Friday, June 6, 2014

Govt notifies 12% job reservation for BPL aspirants RANJIT SINGH

GANGTOK, 05 June: The Cabinet, during its first sitting recently, declared mission-level pursuit of BPL-free status for Sikkim, and the State Government has, in a new order, announced job reservations for those living below the poverty line. In an order issued today, the State Government has announced 12% reservation in all state government jobs and posts in the public sector undertakings for candidates hailing from families living below the poverty line.
It is to be noted that this is 12% “horizontal reservation” and will be applicable only to those BPL persons who are of Sikkimese origin.
In keeping with the local protection agenda, the State government has now directed its largesse to the economically backward people in the state. This is the first such reservation for the BPL category which thus far has received only subsidies and grants
Meanwhile, the BPL segregation has not yet been undertaken and will have to be initiated for this latest policy decision to be implemented. As per the latest figures issued by the Planning Commission of India, the state of Sikkim has just about 8% people living below poverty line. This comes to about 55,000 BPL people in Sikkim. Admittedly it is a sharp decline from 13%, which was the earlier percentage of BPL categories in Sikkim as per the Planning Commission. The identification of the 8% BPL population in the state had been undertaken by the Directorate of Economics, Statistics, Monitoring and Evaluation following the release of the BPL figures for Sikkim by the Planning Commission.
However, this identification of BPL families was not done on any local /non local segregating criteria and was a survey of all, local and non local, who are classified as BPL.
The latest notification issued by the Department of Personnel today states that there will be “…12 % horizontal reservation for all the Sikkimese community living Below Poverty Line in posts and services to be filled up by direct recruitment under the State Government and Public Sector Undertakings with immediate effect.”
To explain the concept of horizontal reservations this is a special reservation in favour of the physically handicapped , women, economically backward etc. The social reservation in favour of SCs, STs and OBCs are called vertical reservations. Both are provided for under the Constitution. Horizontal reservations cut across vertical reservation in what can be called interlocking reservations as observed by the Supreme Court of India.
If 3 % vacancies are reserved for physically handicapped persons this is horizontal reservation and persons selected against this quota will be placed in their appropriate social category upon appointment. That is to say, if he belongs to SC category he will be placed in the SC quota making necessary adjustments.  If he belongs to the open category then the person will be placed in that category with necessary adjustments. However even after providing for these horizontal reservations the percentage of reservations for SC, ST and OBC should remain the same.

As per the Supreme Court the proper and correct course is to first fill up the open category quota (50%) on the basis of merit and then to fill up each social reservation quota. The third step would be to find out how many candidates belonging to special reservations have been selected; if the quota fixed for horizontal reservations is already satisfied no further question arises. But if it is not so then the requisite number of special or horizontal reservation candidates shall have to be taken and adjusted or accommodated against their respective social reservation categories by deleting the same number of candidates already selected from that category. 
MONKS FOR THE ENVIRONMENT: Monks at the Ngagyur Shedra Pedma Dodul Phelgayling of Rinchenpong, West Sikkim, observed World Environment Day on Thursday with a massive plantation drive around the monastery led by Monastic Teacher LT Bhutia and other Shedra staff.

High Court refers Tashiding HEP challenge to MoEF for final decision VISHNU NEOPANEY

GANGTOK, 05 June: The division bench of the Sikkim High Court today referred the Tashiding Hydroelectric Project case to the Ministry of Environment & Forests for a final decision on the challenges posed against its implementation in a writ petition filed by Chewang Pintso Bhutia and Sonam Lama. Delivering its judgment today, the Division Bench recorded: “Considering the entire facts and peculiar circumstances of the case, we are of the considered opinion that in the interest of justice it will be appropriate and expedient if both the issues are referred to the MoEF, Respondent No.2, for a decision in order to take care of the anxiety which finds expression in paragraph 62 of the judgment in Orissa Mining Corporation Ltd. case (supra) reproduced above.”
The case was originally filed in the Supreme Court, which had marked it down to the High Court since it involved “various issues of local nature”. That was in 2012. The petitioners have demanded that the Tashiding HEP be assailed.
The petition demanded that the 97MW Tashiding HEP being developed on the Rathong Chu in West Sikkim be scrapped because, as per the petitioners, it was being implemented in “violation” of their fundamental rights under Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution of India [covering freedom of religion]; and because it was also in violation of the environmental laws.
Even as the MoEF has been given a fixed deadline to decide on some specifics related to the case the Court has “withheld” itself from passing any order suspending the project in question. It does however make it clear that the implementation of the Project shall be at the “risk and peril” of the project developers and “shall be subject to the decision of the MoEF which it may take after issuance of the final notification”.
In the meanwhile, the Court has also left the door open for the State Government “to take such decision as may be advised unhindered by the proceedings before the MoEF being held by virtue of this order”.
The Ministry of Environment & Forests has been given six months to decide on the proposal of Eco-Sensitive Zone made by the State Government.
The judgment order records that the Court has given “anxious consideration” to the rival contentions made in the case.
The Court directed that “…the MoEF shall, in due compliance of the MoEF letter dated 27-05-2005,  order of Supreme Court dated 04-12-2006 in Goa Foundation case (supra) so far as it is relevant to that letter, and MoEF Office Memorandum dated 02-12-2009 and other related letters, decide on the question of eco-sensitive zone in accordance with law and the procedure prescribed in that behalf within a period of six months from the date of this judgment after affording the parties opportunity of hearing on all aspects including the religious aspect raised by the Petitioners.”
The Division Bench headed by Chief Justice Narendra Kumar Jain and Justice SP Wangdi observed that “…There is no doubt of the fact that the Rathong Chu river is still in its pristine condition flowing through verdant green valley rich in biodiversity,” adding that not notifying a place as sacred by a State Government cannot be considered as a determining factor in deciding as to whether a place is sacred or not.
“It is the belief and faith of the people and the practice which is considered essential to the faith that would be relevant as a factor for such consideration. It has been accepted that religion, customs and tradition of the people form integral units of the entire biosphere, ecology and environment and, that man and nature make up an indivisible whole,”   the judgment reads.
On violation of the religious and customary rights under Articles 25, 26 and 29 of the Constitution of India, the Division Bench observed that “weighty materials” have been placed on behalf of the Petitioners in proof of the sacredness of the Rathong Chu and the valley below Mount Khangchendzonga through which it flows. However, the bench withhold themelves from entering into except to issue appropriate directions to the extent and said that the issues raised in the Writ Petitions require serious consideration and cannot be ignored or brushed aside.
On the locus standii of the Petitioners and the argument that the Court should not interfere in economic and policy matters, the Court rejected both contentions of the state government and the hydel developers. The court said that the first objection of locus standi, the grievance expressed in the writ petitions pertains to an area considered sacred by the entire Buddhist Community of the state to which the petitioners belong and, therefore, place of residence would be of no relevance.
The second objection of impermissibility of this Court to interfere in economic and policy matters, the bench said the facts and circumstances of the case discussed would reveal that these objections also would be of no consequence as the questions involved in the case primarily are the violation of the requirement of obtaining NBWL clearance for the Project and defilement of the Rathong Chu river and the surrounding areas held sacred by the Buddhists due to the Project in question.
“We do not intend to interfere with any of the policies of the State Government notwithstanding the trite position that in the event of there being arbitrariness, unreasonableness, illegality and unconstitutionality in a policy decision of the Government, the Court have the necessary jurisdiction to interfere,” the Order highlights.

Training on Organic Certification processes held for field functionaries

GANGTOK, 05 June: A daylong training on Organic Certification and its attendant processes was held for field functionaries of International Panaacea Ltd here on Wednesday. The training was held in association with the Sikkim Organic Mission of the Agriculture Department.
An IPL press release informs that Namgyal Bhutia, Joint Director, Training & Inputs, updated the trainees on the need for wider awareness among the farmers about organic farming and the conditions stipulated for the certification process.
The training also focused on large cardamom cultivation with Dr. AK Vijayan, Deputy Director, ICRI, RRI, Spices Board, Tadong, emphasizing the role of bumble-bees in the pollination of this cash crop. He also spoke on the different varieties of cardamom grown in Sikkim and the suitability of each to different terrains. He also spoke on ways and means to control the spread of the diseases which have been striking cardamom plantation in Sikkim.

MK Pradhan, Joint Director, SOM, in turn, briefed the field functionaries on ICS related documentation processes, data collection, trace-net entry and Internal and External Inspections, Generation of Scope Certificate, Crop production etc. 

