The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Europe model for hill state

Siliguri, April 6: The six-nation European tour undertaken by Sikkim chief minister Pawan Chamling was not only about securing the future of the Himalayan state, but also about retrieving its past.

During the England leg of his tour, Chamling visited the British Library in London and sought its help in setting up a Sikkim Library back home. He submitted an indicative list of archival documents required by the Sikkim government for this purpose. 'The British Library will provide copies of the documents within the next six months,' Chamling told reporters here on his way to Gangtok today.

Among the historical documents sought are accounts of Sikkim's gifting of Darjeeling to the British-India government in the 1930s, agreements and treaties signed by the Sikkim government with the British up to 1947 and detailed reports on the trade route between India and Tibet through the hill state between 1860 and 1947.

Apart from the UK, the chief minister visited The Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany, Italy and France between March 8 and April 3. 'It was an education tour with a view to maximise the potential of Sikkim in the field of tourism, horticulture, floriculture and hydel power,' said Chamling.

The Sikkim government inked two separate memorandums of interest with European companies during the tour. The first was with the Switzerland-based Amicot Sarl for the modernisation of the state-owned Sikkim Jewels Ltd and the second was with a Dutch consortium for the development of horticulture.

'We want to develop Sikkim as the floriculture state of the country...A Dutch consortium team will visit the state in the third week of April, interact with farmers and provide them training,' said Chamling, who had also visited the famous flower auction centre at Amsterdam.

The chief minister said he met Bandarin, director of the Paris-headquartered World Heritage Centre of Unesco, and urged him to grant world heritage status to some prominent landmarks of the state, including the Dubdi Monastery, Khecheopalri Lake and Namgyal Institute of Tibetology. 'Representatives of Unesco will be visiting Sikkim some time this year to carry out preliminary studies,' he added.

Earlier, on his arrival at Bagdogra airport, Chamling was given a rousing welcome by his cabinet colleagues and a huge contingent of supporters who had driven down from Gangtok.

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