Trent Van Zanten (Vet students) - travelled all the way from Australia to visit schools in Sikkim and teach local students and teachers about rabies control and its prevention, dog bite prevention and treatment, dog behaviour and pet husbandry including training and socialisation to prevent dog aggression. Preventing the community from being bitten by dogs will save Sikkim a lot of money and have a large positive impact on the local economy and public health.
Inadequate knowledge about dog behaviour and how to approach dogs is almost always the cause of dog bites in Sikkim and the effects of dog bites are far-reaching and significant. Most dog bites are due to people provoking dogs and are usually accidental in children. The most common reasons include touching a dog in inappropriate places (such as on top of the head, the tail or the legs and feet), patting a dog while they are eating or sleeping and patting a female dog with puppies.
The schools the Australian volunteers of SARAH at were: Deorali Girls Senior Secondary School, PNG School, Luing Government School, Bojoghari Government Senior Secondary School, Lumsey Government Junior High School, Tadong Government School, Mount Zion Kidzee School, Enchey Government Senior Secondary School, Phodong Government Senior Secondary School, Namchi Government School, Namchi Government Girls School and Biraspati Parsai Government Senior Secondary School.
They also presented at a village public meeting in Singbel Makha. In total they educated more than 8,700 people (children and adults).
The following topics were addressed in the workshops:
-           Dog behaviour – the students learnt how to identify a happy dog, a scared dog and an angry (aggressive) dog
-           How to approach and handle dogs, in particular street dogs and dogs unfamiliar to the students and how to avoid getting bitten – dogs should only be approached if their owner says that the dog is friendly. They should walk up slowly, not run, and crouch down to the dog’s eye-level. The dog should only be patted on the back, shoulders and chest. A dog should never be patted on its head, feet or tail. People should never hit or kick dogs as this makes them aggressive and children should not pull or step on dogs’ tails.
-           Which specific situations students should avoid approaching or handling a dog – specifically, if the dog is sleeping, eating, has puppies, is scared, is aggressive or has rabies, the dog should not be touched.
-           How to treat and prevent rabies. Once a person has rabies, it is fatal and cannot be treated. The best method to prevent rabies is VACCINATION of both people and dogs.
-           What to do if a person is bitten by a dog, how to behave to avoid further bites and how to prevent the student from getting rabies – if a person is bitten by a dog, they should tell someone immediately to obtain help. They should then immediately wash the bite wound for at least 10 minutes with soap and water. The person who was bitten should go to hospital the same day to receive an anti-rabies vaccine (injection). To avoid being bitten by any aggressive dog, people should not run away or scream or wave their arms and legs. They should stand still (like a tree) and ignore the dog. If the dog bites you, you should curl up into a ball (like a rock) to protect your face, neck, chest and stomach.
-           General pet care and husbandry, including what to feed a dog, how to groom and wash your dog, and recommended veterinary treatment for all healthy dogs (vaccination, worming, flea treatment and sterilisation/family planning).
 All pet dogs – even if they are healthy – should go and see a vet. Your dog should be vaccinated for rabies and other major diseases like Distemper and sterilised (have family planning surgery to prevent the dog from having or making puppies), both male and female dogs. This helps to prevent the spread of rabies and reduce the population of stray dogs.
Pet dogs should be walked with a leash once every day for at least 30 minutes and kept confined to your property to avoid getting in dog fights and being infected by rabies. It also helps prevent your dog from getting injured by cars. If it’s a big dog then it will require an aggressive exercise on daily basis. Dogs should never be chained up, especially if it is for several hours or more, as this makes the dog get bored and frustrated. This will make your dog more likely to be aggressive and bite you.
Dogs should be groomed and treated monthly for fleas and worms, which can be spread to people if they are not treated.
At the end of the workshop there was the opportunity for children, teachers and adults to ask questions. Many intelligent questions were asked, which showed that the students had really listened and understood what was being taught.  The students were extremely polite and respectful and the volunteers were very impressed by this. The educational sessions were very successful and the volunteers greatly look forward to returning to Sikkim.
The volunteers from Australia offer sincere thanks to Dr Thinlay N Bhutia, Programme Coordinator from S.A.R.A.H., for his assistance in arranging these workshops.

[The writer is Education Program Manager with Vets Beyond Borders SARAH]

SPCC team satisfied with security arrangement at EVM strong rooms

GANGTOK, 24 Apr: A Sikkim Pradesh Congress Committee team led by the party president, Dr AD Subba inspected the security arrangements of all strong rooms where EVMs are stored in the state. An SPCC press release informs that the party president has expressed his satisfaction over the strong security arrangements provided by the Election officials and District Election officers.

The party has thanked and congratulated voters and Congress workers for taking part in the polling in a peaceful manner. Dr Subba has further expressed hope that the same peaceful environment will prevail even after the counting of votes. 

SU to host symposium on ‘Gabo’ today

GANGTOK, 24 Apr: Rachna Books in association with Department of English, Sikkim University is organizing a Mini-Symposium on the Late Laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez on 25 April at 2:30 pm at Barad Bhawan [Department of Political Science], Near Central Referral Hospital, Tadong.
The symposium will have guest speakers Prof. Basudeb Chakrobarty, HoD Dept of English, S.U, Chetan Raj Shrestha, author and architect, Prof. V. Krishna Ananth, HoD Dept of History, S.U, Prof. Satyadeep Chettri, Dept of Chemistry, SGC.

Prof. Anisur Rehman - HoD English, Jamia Milia Islamia, Prof. Gulshan Kataria - Punjab University and Dr. Irshad Gulam Ahmed - HoD, Darjeeling Government College will also be present as guests of honour. Entry is free and open to all.

Nepali Sahitya Parishad condemns police shooting in Manipur

GANGTOK, 24 Apr: Nepali Sahitya Parishad, Sikkim, has strongly condemned the killing of two youth in a police firing in Manipur on 18 April. In a meeting held today NSP condemned the police firing on a protest rally which led to the death of two youth who were part of the protest rally against a recent rape incident there.
An NSP press release informs that Parishad members also paid homage to the departed souls. The Parishad has stated that such acts of violence against Indian Nepalis shows that the community is still not secure and the administration has failed to provide security to the members of the community in the country.
NSP has urged the administration to take the security and protection of “Nepali/ Gorkha” community seriously. 

