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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Tribals tell Cong: Autonomy for poll prop... Embargo lift plea to save tea business... विद्युत कार्यालय स्तान्तरण गरिने विषयमा - जकसले पेन डाउन स्ट्राइक गर्ने ....Annual plan of Sikkim finalised

Morning Headlines:KalimNews
BJP will contest all 294 seats in the forthcoming West Bengal Assembly election in the state in alliance with “influential smaller political parties", it includes Darjeeling hills.
Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee's Son Avijit Mukherjee is contesting Assembly election from Nalhati in the family's home turf of Birbhum. He had served 26-and-a-half years with steelmaker SAIL.
The minister's sister-in-law Subhra Ghosh  is also likely to contest a seat in Howrah.
Banners and hoardings of political parties are being removed in all parts of Bengal.
GJM leaders including Roshan Giri, Dr HB Chhetri, Retired Col. Ramesh Alley surrendered before the Judicial Magistrate's courts of Darjeeling hills and were bailed out. They had warrants against cases like vandalising ABGL Office, illegally occupying Roy Villa of Darjeeling and some cases of fire and arson.

Last Assembly budget session of West Bengal starts from today and will continue till March 25.
Tribals tell Cong: Autonomy for poll prop
TT, March 9: The Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad has made it clear to Congress leaders in Delhi that the tribals are willing to support the party in the Dooars and the Terai if it agrees to work for the Sixth Schedule status for the region after the Assembly elections.
The tribal outfit has threatened to put up its own candidates in 15 Assembly seats in the Adivasi-dominated Terai and the Dooars and North Dinajpur if the Congress refuses to toe the Parishad line.
A six-member Parishad delegation led by Sukra Munda met Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel and the Congress’s Raiganj MP Deepa Das Munshi among others in Delhi yesterday evening.
“The elections are not very important for us. But we are very serious about a regional autonomy under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution. The Terai and the Dooars and its tribal-dominated population have long been denied proper development by the state government and we impressed upon the Congress leaders our demand. I hope they have been able to understand our point of view,” said Munda, who is also the chairman of the outfit’s labour wing, the Progressive Tea Workers’ Union.
“If the Congress does not agree, then we will field candidates in all 12 seats in Jalpaiguri district and also in Phansidewa and Rajganj in Darjeeling district and Chopra in North Dinajpur,” he added.
The Parishad, strongly opposed to the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha which has been demanding parts of the Terai and the Dooars for Gorkhaland, has been playing its cards close to the chest ever since the elections were announced.
It had issued a fiat to all Adivasis in the region not to join the campaigns of any political party till matters were cleared. Central trade unions like the Citu and the Intuc had their bases eroded when the Parishad launched its labour union in March last year.
The tribal outfit is expected to wield considerable clout in Kumargram, Kalchini, Madarihat, Nagrakata, Mal and Phansidewa, the six Assembly constituencies reserved for ST candidates where the Adivasis are in majority Of the six seats, Kalchini was wrested by the Morcha-supported Wilson Chompromary in the 2009 by-election. The rest are with the Left Front.
“The Parishad began influencing political issues after 2007 when the Gorkhaland movement was renewed and the Morcha demanded the inclusion of the Dooars and Terai in their proposed state. The Adivasis are very committed to their community and the Parishad is the platform that unites them socially. The Parishad will have a strong influence in the manner in which the Adivasis vote in these tribal- dominated seats,” said an observer.
But Parishad sources said the organisation was wary about the Trinamul Congress and the Morcha. “Mamata Banerjee had visited the hills last year and made many promises for Darjeeling. We are waiting so see what the Trinamul Congress stand will be regarding the Morcha that has also said it will field candidates in the Terai and the Dooars,” a Parishad leader said.
Observers, however, said the emergence of the Parishad as a potent political voice and the Morcha’s bid to enter the Dooars would throw the contest in the six seats wide open. The Left has already seen erosion among its rank and file in the tea gardens in the Dooars and the Parishad’s open opposition to the present state government does not augur well for the Left parties, the observers said.
