Gangtok: Sikkim Chief Minister Prem Singh Golay announced during a press conference at Chintan Bhawan on Friday that the state has received investment potential worth Rs 1,000 crore from various countries after successfully conducting the Business B20 meeting of G20 in Gangtok.

Golay emphasized that the state government needs to work on attracting investors by simplifying policies and passing a new industrial policy. He also mentioned that department-wise presentations were given at the G20 for business-to-government partnerships and that the state government has initiated talks with investors. Golay added that reaching a consensus between the government and investors is crucial for agreements to be made.

In response to concerns about the potential influx in Sikkim after the investment, the Chief Minister stated that investors who come to the state will need permission from the government and should not be looked at as an influx.

The CM emphasized that local entrepreneurs will work in partnership with outsiders and that the people from outside will provide markets, connectivity, and supply chain, which are areas that the government of India looks at when engaging with foreign countries.

The CM also mentioned that Sikkim has land acts in place that do not allow outsiders to buy lands in the state, and the government will lease those lands to investors. Moreover, the state has rules in place regarding employment, such as Rule 4(4), which prohibits government employees from working with investors. Finally, the CM noted that 371F is a strong provision in Sikkim, and hence the tourists and investors coming to the state will not be seen as an influx.

During the press conference, the Chief Minister highlighted that most inquiries received from the visiting nations and delegates were related to the hydropower and education sectors. Specifically, Norway showed interest in the power sector, particularly small hydro projects planned by Sikkim under the green energy initiative. “The state has a capacity of 8000 MW but only produces around 3500 MW. The government will take public safety and environmental clearance into account when working on these projects. Additionally, there has been interest in tourism, agriculture, road, and infrastructure development,” the CM said.

The Chief Secretary of Sikkim, VB Pathak, echoed the Chief Minister’s remarks, saying that several hydropower projects in Sikkim have been awarded NOC (No Objection Certificate) by the Union government, and many projects above or below 66 MW are still incomplete. The state government has made a policy of allowing projects below 5 MW to be awarded to locals who can tie up with any company. The Chief Secretary emphasized that those projects that have received NOC and environmental clearance will be initiated, and the electricity supply will make a profit for the state.

The Chief Minister also highlighted the keen interest in the organic sector from foreign delegates. The state government and IFFCO are setting up a processing unit in Rangpo to convert all organic products from cardamom, ginger, and other crops into finished products for export.

“These products will be purely organic and generate good returns. The demand is for raw organic products, and the potential markets are in the European Union and the United States, which demand a residual quantity of chemicals in organic commodities. In Sikkim’s organic products, the residue is very low,” CM Golay said

The CM mentioned that the challenge is to export to European nations that have strict regulations, but the organic products from Sikkim will meet those criteria. Switzerland has shown keen interest in the state’s organic sector.

Chief Secretary Pathak also mentioned that previously, European countries looked for NOP (National Organic Program) or NPO (Non-Pesticide Organic) certification for organic products, but now there is a new criterion for minimum residual content in organic products. The residual content will determine the price and availability in the market.

Due to years of organic cultivation, Sikkim’s residual content is minimal. The state government plans to establish residual labs in all six districts as approved by FSSAI (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India) and work as aggregators in organic farming with awareness to the farmers.

The State government also highlighted similar interests in Temi Tea. Pathak said, “When we export Temi tea with a proper MRA (Maximum Residue Analysis) certificate, it will sell for Rs 10-20,000.”

On the development of the IT sector, Golay stated that two districts, Pakyong and Soreng, would become fully digital districts. The government has floated a tender to ensure that every block level or panchayat office has internet connectivity. The Chief Minister believes that better internet connectivity will attract the IT sector to Sikkim.

Regarding international air connectivity with neighboring countries, Golay welcomed proposals from Bhutan, Nepal, and Bangladesh to initiate international air connectivity with Sikkim. The Chief Minister believes that better connectivity will attract more tourists and businesses to the state. The Pakyong airport will resume operations on March 28, and the state civil aviation department has discussed the possibility of international flying through UDAAN with the Union government. The state has also floated a tender for a 27-seater helicopter as an alternative mode of transportation.

On the vision for Greater Gangtok as a Renewable City with UAE investment, Commerce and Industries Secretary Karma R. Bonpo explained that the Urban Development and Housing Department (UDHD) is preparing a master plan for Greater Gangtok, which is still in the preliminary stage. The plan will segregate areas for industrial development, tourism, parks, schools, and communities. To make this a success, collaboration with other governments will be necessary. The State can collaborate with the Government of Singapore for knowledge in city development. The UAE has shown a keen interest in infrastructure development for greenfield projects. Switzerland has taken an interest in developing ropeways, and POMA from France, which worked on the Bhaleydhunga ropeway project, is also likely to invest in the state.

In terms of investment in education infrastructure or systems from Scandinavian countries, Golay asserted that investors will have to abide by the New Education Policy of India when they invest in Sikkim. It will not clash, and they will have to work as per the new education policy.

Regarding climate change, there was no concrete plan, but the embassy representatives from Norway, who met with the CM on Friday morning, discussed carbon credits and carbon sequestration. “We have the potential to trade carbon credits with international organizations. An expert committee will examine if we can earn from carbon credits.”

Regarding the B20 coming to Sikkim and the benefits reaped by the state, Golay said, “The B20 coming to Sikkim is, in itself, a profit for Sikkim. Without spending any money, we are getting a chance to exhibit what Sikkim is and what we make and produce and thereafter invite investment. This is a major advertisement for Sikkim. Most who came were visiting Sikkim for the very first time. They were comparing our weather with Sweden and Switzerland, and those industries are coming to Sikkim. Sikkim has automatically come to the world tourism map after the B20 event. 40-45 countries are participating in two events with 100 plus delegates. Tourism publicity is word of mouth, much more than any other form of publicity. They saw our hospitality, hotel facilities, and tourist places, and when they share their experience, that publicity is incomprehensible. We expect an increased footfall of international tourists and domestic tourists in the coming years. When a tourist comes, there is an economic spinoff that involves over 200 people at a go.”

Through World Bank projects and potential investment, the Chief Secretary said, “We are eyeing providing a skill set for women and youth, changing their mindset to self-entrepreneurship and making themselves capable. CII is interested in finding markets under the Act East policy towards ASEAN countries, which have potential.”

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