SMIT lecturer to be awarded PhD in Chemistry

GANGTOK, 24 Apr: Ramesh Sharma, a research scholar in the Department of Chemistry, Sikkim Manipal Institute of Technology (SMIT), has successfully defended his PhD thesis on the topic “Physico-Chemical Properties of Sodium Carboxymethylcellulose in Ethylene Glycol-Water Mixed Solvent Media” under the guidance of Prof (Dr) Sanjay Dahal, Dept. of Chemistry, SMIT. He has been recommended for award of degree by the Board of Examiners of Sikkim Manipal University.
A press release informs that the Doctor of Philosophy will be awarded to him during the forthcoming convocation. Mr. Sharma was born in Kalimpong and graduated in B.Sc (Chemistry Honours) from Sikkim Government College, Tadong in 1997. He completed his Master’s Degree from North Bengal University in 1999.
After his post –graduation, he worked briefly as a Lecturer in Chemistry in Sikkim Government College. He cleared CSIR-UGC-NET (JRF) in the top 20% in December 2000. In August 2001, he joined the Solid State and Structural Chemistry Unit, IISc Bangalore as a   Junior Research Fellow. In September 2004, he joined Sikkim Government College as a Lecturer in Chemistry. In August 2007, he joined Sikkim Manipal Institute of Technology as a Lecturer in Chemistry where he is working at present.

His primary research interest is studying the transport properties of electrolytes and polyelectrolyte. He has a number of research papers in peer reviewed journals in the field, excluding the ones based on this dissertation. His other research interest includes synthetic solid state chemistry and has published a paper on the subject as well, the release adds.

Losing Faith

Editorial:
There is a disturbing trust deficit in the society, and this is essentially a community affliction even though the noises are screamed individually and in private. Most people have reservations about how the politicians function. The first reaction to a politician’s statement is to look for the “hidden agenda” behind it. People who are expected to decide on policy matters, drawing their decisions from years spent honing statecraft in the public domain, are rarely taken at face value any more. Every decision, move and promise is slotted to fit an ulterior political motive.
Such is the received idea that we obtain from the dubious deals made by the politicians and their aides. So much so that the word politician has come to mean “nothing serious.” Of course, this is not a recent notion, but, and specially in our country, a notion that has gained ground with the workings, or rather ‘mis-working’, of certain stalwarts of the political arena: the love-hate relationship of two widely differing parties, or for that matter, the coming together of opposing forces, who forget their differences and ideals to forge alliances - of course, for joint benefits. So we say, “bad politics, worse politicians.” But who are we? Where is our voice? We wait and see; see and criticise; criticise and do little else. If our politicians are corrupt and unsatisfactory, it is perhaps because we are incompetent too. We ignore issues that confront us. What should concern us from the very start only begins to interest us when mud starts flinging. Issues get so enmeshed and entangled by the time the various politicians have played havoc through them that the correct perspective is lost. And this is almost always the point when the public wakes up. No matter how much we scream against sensationalism, we have to admit that only when issues are sensationalized, or sentimentalised as happens as often nowadays, do we begin to raise eyebrows and ask questions - even take to the streets. Then, can we blame the politicians for overstating and overreacting? After all, they are only playing to the gallery.

Taking Sikkim’s case, the public has seldom taken the initiative in solving contentious issues. It waits for the politicians to do it for them and politicians desist because they don’t want to take a strong stand and risk losing a vote-bank. So Sikkim dithers, from all sides. And continues doing so until it has painted itself into a corner and then the only way out is by stamping all over fresh paint. An ugly, ungainly sight.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

SSA ad-hoc teachers to get appointment orders by next week CODE OF CONDUCT HAD PREVENTED ISSUANCE OF APPOINTMENT LETTERS, HRDD EXPLAINS; ECI PERMISSION HAS BEEN ACQUIRED NOW AMEET OBEROI

GANGTOK, 23 Apr: Ad-hoc teachers working under the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan [SSA] of the Human Resource Development Department [HRDD] teaching at schools across the state can now heave a sigh of relief as the HRD Department is now in process of issuing them their appointment orders for the current academic year. The appointment orders are to be issued by the end of next week.
The teachers could not be given their appointment orders earlier because of the election code of conduct that came into effect on 05 March in Sikkim, informed Principal Secretary, HRDD, Dr Thomas Chandy, while speaking to NOW! today. SSA being a Centrally Sponsored Scheme [CSS] under the Ministry of HRD, the Project Approval Board meeting was held on 06 March where it was decided to approach the Election Commission for relaxation to allow issuance of the appointment orders.
“We had tried to take the approval and had also written to the Election Commission but because of the model code of conduct we were advised by the ECI that the HRDD could not be given the approval but could do it after the polls were over in the state,” he stated. He added that the department had approached the ECI afresh after the elections and has now received the go ahead from the ECI and hence the appointment orders have already been approved and by the end of next week the orders would be issued to the teachers working in the various schools in the districts by the concerned Joint Directors [JDs].
By 01 May all the teachers will be posted in their respective schools, he informed.
He further stated that there are around 778 ad-hoc teachers working under the SSA and that these are mostly the same set of teachers who were employed by the department last year and the renewal of their employment is done on a yearly basis.

Arithang residents protest proposed traffic regulation SIKKIM POLICE MAKES AMENDMENTS TO ORIGINAL PROPOSAL, OPENS BYLANE FOR UP TRAFFIC SAGAR CHHETRI

