|Area||7,096 sq. km|
|Principal Languages||Lepcha, Bhutia and Nepali|
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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 democratisation and became an integral part of the Indian Union in 1975. Guru Padmasambhava blessed Sikkim route to Tibet. Sikkim is a blessed land, where people from all communities live in harmony. Inspite of the fact that Sikkim comprises 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.
The world's third highest mountain, Kanchenjunga, regarded as the guardian deity of Sikkim, dominates the tiny Himalayan State with its awe-inspiring beauty and majesty. Sikkim is one of the 18 Biodiversity hotspots in the world. The Sikkim Himalayas show tremendous biological diversity. More than 5000 species of angiosperms are found in the State, which is nearly one third of the total species of angiosperm found in the country. There are 4,000 species of flowering plants, 362 species of ferns and allies, over 550 species of orchids, at least 36 species of Rhododendrons besides many variations and wild natural hybrids, 11 species of Oaks, 30 species of Primulas, 28 bamboos, over 700 species of Butterflies, probably thrice as many Moths, at least 48 species of freshwater fish around 50 species of Ambhibians, over 80 Reptiles, 600 species of birds, and around 150 species of Mammals in the state. Rare and globally threatened Snow Leopard, Tibetan Argali Sheep, Red Panda, as well as highest altitude domesticated bovid, the Yak, Black-necked Crane and Fairrieanum Orchid some of the most important species found here.
The State government has encouraged agro-based industry in horticulture as well as agriculture keeping in view of the State's immense wealth in natural resources. Sikkim is proud to be the largest producer of large cardamom. In view of the changing trends of world eco-system, the Chief Minister has announced a paradigm shift in the agricultural/horticultural policy by endeavoring to become the first organic State of the country. The prime concern are environment security, ecological susceptibility, product brand leading to better farm returns and inheritance of a highly developed mountain agriculture system, handed down through generations.
Horticulture is one of the important sub-sectors that has involved into an engine of rural prosperity in the State. The major exportable items from the State comprises of horticulture produced such as ginger, large cardamom, flowers and Sikkim mandarin.
Thrust has been laid on development of traditional strengths such as large cardamom and orange, Diversification into floriculture, off-season vegetables, apiculture, organic farming and mushrooms has added new dimension to horticulture development initiatives.
The production of fruits has increased from 5250 to 20080 tonnes recording a growth of 282 per cent. Special programmes on area expansion and rejuvenation of old orange orchards backed up by scientific technology and cost effective inputs have been launched.
For development of off-season vegetables, introduction of hybrid/improved varieties of vegetables seeds in area specific clusters is the strategy. The production of vegetables has increased from 22,130 to 75,200 tonnes thereby registering 240 per cent growth.
The most remarkable growth is seen in floriculture where a record growth of 200 ha with production of over 230 lakh numbers of cut flowers and planting material has been recorded over a period of one and a half decade. The strategy lined up for development of floriculture includes programme implementation in cluster, use of elite planting materials, capacity building and skill development of growers and intensive follow-up.
Protected cultivation is one area that has recorded exponential growth in the State. Farmers are reaping huge profit by growing vegetables and flowers in greenhouses. So far, 10,360 low cost Polyhouses and 850 tubular structures have been constructed.
To mitigate water stress, 100 nos. of large community water tanks have been constructed. Flexible type of Genap tanks have been set up in many areas using imported Israeli and Holland technology. Dug out sunken ponds and roof water harvesting structures have been constructed in different vegetable fields and fruit orchards.
Though Sikkim is a tiny Himalayan State, the Government and its people are very conscious about the environment and therefore have paid priority for setting up eco-friendly industries and the thrust areas are agro-horticulture and floriculture based, Animal husbandry and dairy development, handloom and handicrafts; tourism, precision oriented high value low volume products, Hydel power, tea, health, education etc. After the announcement of North-East Industrial and Investment Policy, 2007, to North-East region, including Sikkim w.e.f 1 April 2007, a number of industrial units have been set up especially in pharmaceutical and other activities like packing etc., besides the existing famous units like Government Fruit Preservation Factory (G.F.P.F.), Temi Tea Estate and Directorate of Handloom and Handicrafts. The Sikkim Industrial Development and Investment Corporation and NEDFI are providing long term loans to micro and medium industrial activities and other services oriented units.
Irrigation and Power
The Department of Irrigation and Flood Control has covered 3701.03 hectares of agricultural land till the mid of Eleventh Five Year Plan. The target of Eleventh Five Year Plan was to irrigate 10,000 hectares of agricultural land. Further, 225 schemes were sanctioned during 2010-11 which have potential target to irrigate 8244.12 hectare of agricultural land.
Power sector is one of the vital sectors for the State. Its development is important because it will have two fold effects on the economy of the State. With the easy availability of electricity, the socio-economic condition of the people of Sikkim would favorably rise on the one hand while on the other hand revenue from the export of power will help the State to strengthen its revenue base. Thus, the sector has to be speedily developed to cater to the demand within and outside the State.
The total Hydro Power Potential of Sikkim is assessed by Central Water Commission, Government of India is around 8,000 MW, out of which around 2,000 MW is in the Micro, Mini and Small Hydro category. Remaining 6,000 MW would fall either in the small or mega size hydro scheme.
With the aim of achieving total installed capacity of 5,500 MW by the end of 12th Plan, the Energy and Power Department has so far allotted 27 hydroelectric power projects with a total installed capacity of 5,334 MW to various Independent Power Producers including NHPC.
The projects have been allotted to Private Power Developers on BOOT arrangement i.e. Build, OWN, Operate and Transfer Basis for a period of 35 years and at the end of 35th year the projects shall be reverted back to the State free of cost in good operating condition by the developers.
Roads: Gangtok is connected by roads with Darjeeling district of West Bengal and also with all the district headquarters within Sikkim. The total road length of the State is 2,933.49km which includes 873.40km road maintained by the Border Roads Organization.
Railways and Aviation: The closest railway stations are Siliguri (113) and New Jalpaiguri (125 km) connecting Kolkata, Delhi, Bagdogra airport and other important cities. There is no airport in Sikkim, although there is a helicopter service between Gangtok and Bagdogra, heavily subsidised by the State Government. The State has also initiated construction of a number of helipads to connect the district and sub-divisional headquarters and important tourist places. Green field airport is being constructed at Pakyong in East Sikkim. There is a regular helicopter service between Gangtok and Bagdogra.
The creation of new Department of Information Technology in the year 2000 was a landmark event at a time when most of the states in the country did not have Department of Information Technology. This showed the State government's commitment to leverage information technology to benefit the citizens. However, the department has made rapid stride in the sphere of information technology since its creation. The Official website of Sikkim (External website that opens in a new window) is hosted and maintained by the Department of Information Technology.
Situated in the eastern Himalayas, Sikkim is one of the most beautiful States of the Indian Union. Sikkim is adorned with snowy mountains, luxuriant forests with exotic flora and fauna, pristine waterfalls, sacred lakes, holy caves, medicinal hotsprings, cascading rivers and gentled streams. It is destination for all seasons.
* As per 2011 Census (Provisional Data)
Source: India Book 2012 - A Reference Annual