- NET Web Desk
The Lepchas of Dzongu in North Sikkim resumed their protests against the construction of proposed mega hydropower projects on the river Teesta.
Hundreds of people gathered at Namprikdang to demonstrate their strong opposition against the 520 Mw Teesta Stage-IV power project and 300 Mw Panan power project, both constructed in Upper Dzongu.
Affected Citizens of Teesta (ACT) demanded immediate scrapping of all hydel projects to protect environmental and socio-cultural ethos along the region.
This protest also witnessed the presence of Bongthings – the Lepcha priests, who performed rituals seeking blessings to help them “Save Teesta”.
“Construction of mega hydropower projects at Dzongu would destroy the rich Himalayan ecosystem and the cultural heritage of the Lepcha community” – stated ACT, the organization of the indigenous Sikkim citizens.
It further added that state government had declared Dzongu as indigenous Lepcha habitat and natural habitat for butterflies and wildlife.
But an act of constructing tunnels across the region, after such an announcement is totally baseless.
The ACT general secretary Gyatso Lepcha deliberated that natural disasters, such as – floods, landslides and earthquakes have recently escalated after such dam erections on Teesta River in Dikchu and Chungthang.
Lepcha further appealed the government to declare the last free flowing stretch of Teesta in Dzongu as a river sanctuary, thereby naming it as first-of-its-kind decision across the nation.
Earlier, the organization strongly condemned the ‘Blue Planet Prize’ award given to National Hydroelectric Power Consumption (NHPC) Ltd for its Teesta-V 510 Mw power station at Dikchu, East Sikkim.
“This award is nothing but another attempt to depoliticise the woes and protests against dams that has been going on for 18 years on the stretch of Teesta river and finally to push the button to dam the belly of Dzongu near Mangan which has been resisted for a long time,” – asserted by ACT General Secretary Gyatso T. Lepcha through a press statement.
It is pertinent to note that ACT is an organization of the indigenous Sikkim citizens to protect the land and people from the threat to the Biodiversity Hotspot (Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve).
It also talks about endangering the demographic profile of indigenous primitive Lepcha, which is caused due to implementation of numerous mega hydro-electric power projects.