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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Relief for the victims.....22 marathon runners running in Mumbai...१०२ औ देवकोटा जयन्ती पालन...EU stamp for Darjeeling Tea - Five-year window for brew blenders...White paper promise on relief - Chamling’s tour of quake-hit North Sikkim begins...BJP to talk on bridge & highway in House...Days of feast over, frugal weddings ahead - Totos to pull in horns....Despite mishaps, Darjeeling has to depend on perilous bridges

The team of 
Kalimpong News, KalimNews its sister concerns and Kalimpong Press Club

Relief for the victims
KalimNews, Kalimpong: On behalf of 17th Karmapa Trinley Thaye Dorje of Diwakar Vihara of Kalimpong a donation of Rs 1 lakh for the dependent family members of earthquake victims of Kalimpong and Rs 1 lakh for the dependents of Bijanbari bridge disaster victims was made through Dr Harkabahadur Chhetri Kalimpong MLA. Dependent family members of Pushpa Agarwal of Kalimpong, Mangali Subba of Pabringtar, Shiv kumari Pradhan of Lower Lolay gaon and Bhim Tamang of Jaldhaka will be distributed an amount of Rupeese twenty five thousand each. Diwakar Vihara also donated Rupees one lakh to the victims of Bijanbari bridge incident of 22nd October and handed over the amount to the MLA.
Krishak Kalyan Sangathan of Kalimpong also distributed relief to its members of Goke, Bijanbari, Samalbong and Chungthung. Bishnu chhetri General secretary of KKS said that 5 of its members died while 9 were injured in the incident.
22 marathon runners running in Mumbai 

Roshni Rai
KalimNews: Roshni Rai the marathon girl from Pedong is running the Mumbai Marathon on 15th January 2012 along with 22 hill marathon runners. These marathon runners will wear T shirts with a slogan " We are Gorkhas and proud to be Indian" inscribed. She is also running a trial marathon on 29th October starting from Pedong at 4 am via Lava to Kalimpong.  A meeting is also organised on 29th October at Worship Centre, 9th Mile Kalimpong to  introduce the runners to the public and inform all about the objective of the run.Roshni has managed to provide sponsors for the run.
१०२ औ देवकोटा जयन्ती पालन
मनि तामङ, कालिमन्युज, कालेबुङ | नेपाली अध्ययन समितीको जयन्ती बिभागको आयोजनामा आज लक्ष्मी पुजाको उपलक्ष्यमा नेपाली साहित्यका महाकवि लक्ष्मी प्रसाद देवकोटाको १०२औ जन्मजयन्ती पालन गरियो|यस अवसरमा कालेबुङका साहित्यकारहरुको जमघट रहेको थियो जसमा वरिष्ठ साहित्यकार सानुमति राई, स्थानिय विधायक तथा साहित्यकार डा हर्कबहादुर छेत्री, नाट्यकलाकर ललित गोले, समसेर अलि, टी एन सुबेदी, मदना ओझा, बी के सिलाल,बी आर छेत्री, सीताराम काफले, निमा स्याङदेन, हिरा छेत्री, योगबिर साक्य, जोग चामलिङ, अरुण कुमार रसाइली आदिको उपस्थिति रहेको थियो| कार्यक्रमलाई साहित्यकार बी आर छेत्री अनि डा हर्कबहादुर छेत्रीले सम्बोधन गरे भने बिभिन्न कविहरुले कविता पाठ गरे|
EU stamp for Darjeeling Tea - Five-year window for brew blenders

