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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Set-up too powerful to last only a year Extension whiff in interim talks ... More exits on tribal horizon ... Lepcha protest

Jaswant for representation of others in setup
Sheemnews/KalimNews: Jaswant Singh before leaving to Delhi  said today that for the formation of the proposed Gorkha Regional Authority, constitution of an administrative body by nominated members is feasible for its proper functioning. As there would be no complete decision regarding the area and demarcation it will be a nominated authority and it would be better if representation from other parties and organisations are also included in it.  He further said that only after the Assembly election of 2011 talks for future of GRA beyond 2012 and the matter of Dooars and  Terai be taken up afresh, he indicated. 
In a statement state home secretary Samar Ghose said that Legislative powers will be handed over to the new GRA and seats as desired by GJMM  can be increased from 42 to 55 unless it is ready to hold election for GRA formation. In due course of time Nepali dominated areas can be identified for further extension of GRA if necessary but that depends upon the cooperation of GJMM for progress on talks.
Meanwhile GJYM members brought a rally in Kalimpong and staged demonstration and gave deputation to the SDO Kalimpong, IC Kalimpong Thana and AE 66 KVA station demanding the immediate re-arrest of Nicole Tamang, release of Topden Bhutia and cancellation of the proposed order of shifting of Office of 66 KVA station from Kalimpong to Siliguri.
                                             TT, Darjeeling: MP Jaswant Singh on Wednesday said the interim set-up for the Darjeeling hills should be a nominated body, echoing what the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has said. Before leaving for Delhi after a week-long stay in Darjeeling and Siliguri, the BJP leader said: “Considering the ongoing census and the coming Assembly polls, it is not justified to hold another election to form the proposed interim arrangement in the hills. So far as I know, the interim set-up is likely to exist till 2012 and it should be formed with nominated members and not the elected ones.” Singh, however, said representations of different political parties with presence in the hills, women and members of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe categories should be ensured in the set-up. The MP, however, did not feel the need to invite all political parties to the tripartite dialogues. “We feel the state government itself represents all the other parties and don’t feel it necessary that they should be called to the talks, along with the Morcha,” Singh said at the Siliguri Journalists’ Club. On the proposal to carve a separate state out of Bengal, the BJP leader said he was in favour of smaller states. “In my opinion, it is possible to form a state even with the three hill subdivisions and the contiguous areas of the Terai and the Dooars.” (Picture by Kundan Yolmo) 

Vivek Chhetri,TT, Darjeeling, Sept. 8: The Centre wants the interim set-up for the Darjeeling hills to be extended till 2012 and the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha is not averse to the idea, sources said a day after the official-level tripartite talks in Delhi.
The Bimal Gurung-led Morcha, the sources said, realises that its efforts to make the interim authority powerful will be wasted if it lasts only for a year.
The Centre had proposed the extension of the new arrangement till December 31, 2012, at yesterday’s meeting as it believes that a delay in inking the settlement leaves little time to administer the new body.
“The Centre is of the opinion that it will hardly serve any purpose if the interim set-up is functional till December 31, 2011. It believes that the set-up is turning out to be powerful with the transfer of almost all the subjects, except home and judiciary, and that it should be tried for two years,” a source said.
The Morcha, too, is warming up to the proposal. Sources in the know of things said even though a final decision was likely to be conveyed during the political round, it was merely a matter of time before the party accepts the proposal, unless there is massive opposition in the hills.
“If things go fine, the new set-up is likely to be functional only by the end of December or January. The Morcha realises that all its efforts to make the interim set-up powerful will be a waste if the authority is to be made defunct within a year,” said the source.
Till yesterday, the Centre had proposed the tenure of the interim set-up to be valid till December 31, 2011.
“The Centre was always thinking of a two-year arrangement as it was confident that the set-up would be made functional by the beginning of 2010. But this did not happen,” the source added. The negotiations with the Morcha in the form of tripartite talks had started in 2008.
Although the state wants the set-up to be extended for five years, the Centre is aware that the Morcha will not accept such a long tenure.
Observers believe that the Centre is also aware of the Morcha’s compulsion. An interim settlement with too long a tenure could backfire in the hills and jeopardise the entire talks process.