GANGTOK, 23 Apr: Following the recent announcement of the East District Traffic Police of the new traffic regulation on the Arithang road, a representation was made by residents of Arithang to the District Collector [East] today. A strong delegation of more than 200 residents of Arithang along with the Municipal Councilor of the area, Ashish Rai, presented their grievances and issues along with a memorandum to the DC, AK Singh regarding the imposition of the new traffic rule.
Traffic Police, it may be recalled, had proposed that vehicles coming up from Arithang not be allowed to access NH 31A from the Sher-e-Punjab route between 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. to keep the highway “free of clogging” during this peak hour. Arithang residents travelling to town would then have been required to drive down to the Indira Byepass and then travel up during these two hours. While this might have eased the bottleneck at Sher-e-Punjab and Lall Bazaar turning, it would have clearly inconvenienced commuters from Arithang. [A new regulation has been passed by the Sikkim Police now. See accompanying box for details]
During an interaction with the DC at the DAC [East] conference hall, Arithang residents informed that the public of the area have worked out a practicable regulation of their own which they have been strictly following strictly. Under this regulation, no vehicle is allowed to enter Arithang from Sher-e-Punjab between 9 to 11 a.m. and no vehicle is allowed to ply uphill onto the National Highway on this route between 3 to 5 pm. They urged the DC to allow them to continue this practice.
The new traffic regulation will cause a lot of problems for the people of the area, they said. They informed that earlier they could reach Hospital Dara by share-cab for Rs 20, but with the new regulation the people will have to pay upto Rs 100 just to reach Hospital Dara. They also complained that to reach Hospital Dara from Arithang takes around 5 minutes but as per the new regulation it would take around 30 minutes provided there is no traffic congestion. [This, before the latest regulation was announced for the area]
They also mentioned that the new traffic management would not only be responsible for more fuel consumption but it would also create additional traffic on the National Highway from the Indira Bye Pass.
Arithang councilor Ashish Rai stressed that the concerned authority should have consulted the people of the area before proposing any regulation. He also added that there should be prior sensitization among the people before such a system is put into effect.
In response, the DC assured to take the issue seriously and to discuss it with the SP [East] and other concerned authorities for further action. However, he also asked for a week’s time to consult all stakeholders where he informed that he would call a meeting by including the people of the area before taking the final decision.
The DC assured that all inconveniences highlighted by the people in the meeting would be taken into consideration before taking any further decisions. He also assured to carry out a sensitization programme among the people. By evening, Sikkim Police had however issued an order on the new regulation which opens a by-lane into Church Road for up-traffic from Arithang in the morning peak hours. It remains to be seen how the residents take to this new regulation and how effectively the cops implement it.

Girish ’N the Chronicles to perform at Dubai

GANGTOK, 23 Apr: Sikkim rock band Girish and The Chronicles (GATC) is flying to Dubai on Thursday for a headlining act at a rock event. The event is scheduled to be held on 25 April at the Majestic Tower. The band members, Girish Pradhan (vocalist/guitars), Yogesh Pradhan (bassist), Suraj Karki (lead guitars) and Nagen Mongranti (drums) are presently based in Bangalore. They have already performed in all major rock venues in the country including the Hard Rock Café chain.

11-year-old boy’s death suspected as suicide

GANGTOK, 23 Apr: An eleven-year-old boy is suspected to have committed suicide at 6th Mile, Tadong on 22 April. The victim was a resident of Siliguri, residing at 6th Mile, Tadong at present. On 22 April the Ranipool police received a “call-book intimation” from the MO on duty of Central Referral Hospital [CRH], Tadong stating that one 11-year-old child had been brought dead to the emergency ward. Medical examination reportedly suggested that the boy had died of hanging at around 4 pm that day. The case is under investigation.

Trilok Subba to take part in 7th Asian Senior Poomsae Taekwondo c’ship

GANGTOK, 23 Apr: Trilok Subba, 6th Dan Black Belt, has sent his confirmation to Taekwondo Federation of India (Bangalore) regarding his participation in the 7th Asian Senior Poomsae Taekwondo championship today. He will represent India in the 1st Master Individual event.

A press release informs that Mr Subba was selected on the basis of his performance in the 6th Senior National Poomsae championship 2013 at Imphal, Manipur where he won a medal. The 7th Asian Senior Poomsae Taekwondo championship will be held on 25 May 2014 at Tashkent, Uzbekistan and the championship is to be organised by Asian Taekwondo Union (ATU) under the banner of World Taekwondo Federation (WTF), the release mentions. 

Tadong School wins East District Russ Quiz 2014

GANGTOK, 23 Apr: “Russ Quiz 2014” kicked off to a grand start at the Modern School Auditorium with 25 schools from East district battling it out to become the District level champions of the quiz competition. The quiz is especially for middle school students of the state.
A press release informs that the East District Russ Quiz 2014 competition was won by students from Tadong Senior Secondary School followed by Tashi Namgyal Senior Secondary bagging the second prize and Bahai School, Saramsa bagging the third prize in a closely fought contest.
The joint fourth were Holy Cross School, Tadong and Daffodils Home. Rangpo Secondary School bagged the fifth position in the district level competition.
Russ Quiz competition is based on the “inclusive competition” format conceived and designed by 24hours Inspired, the release mentions. Schools instead of just “selecting” and sending students had been requested to take a 15 questions prelims for “all” the students of the middle school.
This gave all students a chance to participate and a level playing field when it comes to competition, it further adds.

The quiz will travel to Gyalshing next for the West District competitions scheduled to be held on the 26 of April. The state level competition is slated to be held on 10 May 2014. 

Samdong GPU bags Rashtriya Gaurav Gram Sabha Puraskar

GANGTOK, 23 Apr [IPR]: On the occasion of the National Panchayat Day, 24 April 2014 the Directorate of Panchayati Raj, under Rural Management and Development Department, Government of Sikkim has announced that the Rashtriya Gaurav Gram Sabha Puraskar, 2014 has been awarded to Samdong Gram Panchayat Unit, West Sikkim with a prize money of Rs. 10 lakh for holding the most effective Gram Sabhas during the year culminating in a host of other achievements.
24 April 2014 marks 21 glorious years of the inclusion of Panchayats in the Indian constitution as an institution of self-governance. Every year National Panchayati Raj Day is celebrated on this historic day.
On this occasion, National awards under the “Panchayat Empowerment and Accountability Incentive Scheme” (PEAIS) and the ‘Rashtriya Gaurav Gram Sabha Puraskar’ (RGGSP) are conferred upon the best performing States and Panchayats by the Ministry of Panchayati Raj. These categories of awards fall under the umbrella scheme ‘Rajiv Gandhi Panchayat Sashaktikaran Abhiyan’.
The Rashtriya Gaurav Gram Sabha Puraskar’ is awarded to the Gram Panchayat that practices best Gram Sabha in the country and Panchayat Sashaktikaran Puraskar under PEAIS is awarded to the best performing Zilla Panchayat and Gram Panchayat Units in the country.
Further, 3 GPUs have been recognised under the Panchayat Sashaktikaran Puraskar (PEAIS), 2014. South District Zilla Panchayat has been awarded best performing District Zilla Panchayat with a prize money of Rs. 50 lakh.
Mellidara-Paiyong, South District has been declared the best performing GPU under category ‘A’. (Category “A” is competition between GPUs who have already won National Awards previously) and awarded prize money of Rs. 8 lakh.
Karmatar Gyaten, West District has been declared the best performing GPU under category ‘B’. (Category “B” is competition between GPUs who have never won any National Awards) and awarded a prize money of Rs. 8 lakh.
Under the Panchayat Sashaktikaran Puraskar the performance of Panchayats during 2012 -13 was assessed by the State as per the guidelines of Ministry of Panchayati Raj. The exercise started with customization of questionnaires received from the Ministry of Panchayati Raj to make it more applicable to the State. These questionnaires were then distributed to all 176 Gram Panchayat Units and 4 District Zilla Panchayats after a daylong workshop with all Panchayats.
Evaluation and ranking were conducted by the Directorate of Panchayati Raj, Sikkim. Two State Field verification team were formed, consisting of members from well known NGOs in the State; ECOSS and VHAS. These Field verification teams were then sent to conduct field verification to top 6 GPUs and all 4 ZPs.
Finally, after detailed consideration based on the reports submitted by the State Field verification team final names of 2 GPs namely Mellidara and Karmatar, and South Zilla Panchayat was nominated from the State. On 07 February 2014 the Ministry of Panchayati Raj then sent the National Field verification team to visit the nominated Zilla Panchayat and Gram Panchayats after which the final results were declared.
Achievements of Samdong GPU
·      100% immunization of children between the age group of 0-5 years.
·      80% institutional delivery.
·      Timely distribution of supplies through PDS fair price shops.
·      Compulsory enrolment of children till the age of 14 to schools, hence there has not been any incident of child labour within the GPU.
·      Voluntary contribution from the public in the form of labour.
·      Bringing the ST/SC population at par by prioritizing them in all schemes/projects.
·      Enrolment of unemployed youths in Livelihood Schools across the State.
·      Through majority consensus during the Gram Sabha, the GPU has stated generating own sources through user changes for water and garbage disposed tax.



