Saturday, June 30, 2007

10 DAYS:Sikkim tribals protest against Teesta hydel projects

Gangtok: Lepcha tribal leaders are on an indefinite hunger strike to protest against the seven mega hydro power projects planned along the Teesta River in Dzongu, the protected area in North Sikkim.
The tribals fear thousands of people will be displaced if the dams are allowed to come up and the environment would be irrevocably damaged.Lepcha tribe has formed "Affected Citizens of Teesta" (ACT), a social and environmental group, to fight against construction of the mega hydro power projects.The tribals say that even the higher authorities have not taken any action on their repeated appeals.ACT General Secretary Dawa Lepcha said: "We have approached the higher authorities, including the Chief Minister Pawan Chamling. He had assured us that he would review the projects and see if the projects are really harmful to the people or if the people do not want them. He gave us his assurance that he would stop it. But there was no review and nothing came up".Dawa Lepcha is one of the three tribal leaders who went on an indefinite hunger strike on Thursday. The ACT said that it would carry on with its strike until the projects are reviewed and their demands are fulfilled.It is feared that the implementation of such projects will destroy the protected area. ACT President Athup Lepcha said: "We are protesting these projects in the interest of preserving and protecting the environment, ecology and biosphere reserves."There are over 22 projects listed for construction on the Teesta River, considered the lifeline of the State, which originates from the Himalayas and merges with the mighty Brahmaputra in Bangladesh.

Copyright -ANI