PCC secretary and former Congress Jalpaiguri district president Biswaranjan Sarkar admitted that the Parishad had handed over its demand to Ahmed Patel.
“Patel has forwarded it to Sonia Gandhi. There is also a possibility that the Parishad members will meet Pranab Mukherjee,” Sarkar, who was present at yesterday’s meeting, said over the phone from Delhi.
Embargo lift plea to save tea business
TT,Kalimpong, March 9: Planters today appealed to the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha to lift the embargo on the despatch of first flush of Darjeeling tea saying the blockade was hurting the business.
The garden owners also asked the Morcha to reach a negotiated settlement on its demand for a hike in wages of workers.
The planters had on Monday virtually rejected the Morcha union’s demand for a major hike in wages and benefits like better housing and improved healthcare for tea workers, saying the matter could not be discussed with only one union as it would amount to flouting established industry norms.
The Darjeeling Terai Dooars Plantation Labour Union said the blockade would continue unless the garden managements indicated “positive action” on the demands. The union said it was ready for talks with the planters.
The governing body of the Darjeeling Tea Association (DTA), which met in Calcutta today, said the embargo was hurting both the present and future business prospects in the domestic as well as international markets. “This will also lead to loss of foreign exchange… The matter assumes more significance because 90 per cent of first flush of Darjeeling tea is exported to various destinations in Europe and others,” the DTA said in a release.
The planters said the demands for increase in wages and other emoluments were very high and it would be difficult for the industry to accept them, “especially given that the global prices of the Darjeeling tea are not seeing any commensurate increase”.
The DTA expressed its willingness to end the impasse through mutual discussions with all concerned.
The union has been enforcing the embargo since March 4 to pressure the garden owners into accepting its demands.
The daily wage of tea workers is now Rs 67 and the Morcha wants it to be hiked to anything between Rs 120 and Rs 150.
The first flush of tea commands the highest price in the global market. The production of the first flush starts from February-end and continues till mid-April, followed by the second flush till May end.
Although the largest quantity of tea is produced during monsoon (June to September) and autumn (October to December), the prices fetched in the last two flushes cannot match the figures of the first and second.
The DTA also pointed out that last year, the first flush production had hit a low, but this year, the outlook was good and the markets had picked up.
The president of the union, P.T. Sherpa, when told about the appeal, said the workers were also ready to sit for talks. “We have placed a charter of demands before the DTA, they should come forward and sit with us and our party.”
He added that the embargo would not be lifted unless there was “concrete action” on the part of the DTA that the demands placed before them would be met.

Upgrade draft ready for IAF - Northeast airfields part of modernisation plan
Abhijit Sinha, TT, Bagdogra, March 9: The IAF’s modernisation plan includes an upgrade of the communication and tracking system and the airfields in the east and the Northeast, the Chief of Air Staff said here today soon after the President reminded the nation that a strong defence and an effective deterrence were essential for peace.

A “perspective plan” to make the Indian Air Force capable on its own has already been drafted.
“As part of this plan, it has been decided to upgrade the airfields in eastern and north-eastern parts of the country and also improve the advanced landing grounds we have in the region,” said Air Chief Marshal P.V. Naik.
“When it comes to communication and tracking system, radars play a key part. We have found that due to mountainous terrain in the Northeast, normal radars could not function properly. The IAF is in the process of installing mountain radars or LLLWRs (low level light weight radars),” he said.
Naik was at the Bagdogra air force station, 15km from Siliguri, this morning to participate in the presentation of the President’s Standards to a squadron and a helicopter unit. He said the IAF would also buy a host of new aircraft and helicopters to enlarge its fleet.
“We will shortly sign a commercial deal for supply of MMRCA (medium multi-role combat aircraft) and have already entered into an agreement with Russia for obtaining Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft. By 2017, our target is to obtain 200-250 such aircraft,” he said.