Orientation prog held on Intellectual Property Rights

Gangtok, 05 June: An orientation programme for nodal officers of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) was held in the office of Member Secretary, Sikkim State Council of Science & Technology today.
The programme was organized by Patent Information Centre (PIC), SSCS&T which has opened an IPR cell in eight colleges and universities to create awareness on intellectual property rights.
Additional Director Dr. BC Basistha, who is also the coordinator of the PIC, explained the objective behind opening an IPR cell in colleges and universities.
Secretary, Science & Technology, SK Shilal, in turn, during his interaction with nodal officers, said that Sikkim lacks a scientific temperament and hence urged the Professors to “encourage students so that the embedded intelligence can be taken out”.
The orientation programme was attended by senior Professors like Dr. PK Mitra, Professor & Head of Medical Biotechnology, Sikkim Manipal University, Dr. DR Chettri, Dean & Associate Professor, Sikkim University and the professors of Sikkim Government College, Rhenock College, Sikkim Government College, Tadong, Sikkim Government College, Namchi,  Sikkim Government College, Geyzing, Sikkim Government College & Sikkim Government Law College, Burtuk.
The nodal officers interacted with the coordinator and other officials regarding the various issues related to IPR like GI registration, farmers variety right etc. At the end of the programme, Rs. 20,000 each was released to selected colleges and universities to conduct awareness programmes in their respective institutions.

Dr. Mechung’s arrest no longer required, Police informs Court

GANGTOK, 05 June: Sikkim Police today informed the High Court that the arrest of Martam-Rumtek MLA Dr. Mechung Bhutia was no longer required as the Singtam Police Station has already completed its investigation and that the charge-sheet has been sent to higher authorities for consideration for filing in appropriate court of law. The MLA, it may be recalled, has been booked on charges of criminal intimidation and had moved a bail application in the High Court.
Following the clarification by the Investigating Officer, the High Court observed that the need for bail hence becomes redundant. The Court further directed that the accused MLA attend his trial court hearings as and when a notice is served for his presence.
The court has also directed Dr. Bhutia to cooperate with the investigation.
The Singtam Police Station completed its investigation within fifteen days of registering the case. The MLA was booked under one non-bailable section [353] of the IPC and other four bailable sections 447, 341, 427 and 506 [criminal trespass, wrongful restraint, assault to deter public servant from discharge of his duties, punishment for criminal intimidation, mischief causing damage of property] of the IPC.
Meanwhile, Dr. Bhutia has submitted a fresh application to the Sikkim Legislative Assembly for taking oath of office. He had missed the first day of the Assembly when all other MLAs were sworn in, it may be recalled.

Env Day plantation at Mangan Court complex

MANGAN, 05 June: The World Environment Day was observed at the Court complex of the Judicial Magistrate here today.
The observation began with a plantation drive in the court complex led by District cum Sessions Judge Jagat Rai and Judicial Magistrate Binoy Sharma. The plantation drive was joined by panel advocates, paralegal volunteers and staff of the Court.

Thereafter, a short interactive meet was held with the public of Thimchim.

Majhitar walks and plants to save its water source

GANGTOK, 05 June: The residents of Majhitar here near Singtam dedicated their World Environment Day initiative towards nurturing the water source of this scarcity prone area. Likeminded people of the area hiked up a steep two and half kilometers to undertake a plantation drive at Gotamey Kholcha, a press release informs.
Extensive tree plantation was undertaken here to reinforce the watershed. Saplings of Lampathey and Panisaas provided by the Forest Department’s Singtam Range along with Dhokrey-Phool were planted in the vicinity of the Kholcha.
The drive was joined by Majhitar Ward Councilor Purna Chettri accompanied by ex-Panchayat Hem Kumar Gurung, president of the Majhitar Educated Unemployed Youth Cooperative Society Sandeep Chettri, local youth, Tangedars of Bhasmey village. The initiative was coordinated by Suresh K. Lama, the release informs.
The group also resolved to undertake a similar plantation drive in the last week of June at the Kerabari and Lampathey water sources on which Majhitar and its surroundings rely on for water supply.

West goes all out for environment on WED


GYALSHING, 05 June: Different schools and social organisations of West Sikkim celebrated World Environment Day at venues across the district today.
Hee Yangthang Senior Secondary School under Maneybung Dentam constituency organised a rally to mark the WED. Students marched a 2 kilometer stretch raising slogans to save the environment and raising placards underlining such messages. For the senior students, the school organized an essay competition, while the juniors participated in a sit & draw competition. The students also planted saplings in the school campus. ACF TB Chettri was among the students as chief guest.
At Bermiok Secondary School, a similar rally was held, and a plantation drive undertaken. Former chairperson Phurba Sherpa was present as chief guest.
Gyalshing Girls Senior Secondary School also organised a rally and hosted even more functions to mark World Environment Day. Poetry recitals, essay writing competitions and cultural functions were held at the school.
Meanwhile, the District Administrative Centre, in coordination with West District Zilla Panchayat and Forest Department, organized a marathon from the DAC at Tikjuk to Pelling SSS for primary school children, NGOs, officers and public.
The event started with a brief speech on Environment Day by the DFO (T) following which the West Zilla Upadhyaksha LP Kafley flagged off the marathon.
The marathon was themed “Green Run” and was also participated in by Limca Book Record holder, Amar Subba and local lad, Salgaocar Club footballer Bikash Jairu as a special guests.
Pelling Senior Secondary School carried out a massive cleanliness drive from Pelling to Rabdentse while Lingchom Seconary School held a herbal plantation drive and Kyongsa Girls SSS organized a procession on environment awareness from Kyongsa to Gyalshing Bazar.
Plantation of various host plants at Butterfly Habitat areas along Rimbi-Yuksam belt in West Sikkim by the Butterfly Enthusiasts of Sikkim and Moth of Sikkim was carried out.
Cleanliness drive along the Barsey-Hilley trekking trail, was carried out under the initiative of West Wild Life division involving tourism stake holders, EDCs, Forest Officials, Panchayats and locals.
A plantation drive and awareness programme was also organized at the District Court premises here.

SFA arrogance pushes football clubs to consider boycott

GANGTOK, 05 June: The Football Clubs Association of Sikkim [FCAS] has give the Sikkim Football Association time till 08 June, Sunday, to shed some of its obvious arrogance and come through on demands raised by FCAS, some of which SFA has already agreed to. Should SFA continue ignoring these demands and not fulfill them by Sunday, all 16 teams [eight each in First and Second Divisions of Sikkim League] will boycott SFA hosted tournaments.
An FCAS press communiqué issued by its general secretary Phurba Sherpa informs that at a meeting held on 10 May, SFA had agreed to grant membership to one representative each from all clubs which have been participating in the local league continuously for the past five years.
This, the release claims, was to be done before the 2nd Division League began. With the tournament expected to begin on 07 June, Saturday, and still no intimation on the membership openings, the football clubs are clearly upset.
They have now reiterated four more demands: the presence of SFA officials during all matches of the different tournaments; SFA membership to qualified clubs; provision of doctors, ambulance and safe drinking water during matches; and allowing only 3 under-19 players for second division football matches against the present requirement of at least 10.
These demands, the release informs, have already been communicated to the executive officials of the SFA.

Weeklong eco drive concludes at Enchey School

GANGTOK, 05 June: A weeklong “Environment Conservation, Awareness and Plantation Drive” concluded on World Environment Day on Thursday here at Enchey Govt Senior Secondary School.
The NSS Volunteers of the school played an instrumental role in the weeklong initiative and also organized today’s function, a press release informs. Additional Director, Finance, Tenzing Shenga, was present as chief guest accompanied by Tsheringkee Chingapa, Principal of the school.
The chief guest, on behalf of the Enchey Alumni handed over cash prizes of Rs 8,000 to the class X topper Kursongmit Lepcha (84%)  and Rs 12,000 to Divya Sharma, the class XII topper. The NSS volunteers also undertook a cleanliness and plantation drive at the school campus.


Still on Environment

editorial:-
World Environment Day was observed across the world on Thursday on the theme, “Small Islands and Climate Change”. The UN slogan for environment this year is, “Raise your voice, not the sea level”. The worry is clearly the inundation of the world should the planet keep heating up. Sikkim might not be at risk of being swamped like the small islands, but in the scale of the Himalayas and the fate of its glaciers, the State is a “small island” at risk of being swamped. It thus needs to pay close attention to environmental issues and recall the W.E.D. theme from a few years ago – “Melting Ice – Hot Topic”. Global warming, melting glaciers, coasts at risk of going under are topics of concern that the present generation has grown up with and the fact that Environment is still remembered on its Day with reference to possible inundation and Climate Change highlights just how much more needs to be done in this regard. A promise made in the SDF election manifesto ten years ago for the 2004 elections led to the eventual institution of an Expert Group to study the state of Sikkim’s glaciers and their impact on water bodies here. Sikkim has always depended on its water resources and is now investing extensively on it hoping to deliver a more prosperous future. Studying the glaciers that feed Sikkim’s water bodies should have been a prerequisite to begin with instead of coming later, and when it finally did come through, should have received a much wider circulation. In fact, given the temperamental nature of its rivers, glaciers and slopes, Sikkim should have always had a standing Expert Group for its glaciers. That did not happen and it appears not enough attention is still being paid. A recent study from FutureWater, Utrecht University, and the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), reveals that retreating glaciers and increased precipitation will lead to a situation where the amount of water supplied by the Himalayan mountains will increase in the coming decades. River flow will increase at least until 2050. Shouldn’t such revelations mandate an expediting of how Sikkim prepare for Climate Change. The Green Mission, for instance, needs to be implemented in the earnest to conserve the existing water bodies and understanding the glacial melt graph higher up in the Himalaya.

