Interview: How Gangtok is moving towards development that is sustainable

Shakti Singh Choudhary, Mayor of Gangtok, Sikkim (India) shares how the hill city is introducing measures that can help the city become more liveable, without hampering its livelihoods and ecology

How do you think Gangtok is moving towards achieving development that is sustainable for the city?

Upgrading current water supply line, creating new storage tanks, improving distribution systems, and moving to 24-hour water supply by and managing our water resources with help from Asian Development Bank are a few measures that Gangtok has been adopting to move towards sustainable living. Providing toilets for all, connecting them to sewer lines is also on agenda.

Problems in hills are very different from those in other areas. Therefore, by striving for 100 percent door-to-door waste collection and segregation, we are trying to ensure that minimum waste reaches landfills as it is difficult to find such sites in the hills. Our goal now is to make Gangtok a zero-waste city.

How has ICLEI South Asia’s support helped you in these goals?

ICLEI has constantly supported us in our endeavours. I am happy to share that Gangtok Municipal Corporation (GMC) is now a part of ACCCRN project, in partnership with ICLEI. As a part of this project, ICLEI South Asia will develop a Climate Resilience Strategy for the city, using ICLEI ACCCRN Process as a tool.

For this, the organisation has already been holding workshops in Gangtok. The experiences that they have shared with us will add to our capacity. Also, GMC has submitted a proposal to ICLEI South Asia to get the grant under the Small Grant Programme (SGP), supported by Rockefeller Foundation, for a pilot project on the installation of Bio Composting plant for composting vegetable waste at the vegetable market at the Kanchanjunga Shopping complex, Gangtok.

Besides, they have also invited us to other global platforms, thereby helping us in enhancing our skills and strengthening the institution.

Gangtok recently attended the Resilient Cities Asia-Pacific Congress in Melaka, Malaysia. How do you think the knowledge sharing platform has helped Gangtok city?

Firstly, we would like to thank ICLEI South Asia for inviting us to the knowledge-sharing platform. It was a great opportunity to visit Melaka, the UNESCO Heritage City that has many people depending on tourism for livelihood. We could relate to the city as we also depend on tourism that is the main source of livelihood for many in Gangtok. We have learnt from Melaka how to preserve our culture and environment along with development.

Besides, listening to speakers and delegates from about 35 countries was a good exposure to practices and pilot projects being implemented at many places. These cases would help us in our plans. Studies done by ICLEI were also a good resource.  

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