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<-Back to WTN Archives Sikkim hopes for bus to Tibet
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World Tibet Network News

Published by the Canada Tibet Committee

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

3. Sikkim hopes for bus to Tibet

By Pratap Chakravarty
DAWN - 22 July 2003 Tuesday

NEW DELHI: India's remote state of Sikkim hopes to launch a bus service to
Tibet on the back of a new chapter in improved ties between Beijing and New
Delhi, an official said on Monday.

The announcement came as Sikkim's Chief Minister Pawang Chamling prepared to
fly to New Delhi to meet Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee to discuss
federal aid needed to resume trade between the far-eastern Indian state and
adjoining Tibet.

"The chief minister will also explore with the prime minister possibilities
of launching a bus service between Gangtok and Lhasa," the Press Trust of
India quoted Chamling's political adviser B. B. Gooroong as saying.

"The step will further strengthen ties between the two neighbouring
countries," he said.

Gooroong also said Sikkim, which is almost completely dependent on federal
dole, needed to build up infrastructure from scratch for trade through the
"silk route" in line with an accord signed last month between India and

The ancient silk route trade corridor to Tibet has remained shut since 1975,
when Sikkim approved a referendum to turn away from China and merge with

The two sides agreed to open the route during Indian Prime Minister Atal
Behari Vajpayee's trip last month to China, in what some commentators saw as
tacit recognition by Beijing of India's sovereignty over its former

The move is widely expected to start a new chapter in overall Sino-Indian
trade, which the Asian giants have forecast will double to $10 billion in
the next few years.

Sikkim, one of India's 'Seven Sisters' far-eastern states, is a mountainous
region with no industrial base, poor services and little scope for

Sikkimese business forums predict that regional exports to Tibet would touch
$203 million from the current figure of zero on the back of cross-border
sale of vegetables, oils and household items.

The "silk route" bustled with trade after Tibetan price Phuntsog Namgyal was
crowned Sikkim's ruler in 1642. British forces led by Francis Younghusband
also used the route for their 1904 invasion of Tibet.

New Delhi-based officials from Chamling's provincial government said the
Gangtok-Lhasa bus service would further bolster relations and help to boost
trade. -AFP

Articles in this Issue:
  1. Commentary: 'Middle Way' Does not Hold Water (PD)
  2. Government considering request to let Karmapa visit Sikkim
  3. Sikkim hopes for bus to Tibet
  4. Tibetan bowl meditations strike chord at Secret Woods

Other articles this month - WTN Index - Mail the WTN-Editors

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