SIKKIM NEWS: Alternative Siliguri-Sikkim route on the anvil

SIKKIM NEWS: Alternative Siliguri-Sikkim route on the anvil – advocating disunity, then probably need a flyover ?!!

Sikkim Landlocked - an alternative route an excellent idea, but co-operation instead of antagonizing - the best alternative ?!!

From The Statesman
By Pranesh Sarkar

KOLKATA, 1 AUG, 2010 (SNS): In a bid to ensure that Sikkim remains connected with Siliguri throughout the year, the state government has taken up an initiative to establish an alternative route avoiding the heartlands of the Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha (GJMM).

The state government has handed over a 95 kilometre long road, which passes through the Dooars, to the Border Road Organisation (BRO) so that it could be converted into an alternative road to Sikkim.

Right now, the National Highway-31 (and a portion of NH-31A) is the only road that connects to Sikkim from Siliguri.

Senior officials at the Writers’ Buildings in Kolkata said the steps have been initiated as the state government faces problems in keeping NH-31 (which becomes NH-31A after crossing the coronation bridge near Sevoke) open amidst the GJMM’s movement for a separate Gorkhaland.

.“As per an order from the Supreme Court, we need to keep the road to Sikkim open throughout the year. When the GJMM movement started,  it was difficult to keep the road open as the protesters blocked the road while agitating against the state. Three companies of Central paramilitary forces had to be posted on site only to keep the road open as per the court’s orders,” said an official.

The new road will help alleviate the situation by providing an alternative route to Sikkim without the state having to face problems in keeping Sikkim connected even if the NH-31 is blocked, added the official.

According to officials at Writers’ Buildings, the state public works department (PWD) has handed over a narrow road from Khuniamore in Dooars to Rachela on the Sikkim border (see map) over to the BRO to convert it to a full fledged road.

The 95-kilometre stretch of road all along avoids the Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha’s stronghold areas and passes through the Dooars where the movement does not have a strong foothold.

An official said: “So far the road has been maintained partly by the PWD and partly by the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council. The road is very narrow and could not be maintained on a regular basis and that is the reason why it could not be used as an alternative route to NH-31. The DGHC handed over its portion of the road to the PWD first following which the PWD handed over the entire road to the BRO to make it a viable alternative to NH-31.”

It was learnt that the BRO has already applied for permission to widen the road. An official said that the BRO would require permission from the state forest department as well because the land through which the road passes is forest land.

MEANWHILE

CM dedicates fire station to the people, says “change mindset” – begins in-house and with the self, commission corruption not an issue ?!!

Pawan Chamling inaugurates fire station building in East Sikkim - fantastic foresight and dedication, but not tainted by corruption ?!! (Sikkim Reporter)

FROM SIKKIM REPORTER
BY AJAY THAPA

Pakyong, Aug 1, 2010: Chief Minister Dr. Pawan Chamling inaugurated a fire station building cum staff quarters here Saturday, 31st July. Inaugurating the building, Chief Minister said, “I want to dedicate this building to the people of Pakyong.” He said, all infrastructures that have come up in the state are for the people of Sikkim.

Asking the people to change their mindset he said, “They think that this building belongs to government but it is for the benefit of people, and they should think of it as their own property”. He said, the Fire Station is not only for the use at the time of a calamity but it should conduct awareness among the general public on a routine basis about the consequence of a fire.

Chief Minister urged the government employees to work sincerely from 10am to 4pm for the welfare of the public “because they have been paid more compared to the government employees of other states in the country”. He said in Sikkim, “50% of state budget is spent for the 30,000 government employees and the other 50% is used for the development of more than six lakh people of the state”. He also mentioned the promotions given to the fire officers recently. He said “the government officers should work for the welfare of the public and not give harassment to the public in their official work”.

In Pakyong, Chief Minister announced, besides the upcoming Green Field Airport, a world class new township will also come up, and the state government is planning various other projects for the sub-division. In order to make these projects success, he sought people’s support. He mentioned that the survey of a railway line from Rangpo to Gangtok has been completed and the report will be sent to planning commission for approval. He urged the young generation to be constructive and skillful so that they may stand on their own feet. Various training are has being provided by the government for the interested youths, he noted.

After the inauguration function, Chief Minister addressed a public meeting at New Shopping Complex in Pakyong Bazaar. He assured people saying that all their demands like parking facilities, good drainage and sewerage system, children’s park, amusement park and a public auditorium, will be fulfilled. He appealed to people for their support to make Sikkim a model state in the country – organic, clean and green state.

Cabinet Ministers Bhim Dhungel, CB Karki, NK Pradhan, Tilu Gurung, Neeru Sewa, SLA Speaker KT Gyaltsen, MLAs BB Rai, Puran Gurung, Chairpersons and departmental officers were present.

The fire station with staff quarters is built at a cost of Rs.146.17 lakhs. The job was tendered in 2006 October, work commenced in March 2007, March and completed by contractor Prashant Pradhan January 2010. The 6-storey building comprises basement floors, six Class III quarters, road level garage for two fire tenders, an office and a duty room. In the first floor, there are two Class II quarters and in the second floor one Class II quarter and a conference hall. Total plinth area of the building is 12921 square feet.

