- Sujal Pradhan, NET Correspondent, Sikkim
Social Worker and President of Hamro Sikkim Party (HSP) Dr. Bina Basnett today asserted there are rapid environmental exploitation during the regime of Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM) government while attending a press conference – jointly addressed by Dr. Bina Basnet, Kedarnath Tiwari and Durba Regmi in Gangtok.
She appealed to the state Government to form an Independent environment commission and work on finding suitable solutions for the same. “I appeal to the state government to form an Independent Environment commission consisting of Environmentalists, Intellectuals so that they can enquire on all these kinds of events in Sikkim and advise the government for suitable solutions”.
Basnett also questioned the government for no transparency; no accountability and how without environment clearance, constructions works are permitted. “We thought now the Paribartan government is in power, which will work for the betterment of the state but instead what we observed the environmental exploitation running ‘more than a pace of river Teesta’.”
Its worth noting that Basnet recently filed a petition with National Green Tribunal (NGT), which passed a stay order on the ongoing alleged illegal construction at old west point school area in Gangtok.
While, Dhurba Regmi, resident of Rorathang East Sikkim accused Department of Wildlife & Forest over sand mining at Rorathang river stretch. He said “We fear over losing our land again like 1968, 99 percent of the river is being diverted to the village nearby due to the excavation if not intercepted in time the diverted river will cause havoc to the village.”
Narrating the current land situation of the old Rorathang village Regmi stated, “Due to sand mining the river has taken elevation and when we look into the village it is lower than the river. Almost 25 houses are directly affected by sand mining and also the roads, drainage and floods are the outcomes of the illegal land mining.”
“Floods of 1968 had taken our land and my family is also one of the victims of it and if the excavation continues then we fear that foods of 1968 might repeat in future.” – he added.
“The land mining in the river stretch had started since 1990s and in the year 2018 we realized the even the non locals are also involved. Due to the rampant issuing of licence for sand mining by the concerned state department, the sand miners had started mining sand recklessly using JCBs in result of that the carpeting of the road which was about to be ready was flooded, and also drainage system was damaged and even flooding in strong lands occurred rampantly.”
Regmi further revealed the names of two non-local contractors, “Alam Enterprise of Siliguri with West Bengal Trucks have been entering the rivers and excavating and the other one is LD Bhutia of Arunachal Pradesh who used to run crusher plant at Rorathang under the license of one of the locals. However, we had opposed the crusher plant due to which the plant is non-functional currently.”
Regmi further informed that despite approaching the state government no strict steps were taken, “we had also approached the concerned department, but no preventive steps were taken and also in the past our Area MLA had inspected the sand Mining sites in which he had ordered the concerned department to build reinforcement walls in the village however no such was constructed, and the sand mining didn’t even stop.”
“No Acts allow the contractors to put machines in the river and excavate sand however they do so and this is not only the condition of the Rorathang river stretch, but this kind of activity is happening all the parts of rivers in our Sikkim”
Regmi appealed the Chief minister Prem Singh Tamang-Golay to intervene, “the forest department is not working in favor of the people rather they are aligned towards the contactors of the illegal sand mining, so I request you to kindly intervene and take the matter as a serious concern.”
In addition, he further stated that,“ If the state government fails to reach out and find applicable solution to the happening Illegal Sand Mining at Rorathang River stretch we will knock the doors of other organizations.”
Kedarnath Tiwari SMC member Sokpay was also the part of the press conference, who accused Land Use and Environment Chairperson for cutting trees illegally in the Sokpay JH School, “Regarding the tree falling we had lodged FIR at Yangyang Thana but no enquiry has been set up so far, and I have realized that Police of Sikkim is only after finding people on whether people are wearing masks or not.”