CM condoles Bhim Raj Rai’s passing away

Gangtok, 05 June [IPR]: Chief Minister Pawan Chamling and Smt. Tika Maya Chamling have conveyed heartfelt condolences on the passing away of former Minister Bhim Raj Rai.
The Chief Minister has remembered Mr. Rai as “a leader with an innate desire to serve the poor and downtrodden, who has contributed immensely to the development of the State”.
The Chief Minister further said that the demise of Mr. Rai has created a huge vacuum in the political arena of the state. In his condolence message, the Chief Minister has wished for strength and courage to the bereaved family.
The late Mr. Rai was a Member of the Legislative Assembly from Jorethang constituency from Sikkim Sangram Parishad for two consecutive terms. He went on to serve as Forest Minister from 1992 to 1994.
Mr. Rai passed away on the early hours of 03 June at the age of 78 years at the Central Referral Hospital here.

Chumbung plants for Soreng-Chakung

CHUMBUNG, 05 June: The constituency-level World Environment Day celebrations themed, “The Awakened Youth”, for Soreng-Chakung constiuency  of West was held at the BS Rai Smriti Ban here at Chumbung on Thursday. Area MLA, Minister RB Subba, was present as the chief guest accompanied by gram panchayats and staff and students of Chumbung School and Bloom Academy and the villagers.

Raffle draw dodging attracts CID case

GANGTOK, 05 Jun: A case of cheating was registered by the Criminal Investigation Department [CID], Sikkim Police, on 04 June against Som Kumar Gurung, President, Men’s Labour Cooperative Society Limited, Chisopani, Ward No. 04, Singtam and others for their failure to draw its raffle results despite several extensions of draw date. The CID has registered a case under section 420/ 34 [cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property with common intention] of the Indian Penal Code and the case is under investigation.

Namchi Girls School hosts state-level World Environment Day celebrations

Namchi, 05 June [IPR]: The State-level World Environment Day celebrations 2014, themed “Small Islands and Climate Change” organized by the Forest Department was held at Namchi Government Girls Senior Secondary School today.
Power Minister Dorjee Dazom Bhutia was present as the chief guest accompanied by Forest Minister Tshering Wangdi Lepcha; Ministers GM Gurung, Tulsi Devi Rai, SB Subedi, Arjun Kr. Ghatani, Somnath Poudyal; MLAs, Zilla Adhyaksha of all the four districts, HoDs and other nodal officers.
The daylong celebration commenced with the ceremonial plantation programme in the school campus led by the chief guest. PCCF cum Principal Secretary, Forest, Arvind Kumar, welcomed the gathering at the onset of the program while laying emphasis on the need to preserve the environment. He informed the gathering about the various environment-related schemes under the State Government including the ‘Paryavaran Mahotsav’, Ten Minutes to Earth and State Green Mission.
The program also saw the release of publications such as the Panda Newsletter, posters of Sikkim’s flora and fauna, books, calendars and CDs followed by the screening of a snippet on Sikkim’s Organic Mission.
The chief guest addressed the gathering highlighting the several accolades and accomplishments achieved by the State government for its environment conservation efforts which have set an example for the entire nation.
Later, he handed over the prestigious Chief Minister’s Green School Rolling Trophy-cum-State Green School Awards 2014 to Namchi Government Girls Senior Secondary School and other subsequent winners in this category. Prizes for Painting and Slogan Writing competition were also declared and handed over by him.
The program was also addressed by the Forest Minister and Officer on Special Duty (Environment & Soil Conservation) BK Tiwari. The program concluded by a vote of thanks by Additional Director KNP, Uday Gurung.

Awardee schools for CM’s Green School Rolling Trophy are as follows:
SCHOOL AWARD
Government Girls Senior Secondary School, Namchi, South Sikkim CM’s Green School Rolling Trophy/ Certificate/ Cash Prize of 5 lakh
Government Secondary School, Melli Gumpa, South Sikkim Trophy/ Certificate/ Cash Prize of 1 lakh
Government Secondary School, Lingchom, West Sikkim Trophy/ Certificate/ Cash Prize of 1 lakh
Government Secondary School, Lower Samdong, East Sikkim Trophy/ Certificate/ Cash Prize of 1 lakh
Government Senior Secondary School, Hee-Gyathang, North Sikkim Trophy/ Certificate/ Cash Prize of 1 lakh
Government Primary School, Bigyani, South Sikkim Trophy/ Certificate/ Cash Prize of Rs. 50,000
Government Primary School, Samdur, East Sikkim Trophy/ Certificate/ Cash Prize of 50,000

WED at Bojoghari school strives to bring ‘Bojo’ back to locality


GANGTOK, 05 June: Many must have wondered why a Gangtok suburb was named “the reside of granny”. As ill-informed as this notion is, the confusion was cleared by the students of Bojoghari Government Senior Secondary School on World Environment Day today. “Bojo”, the students inform, is the name of medicinal plant which was found in abundance in the area at one time, hence the name Bojoghari. The herb has since been wiped out from the area, but now that the students have revived that memory, an initiative has begun to reintroduce the herb of Bojoghari’s slopes and ridges.
World Environment Day was celebrated at the school today on the theme, “Bojo, A Wonder Herb: Plant, Protect & Preserve”. This herb was wiped out from the area in the last three decades, a press release issued by the school’s principal, Asha Khatri, informs.
Today, Class XII students of the school collected 150 saplings of Bojo from nearby Luing, Sirik and Pangthang and planted them in the school campus. The students also informed their peers about the medicinal properties of this plant.
Also today, the Waste Management Club of school, along with the student members, presented a special programme to highlight different aspects of cleanliness and keeping the environment clean. Class X presented a skit on “Solid Waste Segregation”. A display of discarded items innovatively recycled was also held.

Sikkim-BJP prepares to initiate membership drive

GANGTOK, 05 June: Energised by the party’s phenomenal performance in the Lok Sabha elections elsewhere in the country, the Sikkim unit of the Bharatiya Janta Party has announced plans to launch a massive membership drive in Sikkim. This was among the several resolutions passed by the party at its meeting held here today chaired by Sikkim-BJP president, Palden Khangsarpa, and also attended by the party’s Sikkim in-charge, Dr Dineshanand Goswami.
Addressing a press conference later, Dr. Goswami informed that after thorough discussions and deliberations, the meeting decided to expand the organizational base of the state-unit. For the same, the party has invited applications from people to take membership of the party. This is open till 15 June. It is informed that after scrutinizing these applications, the party will be holding a mass membership drive by the end of the month or in the first week of July.
Dr Goswami further informs that the meeting also reviewed the performance of the party in the recent assembly and parliamentary elections in the state. He added that BJP candidates will be visiting all 13 constituencies they contested from to thank the people for their support.
Speaking on other decisions of the meeting, he mentioned that the party will be constituting district committees very soon along with women and youth cells of the party.
Dr. Goswami also announced that the BJP will be contesting the bye-election from Rangrang-Yangang constituency. While condemning the attack on BJP supporters houses after the election, he mentioned that the party has already taken this matter to the Union Home Ministry. He also warned the state government against violating the fundamental rights of the people.