Two-day Circuit Assembly of Jehovah’s Witnesses

GANGTOK, 23 Apr: The two-day Circuit Assembly of Jehovah’s Witnesses is scheduled to be held at Sikkim Government College Auditorium, Tadong on 26 and 27 April.
A press release informs that the theme for this Assembly, taken from the Holy Bible is: “God’s Word Is Beneficial for Teaching.” The Assembly will begin at 9:40 am in the morning and end at 3:55 pm on Saturday and at 3:30pm on Sunday.
Through talks, demonstrations, symposiums and interviews the Assembly will help people understand the benefits that can be derived from the divine teachings found in the Bible. This assembly is one of a series of such gatherings organized by Jehovah’s Witnesses all over the world including many cities in India. As with all assemblies and conventions of Jehovah’s Witnesses, entry is free and there will be no collections, the release mentions.
Jehovah’s Witnesses are known all over the world for their house- to-house witnessing. More information about their teachings and activities can be found on www.jw.org. This website is available in more than 600 hundred languages including Nepali and Newari, the release adds.

Sudden Death

Editorial:-
An eleven-year-old was brought dead to a hospital in Gangtok on Tuesday. The initial medical report on the death suggests that the child committed suicide. That is how the initial police report on the death was also recorded, reaching the crime beat reporters from there and finding its way into the newspapers. Another death by suicide was recorded in Sikkim. But wait, this cannot be considered the same as any other suicide. But that is probably how it will end up – a statistic. Sikkim has become so inured to suicides that even when a shocker like an 11 year old suspected of having taken his own life becomes news, it does not rile people into action.
When this newspaper took an editorial decision to try and report on every suicide that was recorded in the State, the idea was to convey the worry that was already being felt in some circles to the readers. News-reports on suicides are brief not because they are space-fillers, and never reported with accompanying photographs or graphic details [save information on the method used to commit suicide], because the idea is not to sensationalise the incident or cater to voyeuristic demands. The reason why these ‘unnatural deaths’ are reported with such regularity in this newspaper is to flag it as a situation that demands immediate social intervention. Unfortunately, the move does not appear to have succeeded, because even though there is a general acceptance around Sikkim that the number of suicides are too worryingly high, the next step, the social responsibility of understanding and addressing the situation is still awaited. What is worse, the only sections issuing public statements on suicides are political parties and they are poorly informed and definitely not the agencies that one would recommend for social commentary. Sikkim has had to suffer through such superficial attempts at political engagements on suicides as a claim some years back that suicides were caused by price rise. In the past, other political parties have claimed that unemployment was one of the reasons. Apart from being factually incorrect, these suppositions and statements are also disrespectful towards the lives lost to suicides in Sikkim. In the latest instance, it’s an 11 year old, at other times it has been housewives and grandfathers – neither of whom are the job-seeking types. The least that the cases of suicide deserve is a clear explanation on what caused them. Unfortunately, no academically sound study has been conducted in the State yet to explain to its people why so many suicides have been taking place here. Over the recent years, Sikkim has been averaging a suicide every second day - worryingly high number for a State as small as Sikkim since this average is for the officially reported suicides; and many suicides  go unreported. Until the reasons behind suicides are explained, the societal involvement required, cannot be nudged along in the right direction.
Sikkim has been thirsting for some positive news on this morbid situation, but none of any consequence have emerged. The professional and NGO-driven engagement which could have been the first steps in that direction have not come through because even “social service” and volunteer involvement works in an environment of donor-driven social interventions when what is required is situation-driven redressal.

