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Sikkim

Cabinet approves Teesta Stage-VI hydel project in Sikkim

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The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on Thursday approved the investment sanction for the acquisition of Lanco Teesta Hydro Power Ltd (LTHPL) and execution of balance work of the Teesta Stage-Vl HE Project by NHPC Ltd in Sikkim.
 
The project will be implemented at an estimated cost of Rs 5748.04 crore (at July, 2018 price level), which includes bid amount of Rs 907 crore for acquisition of LTHPL and estimated cost of balance work of Rs 3863.95 crore including Interest During Construction (IDC)and Foreign Component (FC) of Rs 977.09 crore, an official press release said.
 
Teesta Stage-Vl HE Project is a run of river (RoR) scheme in Sirwani village of Sikkim to utilize the power potential of Teesta river basin in a cascade manner. It involves the construction of a 26.5 m high barrage across river Teesta; two horse shoe shaped Head Race Tunnels of 9.8 m dia with 13.76 km length; and an underground power house having four units of 125 MW each.
 
The project would generate 2400 MUs in a 90% dependable year with installed capacity of 500 MW (4x125MW), the release said.
 
By taking up this project, this sink cost will be utilized and this investment till now will also be used for the generation of energy. Further, the bid amount will be used to discharge the liability of banks and financial institutions, it said.
 
The project will help in meeting peaking demand of energy; balancing and ramping requirement of the grid and accelerate the process of the development of Sikkim, the release added.
 
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PM lays foundation stone of Command and Control Centres in Sikkim, Arunachal and Tripura

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone of Integrated Command and Control Centres in five North Eastern Smart Cities, through video conference yesterday.
 
The Prime Minister digitally unveiled the plaque for the Command and Control Centres at Namchi and Gangtok in Sikkim, Itanagar and Pasighat in Arunachal Pradesh and Agartala in Tripura.
 
In his address, Modi said he was happy to be part of this new beginning for smart governance in the North East. The urban centres of the North East, with their pool of skilled human resource, have the potential to emerge as growth hubs for the entire region.
 
The Smart City Mission enables cities to identify their potential and challenges. It catalyses smart solutions for the challenges, through public consultation.
 
Smart City Command and Control Centres use digital technology to integrate different service networks. They enable real-time collaboration among departments such as Police, Transport, Power, Water, Sanitation, and Public Safety utilities, he said.
 
“I believe that with the system in place, administrators will be able to monitor city operations better and respond in real time,” he added. 
 
The implementation of Integrated Command and Control Centres is gathering pace across India. As on March 1, these Centres have already become functional in 15 Smart Cities. Work is in progress at 50 other Centres.
 
“I am told that the North-East will have its first completed Smart Command and Control Centre as early as October 2019. One of the key components of the system is the CCTV Surveillance system for Citizen Safety. This system is designed to help tackle crime. The Intelligent Traffic Management System will help ease traffic flow,” he said.
 
“The Solid Waste Management component in the Command and Control Centre will boost cleanliness in these cities. Smart Street Lighting will make our streets safer and citizen-friendly. It will also improve energy efficiency through the conversion to LED systems.
 
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“Smart cities are also installing Public-Address Systems and Variable Message Signs to communicate important civic information,” he added.
 
The Prime Minister pointed out that Digital access is an important component of Digital India Mission. Public Wi-Fi system will provide free internet access to citizens.
 
The North-East is an environmentally sensitive region. The Environmental Monitoring System and Disaster Management modules will give real-time information to citizens and the Government. It will help improve the overall quality of life, he said.
 
“As cities start implementing and expanding the different elements of this system, they will be able to improve the ease of living for their citizens.
 
“I am told that there are over 500 projects with a total worth of nearly 15,000 crore rupees in the ten Smart Cities in the North East. Work orders have already been issued for 59 of these projects,” the Prime Minister said.
 
“I am happy to see Namchi in Sikkim, begin work on its Integrated Water Supply projects, LED Street lights and footpaths. Water is becoming a huge challenge in our hill cities. Gangtok has started work on rainwater harvesting. It has also undertaken projects to construct multi-level car parks with Smart Parking features to ease traffic congestion,” Modi said.
 
Agartala has its own unique challenges due to its saucer-shaped geography that makes it vulnerable to floods. The city administration has taken up projects to manage the same under the Smart Cities Mission.
 
Itanagar has plans to improve its city road network through its Smart Roads and Intelligent Traffic and Transport Management system. Pasighat is addressing the challenges of housing, energy management and business development through key Smart City projects.
 
So, each city has identified its key problems and is moving towards finding solutions to these problems, he said.
 
“I am happy to note that the other five North Eastern cities of Guwahati, Aizawl Kohima, Imphal and Shillong are also moving in this direction. Project implementation under the Smart Cities Mission is now gathering pace.
 
“I am confident that we are fast progressing towards the urban transformation of our North Eastern cities. This will improve quality of life and boost economic development of the region,” he added.
 