FURTHERMORE

Aiding trade – the Nathula & Jalepla factors ?!!

The Nathula location map - opening up cross-border trade for peace, prosperity & friendship ?!!

From The Statesman
By Swaati Chaudhury

30 July 2010: Swaati Chaudhury reports on the Confederation of India Industry’s latest initiative at boosting India-China relations

TRADE today plays a dominant role in the growth of the country. Trade in ancient India dates back to the hoary Mesopotamian civilisation. The trade sector today is one of modern India’s success stories. India has recorded an export figure of $20 billion during March this year and is rapidly moving ahead as the largest trade partner of China.

The Confederation of Indian Industry has been taking all possible steps to boost trade relations between India and China. In a move to beef up the trade sector in the eastern part of India and highlight the volume of growing trade between eastern India and China, the CII has taken major initiatives. It hosted a summit on “Exim Excellence” at Taj Bengal on 15 July.

Trade partners like the European Union and the USA have imposed certain norms that have not gone down well with Indian exporters. Speaking at the Summit, Sanjay Budhia, chairman, CII National Committee on Exports, said, “Even in the face of the economic downturn in 2009, India had performed well in the trade sector. We have to look ahead at how India and China fare in terms of trade policy.

Air connectivity is quite good between the two countries with five regular flights from China to different cities of India. Bengal is a significant export promotion destination in Asia and hence there should be regular flight service from Kolkata to Bejing and Kolkata to Shangai.”

China has registered 11.2 per cent growth in GDP in the first quarter of 2010. India will have a GDP growth of about 9.4 per cent at the end of the current year. According to Mao Siwei, consul general, People’s Republic of China in Kolkata, “The share of the eastern market in India’s trade relations with China is on the rise. It’s true that there are certain impediments in bilateral trade between the two countries.

China aims to provide a specific platform to the exporters of South Asia. India is the largest economy in South Asia and should promote trade and economy in China. The 11th Chinese Trade Fair will be held at Kunming in October. It will provide a valuable platform for Indian traders to showcase their high-end products.”
Bengal accounts for about 59 per cent of exports from the eastern zone of the country.

Explains TCA Ranganathan, chairman and managing director, Exim Bank, “The region occupies a share of 5 per cent in the country’s export that makes up an amount of Rs 42,000 crore. The significant export products from Bengal are tea; rice and processed food that comprise agro products. Other exports are silk, leather and leather products.

The east boasts a fair share of 17 per cent of India’s horticulture products with a production of 30 per cent. Owing to liberalisation, our export growth has climbed ahead of the world trade growth. The export growth rate has been higher than the manufacturing rate. Our country was once ahead of China in the export share scene and it was only in 1960 that the tide turned. The Indo-China trade figure touched $18 billion last year and is expected to reach around $60 billion in five years’ time.”

Ranganathan pointed out that with the help of the Internet and advanced technology we could do away with the difficulties faced by Indian traders in trading with China. In an attempt to facilitate the export of Indian products through Exim Bank, the Central government has announced $1 billion for Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

Most of Bengal’s major export items like tea and silk come from Darjeeling, Dooars and Malda that add to the export growth of Bengal and the east. Nirmal Reddy, general manager, ITC Limited, Agri Business Division, said, “A lot of value additions are possible in the export products of North Bengal including organic tea, packaged tea and dip tea that is picking up well in India and abroad. China silk commands a global market and if Murshidabad silk is converted into textile and then apparel, the export opportunity will rise. Sikkim shows sound prospects in floriculture. The food processing industry in North Bengal — Darjeeling’s oranges, Malda’s mangoes and Tripura’s pine-apples and litchis — has a lot of export potential.”

India stands high in the portal of production of organic tea, food grains, pulses and sugar. The Central government has planned to develop infrastructure in the east that includes setting up of 24 Agri Export Zones (AEZ) and three mega food parks will be rolled up at Jangipur in Murshidabad and Ranchi and Nalbari in Assam.

Exports have grown well over the last couple of years although our country has faced trade deficits that have become quite common. “The east and the North-east have international borders where informal trade is usually practiced. India has notched up an export of $19 billion from the service sector last year,” said Sanjeev Nandwni, directorate general of foreign trade.

HC upholds POTA court decision Prevention of Terrorism Act, 2002 in India ?!!

From The Press Trust of India

Gangtok, Aug 1, 2010 (PTI): The Sikkim High Court has upheld the decision of designated POTA court sentencing the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) Dhiren Bodo to five years imprisonment.

A single bench of the High Court consisting of Chief Justice Barin Ghosh on Friday while pronouncing the judgement said that letter heads of a banned terrorist outfit were found in possession of Bodo.

It said that in the absence of any other evidence to the contrary, the court could logically deduce that the appellant belongs to such a banned terrorist organization, resulting in commission of offence punishable under the provisions of POTA.

Besides, the possession of hand grenades from the appellant did attract the provisions the Explosive Substances Act, the court said. Earlier, in 2008, the designated Judge, East and North at Gangtok under POTA had concluded the matter by upholding that letter-heads of the banned organization and hand grenades were found in the possession of the appellant and accordingly he was convicted and sentenced for a period of five years with a fine of Rs. 6,000 under the POTA.

Bodo had challenged the POTA court sentence in the High Court.

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