Saturday, October 18, 2014

Prepping Sikkim for Mansarovar Yatra

Chief Secretary R Ongmu led a high-level delegation comprising of senior officials of the State Government, the Army, Indo-Tibetan Border Police, and Customs & Immigration to take stock of infrastructure in place and the improvements required along the Gangtok-Nathula corridor in the event that the pass is opened for pilgrims travelling to Kailash-Mansarovar in Tibet. The findings and recommendations worked out from this visit will be discussed at a meeting scheduled with the Ministries of Home and External Affairs in the first week of November to discuss this project.
This was the first visit to Nathula by any high level delegation led by the Chief Secretary to check on the preparedness of the State to host the alternate route agreed upon by India and China for pilgrims travelling to Kailash-Mansarovar. In contrast to the route through Lipulekh in Uttarakhand which requires a trek over difficult terrain and is open for a limited period in a year, Nathula, when it opens for this pilgrimage, will allow pilgrims to travel in the comfort and safety of an all-weather road.
An official press communiqué informs that the CM was accompanied by the Additional Chief Secretary cum Home Secretary SC Gupta, Heads of concerned departments, and senior engineers and officers of concerned departments like Roads & Bridges, PHE, Commerce & Industries, Tourism, Forest & Wildlife, IPR, Energy & Power, and Ecclesiastical.
At Nathula, she inspected the consolidated centre for Immigration and Customs and discussed the possibility of constructing parking facilities at the adjacent area. The team then carried out a recce of stretches of land under Forest Department for the development of an acclimatization centre for pilgrims and tourists.
At Sherathang, the Chief Secretary took detailed stock of the progress of infrastructural works under the Commerce & Industries Department.  She visited the Hotel which is nearing completion. She also visited the Trade Mart Building, the adjacent Conference Hall, and inspected the Parking yard for traders. She issued directions to ensure that all infrastructure should contribute towards the upcoming pilgrimage route.
The team stopped at various key points along the highway and discussed in detail ways to augment resources like forest, lakes, soil and other natural resources of the State and deliberated on how these could be used effectively in the overall development of the region, especially keeping in mind the Mansarovar Yatra. She also directed the Forest Department, PHE Department and Science & Technology Department to carry out a detailed study of the possibility to augment the level and purity of water at Tsomgo and Tamzey lakes and also ways and means to tap these resources to meet water requirements.
The Additional Chief Secretary, who also holds charge of Home Affairs, confirmed to NOW! that the State Government has received a communication from the Government of India in regard to the Mansarovar Yatra possibility and is hence preparing a blueprint to facilitate the yatra. The state government will bear all the infrastructural support to meet the pilgrimage tourism and required facilities at the earliest, Mr. Gupta said, adding that a detailed project report will be prepared after consultation with all the stakeholders and Government of India.
GoI officials are scheduled to visit Sikkim in the first week of November when they will hold detailed discussions on the preparedness part, the Additional Chief Secretary said.

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