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SpiceJet launches flights from Kolkata to Pakyong in Sikkim

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Low-cost carrier SpiceJet has announced the launch of new daily direct flights from Kolkata to the newly opened Pakyong airport near Gangtok in Sikkim from October 4.
 
The airline also announced the launch of four other daily direct new flights from Kolkata.
 
Pakyong will be SpiceJet's ninth destination under UDAN, the government's regional connectivity scheme, a press release from the airline said. 
 
SpiceJet is the only airline to provide air connectivity to Sikkim and connecting it to the rest of the country, it said.
 
The airline is also the first and only airline to offer daily direct flights on the Kolkata-Kanpur-Kolkata route effective November 1.
 
Additionally, the airline is also set to operate flights connecting Varanasi with Kolkata effective October 4.
 
It has also introduced a third frequency on the Kolkata-Bagdogra-Kolkata and the Kolkata-Mumbai-Kolkata sectors starting November 1.
 
Shilpa Bhatia, Chief Sales and Revenue Officer, SpiceJet said, “SpiceJet is delighted to connect Kolkata, the country’s cultural capital, like never before. The city known for its food, literature and theatre has a unique tourism potential. Besides it is also the connecting gateway to key tourism hotspots like Darjeeling. We are confident that the enhanced air connectivity will boost the state’s growth prospects.”
 
The release said the airline would also introduce six new domestic flights, including new direct flights on the Delhi-Coimbatore-Delhi route on all days from October 8 and the Bengaluru-Madurai-Bengaluru sector on all days except Tuesdays. SpiceJet will become the first airline to introduce daily direct services on the Bengaluru-Udaipur-Bengaluru sector from November 7.
 
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Khangchendzonga included in World Network of Biosphere Reserves

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The Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve in Sikkim has become the 11th from India to be included in the UNESCO designated World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR). 
 
The decision to include Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve in WNBR was taken at the 30th Session of International Coordinating Council (ICC) of Man and Biosphere (MAB) Programme of UNESCO held at Palembang, Indonesia, from July 23-27.
 
India has 18 Biosphere Reserves and with the inclusion of Khangchendzonga, the number of internationally designated WNBR has become 11, with 7 Biosphere Reserves being domestic Biosphere Reserves.
 
Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve is one of the highest ecosystems in the world, reaching elevations of 1, 220 metres above sea-level.  It includes a range of ecolines, varying from sub-tropic to Arctic, as well as natural forests that support an immensely rich diversity of forest types and habitats.
 
The core area of the reserve is a major trans-boundary Wildlife Protected Area.  The southern and central landscape, which makes up 86% of the core area, is situated in the Greater Himalayas.  
 
The northern part of the area accounts for 14% is characterized by trans-Himalayan features.  Buffer zones are being developed to promote eco-tourism activities.  Plantation and soil conservation work is also being carried out.
 
The core zone – Khangchendzonga National Park was designated a World Heritage Site in 2016 under the ‘mixed’ category.  Many of the mountains, peaks, lakes, caves, rocks, Stupas (shrines) and hot springs function as pilgrimage sites.   
 
Over 118 species of the large number of medicinal plants found in Dzongu Valley in north Sikkim are of ethno-medical utility.  The transition zone is targeted for eco-development activities, afforestation, plantation of medicinal herbs and soil conservation measures.
 
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DRI seizes 32 kg of smuggled gold worth Rs. 10.32 crore from Siliguri

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Officers of the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) have seized 32 kgs of gold worth Rs. 10.32 crore, smuggled from China into India through Sikkim, from Siliguri in West Bengal.
 
This is one of the biggest seizures fo smuggled gold in the recent past in East and North-East India, an official press release said.
 
The release said the DRI had received a tip-off that a huge quantity of gold of foreign origin, that had been smuggled into India from China through the border state of Sikkim, would find its way to Kolkata via Siliguri.
 
The information said the gold would be carried by three persons who would be travelling by a hired vehicle from Gangtok to Siliguri and would thereafter go to Kolkata by train.
 
Acting on the tip off, the officers of DRI led strict surveillance over the area on Sevoke Road, Siliguri, near Payal cinema hall, where they intercepted a white Maruti Wagon R late in the night of May 31.
 
On preliminary enquiry, it was found that the Wagon R vehicle was taken on hire by three passengers. All these three passengers are natives of Maharashtra and they had hired the vehicle for their journey from Siliguri to Gangtok and back, the release said.
 
The three intercepted persons admitted that they were carrying on their persons gold bars of foreign origin that had been smuggled into India from China. They were taken to DRI office at Siliguri where, on search, three specially-tailored cloth belts having several pockets and secured by metal zip fasteners were found to be fastened around their waist. On opening of the belts, a total of 32 pcs of primary gold bars bearing foreign inscription were recovered. Each of the gold bars was found to weigh 1 kg, bringing the total haul to 32 kg, the release said.
 
According to it, the intercepted persons were found to have a temporary residence at Siliguri, which was searched by the DRI officers yesterday and Indian currency worth Rs. 20.19 lakh was recovered. The men said this was part of the sale proceeds of smuggled gold.
 
