SIKKIM NEWS: Cry for degree link to grade

SIKKIM NEWS: Cry for degree link to grade – strike called off, legitimate demands to be met amicably ?!!

NHPC workers demonstrate at the power company’s office at Balutar in Sikkim on Tuesday - glad it was soon called off, an amicable settlement now underway ?!! (Darpan)

FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT

Gangtok, Aug. 31: Administrative work at the NHPC’s 510MW Teesta Stage V power plant in Sikkim was affected today with a section of workers calling an indefinite strike demanding “re-designation of grades according to educational qualifications”.

However, the strike was called off around 4pm following the intervention of the subdivisional magistrate. Power generation was not hampered.

The Rs 2,619-crore project had been commissioned in East Sikkim’s Balutar, 42km from here, in June last year. The Sikkim government has been getting 12 per cent power worth around Rs 300 crore per annum for free.

The NHPC had recruited 53 workers as part of its rehabilitation and resettlement package for families displaced by the project. The Stage V project has 194 workers including 64 local people.

Today, the NHPC workers and members of the All Sikkim Democratic Labour Front (ASDLF), the labour wing of the ruling Sikkim Democratic Front, blocked the administrative building from 9am and shouted slogans against the alleged “discrimination” by the NHPC authorities. They demanded that their grades be promoted according to their educational qualifications.

Sangram Basnett, a worker, said they were appointed as helpers and “beldars” (labourers who ferry articles) under “W-0 grade” irrespective of their educational qualifications. “Our main demand is re-designation of the existing grade according to our educational qualification and the rehabilitation and resettlement plan approved by the state government. We had been regularly requesting the NHPC authorities to consider our demand.”

Around 1pm, subdivisional magistrate (East) A.B. Karki persuaded the workers to hold dialogues with the NHPC authorities. After nearly two hours of interaction, it was decided that the decision on an indefinite strike would be taken after a meeting on September 3. “A meeting has been fixed on September 3 when the workers’ issues and the NHPC authorities’ concerns will be sorted out,” Karki said after the meeting.

The workers, however, were waiting for a conclusive result in the next round of talks. ASDLF general secretary Hari Chettri, who attended the meeting, said: “We want a conclusive result in the next meeting and are ready to support the NHPC workers if they call the indefinite strike again.”

Asked about the workers’ demand, D. Chottapadhyay, the project’s chief engineer, said: “There is a government policy for all NHPC projects and to incorporate something new, we have to change the entire policy.” The state labour department which has constituted a commission on labour issues will submit its report on September 17.

ABVP to organise nationwide road block on Sept 24 against new education policies – and that is going to help or hinder, crackdown necessary ?!!

From The Sikkim Express Correspondent

RANGPO, August 31, 2010: The Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parisad has announced to organise nationwide road blocks on September 24 to protest against new education policies in India.

Addressing a press meet at Singtam yesterday, ABVP national secretary Ramasankar Sinha and Sikkim State organising secretary Ambar Singh Sunwar stated that two hours road block will be organised all over India on September 24 and national level rally in Bhopal on September 28 to oppose the present education policies and also to demand immediate removal of the same implemented by Union HRDD minister Kapil Sibbal.

Mr. Sinha blamed that many industrialist has entered to work in the education sector, making it a lucrative business venture. “If this is the trend then children from below poverty line and best students will not be in position to pursue their higher education as there are indications of donations for admission and pass results,” he alleged.

Regarding Sikkim, he requested the State Government to take the initiative of uplifting Sanskrit language. “Although Nepali language is included in the 8th Schedule, post graduate studies in this subject are not available in Sikkim,” he said.

ABVP Sikkim State organising secretary on his part expressed the need for Parishad members to study the fee and prospectus structure of Sikkim University. “If needed, the Parishad members will also meet with the university officials as soon as possible,” he said.

Director health contradicted medicine crisis statement – serious rethink and proper action necessary, no double-dutch speak ?!!

From Haalkhabar
By Prashant Bajgain

Gangtok, August 31, 2010: Reacting to the news reports regarding the Primary Health Center (PHC) of Pakyong running without medicines and other relevant facilities, the Principal Director of the Health Department, RL Sharma had coined it as a mere illusion.

Speaking to HK correspondent here today Sharma informed of all medical facilities being provided at Pakyong PHC at present and had no crises whatsoever.

However contradicting the statement of Dr Sanjay Upreti, MO Pakyong PHC, wherein he had explained about the crises of very PHC in medical means and financial aspects, Sharma slammed that Dr Upreti is not competent enough to speak on paper on those issues. We had already sought an explanation from him, he added.

He further told that he doesn’t go with Upreti’s statement at all for patients are categorized in accordance with the government policy wherein only eligible candidates can procure free medical facilities. So if patients aren’t provided free medical facilities, it could be because they are not entitled for it, explained Sharma.

