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Adventure institute for tourist hotspot

Gangtok, Oct. 7: Adventure-sport enthusiasts, take heart. Training and professional help will soon be just an initiative away.

The hill state’s recent tourism success, coupled with it’s diverse topography, pipped other aspirants for the Central government’s Rs 60-crore project to set up an international institute for adventure and eco-tourism.

The Centre’s decision comes at a time when Sikkim is trying to re-invent itself as a tourism hotspot.

Sources in the state administration told The Telegraph: “The ‘Indian Himalayan Centre’, as the project was recently christened, had other Himalayan states offering attractive sops, including political parleys, to bag the deal.”

Work on the institute, the first of its kind for the country, “is likely to begin from January”, they added.

A committee, headed by chief secretary S.W. Tenzing, formed to work on the modalities of the institute, has chosen Chemchey in South Sikkim for setting up the institute. “The terrain fulfilled all the pre-requisites an international institute sets for itself,” officials said.

The design and the development will be handled by Hudco “without damaging the fragile eco-system of the area” and help from the local architects will also be sought.

The institute will have courses in aerial sports like paragliding, hand gliding and paramotoring. Water sports and training modules on the international methods of rafting and kayaking, training for tourist guides, high altitude and low altitude porters and adventure sports like trekking, mountaineering, rock climbing, mountain biking and mountain safaris will feature on the agenda. Snow skiing and heli-skiing, new additions on the national horizon of adventure sport, have also been included.

Trainees successfully completing the courses will be given international sporting licences that will enable them to participate in competitions world-wide.

“The trainers will be hand-picked to ensure the trainees are in the best of hands,” officials said. Apart from training, the Himalayan Centre will also hire out equipment to individuals or teams visiting the great outdoors.

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