The release said that, in the current financial year, the DRI had seized more than 137 kg of gold and smuggled jewellery, valued at close to Rs. 24 crore in the market, smuggled from Bangladesh, Myanmar, Bhutan and China from West Bengal and the North-Eastern states. In the previous financial year, 2017-18, DRI had seized close to 430 kg of gold and gold jewellery, valued at more than Rs. 100 crore from the region, it added.
 
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Daily living devices for age-related infirmities worth Rs 1 crore for beneficiaries in South Sikkim

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Daily living devices of different categories for age-related infirmities valued at over Rs 1 crore will be distributed to pre-identified beneficiaries in South Sikkim, according to Union Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment  Krishan Pal Gurjar.
 
The Minister made the announcement on Thursday at 'Samajik Adhikarita Shivir', a free distribution camp which included allocation of Assistive Aids and Appliances under Rashtriya Vayoshri Yojana (RVY) to senior citizens of the BPL category and to the physically disabled under ADIP scheme of the Union Government.
 
The camp was organized by Artificial Limbs Manufacturing Corporation of India (ALIMCO), Kanpur working under the aegis of Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disability, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, in coordination with the Department of Social Welfare, Sikkim and South District Administration. 
 
The programme was also attended by the  Chairman, Schedule Caste Welfare Board  Madan Cintury, Zilla Adhakshya (South) Farwanti Tamang, Upa-Adhakshya (South) Bhim Badhadur Lakhe, Deputy Manager (ALIMCO) S Sengupta, HoDs and a large number of senior citizens. 
 
The identified beneficiaries of the camp were registered during the assessment camp held by ALIMCO at various locations of South Sikkim during the month of February. A total number of 945 wheelchairs, 790 BTE Hearing Aids, 979 Walking Sticks, 400 Spectacles, 114 Artificial Dentures assisted living devices were distributed to Senior Citizens under RVY.
 
Likewise, a total number of 50 wheelchairs, 48 crutches, 32 walking Sticks, 202 BTE Hearing Aids, 14 MSIED Kits, 02 CP Chairs, 01 Braille Cane, Braille Kit, 13 Rollator, 5 Smart Phones, 1 Daisy Player and 3 Smart Canes were disbursed under ADIP scheme.
 
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Biennial elections to Rajya Sabha from Delhi, Sikkim; bye-election from UP to be held on January 16

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The Election Commission of India (ECI) today said it would hold biennial elections to fill four seats -- three from the National Capital Territory of Delhi and one from Sikkim -- in the Rajya Sabha on January 16.
 
The term of office of four sitting members from the two states is due to expire on their retirement. They are Dr. Karan Singh, Mr. Janardhan Dwivedi and Mr. Parvej Hashmi (Delhi), who are due to retire on January 27, 2018 and Mr. Hishey Lachungpa (Sikkim), who is due to retire on February 23, 2018.
 
The Commission will also hold a bye-election on the same date to fill a casual vacancy in the Rajya Sabha from Uttar Pradesh caused by the resignation on September 2, 2017 of Mr. Manohar Parrikar, who had resigned as Defence Minister to return to Goa as Chief Minister in March this year. In the normal course, his term of office as Rajya Sabha member would have ended on November 25, 2020.
 
An official press release said the notification for the elections would be issued on December 29 and the last date for making nominations is January 5, 2018. Counting of votes will be taken up at 5 pm on January 16, one hour afer polling ends on that day.
 
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IIM Ahmedabad showcases its FABM programme at roadshows in North-East

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The Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIMA) conducted  roadshows in two educational institutions of North-East India, showcasing its post-graduate program in food and agri-business management (PGP-FABM). 
 
The purpose of the roadshows was to educate students about the management programme, and answer any queries the students may have about it, a press release from IIMA said.
 
These roadshows were conducted at College of Agricultural Engineering and Post-Harvest Technology (CAEPHT) in Gangtok, Sikkim and Assam Agricultural University (AAU) in Jorhat, Assam. 
 
Prof. Ranjan Ghosh, a faculty member at IIMA and officials who run the day-to- day administration of this key programme represented IIMA.
 
The roadshow at CAEPHT, on August 14, was special as IIMA was also represented by two of its alumni – Mr. Prem Das Rai (1978 batch), a member of Parliament from Sikkim, and Mr. Tenzing Lepcha (2009 batch), an Indian Police Service (IPS) officer who is currently serving as the Superintendent of Police, East Sikkim. 
 
More than 200 hundred students attended the event and interacted with the faculty and staff. Both Mr. Rai and Mr. Lepcha shared their experiences with the students and answered all the questions.
 
Prof. Ghosh emphasized the huge role food and agri-business sector plays in nation building and economic development. He highlighted the high demand for skilled managers in this sector who can work across the agri-food value chain and ensure high profits as well as re-distribution among farmers. 
 
In Assam Agricultural University (AAU), Jorhat, on August 17, Prof. Ghosh emphasized that with a little bit of awareness and smart preparation the dream of making into IIM Ahmedabad was very much achievable for students of North East. 
 