Sharma, however informed of the medicine supply being disbursed for Pakyong PHC by today only from Central Medical Store, Tadong, which mere acted as the instant remedial step after the whole issue was publicized. Sharma further termed the road blockades and communication gap as the cause of crises if any, detaching Health Department from the whole issue.

It is to be noted that a notice was displayed from the MO of Pakyong PHC informing the patients to bear medicines from their own pockets as the centre is running out of it, igniting protest from commoners as well as the opposition parties, even raising question on the flaws in state government policy regarding medical facilities.

Sick PHC puts off patients – needs its guilty staff and head to be referred to the remote north ?!!

The referral notice towards STNM - explanations and excuses unacceptable ?!! (HB)

From Sikkim Reporter
By Ajay Thapa

Pakyong, Sep 1, 2010: The Primary Health Centre in this sub-division is not admitting patients. Instead, the PHC is referring the patients to STNM hospital in Gangtok.

The reason given in a notice says, the safety tank is under repair for multiple leakage in its pipeline. Apart from unavailability of free medicines, the patients are not admitted here at Pakyong PHC due to under construction works of Safety Tank Pipeline. It will take another two or three days for the repair work to be completed, the notice says.

The notice also informs about ‘unavailability of medicines and other items like bandage and plasters in the Medical Stores’ and suggests that the patients buy the items, if needed.

As per records, 150 to 200 outdoor patients daily come to the PHC which has a record in the state for conducting highest number of institutional delivery cases, highest number of patients admitted patients, highest bed occupancy rate and highest outdoor patients.

In the year 2008-2009, the total number of patients admitted in the PHC was 20,970. The PHC has 10 beds but accommodates upto 18 patients by putting extra beds in the passage and by joining two benches.

People here insist that the PHC be made operational again at the earliest to render essential health service to the people, in general, and poor villagers, in particular.

MGNREGA in Sikkim: Less red tape for enhanced transparency – and no middle-men to cream away benefits ?!!

From Sikkim Reporter
(With input from Rural Management and Development Department)

Gangtok, Sep 1, 2010: The quality social audits conducted under MGNREGA recently in all the 163 Gram Panchayats provided a reality check on the performance of the programme.

The major finding indicated that there was a felt need to improve the material purchase system to bring in more transparency and to reduce the paper formalities as well.

Accordingly the State Government has now notified the new and improved guidelines to be followed while purchasing materials under MGNREGA.

In the earlier system non-stock materials like timber, bamboo, stone, seedlings etc, which are usually locally available, were procured though registered firms. These firms inturn procured these materials from the farmers locally.

Thereby the system created a middle man inadvertently which resulted in a loss to the farmer who actually supplied the local material and to the Government as well which had to bear the extra costs as well as the profit of the firm.

These new guidelines now permit the purchase of quality local material directly from the farmer at Government prescribed rates and make the payments directly to the farmer in his bank account / post office account through an account payee cheque.

This simplified and cashless system will benefit the farmers and also at the same time result in financial savings for the Government.

Social audit in some locations also brought to light discrepancies in the total quantity of material billed, compared to the total material that had actually reached the worksite and was consumed. Only the concerned supervisor (mate) and wage seekers working in the worksite seemed to be aware of the actual quantity and quality of material that reached the worksite.

The billing for material was done as per the estimate and not as per the actual material that had reached the worksite and was consumed.

The new guidelines make it mandatory to constitute a Worksite Material Monitoring Committee having the concerned Ward Panchayat Member, Mate and 5 job card holders adjacent to the worksite and one member from Vigilance and Monitoring Committee (VMC) as members, who will receive all the materials and after the work is completed also certify the actual material received and consumed in the said work.

Billing will commence only after this.

Also quality specifications of the stock materials like cement, rod, wire have also been specified. Further it is proposed to bring in beneficiary contribution for works resulting in individual benefit in private lands.

Also completion report format has been specified and contains details of the actual physical and financial achievement (along with the targets) and also details of all the wage and material payment vouchers prepared for the said work.

These steps will help in further improving the material purchase system under MGNREGA.

NABARD sanctions Rs 248.49 lakh to Sikkim for infrastructure – stepping ahead of all Indian States ?!!

From Sikkim Reporter

Gangtok, Sep 1, 2010 (PIB): The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) has sanctioned Rs 248.49 lakh against a total project cost of Rs 272.53 lakh for Sikkim for implementation of two infrastructure projects under RIDF-XVI.

The projects sanctioned relate to one rural road and one Rural Market Infrastructure in the East district of  Sikkim.

With this cumulative sanction under RIDF XVI during the year 2010-11 aggregates to Rs 72.56 crore involving total project cost of Rs 83.62 crore, for implementation of 36 infrastructure projects relating to Roads (23 projects), Rural Market Infrastructure (5 projects), Rural Drinking Water Scheme (5 projects) and Flood Protection Works (3 projects) in the rural areas of Sikkim.

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