Aspiring coaches begin AFC conducted C-Certificate course

GANGTOK, 05 June: The Asian Football Confederation’s ‘C-Certificate’ coaching course for aspiring coaches of Sikkim began here at the Football House of Sikkim Football Association today.
Out of 38 who had applied for the course from all over the State, AFC shortlisted 24 for the present course which is scheduled to continue till 15 June. The training is being imparted by M. Savio of the AFC.
Addressing the inaugural function this morning, SFA general secretary Menla Ethenpa, underined that this course was purely for aspiring coaches, who, once they acquire this certificate will be professionally qualified for basic coaching tasks. He informed that this course was last conducted in Sikkim in 2006 when 14 of 18 participants had successfully completed the course.
Mr Ethenpa highlighted that the return of this training to Sikkim will prove very beneficial to aspiring coaches here. He informed that SFA has already requested AFC for a second round of this training to accommodate applicants who were left out this time and include some more.
Mr Ethenpa urged the participants to complete the course in earnest to take advantage of this opportunity.
Mr. Savio, in turn, expressed happiness over SFA’s desire to conduct such a useful course for aspiring local coaches. He mentioned that along with footballers, there was need to develop and nurture coaches and referees for the overall development of football in the region.
Mr Savio invited participants to come forward with their queries and doubts during the training to take full advantage of the course.
Former SFA president, Tempo Bhutia also encouraged the participants to attend all sessions of the training.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Enforcement Directorate opens investigation into EIILM Univ, sends team to Sikkim

GANGTOK, 04 June: Sikkim Police has confirmed that officials from the Enforcement Directorate had visited the state in connection with an investigation into EIILM University [with its administrative campus at Jorethang, South Sikkim, and main campus at Malbasey, West Sikkim]. Meanwhile, officials at the Enforcement Directorate’s Kolkata office, while talking to NOW! over the phone today, also confirmed that a case has been registered against the university and its officials and that this was now being enquired into.
Further details regarding the investigation could not be availed due to communication problems.
Officials at the Enforcement Directorate did however confirm that a case had been registered against the university.
It is also learnt that two officials, including the investigating officer, from the Enforcement Directorate had visited Namchi and Jorethang, South Sikkim a few weeks ago in connection with their enquiry. This enquiry, as per reports, is in connection with a suspected “education scam” running into thousands of crores of rupees.
The Eastern Institute for Integrated Learning in Management (EIILM) University already has cases registered against it and its faculty by the Sikkim Police dating back about 2 years; a chargesheet had also been filed in the courts and as per information, an additional charge sheet is in the process of being filed.  Following the filing of the case the university officials had approached the High Court of Sikkim for quashing of the FIRs registered against them. This matter is pending before the court.
The university officials have been accused of fraud and issuing fake degrees and also opening distance education centres which it is not authorized to do. In fact EIILM has been charged with cheating, forgery and fabrication of documents.
The Enforcement Directorate, as per reports, is investigating into the money trail or the money laundering aspect of the alleged scam. The ED had registered its case in March this year after it had been intimated regarding the case by the Sikkim government, according to reports. Reports suggest that the ED has registered a case under Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
Both the cases are likely to go on simultaneously; however the trial into the chargesheet filed by the Sikkim Police on 06 May 2013 is yet to begin.
The institute started operating in Sikkim in 2006. For 2009-10, the Sikkim government granted it permission to run 46 courses under the private university act. EIILM was allowed to operate only in Sikkim and offer courses approved by the University Grants Commission.
However the university is charged with opening branches all across India in contravention of UGC norms and it had also set up an offshore campus at Mauritius, according to reports. At present, the university is still operating but students have to deal with the shadow of the apprehension that degrees and certificates awarded to them may be fakes.
The Directorate of Enforcement is a multidimensional agency under the Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance, Government of India, which enforces the Foreign Exchange Management Act,1999 (FEMA) and Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA).

Co-ordination meeting held in preparation for national Vedic Seminar

NAMCHI, 04 June [IPR]: A co-ordination meeting to discuss the upcoming national level Vedic seminar chaired by Secretary, Sandipani Rashtriya Ved Pratishthan under the Union HRD Ministry, Professor Roop Kishor Shastri was held in Siddhesvara Dham, Solophok today.
Administrator, Siddhesvara Dham, Sagar Rai, welcomed the gathering at the onset of the meeting.
Professor Kishor Shastri addressed the gathering by briefing them about the significance and objectives of Vedic learning thereby highlighting its implication upon the day to day lives of people. Further, Prof. Shastri suggested the prime importance of preserving as well as developing oral tradition of Vedic study to foster the tradition of recitation and to encourage and ensure involvement of dedicated students in higher research in this field.

It was decided that a three-day National Level Seminar on Vedic studies would be held from 12-14 October, 2014 which will be attended by students, scholars and important dignitaries.  

Tendong Educational Institute celebrates 33rd Founder’s Day

GANGTOK, 04 June: On the occasion of its 33rd Founder’s Day celebration today Tendong Educational Institute held its Inter House Quiz Competition in the school premises. Three houses, Beryl (Blue) led by Sumiran Basnett , Gemma (Green) led by Ashish Pradhan and Rufus (Red) led by Monash Chettri took part in the competition.
A press release informs that the competition started with a motivating speech by the Literary Captain Allen Smriti Rai through which she highlighted the dreams and vision of the founder of the school, Late Dr. B Sereng. This was followed by initiation of the 21 school captains.
The quiz conducted by the Headmistress had compulsory, buzzer, rapid fire, spelling and visual rounds. Songs and dances by the students were performed enhancing the mood of the entire programme. Gemma house was declared the winner with just 1 point followed by Rufus and Beryl, the release informs.

Sikkim-BJP condoles demise of Minister Munde

GANGTOK, 04 June: Bharatiya Janta Party, Sikkim, president, Palden Wangchuk Khangsarpa on behalf of the party has condoled the sudden demise of senior BJP leader and Union Cabinet Minister for Rural Development, Gopinath Munde on 03 June in a road accident.
In a press release, the BJP state unit president has said that news of the death of Mr Munde has come as a rude shock. He has also has wished for strength and fortitude to the bereaved family at this hour of grief and irreparable loss.

Gopinath Munde was Deputy Chief Minister of Maharastra from 1995 to 1999 and was elected twice to India's Lower House of Parliament in 2009 and 2014. He had served as deputy leader of Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Parliament.

SDF condemns SKM MLA’s statement

GANGTOK, 04 June: Sikkim Democratic Front has strongly condemned Sikkim Krantikari Morcha MLA Ugen Nedup Bhutia’s recent ‘threat’ [included in a memorandum submitted to the Governor] where he has said that “Sikkimese people shall immediately withdraw exercising their due political rights without fear or fervor, preferring to revert back to pre-1975 model”. SDF has alleged that it is a “threat” issued to the head of the State of Sikkim, the Governor.
It may be recalled that on 02 June, the Kabi-Lungchok MLA had written to the Governor of Sikkim, Shriniwas Patil, urging his intervention into what he alleges to be victimisation of government employees of Kabi-Lungchok. Mr Bhutia had said that if such practice is not stopped the people of Sikkim could “withdraw exercising their due political rights without any fear and fervor”.
An SDF press release issued by its publicity secretary, Chudamani Mishra alleges that the SKM MLA’s statement suggesting that Sikkimese people will secede from India is “highly provocative, anti-India”, and has exposed the anti-national image of the SKM party.
“By making such a statement, SKM is practically following the agenda of separatists with the blessing of former Chief Minister NB Bhandari whose anti-merger and anti-India stance is well known,” the release states.
SDF has termed it “most unfortunate” that the SKM MLA has made such an anti-national statement only days after swearing an oath to uphold the Constitution of India.
“His deplorable statement amply borders on sedition and the SDF party urges the Government of Sikkim and the Government of India to take strong cognizance of the matter and apprehend such secessionist leaders,” the release adds.
The release says that the SKM MLA must appreciate that he won by a narrow margin of 126 votes or 1.3% and does not have the mandate or the authority to make such a sweeping statement on behalf of Sikkimese people.

“We completely condemn such anti-national sentiments and are shocked that an elected representative has threatened the Governor of the State of Sikkim of secession,” the release concludes. 

Results of scholarship exam for Uttaranchal College

GANGTOK, 04 June: The results of the recently held scholarship examination for admission into Uttaranchal [PG] College of Technology and Bio-Medical Science have been declared. The examination was conducted by Nivnik Career Consultants on behalf of the Uttaranchal College on 01 June.
A press release informs that the students who secured first, second and third place would get 50%, 30% and 20% scholarship. 10% scholarship is guaranteed for those who score 50% and above.
Students who scored more than 70% in the examination are Vaishnu Rai [75%], Mani Kumar Tiwari [72%], Topden Tshering Bhutia, Roman Chettri, Roshan Chettri [71%], Samitta Subba, Mahima Gurung, Norbu Tshering Lepcha and Namsang Limboo [70%].
There are many other students who scored above 50% and are eligible for scholarship, the release adds. For further information students can contact 9832055136 or 0734085538.

The scholarship examination was held at Sir Tashi Namgyal Senior Secondary School where 66 candidates had appeared.

Subedi condoles Munde’s demise

GANGTOK, 04 June [IPR]: Minister for Rural Management & Development Department, Government of Sikkim, SB Subedi has expressed deep sorrow and anguish over the demise of Union Cabinet Minister Gopinath Munde in a tragic road accident on the morning of 03 June in New Delhi. The Minister in his message said that the passing away of the veteran leader has left a huge void in the state of affairs.

Music video of ‘Mann’ by Remanti Rai to release soon

GANGTOK, 04 June: Sikkim Sewa Samman awardee Remanti Rai will soon be releasing the music video of her single ‘Mann’ from her second album ‘On Air’.
A press release informs that Mann is one of the two songs from her recently released album and the promo of the song’s music video was uploaded on Youtube on 26 May. The 30 second promo has since had 5398 views.
The music video is directed by Mandira Chettri and stars models Gagan Shahi, Anupriya Pradhan and Suman Rai. Costume and make up of the models have been done by Robin Mukhia. The video was shot in three days at Arithang Kothi of Namcheybong, Pakyong.
The video is about unrequited love of a teenage girl and will be launched sometime in mid-June, the release informs. The video hopes to reach out to the international audience with talks going on with some TV channels of Nepal.
The song ‘Mann’ is written and composed by Sudarshan Tamang, music arrangement by Suren Basmay and was recorded at Ejaj Ali’s Strings studio in Darjeeling.
Remanti has expressed hope that her fans appreciate her hard work and also thanked her parents for their immense support and the ‘On Air’ team.