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"I was not even aware that PGP-FABM of IIMA is a niche programme dedicated to management education in the agri-food sector and that with a background in agriculture and allied sector education, we stand a good chance to make it to the programme," said Jagan Jyoti Barua, the student General Secretary of the college and a 4th year undergraduate student with an interest in a management career in the tea industry. He echoed the sentiment of many others, of the over 100 students participating in the event at AAU, who were surprised to know about PGP-FABM ranked No.1 Masters in Management in the Food and Agribusiness sector in the world (by ranking agency Eduniversal, Paris). 
 
After the event, when asked by the Dean of the University D.K. Borah, many students said they will now seriously consider preparing for CAT and appear for the interviews for IIMA FABM programme
 
Describing the event as a "huge success", the Vice-Chancellor of Assam Agricultural University (AAU), Dr. K.M. Bujarbaruah, thanked Mr. Pravin Christian (Programmes Officer, PGP-FABM) for taking the initiative to organize the event and for a visit from far-off Ahmedabad.
 
"Through these roadshows, IIMA once again displayed its commitment to quality management programme that is relevant to all regions of India," the release added.
 
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Rajnath Singh assures Sikkim CM of all assistance from Centre

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Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh spoke to Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Kumar Chamling today regarding the security situation in Sikkim and areas neighbouring West Bengal. 
 
In a telephonic conversation, Mr. Chamling apprised Mr. Rajnath Singh that Sikkim is facing an acute shortage of supplies specially essential commodities such as medicines, baby milk powder, vegetables and petrol and diesel due to closure of the national highway, the critical road link to Sikkim. 
 
The Home Minister assured him that the Centre would ensure the safety and security of National Highway (NH) 10 and do everything possible to save the people of the state from any misery and ensure essential supplies to the State of Sikkim. 
 
Mr. Rajnath Singh has asked Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi to coordinate with West Bengal administration and ensure the safety, security and smooth traffic on NH 10. 
 
The West Bengal Government is being requested to ensure that the road link to Sikkim remained open, an official press release added.
 
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Rajnath Singh chairs meeting of CMs of five States on India-China border in Gangtok

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Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has said that Central assistance for Border Area Development Programmes (BADP) had been increased from Rs. 990 crore in 2016-17 to Rs. 1,100 crore in the current financial year.
 
Chairing a review meeting with Chief Ministers of five states on the India-China border here yesterday, he said that the India-China border is undemarcated and extremely cold with very difficult terrain.
 
He said it was, thus, more important that impetus should be given to boost infrastructure and peace in the border areas.
 
Mr. Rajnath Singh praised the work of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and said that the Centre was doing everything feasible for their smooth functioning in overcoming challenges. He stressed the need for the development of model villages in the border areas and said that innovative and concrete proposals are welcome. 
 
Implementation of Border Areas Development Programme (BADP) projects and construction of border infrastructures are being taken up with high priority, he added.
 
Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Kumar Chamling said that the army, paramilitary and the Government of Sikkim are implementing a number of schemes under the BADP which are designed to meet the special developmental needs of the people living in remote and inaccessible border areas. 
 
Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat and Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu also briefed the Union Minister on the issues related to development. Issues concerning border infrastructure including border roads, Border Out Posts, critical infrastructure and coordination between the concerned States and ITBP stationed in states were some of the main issues deliberated upon in the meeting. 
 
The states of Jammu & Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh were represented by Senior Officers.
 
Earlier, Secretary, Department of Border Management, Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Ms. Sanjeevanee Kutty presented the broad agenda of the meeting and apprised the participants about the various programmes and initiatives being taken for development of infrastructure and other facilities for the security personnel and the population living in border areas. Likewise, a brief presentation was made by ITBP Director General Krishna Chaudhary.
 
Later, addressing a press conference, Mr. Rajnath Singh expressed pleasure that such a review meeting concerning infrastructure and other issues in India-China border states was held for the first time. He appreciated the participation and inputs provided by the Chief Ministers of Uttarakhand, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim and officials from the states of Jammu & Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh. He put on record his appreciation for the contribution of Sikkim as the host state fort the meeting.
 
The Home Minister briefed the media about the various developmental projects being implemented by the MHA in the Border States. He also shared information regarding some of the projects and proposals in the pipeline. 
 
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Mr. Rajnath Singh stated that along with the border security forces, equal impetus should be given for the upliftment of civilian people living in these border areas. He stated that these people are the strategic assets of the country and their basic needs should be addressed. He added that the State Government of the India-China border states have been requested to look into these issues.
 
The Home Minister said his Ministry was focusing on model villages, and stated that in the last financial year, 41 model villages were created for which a financial allocation of Rs. 92 crore was made. He urged the State Governments to submit maximum proposals for model villages to the Central Government. He said the concerning border areas are to be jointly addressed by the State and the Central Government in a coordinated way. He stated that any hindrances like land acquisitions, forest clearances and allocation of quarries should be sorted out diligently and in a time bound manner by the State Government with support from the Central Government.
 