VIVEK CHHETRI, TT, Darjeeling, Oct. 26: The European Commission has registered Darjeeling Tea as a Protected Geographic Indication (PGI) product — the first commodity from India to get such a tag.
The status implies that the brew produced only in Darjeeling can be sold as Darjeeling Tea in the European Union countries. But a section of blenders, who at present pass off brew with a certain percentage of Darjeeling brew as Darjeeling Tea, have been given a five-year time to shift to the new business.
Sanjay Bansal, former chairperson of the Darjeeling Tea Association, whose companies have the largest stake in the Darjeeling tea industry, confirmed the development. “Our lawyers have confirmed that the EC has given the status of PGI to Darjeeling Tea. It is one of the biggest achievements for the Darjeeling tea industry stakeholders,” Bansal told The Telegraph over phone from Calcutta.
As of now, blenders in the EU countries generally mix 49 per cent of any tea with 51 per cent of Darjeeling tea and still sell it as Darjeeling tea. Once the notification announcing the grant of PGI comes into effect, only those packets that contain 100 per cent Darjeeling tea can be sold as Darjeeling Tea.
“The notification will come into effect from November 10, 2011,” said Bansal. He added that some European blenders had been given a five-year transition period, a clause which is likely to be challenged by the Darjeeling Tea growers soon.
“The blenders have been handed out a caveat in the sense that only those people whose products were in the market five years before October 14, 2009, can continue selling their blended product as Darjeeling Tea for the next five years. We will definitely consult our lawyers and file an objection against the clause as early as possible,” said Bansal.
Nevertheless, the development is being considered as an epoch defining moment as nearly three-four million kg of made Darjeeling Tea is exported to the European countries. “This accounts for about 60 per cent of the Darjeeling Tea’s export,” said Bansal. The 80-odd tea gardens in Darjeeling produce around 10 million kg of made tea annually.
Industry officials have estimated that around 40 million kg of tea gets sold as Darjeeling tea across the globe annually. In this context, the EU’s decision is considered important. The process of granting a Geographic Indicator — which means that only the produce of a particular area can be sold, using its generic name, had started with India according the GI status to Darjeeling Tea in 2003. This was after the World Trade Organisation approved the Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights in 1995.
Since, it was mandatory to get home protection, the Indian government passed a Geographic Indicator and Protection Act in 1999 after which Darjeeling Tea was given the GI status in 2003. Granting of GI status in the home country — India in the case of Darjeeling Tea — is only the first step towards the protection of the commodity’s generic brand.
In 2007, the Tea Board of India and the Darjeeling Tea Association had invoked a provision in the EU Commission Regulation 5001 to ask Brussels to accord the PGI status to Darjeeling Tea.
“We have also made an application before the Japanese Property Right Organisation for granting of the Production of Regional Origin (PRO) in Japan and also before the Trade Administration Authority (TAA) of USA for granting of Community Collection Mark in the USA,” said Bansal. He added that PRO and TAA were similar to the PGI tag.
Darjeeling tea has some form of protection in Germany, Japan and Australia but these were largely with regard to the trade mark and the logo. “The protection in these three countries only ensured that no other products could be sold if the Darjeeling Tea’s logo was used,” said Bansal.

White paper promise on relief - Chamling’s tour of quake-hit North Sikkim begins

TT, Gangtok, Oct. 26: Chief minister Pawan Chamling vowed to account for every penny of Rs 10,00 crore announced by the Centre for earthquake-related relief and restoration works as he kick-started a tour of North Sikkim yesterday.
The 6.8 magnitude earthquake with the epicentre at Mangan in North Sikkim on September 18 had killed 60 people and damaged property worth crores of rupees.
“We will place a white paper on the utilisation of the Central funds to be given to Sikkim for rehabilitating the affected people and rebuilding the damaged properties. The white paper will account for every penny spent by the state government for such works,” Chamling said at a public meeting at Theeng in North Sikkim yesterday.
Theeng is 22km from Mangan, the administrative headquarters of North Sikkim, the worst affected district in the state. The chief minister’s tour will cover the affected areas of Chungthang, Lachen, Lachung and Dzongu and ‘sanction projects on spot’. He first halted at Mangan and then proceeded to Chungthang along the North Sikkim highway yesterday.
Chamling’s announcement of the white paper comes on the heels of opposition parties’ allegations that the SDF government is partisan in the distribution of funds for the relief works. The charges were raised by the Congress and the BJP, that had been lying low for a while.
K.N. Upreti, the vice-president of the Sikkim Pradesh Congress Committee, had on Monday accused the Chamling government of not having a clear-cut modality for the utilisation of relief money coming from the Centre.
“The chief minister must disclose how the relief money from the Centre is being utilised. We want an answer from the state government how and where the Central grants are being spent in Sikkim,” said Upreti, who is also a former minister.
However, Chamling reminded the people during the tour that the financial package of Rs 1,000 crore as announced for Sikkim by the Prime Minister on September 29 was yet to be received by the state government.
“People are thinking that the state government has already received Rs 1,000 crore from the Centre. We have not received the amount and there are several documentation processes to be completed. It will take time before we receive the amount as a lot of detailed project reports on the damage have to be prepared and submitted to the Centre,” he said.
Accompanied by his Cabinet colleagues and the heads of various departments, Chamling interacted with the local people and patiently heard their grievances.
In his speeches, the chief minister said Sikkim had learnt a lesson from the earthquake. “We have learnt that whatever work we do must be of quality. Our engineers and contractors must learn this lesson.”
He was alluding to the fact that the tremor had damaged more government buildings than private structures.
In a recent function, the chief minister had said around 1,200 government buildings had been damaged or developed cracks in the earthquake but private structures had suffered less damage.
“The most damaged private houses were of kucha type. We need to learn a lesson from this and go for quality works. Whatever happened is past and there is no need to punish someone but we must learn from this,” he had said.
A total of 53,172 houses in Sikkim have suffered damage of various degrees and Rs 61.64 crore has been released as ex-gratia by the state government.
The chief minister during his tour of the affected areas of North Sikkim spoke about his government’s plan to construct one-storied houses for those who had lost their dwellings completely. He will visit Lachung tomorrow.

