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Sikkim project gets PM pat

Singtam (East Sikkim), April 12:Ghar mein bhi andhera na rahe, aur man mein bhi andhera na ho. Asatoma sath gamaya, tamasoma jyotir gamaya (Let there be no darkness at home or in our minds. Let us emerge from the untruth to the truth, let us emerge from darkness to light).”

Merging poetry with sayings from the Upanishads, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee today praised the growth of the power sector in Sikkim and its contribution in harnessing hydroelectricity.

Vajpayee’s muse was the 510-mw Stage V Teesta project of the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation at Sirw- ani near Singtam, which he visited on the second day of his tour of the Himalayan border state.

Amid tight security, the Prime Minister flew to Sirwani, about 42 km from Gangtok, in an air force MI-17 helicopter.

Chief minister Pawan Chamling, Governor V. Rama Rao, power corporation officials and Union minister of state for power Jayantiben Metha received him.

Addressing a gathering at the project site, Vajpayee said the country was gearing up to produce 100,000 mw from hydroelectricity projects in the next 10 years.

Lauding the significant role played by Sikkim in harnessing hydroelectricity, the Prime Minister said it would be a major power supplier to neighbouring states as well.

He congratulated the power corporation for completing its project a year ahead of sche- dule and promised to come visiting if he was still the Prime Minister and if all the other stages of the project were completed on time.

NHPC and Central power ministry officials said Vajpayee’s visit was considered essential since he was sincere in his commitments regarding developments in the power sector.

The Prime Minister’s four-day visit to this tiny state is also being seen as an “extended weekend” break.

Apart from the function at Sirwani, the only other official function that Vajpayee will attend is a felicitation organised in his honour at the Tashi Namgyal Academy grounds at Gangtok tomorrow.

The Prime Minister, on his arrival on Friday, had said that during his next three-day stay he would find out what more could be done for the state.

Last evening, prior to a dinner hosted by the Governor in Vajpayee’s honour, chief minister Chamling, accompanied by his Cabinet colleagues, called on the Prime Minister and submitted a memorandum on the Himalayan state’s various demands.

Today, Vajpayee met leaders of various political parties, including the ruling Sikkim Democratic Front led by the former chief minister and political adviser to the chief minister, B.B. Gooroong.

The main Opposition party, Sikkim Sangram Parishad, led by former chief minister Nar Bahadur Bhandari, state BJP president K.C. Pradhan and the state Congress led by its president Namkha Gyaltsen also met the Prime Minister.

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