Earlier, the Home Minister visited Nathula Pass and addressed a Sainik Sabha during his visit to the ITBP Border Out Post (BOP) Sherathang near Nathu La. He also laid the foundation stone of various ITBP projects in Gangtok.
 
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Minor earthquake shakes West Sikkim region

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 4.0 on the Richter scale, shook the West Sikkim region in the early hours of today, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 27.3°N and longitude 88.2°E, occurred at 0343 hours at a focal depth of 10 km, an IMD bulletin added.
 
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Minor earthquake shakes East Sikkim region

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 4.6 on the Richter scale, shook East Sikkim region in the early hours of today, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 27.3°N and longitude 88.6°E, occurred at 0312 hours at a focal depth of 10 km, an IMD bulletin addded.
 
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NCST approves five additional seats for tribals in Sikkim Assembly

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The National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) has approved a proposal for five additional seats for tribal people in the Sikkim legislative assembly.
 
In its full meeting held in the national capital, the Commission gave its approval to the proposal of increasing reserved seats for STs from 12 to 17 in Sikkim assembly. At present there are 32 members in the assembly and the seats would be increased to 40. Out of the proposed eight additional seats, five would be reserved for Limbu and Tamang tribes, an official press release said.
 
The Commission has also decided to send a three-member high level investigation committee for on-the-spot investigation of atrocities on Scheduled Tribes. A letter would be sent to States seeking latest update on tribal welfare programmes.
 
States will also be asked to provide full details about the activities of Tribal Advisory Committees. They will be requested to provide link of NCST website on their official website to enable people to know about the activities of the Commission.
 
Chairing the first meeting of the Commission after taking over as its Chairman, Mr Nand Kumar Sai said the Commission was very serious about the illegal transfer of land holdings of Scheduled Tribes. A detailed study will be carried out of all such incidents. Later, a national level workshop will be organised in New Delhi sometime in May this year on this issue where representatives of State governments will also be invited.
 
He warned that action will be taken against any officer in case of disregarding the notice issued by the Commission and for failure to provide information within the set time limit.
 
The Vice Chairperson of the Commission Anusuiya Uikey, Members Hari Krishna Damor and Harshdbhai Chunilal Vasava, Secretary Raghav Chandra and senior officials attended the meeting, the release added.
 
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Minor earthquake shakes West Sikkim

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 3.5 on the Richter scale, shook the West Sikkim region in the early hours of today, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 27.3°N and longitude 88.1°E, occurred at 0309 hours at a focal depth of 150 km, an IMD bulletin said.
 
Earlier, at 0146 hours, an earthquake measuring 3.4 on the Richter scale was recorded in the border region between Manipur and Myanmar at a focal depth of 82 km. The quake had its epicentre at latitude 23.7 N and longitude 94.5 E.
 
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Minor earthquake rocks North Sikkim

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 3.6 on the Richter scale, rocked North Sikkim this evening, a bulletin from the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 27.6 N and longitude 88.6 E, occurred at 2052 hours at a focal depth of 10 km, it added.
 
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Tourism Ministry approves projects worth Rs. 450 crore in MP, TN, UP, Uttarakhand, Sikkim

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The Central Sanctioning and Monitoring Committee (CSMC) for the Swadesh Darshan Scheme in the Ministry of Tourism has approved projects worth Rs. 450 crore for development of various projects in five states.
 
The projects are related to the Heritage Circuits in Madhya Pradesh and Uttarakhand, Ramayana Circuit in Uttar Pradesh, North East Circuit in Sikkim and Coastal Circuit in Tamil Nadu, an official press release said.
 
The Heritage Circuit in Madhya Pradesh covers Gwalior- Orchha- Khajuraho-Chanderi-Bhimbetka-Mandu with a total project cost of approximately Rs. 100 crore. The project envisages world class infrastructural development of the sites which includes developing a Theme Park and Convention centre in Khajuraho, Sound and Light Show in Mandu. 
 
Site Illumination, Construction of Tourist Facilitation Centres and parking area are other interventions proposed in the circuit, the release said.
 
The Heritage Circuit in Uttarakhand envisages developing tourism infrastructure in Jageshwar, Devidhura, Katarmal and Baijnath with a total cost of about Rs. 83 crore. The highlights of the project are development of Eco Log Huts, Sound and Light Show and Upgradation of Temple Pathways. 
 
The Coastal Circuit in Tamil Nadu envisages development of the Chennai-Mamamallapuram -Rameshwaram-Manpadu–Kanyakumari route with total project cost of approximately Rs.100 crore. Sound and light show, development of beach amenities, and construction of pedestrian bridge connecting Vivekanand Memorial with Tiruvalluvar Statue at Kanyakumari are the highlights of the project.
 
The Ramayana Circuit in State of Uttar Pradesh envisages development of two destinations -- Chitrakoot and Shringverpur at a cost of Rs. 70 crore. The plans include development of Parikrama marg, food plaza, laser show and foot overbridge connecting the MP and UP parts of Chitrakoot, apart from development of ghats, tourist facilitation centre and parking areas.
 