“The cinchona plantation will be transferred and this is one industry which is in tatters. The biggest public sector undertaking is incurring a loss of Rs 28 crore annually and lot of efforts needs to be put in to revive this industry by the interim set-up if any concrete results are to be seen. With a one-year timeline, the new body will not be able to do anything much,” said an observer.
Dawa Sherpa, president of the Akhil Bharatiya Gorkha League, however, said there was nothing new in the agreement reached yesterday. ”Since nothing has come out of the meeting, we have nothing to comment,” he said.
The CPRM – the party considered to have the second largest base in the hills after the Morcha—maintained that the Centre, state and the Morcha were trying to dilute the real issue of statehood by prolonging the talks. “An attempt is on to delay and then dilute the real issue of Gorkhaland. They are simply trying to tire the hill people and divert their attention. There is much confusion and after every meeting they are reaching a settlement on only one or two points,” said R.B. Rai, general secretary of the CPRM. “Soon the elections will be held in Bengal and the entire issue will then be handed over to a new government and everything will be back to square one.”
Shiva Thapa young Junior Boxer and silver medalist in the recent  Junior Olympics held in Singapore will be felicitated by Sikkim Press Club. Thapa  arrived from his native place Assam and will also meet Chief Minister of Sikkim and will pay a visit to Kalimpong.
Sikkim CM Pawan Chamling flagged off 12 mountaineers of Sikkim.
More exits on tribal horizon 

TT, Sept. 8: Some more leaders of the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad’s Dooars unit are expected to resign in the next few days to protest the “autocratic functioning” of the organisation.
However, sources in the tribal outfit said the urge to join mainstream politics and contest elections were the real reasons why the leaders might desert the Parishad.
Rajesh Lakra, the secretary of the Dooars-Terai regional unit of the Parishad, already resigned from the outfit yesterday, saying he was tired of the “war of statements” among the top brass.
Today. more than five leaders told The Telegraph that they would follow suit. Till such time they put in their papers, they refused to go public about it.
“There is no democracy in the regional unit and we feel it is better to walk out of the Parishad. Despite the presence of a constitution, nothing is being followed and only a handful is running the show,” one of the dissenting leaders said.
“At least seven leaders of the regional unit have decided to resign in few days.” The resignations, if they really happen, would mean that nearly one-fourth of the Dooars Terai unit — there are 31 members — are moving out of the Parishad.
The formation of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) by a breakway faction of the Parishad has also spurred the leaders to think of resigning.
“In the past two years, the Parishad gained the support of tribals fast by taking up their causes and forming the tea trade union. But soon there was a slackness,” a senior leader said.
“Neither the state nor the Centre are listening to their demands like Sixth Schedule status for the Dooars.”
Not only that, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leaders, despite correspondences and meetings, do not seem to be interested in carrying out talks with the tribal outfit.
Instead, the Morcha is still insisting that only the Gorkha-dominated areas of the Terai and the Dooars should be included in the hill set-up.
These factors, the leader said, may prompt the Parishad members to step down. “Further, the formation of the PPP, which plans to field candidates in the next Assembly elections, has left some Parishad leaders thoughtful. The unity of the tribals might help them with favourable results especially when established political parties like the CPM, Congress and the RSP are losing their support base in the tea gardens,” a tribal leader said.
The observation was corroborated by the statement of Kiran Kalindi, the PPP president, who said that former Parishad leaders were welcome.
“We will field candidates in a number of seats in the Assembly elections and the entry of ex-Parishad leaders would only strengthen our party,” he said.
Global climatic change
Prakha, Gangtok September 8: A team of German Agency of Technical Cooperation Appraisal Mission on Climate Change Adaptation in the North Eastern region led by Dr. Hans Helmrich (Consultant, Team leader) along with Minister Science & Technology Mr. Bhim Dhungel and the Secretary called on the Chief Minister Mr. Pawan Chamling at his official residence Mintokgang here in the capital. 
During the meeting Dr. Hans expressed his happiness about being in such a beautiful state of Sikkim where the officials as well as the people are very aware about the climate change. He also informed Mr. Chamling that people were also quick to add that they were very aware about the efforts made by the government in this field. He was also all praise for the kind of work the Chief Minister has initiated and conceptualized in the state in the field of protection of environment. Dr Hans also informed that they will be working with 5 North Eastern states and will give technical support to Sikkim and Nagaland.