Power Minister meets NHPC officials

GANGTOK, 04 June: Power Minister DD Bhutia convened a meeting with senior officials of NHPC (Rangit Stage II, Legship) along  with the officials from the Power Department today.
A press release informs that the Minister deliberated on maintaining cordial relations with the public of the area where the project is located, close monitoring of all hydro power project by the state government. He directed the project developer to strictly comply with all the provisions contained in the Memorandum of Understanding.
The Minister also directed them to submit the list of local people employed by them and to ensure that preference is given to local candidates. For all the contract works and other business opportunities preference should be given to locals, he stated. He also assured the state government will take necessary steps in regards with land acquisition, the release informs.
The Minister directed the Corporate Social Responsibility to be more transparent and submit reports and said that the developers should acquire  proper clearance from the Forest Dept and Pollution Control. Proper clearance should also be acquired from the concerned authorities for the use of the explosives for the development of the project, he further stated and added that the state’s roads damaged by the developers by the use of heavy vehicles should be maintained by them, it is added.

Transformer breakdown at Tadong sub-station blamed for capital cuts AMEET OBEROI

GANGTOK, 04 June: Frequent power cuts over the past few days have left many in the capital complaining and still more speculating over the possible reasons. Power supply is sorely missed given that the days are sweltering hot and especially because the tourist season is also at its peak. The power cuts, sometimes for long hours, have been causing a lot of inconvenience to the people residing in Gangtok as well as its surrounding areas.
When contacted, the PCE-cum-Secretary, Power & Energy Department, PB Subba, informed NOW! that there were some power cuts done by the department in certain areas over the last few days because of maintenance work underway on one of its Current Transformers [CT] situated at Tadong. This 66 KV Transformer has failed since it is quite old and needs to be replaced with a new one, he added.
The break down happened on the evening of 02 June and the department was looking for a replacement in one of its stores but till now an exact replacement has not been found, he said and added that exact replacements were not readily available.
“But we have found a stand-in which can work for some time,” he added.
Further seeking to explain the intricate circuitry, he stated that there are similar smaller transformers that are connected to the larger CT and this he added were not able to take the load needed for the supply of electricity to Gangtok and its surrounding areas and was hence tripping on a regular basis.
Gangtok needs around 25 MW of electricity on any given day and the smaller transformers can take load of up to 10 MW and anything above 10 MW will trip the transformers and the circuit breaks down, he stated.
The Power Department is working hard to provide uninterrupted electricity supply to Gangtok and its surrounding areas as soon as possible, but until the exact replacement for the failed 66 KV transformer is found, residents here will have to cope with the inconvenience of power cuts.

MIDWEEK SIZZLE: The evenings remain the best parts of the day [okay, also early mornings should one be forced to wake up early]. The days meanwhile remain hot and the discomfort levels even higher. In Gangtok, the blazing Sun pushed the mercury up to 25 degrees Celsius, but weather experts, factoring in the humidity which hung heavy at 67% during daytime and climbing to 77% in the evening, calculated that the heat felt more like 30 degrees Celsius [that’s the discomfort level figure]. Little wonder then, that locals and tourists alike crowded every available shade, the ‘sunnier’ side of MG Marg drawing visibly fewer people than the shaded half.

Governor’s message on World Environment Day

On the occasion of World Environment Day 2014, Governor of Sikkim, Shriniwas Patil conveyed the following message.
“As we celebrate the World Environment Day on 05 June every year, it reaffirms our pledge of global awareness and positive environmental action to protect nature and planet Earth which we took four decades back. This year’s theme ‘Small Islands and Climate Change’ has put the focus on the climate change and its impact on the landmasses vulnerable to the rising sea level around the world. The slogan ‘Raise The Voice Not The Sea Level’ gives us the perspective to take action and expectations from each individual towards the ever growing menace of climate change and its catastrophic repercussions.
It is indeed heartening to note that the small state of ours and its people, over the years are in the forefront to the cause of environmental protection and preservation. We owe this to our forefathers and ancestors who have given this wisdom in the form of tradition and heritage. Our conviction towards protection of rich biodiversity and ecology endowed by our mother nature has strengthened with each passing year as we celebrate World Environment Day.
The sustained green initiatives and policies taken by the State Government over the last two decades has transformed our state into a champion State in the country towards this cause. It is reassuring to note that the green initiatives such as ‘Ten Minutes to Earth’ pioneered by the State is well received by its people, polity and more importantly the students with passion and pride, resulting in massive increase in our forest cover. The regular feature of Sikkim’s schools receiving prestigious Green Awards from the national and international platform over the last five years has only reflected the inclusive and sustained campaign with eco-friendly policies of the State Government.
I sincerely feel that our biggest achievement has been that we have been able to inculcate and instil the sense of belongingness and responsibility towards environment in the young minds which is sutr to ensure that our identity as the most environment friendly State will continue to remain so in the days to come. I compliment my fellow Sikkimese on this wonderful achievement.
On this day, let us renew our pledge that we will never let our persistence falter in our effort to contribute towards this global cause. That we will remain consistent to strive forward with greater passion, energy and zeal for the cause of our environment.”

Governor meets GOC 33 Trishakti Corps

GANGTOK, 04 June: GOC, 33 Trishakti Corps, Lt. Gen. Govind Singh Chandel called on the Governor of Sikkim, Shriniwas Patil today at Raj Bhavan. He was accompanied by GOC Black Cat Division, Maj. Gen. YVK Mohan on the occasion.
A press release from Raj Bhavan informs that Lt. Gen. Govind Singh Chandel is on a visit to the forward areas to boost the morale of the troops deployed after assuming charge as GOC, 33 Trishakti Corps in May 2014. He replaced Lt. Gen. KJ Singh, AVSM/Bar.
During interaction, the Governor appreciated the efforts of the Black Cat Division personnel posted along the Nathu-la border in relief and rescue as and when the tourists and general visitors travelling along the Gangtok-Nathula route are found stranded due to landslide, snowfall and inclement weather.
It is a widely acknowledged fact that during such emergencies, the army personnel are known to provide food, shelter and even transportation to ensure the safety of the travellers along the Nathula route, the release mentions.
The Governor further lauded the role played by the Black Cat Division in organising various community based activities such as cleanliness drives, medical camps and awareness programmes involving students and civilian populations. Appreciating the facility of computerized railway reservation started by the Black Cat Division for use of both security personnel and civil population, the Governor acknowledged the harmonious rapport built over the years by the Black Cat Division with the people of Sikkim, the release adds.


Yangthang MLA thanks people for SDF victory

GYALSHING, 04 June: Yangthang constituency MLA, Chandra Maya Subba visited Lingchom today and met with the people there. Her visit was part of her program to thank the people of the constituency for electing her as the area MLA. Many SDF party functionaries accompanied her.
The MLA first visited the Lingchom Secondary School where she interacted with the School Managing Committee members, students and the villagers. Lingchom Secondary school has been chosen for the Green School Award from the state government which will be awarded on Thursday.
The principal of the school informed that the school is being awarded for working efficiently on environment related projects. He said that the school is amongst the top five schools chosen in the state.
The MLA congratulated the school fraternity for the award and said that the school's way of functioning is praiseworthy. She further added that the school should maintain consistency in order to improve the education sector in the state.
The villagers placed their demand to the MLA regarding the school's upgradation to the higher secondary level. They said that the upgradation of the school to the senior secondary level can solve the problems of the local students as they would not have to go to schools at far off places for higher studies. The area MLA has assured the people to work positively on the matter. She said that the upgradation of the school will be carried out according to the norms.
After completing her interaction program in the school the MLA later had a meeting with the people of Lingchom. Addressing the masses she thanked the people for ensuring her win in the election and voting in her favor.
Terming the victory of the SDF party as the win against the opposition party's filthy politics of falsehood, she said that the people's mandate in the favor of the SDF was a crushing blow to the opposition camp. She further added that SDF party's victory is the real victory of the Sikkimese people as according to her the party has been pro-people and development centric since its formation two decades ago.
Talking on the future developmental agendas of the state government she said that the government will work positively according to the changing times and environment. She further added that the government under the SDF party will work to upgrade the socio- economic conditions of the people.