State level consultation held on Model State Disaster Management Plan

GANGTOK, 23 Apr [IPR]: A state-level Consultation on Model State Disaster Management plan was held at a local hotel, today with a view of making Sikkim a model state on Disaster Management.
The participatory meeting was attended by VK Sharma [Executive Vice Chairman, SSDMA], CT Wangdi [Relief Commissioner cum Secretary for Land Revenue and Disaster Management Department], SDW Chankapa [Special Secretary],  TW Khangsarpa [Addl. Secretary], GC Khannel [Joint Director], NM Prusty [Founding chairperson –Sphere India/ Director CDDMASS], Dr. Ashish Sutar [Disaster Management Programme Manager WASPA], Nodal Officers from various departments, representatives from Non-Governmental Organizations.
The programme was organized by Land Revenue and Disaster Department in collaboration with Sphere India (National Coalition of Humanitarian Agencies) to develop and restructure Disaster Management Plan incorporating valuable inputs given by various stakeholders, sectors and departments for the formulation of final plan to ensure disaster prevention, mitigation, preparedness and proper management in Sikkim.
Secretary, CT Wangdi addressing the gathering emphasized on the essential need of preparing proper plan to tackle any type of Natural Disaster in Sikkim. After the 18 September earthquake in 2011, the state has realized the requirement of appropriate mechanism to be developed through active consultation with different departments, he added. Highlighting that the population in the state is scattered in various parts he said that an effective plan is to be created which should be geographically relevant and applicable. Speaking about the post disaster situation he said, “If lot of materials come and these are not distributed or managed properly the entire effort will go in vain, so a concrete plan  needs to be formulated which can be submitted to the government for approval”.
Speaking at the programme, Executive Vice Chairman, SSDMA, Prof. VK Sharma stressed on importance of State Disaster Management plan and said that it is important that a dynamic document containing holistic components to address natural disasters be formulated. He informed tbat Sikkim has prepared a disaster management plan after the formation of Disaster Management Act 2005 and revision on periodical basis is needed for addition and deletion of elements. To have a plan in connection with the district plan is important in order for the state to go to every village at the subdivision and block levels, he further added.
NM Prusty, founding chairperson Sphere India shared his experiences in other states and said that it is a multi-sectoral and multi-structural subject. Disaster enhances migration and trafficking, so protection is important, he said.
During the programme Deputy Secretary, Pravakar Rai briefed on the existing draft plan and asked participants to give concise and appropriate suggestions to make it a model plan. He informed about the components and various subjects which were categorically specified in the plan. He further explained about the aspects like hazards risk and vulnerability profile of Sikkim, preventive measures, mainstreaming disaster management concern into development and preparedness measures. He spoke about the importance of the golden hour period where action has to be taken immediately in all situations. Rescue operation or rehabilitation work should be carried out without any discrimination of caste, creed, sex, religion, he added.
The Special Secretary also briefed on the State Disaster Management Programme and informed about its background for the consultation, risk reduction activities and achievements.

Five-day Academic Counseling cum Psychometric Test gets underway

GANGTOK, 23 Apr: The Directorate of Capacity Building is organizing a five-day Academic Career Counseling cum Psychometric Test for senior students of different schools from around the capital. The event organized in coordination with Info Young India kicked off here at TNSS Auditorium today with a session for the senior students of the same school.
The reason behind holding such a programme is to guide the students who will soon be completing their school education towards a better future.
Director of Directorate of Capacity Building, HK Sharma informed that the programme seeks to reach around 4500 students across the state. He also informed about various schemes and programmes of the state government in the field of higher studies and various other career options.
The technical session had a counseling team headed by Sumantha Sharma enlightening the students about career planning and options. The highly interactive session witnessed interesting queries from the students.
Furthermore, H.A. for capacity building, Sonam Gyaltshen Bhutia appealed to the students to make use of opportunities made available by the state government and also highlighted the various student oriented schemes and programmes like CMSES,CECS,CMFSS and many more.
Secretary HRDD, Dr. Thomas Chandy, in his address shed light on the opportunities in diverse sectors and urged the students to capitalize on such opportunities. However Dr. Chandy made it clear that it is only hard work and dedication that ensures success in the age of global competition. It may be mentioned that a total of 8000 students across the state were covered under this programme last year.

Workshop begins economic valuation of bio-resources for Access & Benefit Sharing

GANGTOK, 23 April: A two-day state-level capacity building workshop on “Economic valuation of Bio-resources for Access and Benefit Sharing” began here at the Forest Department conference hall today. The workshop aims to create awareness and build capacity among the key biodiversity stakeholders/ managers.
Sikkim is in the process of implementing its “Access and Benefit Sharing” [ABS] project with the objective to strengthen the implementation of the Biological Diversity Act & Rules. This implementation will facilitate researchers, local NGOs and user agencies for better assess to locally available resources for economic proposes and strengthen the management of the forest resources for better study and research analysis.
The workshop will be addressing key issues on Economic Valuation of Bio-resources for Access and Benefit Sharing project and is being organized by the Sikkim Biodiversity Board and National Biodiversity Authority. Representatives from the National Biodiversity Authority are the key facilitators for the workshop which will seek to bring Sikkim at par with the four other project implementing states - Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh.
Delivering the keynote address today, Dr. Ishwar Poojar, Project Manager - UNEP-GEF-MoEF, ABS Programme, National Biodiversity Authority, Chennai, emphasized the need for better management and implementation of the bio-resources through proper channels.
He said that the project on strengthening the implementation of the Biological Diversity Act and Rules with focus on its Access & Benefit Sharing provisions deals with assessing and quantifying the economic value of biological resources, using appropriate methodologies to determine benefit sharing, which will help in better implementation of the Biological Diversity Act, and inform national decision makers on prioritizing conservative action.
SS Bhadauria, Additional Chief Conservator of Forests, while addressing the inaugural session said that the identification of bio-resources or genetic resources with potential for ABS from selected ecosystems such as forests, wetlands and agriculture and their valuation [estimation of the real value] is an important task in this project. The major activities coming under this head, include- developing standardized economic valuation methods for valuing bio-resources, organizing three national workshops and five state level workshops on understanding the valuation methodology, and using the same in decision making, developing a methodology for using the economic valuation in deciding ABS permits, and developing a data base covering the economic valuation information in finalizing the ABS agreements.
Former Principal Director, Animal Husbandry Department, Sonam Paljor Bhutia, who chaired the inaugural session, in turn said that Sikkim, because of its geographical attributes, enjoys the privilege of conserving, protecting and properly utilizing diverse resources.
Mr. Bhutia urged the preservation and proper utilization of the bio-resources adding that the large quantities of divergent bio-resources are collected or extracted from the ecosystems, which human beings can directly or indirectly use either as food, medicines or biomass. These goods are also involved in research and development, which lead to the innovation of new consumer products and trade, and act as the basic raw-material or input factor in manufacturing many products.