The Ramayana Circuit in Uttar Pradesh also includes Ayodhya for which the State Tourism Department of Uttar Pradesh is preparing a Detailed Project Report (DPR).
 
The North East circuit in Sikkim with approximate project cost of Rs. 95.50 crore includes development of eco log huts, cultural centre, paragliding centre, craft bazaar, base camp for mountaineering and meditation hall, the release added.
 
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Minor earthquake shakes Sikkim-China border region

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 4.2 on the Richter scale,shook the border region between Sikkim and China this evening, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 28.0 N and longitude 88.7 E, occurred at 1824 hours at a focal depth of 90 km, an IMD bulletin added.
 
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Former Sikkim Governor V. Rama Rao passes away

V. Rama Rao
V. Rama Rao
Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and former Sikkim Governor V. Rama Rao passed away at a hospital here today after a prolonged illness. 
 
He was 80. He is survived by wife Vasantha Kumari and a son, V Srinivas.
 
Mr. Rama Rao had served as Governor of Sikkim from October 25, 2002 to October 24, 2007.
 
Born on December 12, 1935, he started his political career in 1956 when he joined the Jana Sangh, the precursor of the BJP, and went on to become a senior leader of the BJP.
 
A lawyer by profession, he had practised law at the Andhra Pradesh High Court and was also involved in the trade union movement.
 
He was elected to the Andhra Pradesh State Legislative Council from Hyderabad Graduates' Constituency for four consecutive terms in 1966, 1972, 1978 and 1984. He served as the party's floor leader in the council during his last term.
 
He served as the president of the state unit of the BJP between 1993 and 2001 and later as a national vice-president of the party.
 
President Pranab Mukherjee condoled the passing away of Mr. Rama Rao, saying he had served the nation in different capacities during his public life.
 
"He worked for the welfare of the State of Andhra Pradesh and its people, including as a Member of the Andhra Pradesh State Legislative Council for four consecutive terms from 1966 - 1990.   The nation will always remember him for his contributions and pursuit of excellence in public life," he added.
 
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Modi to attend National Conference on Sustainable Agriculture at Gangtok

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be the chief guest at the plenary session of the National Conference on Sustainable Agriclture and Farmers' Welfare that will be held at Gangtok, Sikkim on January 17-18.
 
Mr. Modi is slated to pay a two-day visit to Sikkim from January 18 and the conference will be a highlight of his stay in the state.
 
Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh said the conference would be a good example of "cooperative federalism", with ministers and officers responsibe for agriculture in the country deliberating together for two days.
 
They will be supported by scientists, academics, bankers, experts and practitioners so that the suggestions and recommendations are actionable. 
 
Mr. Singh said the conference would discuss challenges and identify initiatives to transform agriculture, based on sustainable and efficient use of resources like soil and water, higher per unit yields, remunerative prices on produce, risk coverage and mitigation of potential negative impact of climate change.
 
A three-day Sikkim Organic Festival would also be held during the period to give a boost to organic farming in the north-east.
 
Mr. Singh said group insurance, agriculture investment and land lease investment were his Ministry's priorities and these subjects would be discussed in separate sessions during the conference.
 
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Minister of State for Development of the North-East Region (DONER) Jitendra Singh said the North-East had the potential to be developed as a hub of organic farming.
 
Promotion of organic products, with Sikkim as the nodal State, will not only help in generating revenue and employment opportunities but will also be a great booster for the Government of India’s “Act East Policy”, he said.
 
Referring to some of the other major projects in Sikkim, Dr. Singh
referred to the greenfield airport at Pakyong, which is expected to become functional by 2017 and emerge as one of the most beautiful destinations in the region.
 
He said there were plans to connect Sikkim to the rail network in the country. He also referred to the plan for constructing an alternative highway to Gangtok via West Bengal and two ropeways, which will serve the purpose of both tourism as well as transport.
 
The Prime Minister will also inaugurate a Flower Show on January 18 and an Organic Products Exhibition on January 19.
 
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Minor earthquake jolts Sikkim region

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 4.5 on the Richter scale, shook Sikkim this morning, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 27.2°N and longitude 88.8°E, occurred at 0718 hours today at a focal depth of 15 km, an IMD buletin added.
 
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Minor earthquake shakes West Sikkim

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 4.0 on the Richter scale, shook West Sikkim in the early hours of today.
 
A bulletin from the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said the quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 27.3°N and longitude 88.1°E, occurred at 0156 hours today at a focal depth of 10 km.
 
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Minor earthquake shakes Sikkim-Nepal border region

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 3.9 on the Richter scale, shook the border region between the Indian state of Sikkim and Nepal today.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude  27.8°N and longitude 87.8°E, occurred at 1559 hours at a focal depth of 20 km, a bulletin from the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
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BJP suffers setback in UP, loses ground in Gujarat, Rajasthan in bye-elections

Four months after it swept to power at the Centre with an overwhelming majority in the Lok Sabha elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party suffered a setback in Uttar Pradesh and lost ground in Rajasthan and Gujarat as counting of votes got underway in bye-elections in ten states on Tuesday.

