Sikkim skywalk project in limbo

The fate of the giant Skywalk proposed at Baleydunga peak in Sikkim hangs in balance with the Environment Ministry refusing to divert a patch of forest land from a sanctuary for the project.

New Delhi: The fate of the giant Skywalk
proposed at Baleydunga peak in the south of Sikkim hangs in
balance with the Environment Ministry refusing to divert a
patch of forest land from a sanctuary for the project.

The ambitious project costing Rs 500 crore involves
construction of three finger-shaped skywalks, or glass bridges
protruding from the Baleydunga cliff at an elevation of 10,102
feet and connected through a tunnel.

The project proponent, Sikkim Tourism, had approached
Environment Ministry`s steering committee of the National
Board of Wildlife for diversion of six hectares of forest land
from Maenam Wildlife Sanctuary for survey and investigation
for construction of the project.

The iconic structure is expected to propel Sikkim into
the global tourism map besides becoming a landmark of its own
in the Himalayan state.

Besides Skywalk, the Tourism Department has also proposed
creation of allied supporting infrastructure like cable car,
tourist complex, accommodation centre, nature and spiritual
complex and other tourism amenities in the cliff, Yangang and
Dhapar areas.

The survey was meant to find out whether the proposed
site can support the creation of such structure as at present
there is only one similar skywalk in the world -- at the Grand
Canyon in Arizona near the Colorado river in the US.

However, in a recent meeting the Committee did not find
"merit in the proposal from the point of view of wildlife
conservation in the sanctuary which is a notified protected
area.

"It was also opined that the proposal was not
site-specific. In view of these suggestions, the Committee
decided to reject the proposal," sources said.

PTI

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