Highway mishap claims 7 near Melli ANAND OBEROI


GANGTOK, 22 Apr: A passenger jeep plying from Singtam to Siliguri flew off the road at Kirney on the West Bengal side of NH 31A near Melli today, tumbling more than 200 feet off the highway and claiming the lives of all seven on board the vehicle at the time. Among the dead are a minor and his mother. The accident occurred at around 2 p.m. at a spot around 2 kms ahead of Kirney towards Melli.
The ill fated taxi was plying from Singtam to Siliguri and is reported to have lost control at the narrow turning ahead of Bhalu Khola bridge around a kilometer short of Melli.
Eye-witness accounts suggest that the vehicle was speeding and that the diver was rashly overtaking other vehicles when he lost control at the spot.
Ranjit Rai and Gautam Chettri, two youth from Singtam who saw the vehicle lose control and fly off the road, were also among the first people to negotiate the steep slope and reach the vehicle from where they helped recover the dead bodies.
“The driver was speeding when he lost control. The vehicle smashed through small trees on its tumble down, so fast was it travelling,” recalls Mr. Rai. Fire rescue teams from Kalimpong arrived at the spot in around half an hour, he adds. Mr. Rai helped out as well and received injuries on his feet while helping recover the dead bodies.
He also informs that most of the victims were trapped under the vehicle and that the driver was crushed between the seat and the steering wheel. “There were around 100 bystanders but only around ten of us braved it down the slope as first respondents to the accident. Five bodies were recovered within an hour but then the dead body of the child and another victim was nowhere in sight which is why heavy machinery and manpower was needed to see if the two bodies were still trapped under the vehicle,” states Mr. Chettri.
Their fears proved correct and the two bodies were recovered from under the vehicle eventually.

Bear stays away, TNA reopens FOREST DEPTT INSTALLS CAMERA TRAPS TO KEEP WATCH ON WILDLIFE ACTIVITY ON CAMPUS SAGAR CHHETRI

GANGTOK, 22 April: The bear scare at Tashi Namgyal Academy is over and the school reopened on Monday after a nearly weeklong suspension after a bear was sighted at the campus within days of having attacked a cop posted there on security detail. While the Forest Department had initially laid traps on campus as a security measure against a return visit, it has now installed less traumatizing camera traps there. The Department installed 3 camera traps in the more forested patch of the TNA campus before the school reopened. The Wildlife Division of the Department will be checking the recordings of the camera traps on a daily basis.
Following the sighting of Himalayan Black Bear by a Chowkidar at TNA in the small patch of forest behind the under construction Principal’s bungalow on the night of 14 April, the school had shut down as a precaution till 20 April [Sunday].
Over the last week, the Forest Department set up two cages and carried out combing operations while closely monitoring the campus. The bear did not return and with the situation having eased, the school reopened on Monday.
DFO [Wildlife], East, Abhay Bhaskar, today informed that despite regular combing operations by Forest personnel, no trace of the bear was found. He informed that the department has removed the cage installed behind the Science Block of the school but will be keeping the cage beside the under construction bungalow [where the bear was reportedly sighted].
He reiterated that the school campus was safe.
The department has also submitted a detailed report on the incident to the District Collectorate [East].
The DFO informs that as a further security measure to preempt human-wildlife conflict, the department has now installed 3 camera traps in the campus. He further informs that the recordings of the first day have not shown any movement of wildlife in the area. He mentioned that the departmental team would closely and regularly monitor the recordings.
The Department also conducted an awareness programme for students from class IX and above on Monday. The senior students were also advised to watch out even more closely for juniors in the school.
The DFO informs that students were also advised do not enter the surrounding forest area and further advised against throwing food in and around the campus of the school.

Yodess felicitates Lower Mulukey AWW on national award

Rhenock, 22 Apr: Youth Development Society of Sikkim [YODESS] felicitated Aganwadi Worker (AWW) of lower Mulukey ICDS Aganwadi Center, Dilmaya Subba, at a special function hosted at its office on Sunday. Ms. Subba received a national award for running the Aganwadi centre under her charge so well. The award was given through Minister of State Krishna Tirath at an awards function held at the Rajiv Gandhi Sports Stadium in New Delhi recently.

The short felicitation programme organized to celebrate the recognition was attended by Yodess chairperson cum district programme officer (E/N) Narendra Chettri, executive secretary Mani kumar Gurung and board members, Dalapchand Gram Panchayat Sachin Rai and Rongli-Chagelakha Ward panchayat Goma Pradhan. [from BHANURAJ THAPA]

SAATHI begins campaign for new academic session with daylong Vipassana


GANGTOK, 19 Apr: Sikkim Against Addiction Towards Healthy India [SAATHI], in coordination with Padma Odzer Choeling School, Chongay organized a day long Vipassana meditation for students of Tadong Senior Secondary School on 19 April. Thirty-six students from standards IX and X participated, a press release informs.
Nekung Keepu Lepcha along with two other instructors carried out the daylong session, introducing the students to Vipassana.
The aim behind organizing the event was to help students achieve “real peace of mind and lead a happy, useful life”, the release details. The meditation was held at the Dhamma Hall at Chongay.
The next batch of student will be from Deorali Girls Sr. Sec School.
Vipassana means to see things as they really are; it is a logical process of mental purification through self observation.

NHPC Stage-V gifts furniture and classroom equipments to 26 schools

GANGTOK, 22 Apr: The Teesta Stage-V power station of the NHPC has distributed furniture and classroom equipment to 26 schools in East, South and North districts of Sikkim as part of its CSR & SD [Corporate Social Responsibility & Sustainable Development] initiatives, an NHPC press release informs.  
The distributed items include computers, printers, LCD projectors, furniture and audio systems. These have been released to government schools in the three districts.
The items were formally handed over to representatives of the schools at a function held at the Stage-V Power Station conference hall on 21 April by the project’s GM, AB Saha, the release states.


My School- by DIPAN CHETTRI, class VII, Middle Gyalshing Secondary School

I go to my School everyday
I meet my friends on the way
I wish my friends Good Morning
who help me in my learning

I go to my school everyday
Teachers teach us there
Father, Mother pray for me
I want to grow everyday

I go to my school everyday
where my friends promise to help me in every way
want to be the best, of the best
so I learn everyday, in every way.


Justices tour North Sikkim

GANGTOK, 22 April: Chief Justice, High Court of Sikkim, NK Jain, and family, accompanied by Justice SP Wangdi, former High Court Judge AP Subba, SLSA member secretary Karma Wongchuk Bhutia, District & Sessions Judge Jagat Rai, JM (N) B Sharma, DM (N) were in Mangan on 18 April as part of a 3-day tour of North Sikkim.
On the afternoon of 18 April, an open interaction was convened with students, Principals, headmasters and teachers in an effort to promote awareness on legal issues and sensitize the audience on legal services and the recently launched legal literacy clubs and clinics.
The visiting legal luminaries were also scheduled to hold interactions with Pipons and members of the Lachung and Lachen Dzumsas and visit Yumthang and Gurudongmar further North.