Earlier in the day, President Pratibha Patil awarded the Standards to the Nagpur-based 44 squadron and the 110 helicopter unit based at Kumbhigram in Assam. She also inaugurated a first day cover and brochure on the occasion.
The standards or the colours are conferred to squadrons or formations which have completed 18 years in the IAF or have won the President’s appreciation for outstanding performance in operations.
“A strong defence and an effective deterrence are essential to preserve peace. No nation can prosper without its borders being secure. Though as a nation we are firmly committed to peace, we will not hesitate to use all our might to safeguard the sovereignty of our nation,” the President said.
“Our armed forces, exemplified by the men and women who stand before us, reflect our determination to protect our interests. We do not wish to encourage conflict, but should it be thrust upon us, I am confident that our armed forces will form a fortified wall against the adversary, and keep the Indian flag flying high.”
She appreciated the two IAF units for their service. “They have been extending yeoman service whenever called upon, during natural calamity, or during attacks by anti-national elements.” The President left for Imphal around 12.15pm.
Annual plan finalised
Prabin Khaling, KalimNews, Gangtok, 9 March:The Annual Plan for Sikkim for the year 2011-12 was finalized here today at a meeting between Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission Shri Montek Singh Ahluwalia and Chief Minister of Sikkim, Shri Pawan Chamling. The Plan outlay was agreed at Rs.1400 crores.
The Deputy Chairman welcomed the Hon’ble Chief Minister and his delegation to the meeting. The Deputy Chairman said that the Planning Commission has been preparing an approach document to the 12th Five Year Plan when the experience of the Hon’ble Chief Minister as the longest serving with vast administrative experience would be taken before finalizing the document. The Planning Commission considered infrastructure development in the North East requiring focus attention. Sikkim has been a good performing State where many of the things taken up first are now being followed in other states too. He then requested the Hon’ble Chief Minister to make his presentation.
The Hon’ble Chief Minister opened up the discussion from the State side by pointing out that the State Government has been on an aggressive pace of development both for long term and short term. The priority areas were thus been followed with focused attention. (detailed presentation attached)
The Deputy Chairman requested the other Members of the Planning Commission to give their observations and comments. Shri B.K. Chaturvedi, Member applauded the performance of the State in several areas as outstanding. He made specific mention that the initiative of the State in organic farming, floriculture, environment, health, power sectors etc. are now being taken up by other States. In this respect, he thanked the Hon’ble Chief Minister for being the torchbearer to many of the States. However, Shri Chaturvedi cautioned that the population growth of the State was higher than the national average. Therefore, the State needed to generate its own resources in the long run to grow. The State had done extremely well in the power sector. However, the private investment sector being the key to the growth of income of the people needed to be looked at for further development. There were still some areas where the State needed to pay more attention was the teacher training for quality education, school infrastructural deficiency such as girls’ toilet and pucca buildings. Some of the power developers needed to be chased for the early and timely completion of the projects. The T&D and ATC losses were another areas of concern. Shri Chaturvedi specifically requested and sought for the suggestions of the Hon’ble Chief Minister which would be included in the approach document to the 12th Plan both in the context of North East development and the national level as the Hon’ble Chief Minister has the longest administrative experience.
Dr (Mrs.) S.Hameed, Member, congratulated the Hon’ble Chief Minister for the noble CATCH program under health sector introduced in the State as well as for winning 1st Nirmal Rajya Puraskar in the Country. She appreciated the good work done through the Aganwadi workers and the ICDS schools. She however wanted to know the status of the coverage under Hepatitis B vaccination program launched in 2001. She however expressed that the State had to do something to reduce the anemia level in the reproductive age group of 15-49 amongst women.
Shri Arun Maira, Member said that the growth of income of the people being the ultimate indicator, the balance between rapid urbanization and growth of tourism needed to be evenly balanced. He however agreed to look into the difficulty for not securing fund from UDHD Ministry beyond Rs. 9 crores as against the sanction granted for Rs. 150 crores.
