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Sikkim CM Pushes for Cross-Border Trade at India-Nepal Border

Sikkim CM Pushes for Cross-Border Trade at India-Nepal Border

Gangtok: Sikkim Chief Minister Prem Singh Golay made his way to Chewabhanjyang in Geyzing district, marking his first visit to the area situated at an elevation of 10,299 feet. Golay’s objective is to establish a multi-trade corridor at the India-Nepal border, aiming to enhance connectivity and bilateral relations between the two nations.

During his visit, Golay inaugurated a newly constructed guest house near the border, emphasizing the potential for commercial and cultural exchanges between India and Nepal. The chief minister highlighted sectors such as business, education, health, and tourism that could benefit from the proposed trade corridor.

Golay’s discussions with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah centered around the trade corridor’s feasibility. While India is keen on establishing the route, Golay emphasized that Nepal’s consent and cooperation are essential for its realization.

Improved road connectivity between Uttarey and Chewabhanjyang is a key focus area. Currently, limited access is permitted due to the lack of a proper road, resulting in arduous hikes for those crossing the border. The completion of the corridor would facilitate smoother travel and cultural exchanges between the two countries.

The proposed road construction also holds advantages for the Indian army stationed in the border region, as it would provide easier access to medical facilities. Currently, if a soldier falls ill in Chewabhanjyang, they must endure a five-hour downhill hike to reach the nearest primary health center. The road would alleviate this hardship and enhance the well-being of the army personnel.

Professor Mahendra P Lama, economic advisor to the CM, highlighted the trade potential of the India-Nepal border. He emphasized that around 17-18 percent of Nepal’s geography and approximately 4.5 million people in eastern Nepal, particularly in Province One, would benefit from the trade corridor.

Lama also noted the potential for energy cooperation, suggesting that Sikkim could benefit from transmission lines passing through the state, similar to how Nepal supplies electricity to Bangladesh. He further emphasized the existing trekking route from Chewabhanjyang, connecting Darjeeling’s Sandakphu with Mt. Kanchendzonga base camp, and its potential to boost tourism and trade in the region.

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Addressing concerns about national security and bilateral relations with Nepal, Lama drew parallels to the Nathula trade route that opened in 2008 despite tensions with China. He proposed the possibility of implementing custom charges through an integrated checkpost, similar to Nathula, in accordance with the Indo-Nepal treaty of 1850.

As Golay’s efforts to establish a multi-trade corridor gain momentum, the prospects for enhanced economic cooperation and cultural exchange between India and Nepal are on the horizon. The completion of the road infrastructure and the subsequent development of the trade corridor hold promising potential for the regions and the people they connect.

Gangtokian Web Team, 07/06/23

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