 
By-polls: Counting begins for 3 LS, 33 assembly seats
Four months after it swept to power at the Centre with an overwhelming majority in the Lok Sabha elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) suffered a setback in Uttar Pradesh and lost ground in Rajasthan and Gujarat as counting of votes got underway in bye-elections in ten states today.
 
In all, polling was held on September 13 for three Lok Sabha seats and 33 Assembly seats in the bye-elections, which were seen as a major test of the popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which completed 100 days in office recently.
 
The ruling Samajwadi Party (SP) in Uttar Pradesh won eight of the 11 Assembly seats for which bye-elections were held, while the BJP had to rest content with just three. The BJP and its ally Apna Dal had earlier held all 11 seats.
 
The seats won by the SP in Uttar Pradesh were Bijnor, Thakurdwara, Nighasan, Hamirpur, Charkhari, Sirathu and Rohaniya, while the BJP won Saharanpur Nagar, Noida and Lucknow East.
 
The SP’s candidate, Tej Pratap Singh Yadav, also won from the Mainpuri Lok Sabha constituency in the state.
 
These results are significant because the BJP, riding on a Modi wave, had won as many as 71 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats from Uttar Pradesh in the April-May Parliamentary elections. The BJP and its ally Apna Dal held all 11 Assembly seats for which bye-elections were held.
 
In Rajasthan, where the BJP had made a clean sweep in the Lok Sabha elections, the Congress won three of the four seats in the bye-elections -- Surajgarh, Weir (SC) and Nasirabad, while the BJP had to remain content with one, Kota South.
 
Similarly, in Gujarat, where Mr Modi was the Chief Minister for more than 12 years before becoming Prime Minister and where the BJP had won all 26 seats in the Lok Sabha elections, the Congress managed to win three of the nine Assembly seats in the bye-elections.
 
The Congress won Deesa, Khambhalia and Mangrol, while the BJP retained Maninagar, Tankara, Talaja, Anand, Matar and Limkheda. All nine seats were earlier held by the BJP.
 
The BJP also won the Vadodara Lok Sabha seat, with its candidate and deputy mayor Ranjanben Bhatt winning by a huge margin of more than 3.29 lakh votes.
The BJP made its debut in the West Bengal Legislative Assembly when its candidate Samik Bhattacharya  won the Basirhat Dakshin seat today. The ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) won the other seat, Chowranghee, for which bye-elections were held.
 
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In Telangana, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi's K Prabhakar Reddy won the Medak Lok Sabha seat.
 
In Tripura, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) won the lone assembly seat, Manu, for which bye-elections were held.
 
In Andhra Pradesh, the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) won the Nandigama Assembly seat.
 
In Sikkim, an independent candidate, Rup Narayan Chamling, won the Rangang-Yangang Assembly seat.
 
In Assam, the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) won the Jamunamukh Assembly seat, while the BJP was leading in Silchar and the Congress in Lakhipur.
 
Counting of votes began in all the constituencies this morning and all the results are expected by this evening.
 
The bye-elections have assumed added significance because they took place about a month before crucial Assembly elections in Maharashtra and Haryana, where Mr Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is making a strong bid to wrest power.
 
Vadodara was one of the two seats won by Mr Modi in the April-May Lok Sabha elections. He had resigned from there after deciding to retain Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, the other seat from where he had won.
 
Similarly, Mainpuri was vacated by Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, who retained Azamgarh, also in Uttar Pradesh.
 
Medak had fallen vacant when Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) leader K Chandrashekara Rao resigned to take over as the first Chief Minister of Telangana after it was carved out as India's 29th state out of Andhra Pradesh.
 
Polling was also held for two seats in West Bengal and one in Chhattisgarh.
 
Today's results have come as bad news for the BJP, which had won only eight of the 18 Assembly seats in four states -- Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Karnataka and Punjab -- where bye-elections were held in August, while the Congress and its allies managed to win ten.
 
Apart from being a pointer to the extent to which the BJP has been able to hold on to its popularity, the bye-elections were also a major test for the SP.
 
These were the first elections in Gujarat under new Chief Minister Anandiben Patel, who succeeded Mr Modi when he moved to Delhi as Prime Minister.
 
Most of the 33 Assembly seats had fallen vacant after the sitting MLAs, mainly belonging to the BJP, had been elected to the Lok Sabha in the last general elections. Bye-elections in three assembly constituencies were necessitated by the deaths of the sitting members.
 
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BJP loses ground in UP, Gujarat, Rajasthan as counting of votes gets underway in bye-elecions

Four months after it swept to power at the Centre with an overwhelming majority in the Lok Sabha elections, the BJP on Tuesday appeared to have lost ground in Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Rajasthan as counting of votes was taken up in the bye-elections to three Lok Sabha seats and 33 Assembly seats in 10 states.

