Gangtok: During the B20 meeting in Gangtok on Thursday, there was a discussion about creating a modern and people-friendly Gangtok using renewable energy with investment from the Middle East.
Sikkim Commerce and Industries Secretary, Karma R. Bonpo, discussed the possibility of partnering with UAE to develop big cities in Gangtok, citing the inquiries they have received from Abu Dhabi.
Bonpo mentioned the need for sustainable and renewable infrastructure, including ropeway connectivity and solid waste management technology, powered by renewable energy. “The hope is to carry forward this positive development with collaboration and funding support from investors in Abu Dhabi and the Middle East, taking advantage of Sikkim’s climate which requires no artificial climate creation,” Bonpo said.
The state government official also suggested that the focus on creating a big city should include increasing the value of tourism. Bonpo explained that once a good city is established, it can become a unique selling point for future tourism. “The blueprint for the city can then be used to attract investments from sectors such as tourism, real estate, hospitals, and other ancillary sectors,” the official said.
Bonpo further added that this approach could make Gangtok a more livable city with opportunities for community engagement, less crowded, and free from traffic problems. “The plan also includes creating parks and spaces that will attract the next leg of investment, including hotels, educational institutions, and research centres,” the official added.
The Commerce and Industries Secretary also shared that Scandinavian countries like Norway and Iceland are willing to cooperate with Sikkim on disaster risk mitigation and small hydroelectric plants. “The potential for small hydroelectric plants in Sikkim that have not yet been tapped. Instead of starting a hotel, local entrepreneurs can consider setting up small hydro plants that generate around 200 watts of power. The technology for small hydro can be imported, and by being close to a stream, one can easily plug in a machine and use net metering to earn the entire amount generated. There is a need for start-ups to disrupt this sector, which could make Sikkim a powerhouse in terms of energy production,” the official said, adding that better tunnelling technology or slope stabilization technologies would be useful.
“If those industries could set up manufacturing units in Sikkim, then they could utilize the technology. Additionally, Sikkim has received proposals from Scandinavian countries, including Sweden, for a good education system,” Commerce and Industries Secretary said.
While the World Bank has expressed interest in investing in village infrastructure in Sikkim, Bonpo pointed out that tourism requires a lot of infrastructure, and there are many areas that need to be upgraded, particularly in terms of connectivity.
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Sikkim also placed requests for international routes to Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh eyeing a tourism boost with neighbouring countries and South East Asia markets. “If we are able to solve such diplomatic issues, an international airport can come up in Pakyong or Bagdogra along with helipads to bring in high-end tourism,” the official added.
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