BJP to talk on bridge & highway in House
TT, Siliguri, Oct. 26: The BJP will raise the issue of the precarious condition of around 100 bridges across the Darjeeling hills and the bad state of NH55 in the Parliament’s winter session and ask for financial assistance.
“After visiting the accident site at Bijanbari and the hospitals in Darjeeling and Siliguri we have decided to take up the issue of the bad condition of the bridges here in the winter session of the Parliament through our party’s MP Jaswant Singh and the parliamentary board. We will pressure the central government for immediate assistance and necessary restoration of the weak bridges and the damaged stretches of NH55,” Biswapriya Roychoudhury, the state general secretary of the BJP, said today.
Thirty-two persons were killed and over a hundred were injured when a wooden suspension walkway at Bijanbari over the Little Rangit river collapsed on Saturday.
The highway connecting Darjeeling and Siliguri has been closed since June 16 last year after a cave-in near Paglajhora.
“We are preparing a report on the weak bridges and the condition of NH55 and we will send it to the party’s parliamentary board that will take up the issues in the House and highlight the areas where central assistance is required,” said Roychoudhury.
He added that Singh had sanctioned Rs 50 lakh for the repair of the bridge at Bijanbari. “The MP has already sanctioned Rs 50 lakh for the restoration of the affected bridge. The mishap occurred because of lack of proper governance. The previous Left Front-led government is mainly responsible for this,” said Roychoudhury.
Days of feast over, frugal weddings ahead - Totos to pull in horns

TT, Jalpaiguri, Oct. 26: Huge debts arising from feasts running into days during weddings and other social occasions have forced the Totos to pull in their horns by downsizing family functions and rituals.
The Toto Kalyan Samity, the apex social organisation of the primitive tribe, will take a formal decision in this regard at their annual community meeting, known as Lachhi Jawa, scheduled to be held in the first week of December.
The tribe is found only in Totopara, a collection of five hamlets, in Madarihat, 95km from Jalpaiguri. The last census has put the total number of Totos at 1,401. While most of the community members are agriculturists, growing betel nuts, corn, paddy and millet, some work in the dolomite mines and orange orchards in the adjacent Bhutan.

totoKamal Toto, whose nephew had got married on October 7, said during a wedding in their community, the whole village would be invited to the feast. He said the Totos often landed up in huge debts by borrowing money from local businessmen and labour contractors to organise the weddings on a grand scale.
“My nephew, Kajal, recently married Sarita of Mitrangaon and feasts were held in the houses of both the bride and the groom for six days. Beef, mutton and chicken are a must. We had to spend about Rs 50,000 for the feast,” said Kamal.
He said his family had spent around Rs 1 lakh on the wedding and the amount included the cost of gifts as well.
“A Toto wedding costs anything between Rs 70,000 and Rs 1.5 lakh, depending on the financial condition of each family,” said Kamal.
Mukila Toto, the aunt of bride Sarita, said her family had been saving for the past several years for the wedding.
“If the Toto Kalyan Samity plans to make us cut down on the celebrations, it will be a welcome move. We are ready to keep our weddings frugal while keeping the rituals intact,” she said.
Dhaniram Toto, the chief of the Toto Kalyan Samity, said: “We have held several rounds of talks with the samity members and it has been decided that such unnecessary spending by the members of our community should be arrested.”
The samity chief said it would be proposed that weddings should be cut down to an affair of two-three days.
“We would also propose that the number of invitees also be less so that the wedding costs remain under Rs 50,000,” he said.
Despite mishaps, Darjeeling has to depend on perilous bridges
Caesar Mandal, TNN | Oct 27, 2011: DARJEELING: A long, narrow wooden platform suspended in the air by iron cables - that's the 'bridge' over Lodhoma Khola on which 20,000 people of four panchayats are dependent for their daily grind. Long queues of vehicles are seen waiting on either end, with one car at a time making the perilous journey.
The least movement on the 'Rajera bridge' rocks the platform violently. As the brittle wooden planks creak under the wheels, those inside have their hearts in their mouths because the platform seems capable of collapsing any time into the gorge below.
The bridge on Lodhoma Khola is just one of 35 such suspension bridges in Darjeeling district which connect hundreds of mountain villages isolated by ridges and ravines of the Himalayas. One of them collapsed in Bijanbari a few days ago, killing 32 people and injuring many. But people have no other option.
"The hanging bridge over Lodhoma Khola connects four gram panchayats - Rimbick, Lodhoma I and II and Sreekhola - with Darjeeling," said Anup Subba, a panchayat member at Lodhoma. Aloka Tamang, a resident of Rimbik, conceded, "An incident like Bijanbari may happen here too."
Villagers claimed that most of these hanging bridges had been built by the British to connect tea gardens with the main road. But since the formation of the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council in the late-1980s, little care has been taken.
"The recent earthquake led to cracks in several bridges. But no one is bothered about repairs," alleged Kundan Sharma, a resident of Majhitar. A PWD officer admitted that little repair and renovation has been done over the past few decades, especially due to the political impasse in the Hills. But GJM leaders blame predecessor Subash Ghising. "He corrupted every organ of the administration. Funds were released for repair works every year but the work was never done."
In the blame game, it's the locals who are hanging between life & death.

View video of the collapsed bridge 


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