Sikkim gets nod to build skywalk in sanctuary

The Sikkim government's ambitious plan to build an iconic skywalk on the line of the Grand Canyon in the Maenam Wildlife Sanctuary has finally got clearance. Shot down by the Standing Committee of the National Board of Wild Life (NBWL) in October 2010 on account of the negative impact it could have on the wildlife in the area, the Rs 750 crore project to build a glass skywalk and a ropeway was finally accorded NBWL's Standing Committee approval in a meeting held in December 2012, sources confirmed.

The NBWL Standing Committee is chaired by Minister for Environment & Forests Jayanthi Natarajan. At least three members of the committee expressed their reservations about the project recorded in the minutes of the meeting on December 12, 2012.

The proposal involves construction of an environment friendly glass bottom cantilever skywalk beyond the edge of Bhalleydhunga peak at 10,102 feet in South Sikkim's Maenam sanctuary. A 22 km-long ropeway has been proposed for access to Bhalleydhunga peak from the base area, Mahadeo Than.

A total of 2.1 hectares of sanctuary land would be required for the projects in 2010, the state had sought over 7 hectares.

The state government argued that the area required for the project was very small. It contended that Sikkim is the only state with more than 30 per cent of the land mass covered under protected area network and Sikkim plans to further add to it.

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