Safe Journey

Editorial:-
There has been another mishap on the highway and lives lost, again. Given the terrain, the quality of the roads, the complete absence of any safety equipment in public carriers and the dodgy skills that too many drivers of passenger vehicles are allowed to get away with, news of an accident and fatalities come as no surprise. What is shocking though is that very little is being done to ensure safer travel for people using passenger vehicles. While nothing can be done about the terrain, a lot more could be done to improve roads, reinforce safety measures in vehicles and ensure that only drivers with proper skills, aptitude and attitude are allowed to ferry passengers.
Sikkim’s roads have been works in progress for far too long. Accepted that the roads need to be expanded, but now that some work is underway, the engineers should work on more aspects than just the width of the roads. More technology needs to be deployed to make the roads safer. Basic infrastructure like guard rails should be made mandatory because these alone could save countless lives given that almost every fatal mishap involves a vehicle flying off the road. Better warning systems like the very basic mirrors at least at blind turns would also help as would a more expansive deployment of highway patrols, of which there are inexcusably none at present. Traffic cops needs to realize that their job is about more than putting clamps on vehicles for parking violations. Vehicles left in no-parking zones are a nuisance at worse and taxis stopping out of turn are irritants; reckless driving on the highway however is life threatening. Highway checking, on the rare occasion that it is undertaken, checks the documents. This is an irritant. What is necessary though is routine checking of vehicle health and driver aptitudes. This could save lives. And this is necessary because no one is yet bothered about making the passenger vehicles any safer. Apart from breaks, these vehicles have no safety measures so it boils down to the driver and his skills to keep travel safe. Shouldn’t more stringent conditions be then exacted before drivers issued a taxi driving licence? An effort on these lines was made by Sikkim Police once in the past when its personnel would stop passenger vehicles on the highway and check on the condition of the tyres, the effectiveness of the breaks and enquire with passengers on the driver’s skills. The initiative had impressed passengers, both locals and tourists, but was unfortunately too short-lived. It needs to be revived and measures introduced to ensure that only the better drivers get Taxi Driving licences.
And while these initiatives are attempted, citizen groups need to come together and build pressure on the government to make it mandatory for vehicles to have better safety features before they are issued taxi numbers. Taxis, one must bear in mind ply for profit and not as social service, so some demands can be made [beyond the hilarious fire extinguisher rule] which make them safer. No government is going to proactively initiate such a measure, but if public opinion is built, something like this is possible. After all, a regular passenger jeep has a carrying capacity of nine passengers and one driver; shouldn’t a vehicle which travels with ten lives on board have better reinforcement?

Gunners collaborate with students to clean-up on Earth Day

GANGTOK, 22 Apr: The Black Cat Gunners undertook a cleanliness drive at Bojoghari today as a special gesture to observe ‘World Earth Day’.
The aim of this campaign was to spread awareness among locals and tourists to protect and preserve the natural heritage of Sikkim, an Army press release explains.
Children from Bojoghari Senior Secondary School and St John’s School volunteered participation in the event held on the theme, “Let’s protect the environment”.
The cleanliness drive was carried out along the road stretch from Tashi View Point to Swastik. Non-bio degradable waste was collected and disposed.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Anthems rock Darj, legends thrill TSHERING EDEN

DARJEELING, 21 Apr: “My name is Eric Martin and I want to be with you!” from the former Mr Big frontman got the crowd screaming at Darjeeling’s first ever international rock show titled ‘Anthems of Rock’ on Sunday at the Gorkha Stadium in Lebong.
Touted to be a mega event with names like Eric Martin, Robert Hart of Bad Company fame and Bobby Kimball of Toto including 1974AD of Nepal, the weather and disappointing crowd turn-out was a dampener. Kimball and 1974AD could not make it for the show, the former due to some visa hassles and the latter due to the avalanche at the Mt Everest base camp in Nepal. The chopper the band was supposed to travel in was apparently pressed into action for search and relief operations.  
Local band, Adam’s Apple filled in for 1974 AD as the opening act where the band covered popular classic rock numbers and pumped up the crowd. The crowd had to wait till 7 pm however, to see the legends they had come to see.
Robert Hart took to the stage first and belted classics like ‘Feel like making love’ and ‘Davy’s on the road again’. After his spirited performance, Martin finally got on to the stage and gave the audience what they wanted - Superfantastic, Wild world, To be with you and Daddy, brother, lover little boy amongst others. The two also jammed up for a bit to Cream’s ‘Crossroads’.
On the disappointing crowd turn-out, Hart said, “It doesn’t matter how many come for the show, they should enjoy the music. Darjeeling rocks!”
Martin highlighted on the reason behind his visit where he said that he was here to play music for a good cause. “It felt like it took forever to reach Darjeeling, with all the red tape and paper work hassles but I am happy to play for charity. I love playing for a good cause and we will party tonight!” he said.
Swedish band ‘Anthems of Rock’ was the backup band playing for Martin and Hart. “The event went off well with around 1500-2000 people attending the show even though the ticket sales were not very good”, said a member of the organizing team.
The event was funded by the Human Rights Watch, an international organization based in New York that works for the eradication of injustice and persecution throughout the world. It was organized by Canada-based Spread the Metal Records and Darjeeling-based DOM Events in association with VH1 and T2.

South adjudged best District Panchayat in state

RASHTRIYA GAURAV GRAM PURASKAR FOR SAMDONG GPU; MELLIDARA AND KARMATAR GYATEN ADJUDGED BEST IN THEIR RESPECTIVE CATEGORIES
NAMCHI, 21 Apr: The South District Zilla Panchayat was adjudged the best District Panchayat from among the four districts of the State under the Panchayat Empowerment, Accountability and Incentive Scheme and has bagged a cash award of Rs. 50 lakh.
Among the Gram Panchayats, Mellidara was adjudged the winner in category A and Karmatar Gyaten in category B with cash awards of Rs. 8 lakh each. A three-level evaluation was carried out for choosing the above winners.
Questionnaire specific to the state panchayati system was prepared and distributed to each of the district panchayats and GPUs. Filled up questionnaires were then evaluated at the department level by the State Panchayat Performance Appraisal Committee.
Field verifications were then conducted by members of VHAS and ECOSS of the selected GPUs and all the four district panchayats. A final round of evaluation was done by a team deputed by the Ministry of Panchayat Raj, GoI.
Samdong Gram Panchayat Unit has been chosen for the Rashtriya Gaurav Gram Puraskar. Various parameters like adult literacy, institutional deliveries, etc. were taken into account for this award. The GPU has won cash award of Rs. 10 lakh and will be will be honored at the national level on the occasion of National Panchayati Raj Day on 24 April in New Delhi.
In a meeting held at RMDD, Gangtok today the above awards were presented to the respective ZP and GPUs by Secretary RMDD, DR Nepal. The meeting was attended by Zilla Adhyaksha and Upadhyaksha, South, GP members of all the three GPUs, Director Panchayat, Jt Secy Panchayat, ADC Dev Gyalshing, ADC Dev Namchi, DPO South and GVA Sumbuk among others.