Mr. Chamling on other hand requested to them to give all the technical and expertise support to the state and also assured them full cooperation from him and his government. He also informed the team about the tranquil and investor friendly environment which exist in Sikkim and about the rich bio diversity, which makes the state a unique one in India. The Chief Minister also hoped to work with the team in the field of climate change and achieve a good result as he is very concerned about the change and global warming, he added.
He was also presented with the copy of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on adaptation to Climate Change in the North Easter Region, Sikkim, signed between the German team and the Chief Secretary of Government of Sikkim.

Trek to Everest via Mount Nepal
TT, Gangtok, Sept. 8: Twelve climbers from the Northeast today set out on an expedition to scale the 7168m Mount Nepal in North Sikkim to acclimatise themselves to high altitude conditions before embarking on a trek to conquer Mount Everest.
The expedition was flagged off by Sikkim chief minister Pawan Chamling at his official residence, Mintokgang, at 10am.
“We have 12 members in our team along with a support crew. Mountaineers for the Northeast Everest Expedition, scheduled to be held in 2011-12, will be chosen on the basis of their performance during the trek to Mount Nepal,” said team leader L. Surjit.
The 44-year-old Surjit is from Manipur and is assisted by Mohon Puyamcha, 38, from the same state and Kazi Sherpa, 41, a Sikkim resident. The team also includes Mohan Biswakarma, 22, (Sikkim), Maibam Shanta Singh, 27, A. Robert, 35, (both from Manipur), David Zohmangaiha, 36, (Mizoram), Tarun Saika, 34, (Assam) and Nima Lama, 33, (Arunachal Pradesh).
The group has two women too. They are N. Bidyapati Devi, 27, (Manipur), and Anhsu Jamsenpa, 30, (Arunachal Pradesh). The twelfth member of the team is K. Sharatchandra, who is a doctor and a non-climber.
The expedition is being organised by Manipur Mountaineering and Trekking Association in collaboration with the Sikkim Mountaineering Association. The trek is sponsored by North East Council and it is being conducted under the aegis of Indian Mountaineering Foundation.
The team will reach Zema I near Lachen in North Sikkim, some 125km from Gangtok, this evening. From there, the climbers will trek for four days to reach Green Lake at 17000ft, where a base camp will be set up.
“The final camp will be set up at 21000ft and from there, it will take around eight hours to reach the summit of Mount Nepal,” said Kazi Sherpa, an officer on special duty with the Sikkim tourism department.
Asked why Mount Nepal was chosen for the pre-Everest expedition, team leader Surjit said: “Peaks in Sikkim are challenging and climbers require experienced technical skills to scale them. To reach Mount Nepal, we have to do high altitude trekking for four days and that will help us acclimatise ourselves to such weather conditions.”
Sherpa said the climbers were planning to reach the summit of Mount Nepal between September 24 and 27. “They will be completing the expedition on October 6.”
Pollution directives
Prakha, Gangtok September 7: In view of the ensuing Biswakarma Puja the State Pollution Control Board, Sikkim, Forest, Environment and Wild Life Management Department has appealed to the people of Sikkim which reads as follows:
It is puja time of the year once again and the Biswakarma Puja is one of the most widely celebrated pujas in our state. A large number of idols are worshipped which are painted with various coloured lead paints. This result in a variety of environmental problems at the time of idol immersion. On the other hand various types of cultural programmes are organised by the puja celebrating committee resulting into noise pollution. Considering the environmental scenario in the State, the State Pollution Control Board- Sikkim requests all the puja celebrating committee to avoid using large statues, plastic plates/ cups, plastic decorative items, dhupies and high volume loud speakers after 9.30 p.m.
State Pollution Control Board- solicits kind cooperation from all the puja organising committee in keeping the State of Sikkim clean and pollution free.
Sikkim an organic state
Prakha, Gangtok September 7: Director FIBL Institute of Organic Research Centre of Switzerland Dr Urs Niggli along with Minister for Agriculture, Government of Sikkim, Mr. D.N Takarpa, Secretary Mr. Vishal Chauhan, Principal Director Mr. K.K Singh and the other officials called on the Chief Minister Mr. Pawan Chamling at his official residence Mintokgang here in the capital.