GOC Trishakti Corps calls on CM

GANGTOK, 04 June [IPR]: GOC Trishakti Corps, Lt. General SS Chandel called on the Chief Minister of Sikkim, Pawan Chamling at his official residence, Mintokgang this evening.
The Chief Minister while welcoming Lt. Gen. Chandel to Sikkim said that Sikkim has adopted a development model for the progress of the state and its people but unless all the stakeholders including politicians, people and government servants become responsible and accountable to the task with a feeling of patriotism it is very difficult to implement policies and programmes in a democratic set up.
There has been a visible change in the state in all sectors but the stakeholders are yet to acknowledge it, the Chief Minister added. Referring to raising one more Scout Battalion from the state the Chief Minister assured Mr Chandel to take action in the interest of the people of the state and nation.
The Chief Minister also urged Mr Chandel to take initiatives from his side to expedite the works of the NH 31A as better road network will be beneficial to the army as well as to the civilian population. As this is a joint concern the duo decided to take joint initiative in this regard. The Chief Minister also assured to assist and cooperate with the Army in any matters concerning the interest of the nation.
During the interaction Lt. Gen Chandel congratulated the Chief Minister for his victory in the recently concluded election. He also appreciated the way in which policy is framed and implemented especially in environment and ecology sector.
Referring to the Chief Minister as a time tested leader he said that many states of India have a lot to learn from the good practices adopted in Sikkim in various sectors. The development model which has been adopted in the state is a lesson to be learned, he added. He also thanked the Chief Minister for raising the Sikkim Scout Battalion and further said that one more Scout Battalion can be raised in the state.

Former Legislators condole BR Rai’s passing away

GANGTOK, 04 June: A meeting of Former Legislators' Federation of Sikkim [FLFS] was held at Gangtok today under the chairmanship of its president, SK Pradhan.
A press release informs that the former MLAs present in the meeting expressed their deepest condolences on the sad demise of Late Bhim Raj Rai, former Member of Legislative Assembly from Jorethang constituency.
Late Bhim Raj Rai represented Jorethang constituency in the Sikkim Legislative Assembly from 1985 to 1989 from the Sikkim Sangram Parishad party. He was re-elected from the same constituency for the 1989-94 term. He was elevated as the Minister of Forest Environment and Wild Life department in 1992. The Late BR Rai was working under Forest and Mines Geology department as Assistant Conservator of Forest before joining active politics. During his tenure as MLA he has made immense contribution for the development of Jorethang constituency.
Late BR Rai was undergoing treatment at Central Referral Hospital, Manipal and after prolonged illness he breathed his last on 03 June at CRH, Tadong. He was a man of downtrodden and a man of high integrity. The members present in the condolence meeting expressed their heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family and prayed for peace to the departed soul, the release mentions.
  


Eco-Friendly

Editorial:-
Today is World Environment Day and we stick our necks out making some predictions. It is expected that there will be a rush of diesel fumes to plantation sites to mark a slew of plantation drives across the State. Saplings must have already been procured and dispatched to NGOs, clubs, social organizations, government departments and schools. There will certainly be many banners and posters written in environment unfriendly paint on paper pulped from felled trees. Like every year, there will be plantation drives, workshops and seminars held all over the world. Like every year, there will be a lot of tokenism on display but no actionable commitments on ground because that would demand too many sacrifices and too much engagement.
But things could be different for Sikkim. And to some extent, Sikkim has proven itself different from the superficiality with which most other states have addressed environmental issues. The State Green Mission, for instance, was a credible announcement proclaiming the State Government’s ability to float new ideas. The initiative was so good that it even tided over the bureaucratic lethargy and official indifference which hobbled it. The Green Mission could have truly delivered substantial gains and achieved much more on ground and by way of universal recognition had the implementing department taken to the task more sensitively and with more responsibility. The initiative needs to be sustained not necessarily because Sikkim needs more plantation drives but because the young need to strike a connection with environmental issues. The mission could be modulated to include care and nurture of not just planted saplings, but also naturally growing plants in forest areas. One cannot find faults in the idea of plantation drives, but it has been in the implementation and after-plantation-service that the State has lost out. It is also time that the idea of Smriti Vans was revisited and dovetailed into tourism activities. Tourists will be willing to pay decent money to receive the opportunity to plant saplings in the memory of someone close and receive the assurance that not only would the dedication be recorded, but the plantations also cared for.
Environment Day drives should move a step further and include dedicated teams which sustain the 05 June initiatives. This time around, for instance, Sikkim’s Go Green effort could be sustained even after the bills for the pit-digging labourers and sapling procuring work orders have been cleared. It is possible – Sikkim could just go on to prove that it can take a good idea to completion if it wants to.

Training on dairy farming at Khamdong

GANGTOK, 04 June: Training on dairy farming and management practices cum demonstration on application of Effective Micro-Organism Technology, (EM Technology) for enhancing milk yield of dairy animals was held at Simik Aritar, Khamdong on 02 June.
A press release informs that the programme was supported by Agriculture Technology Management Agency, (ATMA-East) under Food Security and Agricultural Development Department in coordination with the Department of A.H.L.F & V.S.
Additional Director (Feed and Fodder), Chumjay Namgyal Bhutia, Deputy Director (Extension & Training Cell), Dr. Indira Subba and Deputy Director, Dr. Emila Shenga and  Block Technology Manager (BTM), Safal Pandey  were the Resource Persons for the said programme.
More than 50 progressive farmers of the area participated in the programme, the release mentions.

ATMA organises training for Cymbidium growers from Dzongu

GANGTOK, 04 June: Officials of ATMA (under FS & AD Deptt.), North Sikkim organized an on-farm training at the Cymbidium Development Center (C.D.C), Rumtek, East Sikkim from 29-30 May, 2014. The training was organised for augmentation of technical knowledge of the beneficiaries of Cymbidium clones (Plants) distributed by State Horticulture Department, informs a press release.
Altogether, 60 farmers (20 from Lingthem-Lingdem and 30 from Hee-Gyathang GPUs) along with the BTMs of Mangan and Kabi were escorted by Deputy Project Director, ATMA North, Tsering Norbu Bhutia.
The programme had Horticulture Development Officer of CDC, Pema Choden Bhutia as a Resource Person who initially made a power point presentation about the various aspects of scientific cultivation practices of Cymbidium with emphasis on basic cultivation requirements and management of pests and diseases by using organic control measures, the release mentions.
Later in the afternoon, farmers were taken to the nearby poly-houses by the concerned officials to see the remarkable developmental activities related to Cymbidium cultivation that is being carried out at the Center under protected condition.
Apart from the theoretical knowledge, farmers were practically taught the ratio of mixing potting mixtures and planting method, wherein all the growers participated actively, it is informed.
Towards the end of the programme, Deputy Project Director proposed vote of thanks on behalf of ATMA and all the participants and also requested the Officers of CDC to guide the Cymbidium growers in near future too so that the dream of making Floriculture a lucrative venture in Dzongu, North Sikkim could be made a reality, the release adds.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Nathula trade grounded by levy of high and unjustified customs duty by China

INDIAN TRADERS SUSPEND TRADING, WANT TO NEGOTIATE RELAXATION FIRST
RANJIT SINGH
GANGTOK, 03 June: Barely a month into its ninth season, and border trade between India and China has been suspended. Indian traders have refused to cross over to the trade mart on the Chinese side, Renquinngang and it is now a week that border trade has remained grounded. The reason behind the suspension of trading activities, as informed by traders, is undue harassment by the Chinese customs officials and the levying of what traders see as unjustified and usurious customs duty. Border Trade, incidentally, is duty-free trading [of items on the prescribed list].
This is not the first time that trade has been disrupted over such issues. Ever since Nathula was reopened to trade, officials on either side have been in a near competition to court controversy and constrict trade. This season, controversy has erupted over the excessive rates of customs duties being charged by the Chinese custom officials.
In fact, as informed by traders, the Chinese duties are so high that border trade has become impractical and a loss inducing venture for the Indian traders. Traders inform that the customs rates on goods being charged by the Chinese customs for payment by the Indian traders is 40% to 50% the value of goods.
The collection and enforcement of this Chinese customs duty is further exacerbated as the Chinese seemingly apply their rates on each and every item of good being taken on the other side and not as per weight or any other standard application of rates.
So, if a jar of Vanaspati ghee – which is in very high demand on the Chinese side and which has among the highest exports – costs Rs. 1,100 the customs duty which the Chinese are charging on each jar is Rs. 500. There are hundreds of jars of Vanaspati ghee crossing over into China on a good trading day. The same goes for other items of trade as well. “If the custom duty was 5% or 10% we would not mind paying it but this is excessive,” says a trader.
And the Chinese, it is informed, are very strict in applying the rates on each and every single item. It needs also to be mentioned that border trade, such as the one going on between India and China through the Nathula pass, is duty free. The very concept of border trade, as per the MoU, implies a no tax regime. This is now being violated by China. However, it also needs to be mentioned that the Chinese had attempted to do this last year as well; the controversy then had been subsequently settled.
Border trade through Nathula was reopened on 06 July 2006 with a bi-lateral agreement for border trade as a duty free port [for prescribed list of goods] on both sides. Trade picked up from the year 2008 onwards and export has been substantially higher than imports for Indian traders. In fact, official scale of import is negligible.
Last year, the Chinese Customs is reported to have restricted the supply of the most in-demand good - Vegetable Oils - to 10 jars per trader per consignment. This year, the limit has been reduced to a clearly unfair One jar per trader per trader. This limit is for the amount that Indian traders can supply duty-free. Every jar [irrespective of weight/ quantity] above this limit attracts customs duty of 54 Yuan (Rs. 499.50), it is informed.
Not only vegetable oils, but they are trying to impose tax on other products like tea, blankets etc.  The Indian traders are currently facing tough competition with the traders at the Khasa border between Nepal and Tibet and the taxation will further affect the present market.
In protest against what they see as violation of a bi-lateral agreement by Chinese authorities [by taxing goods in a duty-free trade] the traders are voluntarily not participating in the trade and demanding proper guidelines on the subject as it is confusing for present and future trade. The traders are hoping that the State and Central governments will intervene in the matter.
Meanwhile, a delegation of Indian traders is scheduled to visit Renquinqaang, the trade mart on the Tibetan side, some time later this week. They hope to engage the Chinese customs officials in talks and negotiate a relaxation from the Chinese and resume the trade.
It may also be mentioned that there is not much that the state administration or the Industries Department can do about this matter. At most, the department can communicate with the Ministry of Commerce in New Delhi.
The traders, however, are not taking any chances and have planned to negotiate on their own. Till there is some kind of an understanding and a toning down by the Chinese officials the imbroglio is likely to continue. Border trade between the two regions had only resumed in the first week of May this year.