 
By-polls: Counting begins for 3 LS, 33 assembly seats
Four months after it swept to power at the Centre with an overwhelming majority in the Lok Sabha elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) today appeared to have lost ground in Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Rajasthan as counting of votes was taken up in the bye-elections to three Lok Sabha seats and 33 Assembly seats in 10 states.
 
The bye-elections are being seen as a major test of the popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government, which completed 100 days in office recently.
 
Early counting trends showed that the ruling Samajwadi Party (SP) was ahead in eight of the 11 Assembly seats in Uttar Pradesh for which polling was held on September 13 along with the other states.
 
The SP was also leading in the Mainpuri Lok Sabha constituency, according to reports reaching here.
 
The BJP, which had captured as many as 71 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in the state, had taken leads in just three seats. The BJP and its ally Apna Dal had held all 11 seats in the Assembly.
 
The BJP's hold in Gujarat and Rajasthan, where it had won all the Lok Sabha seats in April-May, also appeared to be weakening. 
 
In Gujarat, where Mr Modi was the Chief Minister for more than 12 years before becoming Prime Minister, the Congress was ahead in at least two of the nine Assembly seats that went to the polls, while the BJP was leading in seven as well as in the Vadodara Lok Sabha constituency. All nine Assembly seats were previously held by the BJP.
 
In Rajasthan, the Congress and BJP were leading in two seats each as counting of votes progressed in the four Assembly constituencies that went to the polls.
 
Early trends from Assam showed that the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) was ahead in two seats, while the BJP was leading in one.
 
In Telangana, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi was leading in the Medak Lok Sabha seat.
 
Counting of votes began in all the constituencies this morning and all the results are expected by this evening.
 
The bye-elections have assumed added significance because they took place about a month before crucial Assembly elections in Maharashtra and Haryana, where Mr Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is making a strong bid to wrest power.
 
Vadodara was one of the two seats won by Mr Modi in the April-May Lok Sabha elections. He had resigned from there after deciding to retain Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, the other seat from where he had won.
 
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Similarly, Mainpuri was vacated by Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, who retained Azamgarh, also in Uttar Pradesh. Medak had fallen vacant when Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) leader K Chandrashekara Rao resigned to take over as the Chief Minister of Telangana.
 
Of the 33 Assembly constituencies that went to the polls last Saturday, 11 are in Uttar Pradesh, nine in Gujarat, four in Rajasthan, three in Assam, two in West Bengal and one each in Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh and Sikkim.
 
The BJP had scored an overwhelming victory in the April-May Lok Sabha elections on the strength of a strong Modi wave, but it could win only eight of the 18 Assembly seats in four states -- Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Karnataka and Punjab -- where bye-elections were held in August, with the Congress and its allies managing to win ten.
 
The results of the bye-elections in Uttar Pradesh, apart from being a pointer to the extent to which the BJP has been able to hold on to its popularity, will also be a major test for the SP.
 
These were the first elections in Gujarat under new Chief Minister Anandiben Patel, who succeeded Mr Modi when he moved to Delhi as Prime Minister.
 
Most of the 33 Assembly seats had fallen vacant after the sitting MLAs had been elected to the Lok Sabha in the last general elections. Bye-elections in three assembly constituencies were necessitated by the deaths of the sitting members.
 
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CCEA approves power transmission scheme for Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim

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The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, today approved the Comprehensive Scheme for Strengthening of Transmission & Distribution (T&D) Systems (CSST&DS) in Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim at an estimated cost of Rs.4754.42 crore. 
 
The scheme is to be taken up under a new Central Sector Plan Scheme of the Ministry of Power (MoP), an official press release said.
 
As the intra-state T&D systems in the North-Eastern states have remained very weak, the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) developed the CSST&DS for the North East Region (NER) in consultation with the Power Grid Corporation of the India Limited (PGCIL) and State Governments concerned. 
 
Presently, only five out of 20 districts of Arunachal Pradesh are connected to transmission network at 132/220 KV. The 33 KV system is the backbone of power distribution system in the state. Due to low population density spread over its geographical area of 84,000 sq.km, power demand in Arunachal Pradesh is scattered over large distances. Hence it is necessary to provide 132 KV connectivity in the state for proper voltage management and lower distribution losses. 
 
Similarly, the distribution system in Sikkim mainly relies on 66 KV network, which needs to be strengthened substantially. 
 
The scheme is aimed at strengthening intra-state T&D systems of the two States through 31 new 132 KV sub-stations, 14 substations of 66/11 KV, 2035 km of transmission lines (132 & 220 KV) and 2204 km of transmission lines (33 & 66 KV). 
 
The project would be implemented through PGCIL with its consultancy fee of 1.2 percent of the execution cost. 
 
After commissioning, the projects would be owned and maintained by the state governments. Initially the project was proposed to be funded under Non-Lapsable Central Pool of Resource (NLCPR - Central) of the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DONER). But DONER has conveyed its inability due to budgetary constraints. Hence it is proposed to take it up through a new Central Sector Scheme under the MoP`s budget. 
 
The project is to be implemented within 48 months from the first fund release to PGCIL, the release added.
 
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