Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Proposed iconic Bhaleydunga Skywalk to cost Rs. 1200 cr: Pre-feasibility Report

GANGTOK, August 4: An international consultancy firm has in its pre-feasibility report pegged the estimated cost for the proposed iconic Skywalk at Baleydunga peak in South Sikkim as an integrated tourism destination to around Rs. 1200 crores.
The lump sum cost involves construction of three finger shaped glass skywalks connected through a tunnel in the rocky spur of Baleydunga cliff standing an elevation of 10,102 feet.
With Chief Minister Pawan Chamling since 2007 giving a keen interest in the realization of this iconic tourism project of a skywalk on top a mountain cliff on the lines of the Grand Canyon Skywalk, the Sikkim Government had engaged the services of Grant Thornton, an international consultancy firm to draft out a feasibility study on the project.
The company representatives in India today made a presentation on the pre-feasibility on the Bhaleydunga Skywalk project here at Chintan Bhavan in presence of the Chief Minister, cabinet ministers, MLAs and departmental heads.
During its presentation, the consultancy in its preliminary estimates, put the total cost of the full scale integrated tourism centre of Bhaleydunga Skywalk to Rs. 1200 crores. The tentative cost of the skywalk is Rs. 500 crores with the rest of the amount to be spent on created allied supporting infrastructures like cable car, tourist complex, accommodation centre, nature and spiritual complex and other tourism amenities in the cliff, Yangang and Dhapar areas.
“Creation of skywalk in isolation may not be sufficient for long term sustainability. There is a need to develop the skywalk as an integrated tourist destination”, the company representative said adding that the world class technology will be infused in the proposed skywalk so that the Bhaleydunga Skywalk cannot be replicated elsewhere in the world thereby maintaining its singularity.
The firm had already visited Sikkim seven times in the past one and half years and have already submitted the interim and draft report after detailed conservations with the government officials.
“This will be an iconic project and will develop Sikkim as a unique tourism destination”, the presenters said.
As per the project structure, the design of the glassy skywalk at Bhaleydunga has been proposed like a three fingered fork at ninety degrees each protruding out from inside the top of the cliff. The proposed skywalk will stand at an elevation of 10,102 feet and the cliff would be connected by a ropeway from the nearby hamlet of Yangang.
With the Bhaleydunga hill falling with a forest protected area, the firm stressed on the need to ensure minimum damage to the natural habitat. This environmental consciousness reflects in the pre-feasibility study, the firm said.
During its studies, the firm has engaged in active deliberations with Sikkim Tourism Development Corporation, Tourism department, Travel Agents Association of Sikkim, environment specialists and conducted a market survey by consulting Federation of Hotels & Restaurants Association of India, Sikkim Hotels & Restaurants Association and international travel agencies to analyze the tourist circuit within the Bhaleydunga range.
The Unique Selling Proposition of the Bhaleydunga project is that novelty is essential to accord iconic status and infusing of cutting edge technology to make the structure difficult to be replicated.
It may be added here that the Chief Minister has being pressing ahead with the project and had only recently briefed the Central ministers on the project seeking their support for the early commencement of the project.
“Construction of Skywalk at Baleydhunga shall commence from the earliest with budget provision of Rs. 1 crore for this financial year”, Mr. Chamling had said while presenting the Annual Budget for the year 2009-10 recently in the State Assembly.
The project seeks to propel Sikkim into the international tourism map besides becoming a landmark of its own in the Himalayan State.
Detailed feasibility study report will be submitted in the next phase.