Temi Tea launches new packets of Green Tea and Temi Gold


GANGTOK, 03 June [IPR]: The Minister for Tourism and Civil Aviation and Commerce and Industries Department, Ugen T. Gyatso launched the new packets of Green Tea and Temi Gold at his chamber at Tourism and Civil Aviation Department Tadong today. The function was attended by Secretary Commerce and Industries, PT Euthenpa, Secretary Tourism and Civil Aviation Department, C Zangpo, Senior Government officials of the department and media persons.
It may be mentioned here that Temi Green Tea and Temi Tea Gold (a blend of green and black tea) the new products of Temi Tea Estate are organic in nature and will be readily available in the market from today.
The Minister in his brief address informed that in view of the increasing demand for green tea amongst consumers, the Temi Tea Estate started manufacturing organic green tea which will cater to the needs of all green tea lovers.  These two products which are organic in nature will also prove to be great achievements in the State Organic Mission, he added.
Highlighting on the achievements of the Temi Tea Estate, the Minister said that the State Government is focusing on expanding the area under tea cultivation which will provide additional employment to locals and enhance revenue for the State.
The Secretary Commerce and Industries Department, PT Euthenpa in his welcome address said that these two products which has high organic value along with better flavor and taste. General Manager, Temi Tea Estate, Ravi Kumar in his brief introductory address informed that Temi Tea Estate is popularly known for manufacture of Orthodox Black Tea by the brand name 'Temi Tea' which garnered niche market in India and abroad.  The green tea has been manufactured with stress on retaining the flavor and natural taste of Temi Tea.
Director Commerce and Industries, Vijeyendra Swaroop proposed the vote of thanks.

Kabi-Lungchok MLA alleges victimisation of govt employees

GANGTOK, 03 June: Kabi-Lungchok MLA, Ugen Nedup Bhutia, has written to the Governor of Sikkim, Shriniwas Patil, urging his intervention into what he alleges to be victimisation of government employees of Kabi-Lungchok.
In his letter, the Sikkim Krantikari Morcha MLA writes, “Spate of political victimization have started unfurling in my constituency of Kabi Lungchok in North Sikkim wherein rampant transfers of government employee who allegedly supported opposition SKM party, are being instituted after the formation of the new government”.
Mr Bhutia has said that if such practice is not stopped the people of Sikkim could “withdraw exercising their due political rights without any fear and fervor”.
The MLA further states, “I earnestly appeal your good office to kindly and urgently intervene to stop such unmindful and unconstitutional act of the SDF government”.

Tourism Minister for better coordination between tourism, commerce and industry

GANGTOK, 03 June: Tourism & Civil Aviation and Commerce & Industries Minister Ugen T. Bhutia has said it was essential that there be wider linkages between Tourism department and Commerce and Industries with enhanced coordination between the two.
He was speaking to senior officials of the Tourism and Commerce and Industries departments today after having launched new packets of Organic Green tea grown at the world famous Temi Tea Estate in South Sikkim, informs a press release. Mr Bhutia heads both the Departments as the Minister in charge.
“Since tourism is one of the biggest industries in Sikkim, if tea trade and commerce is linked with the tourism sector it would be beneficial not only for both the departments but provide better services to tourists as well as the general public engaged as stakeholders”, he stated.
The informal brief coordination meeting was attended by Tourism secretary, C. Zangpo, Commerce and Industries Secretary, PT Euthenpa, Director Commerce and Industries, B Swaroop, Joint secretary Commerce, Sumitra Pradhan and the General Manager of Temi Tea Estate, Ravi Kumar.
The Minister also said that there was a requirement for professionalism and exposure among government employees. “Our own people have not been able to develop into professionals, so there is an utmost requirement to drag those engaged and employed into professional trainings and expertise”, he said adding that modern times required departments to function as Corporate houses and adapt to the systems applied in the corporate world along with the need to set targets for better performance.
“We should not compromise and it is vital that various units under both the departments be run professionally with a single window system so that the results are better”, said Mr Bhutia.
The Minister said it was pointless to have several committees and bodies, instead a single window system be made practical for our own benefits as well as those for general public, tourists and investors.
“Let us go forward and try our best. There is nothing to lose but only gain. There is no lack of funds and the assets of the two departments are immense”, he added further mentioning that he would also apprise the Chief Minister on the need to prioritise funds for one time grant per annum as per the need.
The Minister directed the heads of the two departments to put up ‘‘concrete proposals’’ at the earliest to ‘systemise’ linkages and explore other possibilities for the departments. He also directed the two departments to make an inventory of assets of the two departments and get a valuation of the total assets prepared and submit an assessment report.
“We often hear, the departments are at a loss from the assets and we will have to find out the reasons as to why it is at a loss and what measures can reduce or do away with such losses”, said the Minister.
He also asked the department to prepare a status report on the total land holdings owned by the departments by the end of next week to chart their future plan of action for these lands to be utilised to the maximum. He said there was also a need to curtail expenditure and provide quality service, the release mentions.
Tourism Secretary, C. Zangpo said that Temi Tea estate, a unit of the Industries department, could be a major tourist destination. Besides tourism festivals like the Cherry tree festival, tourism could grow round the year if the Estate took initiatives for promotions like tea estate safari, plucking experiences at nominal charges and also provide accommodation facilities and other added features for tourists visiting the garden.
He said there was a need to explore South East Asian markets for both tourism and trade. Commerce Secretary, Mr Ethenpa said that certain industries like the Tea industry can create value addition instead of just concentrating on the traditional manufacturing and selling process. Metropolitan cities like Calcutta, Delhi Mumbai etc have to be explored for Sikkim produce with support of the media and market explorations and at the same time target exports to other countries.
The Minister also said that the industries department would start schemes and if farmers and landowners were interested in growing tea or such produce they would be assisted with support from the government. These can also be done on individual, cooperative or cluster approach basis. Technical support, exposure and trainings would form part of the schemes.
Involvement of agencies like Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and other related national level bodies, promotion of Sikkim as the Total Organic destination and a USP can divert tourists to Sikkim in large numbers, he said. Impetus on Markets and consortiums to help market produce in major cities can benefit largely, he added.