Dr. K.Kasturirangan, Member offered his congratulation to the Hon’ble Chief Minister for doing an excellent work in organic farming, bio resource management and biotechnology park etc. which have been unique initiatives of the State Government. Glacier Commission constitution was another area of praise. He however suggested the State Government for increasing forest cover from the present level of 40-45 percent though the State is under 80 percent of forest cover.
Shri Samra, CEO, Horticulture emphasized the need of a proper watershed management as presently two departments were controlling this subjects being Forest and Horticulture. Completion of the MG-NREGA work should be expedited. Lastly he suggested that proper marketing should be organized for ginger, cardamom and floriculture.
Smt. Sudha Pillai, Member Secretary, praised the performance of the State Government in decentralization and devolution to the panchayats and stated that this was the great statesmanship and wisdom of the Hon’ble Chief Minister. She suggested other areas of skill development to be also looked into.
With the approval of the Deputy Chairman, a plan size of Rs. 1400 crores for Sikkim was announced by Member Secretary. The Hon’ble Chief Minister thanked the Planning Commission for this allocation which is around 19.15% increase from last year allocation of Rs. 1175 crores.
The Hon’ble Chief Minister was accompanied to the meeting by the Chief Secretary, Shri TT Dorji, Additional CS-cum-Development Commissioner, Shri Karma Gyatso, Principal Secretary Finance, Smt. R. Ongmu, Principal Secretary to Hon’ble Chief Minister, Shri RS Basnet, Principal RC, Shri Arvind Kumar, Secretary Power, Shri P. Wangchen and other officials of Planning and Finance Departments, Government of Sikkim.
विद्युत कार्यालय स्तान्तरण गरिने विषयमा - जकसले पेन डाउन स्ट्राइक गर्ने
मनोज बोगटी, कालिमन्युज, कालेबुङ, 9 मार्च। कालेबुङ अनि खरसाङको विद्युत कार्यालयहरू मधेशमा स्थानान्तरण गर्ने विषयमा आज पनि जनमुक्ति कर्मचारी सङ्गठनले महकुमा कार्यालय अघि विक्षोभ प्रदर्शन गर्दै व्यापक नारावाजी गर्‍यो। विद्युत कार्यालय सिलगढ़ी सार्ने विषयको विरोध गर्दै सङ्गठनले अघिबाटै कालेबुङका महकुमा अधिकारी अनि विभागीय उच्च अधिकारीहरू समक्ष फ्याक्स मार्फत जनाइसकेको छ। तर आजसम्म सरकार पक्ष मौन रहेपछि आजदेखि नियमित रूपमा जकसले महकुमा कार्यालयमा धरना दिने भएको छ। 

यदि आगामी केही दिनभित्रमा पनि सरकारले विद्युत कार्यालयहरूलाई स्थानान्तरण गर्ने निर्णय फिर्ता नलिए सङ्गठन चुनावी आचार संहिता उल्लंघन गर्न वाध्य हुने बताउँदै जकसले आगामी हप्तादेखि सम्पूर्ण पहाड़भरि नै पेन डाउन स्ट्राइक गर्ने भएको छ। यदि त्यसपश्चात पनि सरकारले उचित पहल नगरे सङ्गठनले चुनावी ड्युटी समेत गर्न असमर्थ बन्ने जकस महकुमा समिति अध्यक्ष खड्क विक्रम सुब्बाले बताएका छन्‌।
