NAGPUR: Sikkim, India's second smallest state after Goa, has 47% of its geographical area under tree cover; 31% area network under sanctuaries and national parks and only 11% area under agriculture. Yet, it has not recorded farmers' suicides.
The forested region like Vidarbha needs to learn from Sikkim, says Kishor Rithe, who recently visited Sikkim to inspect the proposed project site on behalf of ministry of environment and forest (MoEF) as a member of the standing committee of National Board for Wildlife (NBWL).
Rithe inspected the proposed skywalk and ropeway project in Maenam sanctuary in south Sikkim region. A report on the site visit will be submitted to the MoEF soon.
Sikkim is least populous state in India and the second-smallest after Goa in total area, covering approximately 7,096sqkm. It has merely 11% agriculture land for its 6 lakh population and yet has no record of farmers' suicides unlike Vidarbha. Most of the farmers are marginal land holders and their crops are raided by wild animals.
On the contrary, Vidarbha, which has 97,321sqkm geographical area - equivalent to 13 states like Sikkim, and 2.30 crore population - 38 times more than Sikkim - has many things to learn from the small hilly state.
"Both the regions are forested and have to think of alternative options along with agriculture for overall development," says Rithe.
The Sikkim government has imposed a complete ban on use of pesticides and reduced the cost of agriculture production. The farmers there grow organic food and believe that this will help them in boosting tourism by inviting foreign tourists.
As Sikkim has no industries, it draws major source of revenue from tourism business. At present, the tiny state is planning to plough economic benefits of tourism industry to every household leaving in remote villages by encouraging 'home-stays' and developing village level community tourism infrastructure.
The Sikkim government has impressive plans to boost tourism industry. The government took a bold step to ban cattle grazing in reserve forest and focus on better livestock management to stop destruction of forest wealth.
There is a ban on felling of timber in reserve forest and export of timber outside Sikkim. Tree felling rules on private lands also have been framed and are implemented effectively.
Implementation of rules regarding ban on plastics and poly-bags is followed rigorously. For his green ideas, Sikkim chief minister Pawan Chamling has been awarded as 'Greenest chief minister of India', said Rithe.
Forest minister Bhim Dhungel met Rithe and requested him to help Sikkim in framing policy on wildlife management.