Monday, September 24, 2007

Spice Jet all set to operate to & fro Port Blair from Oct 5

Port Blair, Sept 23

Spice Jet is all set to start its operations in these Islands. The inaugural aircraft of this company is scheduled to arrive here on October 5, 2007. The flight will start its operations from both the sectors i.e Port Blair- Chennai and Port Blair- Kolkata. Spice jet will operate daily from Chennai and Kolkata in Port Blair sector with its Boeing 737 and 800 series of aircrafts.

Spice Jet started its operations in May 2005 with a mission to become India’s preferred low cost airline, delivering the lowest air fares with the highest consumer value, to price sensitive consumers and its vision is to ensure that flying is affordable to everyone. It has a fleet of 6 Boeing 737-800 in single class configuration with 189 seats. Spice Jet currently flies to 11 destinations which includes Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Goa, Hyderabad, Jammu, Kolkata, Mumbai, Pune and Srinagar.

The Spice Jet flight from Chennai will start at 4 AM to reach Veer Savarkar airport at Port Blair at 6.15 AM and it will depart from Port Blair at 6.55 to reach Chennai at 8.50 AM. Similarly, Spice Jet flight from Kolkata will start at 7.25 AM to reach Port Blair at 9.35 AM and it will depart from Port Blair at 10.05 AM to reach Kolkata at 12.10 Noon.

The Islanders who earlier saw only Indian Airlines operated from both Chennai and Kolkata now can be proud of having many more private airlines starting its operations in this sector. Besides, the Indian Airlines, Air Deccan, Jet Airways, and Jetlite (Sahara) connecting Delhi via Kolkata are the other airlines presently in operations from these Islands.

With the proposed start of the Spice Jet aircraft in these Islands the Veer Savarkar airport is geared up to handle as many as 9 flights in a single day. The increase in the flights in regular intervals i.e in the morning hours will not only immensely benefit the islanders but will also flourish the tourism industry with the increased number of tourists.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Passport in just 15 days

Tired of the long wait for a passport? It's about to get shorter.

The ministry of external affairs has drafted an ambitious plan to outsource a major portion of the regional passport offices' work so that once a police verification report is received, a passport is issued within three days.

Under the Rs 8-crore 'Passport Service Project', the MEA will have 68 private centres to help RPOs.

"The Union cabinet cleared the proposal for outsourcing passports on September 6. It will operate exactly on the lines of the US visa system. Of the 68 centres, eight will be set up in New Delhi and four in Mumbai," a senior official told TOI.

While existing RPOs would function as usual, the new centres would be entrusted with the entire work, except signing the passport, while the delivery of passports would also be completely outsourced.

Currently, passports are delivered through the postal network or collected in person at the RPO. It is also proposed to link major police stations with RPOs so that police verification reports are delivered quickly. For setting up the 68 centres, tenders will be invited to ensure that the agency provides quality service.

"Our attempt is to cut down the existing waiting period of 45 days to 15-20 days. One-and-a-half months is a very long period, particularly when we claim that we have adequate technical know-how in all the sectors," the official said.

The official said the proposal would take final shape once the minutes of the cabinet meeting were approved. "We expect the final guidelines within a fortnight, and the new project is expected to start functioning within a year or so," he said.

As per the new proposal, if all formalities are completed, new as well as duplicate passports will be issued within three days, while change in name and address will be done on the same day.

Of course, one will have to pay a stiff fee for quick delivery of passports. "Fees will be decided later by the MEA," the official said.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


Sikkim has its own unique dietary culture with specific cuisine and food recipes. Like anywhere else in the world, food habits here have evolved as the result of traditional wisdom and empirical experiences of generations. Today in many parts of the world these traditional foods have entered commercial production, and their recipes have become popular among people of different ethnic origin. In the Sikkim Himalayas traditional foods are an integral part

of the dietary culture of the various ethnic groups of people consisting of the Nepalese, Bhutias and Lepchas. Rice is the staple food. Meat and dairy products are also consumed depending on availability. Besides these, various traditional fermented foods and beverages, which constitute of about 20 per cent of the basic diet for long centuries (Table 1 & 2), are prepared and consumed.

The dietary-culture of this region is mostly reflected in the pattern of food production. Depending on the altitudinal variation, finger millet, wheat, buckwheat, barley, vegetable, potato, soybeans, etc. are grown. Some of the common traditional cuisine with their food recipes has been presented for introduction of dietary culture of the Sikkim Himalayas, as well as for product diversification.

Momo, steamed dumpling prepared from wheat flour and meat/vegetable is very common Tibetan food. Momo has already entered commercial production and is well placed in menus of all local hotels/restaurant.

Thukpa/ Gya-Thuk
Thukpa/Gya-thuk is a typical Tibetan style noodles in soup. Thukpa/Gya-thuk is very popular local cuisine also available in all restaurants and hotels of these regions.

Kinema is a traditional fermented soybean food having characteristic stringy property with unique flavour, commonly consume as a main side-dish curry served as meat substitute along with cooked rice in meals. Kinema serves as an inexpensive high source of plant protein food in the local diet. The word Kinema might have originated from the Limbu (one of the major castes of the Nepalis) dialect Kinambaa, Ki meaning fermented, nambaa means flavour.

