Thursday, May 28th, 2015 - 8:00 PM
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Many accounts still idle as one year contract nears end

Connectivity issues, low ICT literacy, continued use of personal email might be to blame

E-Governance: Not all of the 5,000 Google accounts, which the government paid Nu 9 million or USD 150,000 for, have been activated despite the one year contract ending at the end of next month.

Of the total number of accounts subscribed for, there are still 463 accounts that have not been activated.

Additionally, of the 4,537 Google accounts that have been activated so far, 460 of them have not been used by the civil servants they were activated for.

With each account having cost the government Nu 1,900 or USD 30, this translates to the government having paid around Nu 855,000 or USD 13,800 for the activated but unused accounts and around Nu 861,000 or USD 13,890 for the unactivated accounts.


Picture story

Flushed out: The heavy rain yesterday evening washed down trash and left drains overflowing along the Norzin Lam


Defendants’ recanted statements muddy the waters

The serpentine nature of the dealings involved will take some unravelling

 Update: Confusing both prosecutors and court officials, the defendants of the ongoing Lhakhang Karpo case are frequently changing their submissions, to seek dismissal of charges that range from official misconduct, bribery, and forgery to embezzlement.

For instance, defendant Tshewang Rinzin, who was charged with active bribery of a public servant, changed his statement, after the court conducted a cross-examination hearing on March 20.  Initially, Tshewang Rinzin, proprietor of TNW Construction, who supplied sand to the project, submitted that he claimed the bill amounting to Nu 0.705M (million) for supplying 70 truckloads of sand after sieving.

However, Tshewang Rinzin changed his submission, saying that the person, who wrote the statement on his behalf, made a mistake, and requested the court to dismiss his earlier statement and consider project engineer Tashi Gyeltshen’s submission.


World TB Day – Timely reminder of growing problem

Health: Sonam Wangmo didn’t know the price she had to pay for missing her medicines for a day.

Her tuberculosis (TB) relapsed after the first course of treatment, and she is today undergoing the second course for extra-pulmonary TB (EPTB).

Of the various forms of TB diagnosed in the country, EPTB stands at about 42 percent, followed by pulmonary or new smear positive cases at 38 percent, records with the national TB control program show.

Sonam’s mother died of tuberculosis when she was seven years old, and her brother was also infected in 2013.


Goaded into yielding ground?

The National Environment Commission has taken a bold decision.  It has delegated the authority of issuing environment clearance of at least 50 activities to relevant agencies and ministries.

This will come as good news for those, who feel that getting an environment clearance is cumbersome and mired in layers of bureaucratic process.  In fact, if the decision to delegate authority was meant to speed up processes of starting a business or a project, it should have been done a long time ago.

The commission comes under heavy criticism, whenever a clearance for big or small projects is delayed for whatever reasons.  As the final issuing authority, many felt that the commission was responsible for all the delays.  A good example is the delay in starting a mining industry, where, according to some, applicants change their minds while awaiting clearance.


Health help line prank called daily

Need for law to hold prank callers liable recommended

Health: About 200,000 hoax calls were made to the Health Help Centre (HHC) last year.

The centre receives hoax calls throughout the day.

Of these only around 12,000 were genuine calls, last year.

Many of the hoax calls received by the centre are disconnected calls. People call the centre and hang up when it is answered.

The centre received about 5,000 actual abuse calls, last year, where callers engage the call centre’s staff and initiate conversation unrelated to health. Callers also tend to play music once their call is answered.


Mandarin exports more than double in 2014

Increased production is attributed in part to the support growers received from MoA

Horticulture: Citrus mandarin (orange) export to Bangladesh in 2014 earned Bhutanese exporters USD 10.42M (million), the highest earnings in about 14 years.

The figures with the Bhutan Exporters Association (BEA) show Bhutan was able to produce about 26,728.10MT (metric tonnes) of mandarin last year, which is more than double the 12,728.10MT produced in 2013.  Exporters in 2013 had made about USD 5.6M from oranges.

The general secretary of the association, Tshering Yeshey, said 2014 saw substantial production and, therefore, earnings. “This is excluding the exports to India,” he said.


Four volunteer to donate kidneys

The donors came forward during the foundation’s month-long awareness programme on kidney health

Health: Bhutan Kidney Foundation is richer by four kidney donors.

The foundation received the offer to donate kidneys from two adults and two youth, during their month-long awareness programme on kidney health that covered 19 dzongkhags.

Foundation officials said that, among the four interested donors, two were aged 20 and 17.  The 17-year-old is a female student.  However, they will have to wait until they turn 27 years to be able to donate their organs.

The foundation’s executive director, Tashi Namgay, said these donors expressed their interest to donate after attending the awareness programme. “It’s a good move as they came forward without any sort of demand.”


Electrification incomplete two years past deadline

Shingkhar is the last gewog in Zhemgang to be left without power

REW: Two years after its deadline, rural electrification works in Shingkhar, Zhemgang are not yet complete, leaving some 350 homes waiting for power supply.

The yearlong contract was awarded in October 2011, and all works were to complete by November 11, 2012.

Shingkhar, which is about 128km from Dagphel, is the only gewog awaiting electrification in Zhemgang after the neighbouring gewog Bardho was electrified in 2014.

According to local leaders, electrification work, which had resumed after a month-long halt, has again come to a halt.

Nima Construction is carrying out the electrification work, but lack of materials and labourers often stall progress.


Dzongkha touch-typing software seeks out a market

Innovation: Dzongkha touch typing, a new software meant to enhance Dzongkha typing speed and accuracy without looking at the keyboard, is yet to find a market, just like the national language.

The software has received approval from the Dzongkha Development Commission and is equipped with a speedometer, an interactive keyboard and hand gesture.

There are also 39 lessons categorised for beginners, intermediate and advance users. Lessons include typing only alphabets and longer sentences among others.

“I wasn’t that lost when I started the project as I am now,” Thinley Jamtsho, 29, said, showing his software on his laptop.