HISTORY AND GEOGRAPHY
The early history of Sikkim starts in the 13th century with the signing of a blood-brotherhood treaty between the Lepcha Chief Thekong Tek and Tibetan prince Khye-Bumsa at Kabi Lungtsok in North Sikkim. This follows the historical visit of three revered Lamas to Yuksam in 1641 in West Sikkim where they consecrated Phuntsog Namgyal, a sixth generation descendent of Khye-Humsa as the first Chogyal of Sikkim, thus heralding the beginning of the Namgyal dynasty in Sikkim. With the march of history events in Sikkim saw the State pass through the process of democratization and become and integral part of the Indian Union in 1975. Guru Padmasambhava blessed Sikkim enroute to Tibet. Sikkim is a blessed land where people from all communities live in harmony. Inspite of the fact that Sikkim comprise of different people and multi ethnic society, perhaps it is the most peaceful state of the Indian Union to promote communal harmony and human relations, a feat which is much expected in a plural society like India.
Sikkim is a small hilly state, bounded by vast stretches of Tibetan Plateau in the North, the Chumbi Valley of Tiber and the Kingdom of Bhutan in the East, the Kingdom of Nepal in the West and Darjeeling (West Bengal) in the South. The state has a total area of 7,096 sq. km and is stretched over 112 km from North to South and 64 km from East to West. It lies in the North-Easten Himalayas between 27 degree 00’46” to 28 degree 07’48” North Latitude and 88 degree 00’58” to 88 degree 52’25” East Longitude.
The world’s third highest mountain, Khangchendzonga, regarded as the guardian deity of Sikkim, dominates the tiny Himalayan state with its awe-inspiring beauty and majesty. Sikkim is one of the eighteen Biodiversity hotspots in the world. The Sikkim Himalayas show tremendous biological diversity. More than 5000 species of angiosperms are found in the state, nearly one third of the total species of angiosperm found in the country. There are 4000 species of flowering plants, 300 species of ferns and allies, 450 to 500 species of orchids, 36 species of Rhododendrons, 40 species of oaks, 30 to 40 species of Primulas and bamboos, 144 species of mammals, 500 to 600 species of birds, over 400 species of butterflies and moths and many species of reptiles in the state. Rare Blue Sheep, Tibetan Mastiff, Yaks and Red Pandas are found here.
The state’s economy is basically agrarian. More than 64 per cent of the population depends on agriculture for their livelihood. Agricultural land in Sikkim is estimated to be around 1,09,000 hectares, i.e; 15.36 percent of the total geographical area. Farmers commonly follow mixed farming, which is ideally suited and fits well in the developmental process of making Sikkim an organic state. The State Government has drawn up plans to promote organic farming in Sikkim and see the further value addition in its agricultural and horticultural produces. Maize, rice, wheat, potato, large cardamom, ginger and orange are the principal crops. Sikkim has the largest area and highest production of large brown cardamom in India. Ginger, potato, orange and off-season vegetables are other cash crops.
As per the Human Development Report – 2001, land resources in Sikkim are constrained on account of demographic pressure (per capita availability) and activities that they can sustain. Diversification in the pattern of land use has to take into account both food security requirements and constraints imposed by the terrain. The limitations of terraced farming in terms of productivity, irrigation and the scope for extending cultivation highlight the constraints faced by farming for livelihood security. Under these conditions innovative practices in land management and horticulture and floriculture can be identified as growth sectors.
IRRIGATION AND POWER
Tenth Five Year Plan targets to irrigate 34,118 hectares of agricultural land. Many new irrigation schemes for providing assured water both for Kharif and Rabi cropping are taken up and to prevent damages to open channels owing to landslides and to ensure regular flow of water concrete hume pipes and HDPE pipes are used extensively in problem areas.
Total installed capacity of power in the state is 36 MW that is hydro based with transformation capacity of 123 MVA. Ranjeet hydel project as installed capacity of 560 MW. The total power potential of the state is estimate at 8,000 MW. Though only 0.2 percent capacity was installed by the year 2001, four hydro projects with the total of 804 MW power are nearing completion in the state. More initiative are being taken by the government to tap the full potential of the power in the state. The state is also open to private investment in power sector. The Teesta V Project now under construction is run of the river scheme located in the east district and the proposed installed capacity of this project is 510 MW.
Roads : Gangtok is connected by roads with Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Siliguri and also with all the district head quarters within Sikkim. The total road length of the state is 2,383 km including 41 km of national highway.
Railways and Aviation : The closest railways stations are Siliguri (113 km) and New Jalpaiguri (125 km) connecting Kolkata, Delhi, Guwahati, Luknow and other important cities. There is no airports in Sikkim though its foundation stone was laid by the then Vice President of India Kishan Kant in the year 2002 to construct an air strip near Pakyong, East Sikkim which is around 32 km from Gangtok. There is a helicopter service between Gangtok and Bagdogra heavily subsidized by the State Government. The State has also initiated construction of number of helipads to connect the district and sub-divisional head quarters and important tourist places.
A NEW Information Technology Department has been created in the state and has prepared extensive projects to give top priority to this department. The newly created department has already launched a number of web site on Sikkim and is now aiming for e-governance through the use of information tools. The official web site of Sikkim hosted and maintained by the Department of Information Technology, Government of Sikkim is www.sikkimgovt.org.
AREA, POPULATION AND HEADQUARTERS OF
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