Dr. Niggli in his meeting was all praise for the kind of work that was being done by the Chief Minister in field of making Sikkim an organic state. He also added that though it’s a challenging task but very much possible to achieve with the kind of enthusiasm and sincerity with which Sikkim has been working towards this objective of going organic. The Director who had earlier visited a village in Kitam, South Sikkim was very impressed by the farmers for their commitment towards organic farming. With the ever growing demand for organic products in the market, if Sikkim can manage to go organic then it will not only yield a great deal of profit and recognition worldwide but will also be an example to follow for others, he added.
On the other hand Mr. Chamling hope to get all the possible technical support from Dr. Niggli and his institute to turn the state into fully organic, which will be the first one to achieve this recognition in India. Though the task ahead is challenging we are absolutely committed to go total organic by 2015 the Chief Minister affirmed and also reiterated that Sikkim needed all possible technical know-how, help and support from him and his institute to make the mission of going organic a reality within the next three years.
During the occasion a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was also signed by Dr. Urs Niggli and Secretary, Agriculture, Government of Sikkim Mr. Vishal Chauhan for a long term partnership in which the department will get all the possible technical support from the institute on research and training and other possible knowledge on organic farming.
The occasion was termed as historic by the Chief Minister Mr. Pawan Chamling and hoped that this partnership will have a lasting and positive effect on the target.
Jumbo rage 
TT, Jaigaon: A resident of New Line busti, under Birpara-I gram panchayat, was trampled to death by wild elephants on Tuesday night. Foresters from Dalgaon range said Birbahadur Lama, 68, came in front of three elephants that had raided the village. On Wednesday, members of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha’s Birpara unit confined the foresters to the range office for two hours from 10am demanding an elephant squad for the area. The foresters were released after they promised to take necessary action.
Lepcha protest
Shiva Sahay Sngh, IE: At a time when there is turmoil in the hills over a separate Gorkhaland state, a group of 50 Lepchas from Darjeeling began an indefinite hungerstrike in Kolkata on Wednesday. Their problem: Though they are the residents of the Darjeeling district, the community certificates awarded to them says that are of Sikkimese orgin.
“We are confused about our own identity. We reside in Darjeeling but the community certificate given by the state government says that we are of Sikkimese origin,” said B Lepcha, the convenor of Lepcha Youth Association. The youths claimed that due to this, they do not get jobs in the military and paramilitary forces.
In 2004, after a study conducted by the Anthropoligical Society of India referred to the community as having Sikkimese origin, the state government came out with a notification in this regard.
Prior to their demonstration in Kolkata, the Lepchas have carried put a similar protest in Silliguri in August. “They have given a deputation to me. But I think it is a larger issue and beyond my purview,” said Darjeeling District Magistrate Surendra Gupta. 
According to the 2001 Census, there are 14,731 Lepchas in West Bengal. But the community claims that their population exceeds a lakh. The Lepchas are found predominantly in areas like Kurseong, Kalimpong, Mirik and Darjeeling.
Total literacy in Sikkim
Prakha, Gangtok 4th September: A coordination meeting with regard to the total literacy mission was held at BAC Pakyong under the Chairmanship of Block Development Officer, Pakyong Mr. Dhiraj Subedi on 4th September 2010.The meeting was attended by all the  Panchayats under the administrative jurisdiction of BAC, Pakyong, Panchayat Education Assistants,  Assistant Education Officers, Panchayat Inspector and RDAs of the Block Administrative Centre.
Various issues with regard to the total literacy mission of the state government and visa vis the appointment of Panchayat Education Assistant at the Gram Panchayat Unit and  implementation of literacy mission were discussed during the meeting.
BDO Pakyong, Mr. Subedi during the meeting asked Panchayats to search for an appropriate place for the adult education centers and finalize it by 15th of September 2010. He informed about the training which would be imparted to the Panchayat Education Assistants by SIRD soon and asked to prepare the target group in close coordination with the Ward Panchayats as soon as possible to begin work.
Assistant Education Officer Mr. D.M Subba highlighted on the Total Literacy Mission and suggested to encourage the age group between 15 – 70 years to benefit from the adult education centers.
Assistant Education Officer Mr. C.K Dahal solicited for the cooperation of the Panchayat Education Assistants for the success of the mission of the government. He also urged  the Panchayats and Panchayat Education Assistant to work in close coordination to make the mission a success.
The meeting was also informed that the Adult Education Center is already functioning at Kadamtam ward, Aho Yangtam GPU, BAC Pakyong.

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