Gundruk & Sinki
Gundruk and Sinki are traditional fermented vegetable products prepared during winter when fresh perishable vegetable is plenty. Gundruk is a fermented product of leafy vegetable such as rayo sag (Brasicca rapa spp. campestris variety cuneifolia), leaves of mustard, radish and cauliflower. Sinki is prepared from radish tap root only. The quality attributes to Gundruk and Sinki basically depends upon the typical flavour and sour-acidic taste which is developed during natural fermentation by lactic acid bacteria, mainly spp. of Lactobacillus and Pediococcus. Gundruk and Sinki are sun dried after fermentation and stored for consumption. Due to high content of organic acid and low pH, these products can be preserved for a year or more. This is a good example of biopreservation of perishable vegetable. Gundruk and Sinki are good appetizers due to high content of lactic and acetic acid developed during fermentation.

Chhurpi is a fermented dairy product prepared from cow milk. Chhurpi is a traditional cottage cheese which gives a texture of a white soft mass with mild sour taste. It is fermented by spp. of lactic acid bacteria. Average consumption of Chhurpi is 9.9.g/capita/day with annual production of 1469 ton in Sikkim.

Chhurpi - Ningro (wild edible fern) Curry
The people of the Sikkim Himalayas eat many varieties of wild ferns commonly grown in these regions. Some of the common edible ferns are Diplazium polypodiodes locally called "sauney ningro", iplazium spp. "kali ningro", etc. Recipe of wild fern is unique in these regions which is mostly mixed with Chhurpi to taste. Ningro, an alpine fiddle-head fern and its tendrils when sauted with Churpi( form of cheese) makes an irresistible dish. Normally it is not served in the restaurants but is prepared as a household dish.

Mesu is a traditional fermented bamboo shoot product with sour-acidic taste eaten as pickle. In the Limbu dialect, me means young bamboo shoot and su means sour, the word Mesu is directly derived from the Limbu dialect. Young bamboo shoots are fermented under natural anaerobic condition for 7-15 days, initiated by spp. of Lactobacillus and Pediococcus to get Mesu. It has high content of organic acid and low pH with rich mineral contents.

Tama is a non-fermented bamboo shoot product. Some varieties of bamboo shoots commonly grown in the Sikkim Himalayas are Dendrocalamus hamiltonii, Dendrocalamus sikkimensis and Bambusa tulda locally known as ‘choya bans’, ‘bhalu bans’ and ‘karati bans’, respectively are edible when young. These bamboo shoots are collected, defoliated and boiled in water with turmeric powder for 10-15 min to remove bitter taste of bamboo. Tama is ready for consumption. Tama is commonly sold in the local markets during the months of June to September when young bamboo shoots sprout

Masauyra is a fermented black gram, ball-like hollow product consume as spicy condiment. Masauyra is mostly common among Newar of the Nepalis. It is similar to the Punjabi Wari.

Khalo Dal
Khalo dal is very common dal prepared from black gram (Phaseolus mungo).

Sidra ko Achar
Sidra ko achar is a flavoured pickle prepared from dry, small fish Sidra.

Widely prepared during Nepali festivals, Saelroti is normally eaten with potato curry or non-vegetarian dish. Normally not available in restaurants but Saelroti is prepared from well-mixed fermented rice batter which is deep fried, ring-shaped, spongy, pretzel-like product commonly consume as confectionery bread in festival and special occasions. The batter is fermented by spp. of yeasts and lactic acid bacteria.

Silam ko Achar
Silam ko achar is a pickle prepared from Silam seeds, and is usually served with Phulaurah.

Sishnu (Nettle leaves) Soup
Sishnu soup is prepared from leaves of edible wild varieties of nettle. Sishnu soup is a typical Himalayan cuisine served with cooked rice. Many wild varieties of nettle are grown in these regions some of which are edible such as Urtica dioica locally called "ghario sishnu", Laportee terminalis "patle sishnu", and Girardinia diversifolia "bhangrey sishnu".

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Bed & breakfast scheme

New Delhi, Sept 03

The Union Ministry of Tourism has launched a Scheme to classify fully operational rooms of Home Stay Facilities as “Incredible India Bed & Breakfast (B&B) Establishment”. The basic idea is to provide a clean and affordable place for foreigners and domestic tourists alike, including an opportunity for foreign tourists to stay with an Indian family to experience Indian customs and traditions and relish authentic Indian cuisine.

81 Establishments have been registered in this Scheme in Delhi, out of which 23 are in the Gold category and 58 are in the Silver category. The total number of rooms registered under the Scheme is 221. The number of establishments registered in the National Capital Region (NCR) is 94.

In view of the positive response received by this Scheme and the potential it has to create additional accommodation, the Govt. of NCT of Delhi has passed the ‘National Capital Territory of Delhi (Incredible India) Bed & Breakfast Establishment (Registration and Regulation) Ordinance, 2007”. This Ordinance extends to the whole of National Capital Territory of Delhi and exempts Bed & Breakfast Establishments from levy of Luxury Tax and Value Added Tax. Earlier the owners of these establishments had to pay 12.5% Luxury Tax. Moreover, it ensures that the establishment shall not be treated as commercial one and shall only be liable to pay –

(a) Power and water tariff as applicable to domestic or residential use; and

(b) Property tax as applicable to residential tenanted premises with respect to the portion let out to the guests, restricted to the period of occupancy thereof, fully or partly as the case maybe.