Printing and Stationeries Deptt holds coordination meeting

GANGTOK, 03 June [IPR]: Secretary, Printing and Stationeries Department, Government of Sikkim, CC Wangdi today called a co-ordination meeting at the Conference hall of Sikkim Press, in the presence of Director, Printing and Stationeries Department, GC Lepcha, officers and staff of the department.
In her address, the Secretary shared the directives laid down by the Chief Minister in his recent address to Heads of Departments in the meeting held at Samman Bhawan. Stressing on the need to maintain discipline and dedication towards service, she called for collective responsibility from all concerned sections of the Department to translate the direction of the Chief Minister into qualitative service, efficiency and systematized administration to achieve good governance in the state.
This can only be achieved if the officers and staff exhibit accountability and responsibility towards their duties, she added.
The Secretary was loud and clear in her directive to maintain punctuality at work and informed about the installation of Bio-metric machines to register daily attendance of officers and staff. In this regard, she directed the Department to work out budget provisions for immediate installation of this machine.
The Secretary also called for immediate compliance of the directive of the Government to make uniforms compulsory for regular Government drivers and peons. The Secretary further informed about the announcements made by the Chief Minister with regard to medical reimbursements, regularization of MR/Ad-hoc employees, and conversion of second Saturdays into working days.
She further directed the Department to submit relevant details of all the officers and staff of the Department within a week for onward submission to the Chief Minister's Office. The Secretary also seconded the direction issued by the Director that all concerned technical heads would have to come up with a project proposal enlisting the details of all the equipments currently in use in the Department, and list of requirements and up-gradations, if any.
The meeting was also addressed by the Director, Printing and stationeries Department. He called for collective responsibility to maintain cleanliness in the office compound. He maintained that the Department would take the directives of the government in its stride and would translate the Government's directives into action.
Earlier the staff and officers placed some demands like formation of service cadre, installation of internet line/connection, proper signage for identification of the Sikkim Press, fencing around the premises for demarcation and security point of view, sufficient and continuous power supply, ceiling fans, preventive and break-down maintenance mechanisms for machines, a designated area dedicated to archiving the rare printing machines and related equipments to show-case the vast resources of the department, organization of a library/archive section to store and exhibit the large volume of printing work carried out by the department, and proposal for a reception area/room where visitors can wait before meeting any officer or staff.
Secretary, Mrs. Wangdi assured that the demands have been well taken and adequate action would be taken in these regards. In her concluding remarks, the Secretary urged the officers and staff to look for
solutions while addressing any odd situation. She categorically stated that the department would not compromise in its effort to deliver on the vision and direction of the Government, and encouraged the officers and staff to work hand-in-glove with the Government in all capacities.
The meeting was conducted by Foreman, Ongdup Lepcha and the meeting concluded with the vote of thanks proposed by Deputy Director-II, Bikash Rai.

Nathula trade grounded by levy of high and unjustified customs duty by China

INDIAN TRADERS SUSPEND TRADING, WANT TO NEGOTIATE RELAXATION FIRST

RANJIT SINGH
GANGTOK, 03 June: Barely a month into its ninth season, and border trade between India and China has been suspended. Indian traders have refused to cross over to the trade mart on the Chinese side, Renquinngang and it is now a week that border trade has remained grounded. The reason behind the suspension of trading activities, as informed by traders, is undue harassment by the Chinese customs officials and the levying of what traders see as unjustified and usurious customs duty. Border Trade, incidentally, is duty-free trading [of items on the prescribed list].
This is not the first time that trade has been disrupted over such issues. Ever since Nathula was reopened to trade, officials on either side have been in a near competition to court controversy and constrict trade. This season, controversy has erupted over the excessive rates of customs duties being charged by the Chinese custom officials.
In fact, as informed by traders, the Chinese duties are so high that border trade has become impractical and a loss inducing venture for the Indian traders. Traders inform that the customs rates on goods being charged by the Chinese customs for payment by the Indian traders is 40% to 50% the value of goods.
The collection and enforcement of this Chinese customs duty is further exacerbated as the Chinese seemingly apply their rates on each and every item of good being taken on the other side and not as per weight or any other standard application of rates.
So, if a jar of Vanaspati ghee – which is in very high demand on the Chinese side and which has among the highest exports – costs Rs. 1,100 the customs duty which the Chinese are charging on each jar is Rs. 500. There are hundreds of jars of Vanaspati ghee crossing over into China on a good trading day. The same goes for other items of trade as well. “If the custom duty was 5% or 10% we would not mind paying it but this is excessive,” says a trader.
And the Chinese, it is informed, are very strict in applying the rates on each and every single item. It needs also to be mentioned that border trade, such as the one going on between India and China through the Nathula pass, is duty free. The very concept of border trade, as per the MoU, implies a no tax regime. This is now being violated by China. However, it also needs to be mentioned that the Chinese had attempted to do this last year as well; the controversy then had been subsequently settled.
Border trade through Nathula was reopened on 06 July 2006 with a bi-lateral agreement for border trade as a duty free port [for prescribed list of goods] on both sides. Trade picked up from the year 2008 onwards and export has been substantially higher than imports for Indian traders. In fact, official scale of import is negligible. 
Last year, the Chinese Customs is reported to have restricted the supply of the most in-demand good - Vegetable Oils - to 10 jars per trader per consignment. This year, the limit has been reduced to a clearly unfair One jar per trader per trader. This limit is for the amount that Indian traders can supply duty-free. Every jar [irrespective of weight/ quantity] above this limit attracts customs duty of 54 Yuan (Rs. 499.50), it is informed. 
Not only vegetable oils, but they are trying to impose tax on other products like tea, blankets etc.  The Indian traders are currently facing tough competition with the traders at the Khasa border between Nepal and Tibet and the taxation will further affect the present market. 
In protest against what they see as violation of a bi-lateral agreement by Chinese authorities [by taxing goods in a duty-free trade] the traders are voluntarily not participating in the trade and demanding proper guidelines on the subject as it is confusing for present and future trade. The traders are hoping that the State and Central governments will intervene in the matter.
Meanwhile, a delegation of Indian traders is scheduled to visit Renquinqaang, the trade mart on the Tibetan side, some time later this week. They hope to engage the Chinese customs officials in talks and negotiate a relaxation from the Chinese and resume the trade.
It may also be mentioned that there is not much that the state administration or the Industries Department can do about this matter. At most, the department can communicate with the Ministry of Commerce in New Delhi. 

The traders, however, are not taking any chances and have planned to negotiate on their own. Till there is some kind of an understanding and a toning down by the Chinese officials the imbroglio is likely to continue. Border trade between the two regions had only resumed in the first week of May this year. 

Orientation Workshop for Central Secretariat Service

GANGTOK, 03 June [IPR]: An Orientation Workshop for the Central Secretariat Service on various schemes implemented in Sikkim was held under the chairmanship of Commissioner-cum-Secretary , Department of Personnel (DoP), AK Chettri at Janta Bhawan today.
Two-week long practical field training programme of Central Secretariat Service organized by Accounts and Administrative Training Institute is scheduled to commence from 04 June in which five teams consisting six trainees in each team will visit different areas in all four districts for the preparation of Project Report on various schemes implemented in Sikkim.
Trainees comprising of 29 senior officers from the different ministries have chosen eight topics to study during their field visit.
The five groups visiting Yuksom, Kewzing, Rey Mindu, Sumbuk and Dzongu will be covering topics related to Tourism and Health; Tribal Affairs and Education; Health and Rural Development; Water Security and Panchayati Raj; Disaster Management and Rural Development respectively.
Trainees have been instructed to give presentation on 14 June regarding their findings and experiences. It may be mentioned here that during the field training participants are exposed to various ground realities in the public administration and will be analyzing various policy issues.
Expressing happiness on the opportunity to share views and experiences, Commissioner-cum-Secretary,  AK Chettri emphasized on efforts of the state government for developmental activities and its progress in the state. He stated that the state government has put all its efforts in various fields for the progress of the state and added that there is still a long way to go. He further expected full cooperation from concerned Gram Vikash Adhikaris in providing information required by the team during their field visit.
Orientation programme began with the welcome address proposed by Pr. Director, AATI, Deepak Darnal wherein he briefed on AATI and thanked the institute of secretariat Training & Management, DOP & Training, Govt. of India, for giving such opportunity to conduct field training to trainee officers of Central Secretariat Service in the state. He gave a gist of the training session and said that such type of training is being conducted in the entire North Eastern region for the first time.
The programme was also addressed by Joint Secretary, Social Justice, Empowerment & Welfare Department, KB Pradhan. He highlighted on brief statistics of Sikkim, Social welfare Division, Women & Child Development, National Social Assistance Programme, Schemes under Tribal Affairs, Post Metric scholarship of ST students, ICDS, integrated child protection schemes.
JD, National Health Mission, Dr. ML Lepcha spoke about the main approaches of NHM, its objectives, core strategies and goals to be achieved. She also informed the gathering on healthcare issues like quality service delivery, efficient utilization of ASHAs in rural areas, concept of Mobile Medical Unit, RMNCH+A,  Health indicators of Sikkim, different schemes undertaken in State including CATCH, MMSSUSSY, RBSK and  AYUSH.
The programme also saw presentation of documentary film on Sikkim Rajya Unnatee ke Path Par by RMD Department. Special Secretary RMDD, Sandeep Tambe underlined on MGNREGA good practices in the challenging physical environment of Sikkim Himalaya. He informed regarding impact of various activities and developmental work carried out by the department.
Tourism consultant, KRR Gujari highlighted on the development of rural tourism in Sikkim. He  praised the initiatives taken by the state government in promoting tourism in the state. Speaking at the programme,  Assistant Director, HRD Department, , Gyaltsen Sherpa focused on flagship programme Sarva Siksha Abhiyan and its aims & objectives. He stressed on statistical information regarding enrollment in schools, facilities being provided by the state government, universalization of elementary education and teaching learning process in the state.