उनले भने, यदि केही दिनभित्रमा पनि सरकारले विद्युत कार्यालय स्थानान्तरण गर्ने निर्णय फिर्ता नलिए आगामी हप्तादेखि सम्पूर्ण पहाड़भरिनै जकसले पेन डाउन स्ट्राइक गर्नेछ। त्यसपश्चात पनि सरकार पक्ष मौन रहे हामी चुनावी ड्युटीसमेत गर्न असमर्थ बन्नेछौं। यसरी नै उनले पहाड़को विद्युत विभागमा कार्यरत कमचारीहरू समेतलाई बङ्गाल सरकारले मधेशतिर स्थानान्तरण गरिरहेको आरोप लगाएका छन्‌। जकस महकुमा समिति अध्यक्ष खड्क विक्रम सुब्बाको नेतृवमा आज पनि सङ्गठनका प्रतिनिधि टोलिले महकुमा अधिकारीसँग भेट गरी एक ज्ञापन पनि पेश गर्‍यो। 

महकुमा अधिकारीले जनाए अनुसार सङ्गठनको मागलाई अघिबाटै उनले उच्च अधिकारीलाई अवगत गराइसकेको भएपनि कुनै ठोस निर्णय भने नआएको बताए। विद्युत कार्यालयहरू स्थानान्तरणको विरोधमा आज सङ्गठनले शहरमा व्यापक पोस्टरिङ पनि गरेको छ। यसरी पहाड़मा अवस्थित विद्युत कार्यालयहरूलाई सिलगढ़ी सतान्तरण गरिए कर्मचारीहरू मात्र होइन तर यहॉंको सम्पूर्ण जनाताहरू पनि असुविधामा पर्ने सङ्गठनको भनाइ रहेको छ। सङ्गठनले पहिलेदेखि नै कालेबुङमा डी. इ. कार्यालय स्थापना गर्नुपर्ने माग गर्दै आइरहेको भएता पनि डी. इ. कार्यालय स्थापना गर्नेको सट्टा पहिलेबाटै अवस्थित यहॉंको कार्यालयहरू समेतलाई बङ्गाल सरकारले सिलगढ़ी स्थानान्तरण गर्ने षड़यन्त्र गरिरहेको जकसले आरोप लगाएको छ।
Hills workers threaten to boycott election duty
TNN, DARJEELING: The Janmukti Karmachari Sangathan (JKS) affiliated to the GJM has threatened to boycott election duty if the demand for retention of the West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (WBSEDCL) in Kurseong is not met immediately.
WBSEDCL human resource director had issued an order on February 28 to the Kurseong division office, stating that the unit would be merged with the Darjeeling division office from April 1. The JKS has given time till March 11 for WBSEDCL authorities to revoke the order, threatening to stage a pen down strike in all offices across the Hills. "We will first go for a pen down strike and if authorities concerned remain unaffected, then we will boycott poll duty," said Raju Lama, central committee member of the Kurseong WBSEDCL unit and senior employee.
JKS alleged that the idea of merger initiated by the director HR to provide better services to consumers would be detrimental to the interest of employees and Hills people. "The number of consumers is increasing in the Hills but instead of setting up new divisions, the government is gradually shifting offices to the plains. Employees, too, will face transfer and accommodation problems," he said, adding, "people in Kurseong will have a harrowing time with electricity bills and other related issues. We will definitely not allow such a thing to happen". 

Tinek Mahila Jagaran Samiti celebrates Women's Day
Shital Pradhan, KalimNews, Singtam: Women's Day was celebrated by the members of the Tinek Mahila Jagaran Samiti at their office in Pipal Dara. Seven members of the Tinek Mahila Jagaran Samiti were present on the occasion. A meeting was held in which discussion on different topics for the upliftments of women were discussed. Speaking on the occasion Sushma Lohagun, President Tinek Mahila Jagaran Samiti told that we should not limit ourselves to the household duties; we can come forward and make our presence felt in the society.

