Wednesday, June 20, 2007



Gangtok:Teesta V Hydroelectric Project, is the first to be taken up in the six stage ‘cascade’ plan to harness 3635 MW of hydropower, all within 175 kms. of the river Teesta in Sikkim. It is a run-of-the-river scheme, involving a concrete gravity dam 96.45 m high and 182.5 m long at Dikchu which will raise the water level upstream before it is diverted through a 17.5 km long ‘head race tunnel’ (HRT) to the powerhouse at Balutar. The project was started in 1999 and is due to be completed by 2006. The project, being implemented by the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) is expected to generate 510 MW. Clearances under the Environmental (Protection) Act, 1986 and Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 were obtained in May 1999. The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the State Government and the NHPC in the year 2000.
The project is spread over three districts of Sikkim (East, North and South), with most of the land from East District. The traditional communities of Sikkim, the Lepchas and Bhutias are in a minority here as in the whole state. Dzongu is an area within North Sikkim that is reserved only for the Lepcha community. Although, most of the area on which the project is located is inhabited by the Nepali community, some land from Dzongu has also been acquired.

National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) Limited, a Government of India undertaking.
General Description

The Teesta hydroelectric project is the 5th stage of the Teesta basin development plan in the East District of Sikkim State of India. Teesta is one of the main Himalayan Rivers, which originates in the glaciers of Northern Sikkim at an elevation of over 8500m above M.S.L. The Project area besides being hilly is prone to incessant and heavy rainfalls for almost six months in a year & thus providing a real working season available for open construction works on the project only for about six to seven months in a year. Generally April to October are rainy months.

The Project is located in North, East and South districts of State of Sikkim. An all weather highway from Siliguri connects the project. The nearest airport is Bagdogra and the rail head is New Jalpaiguri, which is about 120 km from Dikchu (the dam site) and 90 krns from Singtam (the power house site). Gangtok the State capital is 30 km from Singtam.

In an effort to draw the attention of the State Government to the long-term implications of mega hydro-electric power projects, especially in North Sikkim, the affected people of the area has decided to go on an indefinite hunger strike from tomorrow.
Members of the Affected Citizens of Teesta (ACT), Concerned Lepchas of Sikkim (CLOS) and the Sangha of Dzongu will begin the indefinite hunger strike at the BL House here from tomorrow.
According to Dawa Lepcha, General Secretary, ACT, the people of North Sikkim, especially those from Dzongu, has been forced to go on this hunger strike following the lack of empathy shown by the State Government towards the concerns of the affected people over the mega hydel power projects planned in North Sikkim.
“We want the State Government to immediately stop all the projects planned in the Dzongu area in North Sikkim and review all the other projects in the pipeline in the rest of the State,” Mr. Lepcha said.
It may be mentioned here that the Central Electricity Authority in its 2001 preliminary ranking study of the hydroelectric potential of river basins in India identified 21 large projects in the state of Sikkim to generate 3193 MW of hydropower. Following this study, a 50,000 MW hydropower initiative was launched in 2003 under which Pre-feasibility Reports for 10 projects in Sikkim have been prepared. These projects are proposed to generate a total of 1469 MW.
Six Projects have been envisioned on the Teesta in Sikkim out of which Stages I-IV are in North Sikkim with an installed capacity of 2315 MW. Stage V (510 MW), which is located in North and East Districts is already under construction. Stage VI (360 MW) will be located further downstream in East and South Districts.
The 280 MW Panam power project is to come up in the Dzongu heartland.
Earlier, a joint meeting of the various organizations opposing the power projects in the State was held at the BL House here on June 14 which discussed the various social, environment and cultural repercussions posed by the massive hydro electric power projects in the State, especially in Dzongu in North Sikkim. The meeting reiterated that if the hydel projects didn't stop now, there would be wide-spread demonstrations against them in the future.