Repairs at STNM Hospital’s gynae OTs sends patients to CRH on referral ANAND OBEROI

GANGTOK, 21 Apr: For the past ten days, the operation theatres for gynecology related cases at STNM Hospital have remained shut causing much inconvenience to the many cases that come for treatment to the hospital from all over the state. The shutdown of these two OTs has led the STNM hospital authorities to refer all delivery cases and gynecological surgeries to Central Referral Hospital, Manipal.
“STNM is the only hospital for the majority of people who cannot afford other medical expertise since most cases are treated free of cost here. However, with the OTs closed we were asked to take our patient to Manipal [CRH] where for every single item we have to pay,” states a patient party from Daramdin who also added that his pregnant wife had to be taken to CRH, Manipal in the dead of the night when she was brought to STNM Hospital for delivery.
“Who would have been responsible if any complications arose when my wife was referred to CRH, Manipal in the night?” questions the patient party while speaking to NOW! today.        
The Medical Superintendent Dr. Yogesh Verma while confirming that the two operation theatres at STNM Hospital for gynecology related surgeries have been “temporarily closed” for the past 10 days explained that the inconvenience being faced by the patients was because of the repair and renovation works being carried out at the two OTs at the Gynecology ward in the hospital.
“The gynecology OTs had not been repaired for the past eight years and there were signs that the OTs could prove hazardous for the hundreds of patients because the operation theatres needed immediate general repairs and complete sterilization before it can be ‘safely’ used,” explained the Medical Superintendent.
He added that infections could be a big problem for patients since the OTs were in no condition to continue with any surgery. He said that since no other operation theatre at STNM Hospital could be used specifically for gynecology related complications, the hospital authorities had no option but to refer the cases to CRH.
He also said that the inconvenience was regretted and assured that the two gynecology OTs would be operational within 4 days and stated that at present the fumigation and sterilization of the repaired and renovated OTs was being carried out.
“As soon as the fumigation process is completed and the safety measures are all complete and in-place we will start operating patients at STNM Hospital itself and then the chances of referring patients will be done away with immediately,” stated the MS.
He also mentioned that as soon as the state government completes the new multi specialty hospital at Sokeythang there will be state-of-the-art instruments and equipment which will discourage referring patients outside the state to a great level.
“I request the patients and their parties to just wait for four more days after which this inconvenience will not be there. STNM Hospital was originally made for a population of around 10,000 and is now catering to a population of around 2 lakh and that too with more or less the same number of beds. Since gynecology cases are sensitive and are prone to severe infections for the mother as well as the new born, there was no option for STNM Hospital to cater to any such cases at the moment,” he stated.
He also added that BPL families however could obtain free treatment at CRH, while government employees and their dependents will be reimbursed their cost of treatment by the state government.

Trishakti Corps Commander calls on Governor

GANGTOK, 21 Apr: Trishakti Corps Commander Lt Gen KJ Singh today called on Governor Shriniwas Dadasaheb Patil at Raj Bhawan here. Lt Gen Singh was accompanied by Mrs Anita Singh.
A press release informs that Lt Gen Singh was on a visit to review the operational preparedness of troops deployed along the international border in Sikkim and briefed the Governor on the security situation in the area.
The Corps Commander visited forward areas and interacted with cross section of troops deployed in forward area.  The Corps Commander travelled to Nathu La and congratulated all ranks on their morale and motivation in performance of their duties in the exacting weather conditions on the border, the release informs.

19th Bn SSB treats families to picnic at campus

GANGTOK, 21 Apr: A family picnic was organized by 19th Bn SSB-Gangtok on 19 April at the Battalion Campus here, a press release informs.

deputy Commandant Prafull Kumar, Asstt. Commandants Sanjeev Kumar Singh and RS Rawat and Romita Potsangbam, President of Sandiksha, 19TH Bn SSB Gangtok and Ms. Debrati, Vice-President of Sandiksha as well as all the members of Sandiksha and children joined the picnic.

Stop coupon system for LPG distribution, SPCC demands

GANGTOK, 21 Apr: Sikkim Pradesh Congress Committee [SPCC] has questioned the efficacy of the coupon system used in issuing LPG cylinders. The party has demanded that the concerned department take appropriate action and stop this practice. SPCC has further said that if the practice is not discontinued within a week, the party will lodge FIRs against the distributors across the state.

In a press release, SPCC has alleged that the coupon system is encouraging black marketing of LPG n the state. It has further alleged that many consumers are being refused their supply even though there is sufficient stock in the godowns on the pretext that their coupon is invalid and other such excuses. 

SHSC monthly meeting takes stock, sets targets


GANGTOK, 21 Apr: Sikkim Himalayan Sporting Club [SHSC] executive members interacted with parents of players during the monthly meeting of the club on Sunday at the club house at Tathangchen. The meeting also took feedback from the parents on the improvement of their respective wards.
On the occasion, SHSC president Tenzing Lamtha explained that the main motive of the meeting was to review the performance of the club’s footballers and to take feedback and suggestions from the parents for further improving the club. He urged parents to attend the meeting every month and to support their children so that they perform better.
Mr Lamtha said that the SHSC has been doing its best to prepare local footballers for I-League in coming years which is its ultimate goal. The club also wants to promote health and fitness among the children by engaging them in healthy activities through sports, he added.
At present, 25 players each in senior and junior teams of the club are undergoing rigorous training for the upcoming Sikkim Football Association Sikkim-League under the Technical Director, Karma Thinlay and coaches, Pranay Subba and Thupden Chophel of the club.
Mr Lamtha informed that a technical team of SHSC will be visiting all four districts soon to look for skilled and fulltime footballers for the club.
During the meeting, the lucky pick for the month of March was also drawn, in which Sonam Dadul Bhutia of Tathangchen bagged first prize, Pawan Subba of Deorali won second and Ramesh Tamang of Pakyong took the third prize.