Singtam Community Hall inaugurated with Spark’s cultural event

Social Boys Club from Singtam (winners).JPG
Social Boys Club from Singtam (winners)
Shital Pradhan, KalimNews, Singtam: March 9: Social Boys Club from Singtam won the Singtam Khamdong Constituency Block Level Cultural Dance Competition held at Singtam Community Hall. NKK, Singtam and Basibiyalo, Singtam was adjudged second and third respectively that had six dance groups from nearby areas of Singtam participating at the competitive event. The other dance groups in the competition included Saipatri Club, Singtam, Samaj Sewa Samiti, Patuk Changey and Munal Club from Aritar Khamdong. The block level cultural competition was organized by SPARK NGO and sponsored by Nehru Yuva Kendra, Gangtok. Gangaa Mukhia and Remanti Rai, guest singers also thrilled the audience with their voice. The three judges of the cultural event were Lucki Doma Bhutia, Nirmika Subba and Pratima Gurung.
Earlier in the morning Singtam Community Hall was officially inaugurated by Shri Ugyen T Gyatso Bhutia, Government Chief Whip and MLA Tumin-Lingee. Also present on the occasion was Shri Am Prasad Sharma, Area MLA cum Parliamentary Secretary, Land Revenue and Disaster Management Department along with other distinguished guests.
Shri Am Prasad Sharma in his speech thanked the Chief Minister for the Community Hall at Singtam and hoped that the Community Hall would have its place in the development of the Singtam Town. Sharma appreciated the works of Spark NGO and wished them success in days to come. Shri Ugyen T Gyatso Bhutia said that the Community Hall shall in days to come provide opportunity for the local talents to showcase their skills. Kamlesh Agarwal, Contractor who made the Community Hall was also felicited by the Guests.
Cultural event was the highlight of the day that had 6 groups participating at traditional dance competition along with 3 groups participating at Non competition that included Singalila Academy School, SDF Cultural Cell, Gangtok and Singbell Makha GPU. Singtam Nagar Panchayats headed by Sawan Kumar Pradhan (President), Meena Chettri (Vice President), Bishnu Maya Sherpa (Secretary), Anita Tamang and Ram Naresh Prasad (Councilors) were the Guest of Honour of the occasion. Puran Chettri, District Youth Coordinator of Nehru Yuva Kendra, Gangtok was also present on the occasion.
Members of different clubs and organization of Singtam and nearby regions were present on the occasion. Those included Suresh Pradhan, Lanco Co-ordinator, Gupta Subba and Binod Pandey, NHPC Co-ordinator, Tinku Adhikari, President Singtam Driver Association, Pradeep Subba, former President, Singtam Driver Association, TB Pradhan, President, Newar Kalyan Sanghathan, Singtam, Satya Dev Prasad, Sector Warden Civil Defence, Tenzing Sherpa, Youth Vice Convener, Singtam Khamdong Constituency, Mohan Pradhan ‘Neeraj’, Basibiyalo, Singtam, Sushma Lohagun, President, Tinek Mahila Jagaran Samiti, Dawa Tshering Sherpa, Ex- Chairman, Rajen Rai, UDHD, Uday Pradhan, Deepak Kallani, Pradeep Sharma and others.
Twenty members of SPARK NGO, along with four Patrons Sawan Kumar Pradhan, Bishnu Maya Sherpa, TB Pradhan and Mohan Pradhan ‘Neeraj’ were also introduced on the stage. Puran Chettri in his speech gave details of the motives behind the programme of Nehru Yuva Kendra. He wished the society should relate themselves with the cultural aspect of the lives too.  TB Pradhan in his speech informed the gathering crowd about the performances of SPARK NGO over the last 10 months. Speaking among the judges, Nirmika Subba gave details of the judging performances of the dancers. 
Praveen Pradhan, President SPARK thanked everyone for their presence and making the programme success. The event was the first occasion where the SPARK NGO had individually worked and in near future we shall perform much better, Pradhan added. He further informed this success of the program could not have been completed without the whole hearted support from Mohan Pradhan ‘Neeraj’, TB Pradhan, Sawan Pradhan, Raaz Gadaily, Naresh and every members of SPARK NGO. Special thanks were also mentioned to Power Department, Toppakhani.  Mohan Pradhan ‘Neeraj’ went on to say that it was a pleasure moment for us that with a successful event of SPARK, the Community Hall of Singtam also got officially opened.

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