Wednesday, June 27, 2007


ACT to continue with the hunger strike; demands documents from State Government for further talks
GANGTOK: The talks between members of Affected Citizens of Teesta (ACT) and representatives of the State Government which was held here today ended up inconclusively, even as the indefinite hunger strike called by the protestors entered its sixth day today.
The meeting, which was held at the Conference of the Tashiling Secretariat here, failed to reach to any consensus between ACT and the State Government. The talks ended without any breakthrough with ACT reiterating that it was standing firm on its demands and continuing with the satyagraha and hunger strike.
The six-member ACT delegation was led by its president, Athup Lepcha. Other members of the delegation include Tseten Lepcha, Chief Coordinator, ACT; Choppel Lepcha, Vice-President, ACT; Sherab Lepcha, Joint treasurer, ACT; Gyatso Lepcha, president, Concerned Lepchas of Sikkim (CLOS) and Sonam Paljor, member, Concerned Citizens of Sikkim.
However, in the absence of the Chief Minister, the high-level committee of the State Government led by Minister DD Bhutia, also the acting Chief Minister, decided not to take any decision on the issue. The State Government committee also included the Chief Secretary, ND Chingapa; Additional Chief secretary, TT Dorjee; Power Secretary, DD Pradhan, Chief Engineer, Power Department, Pema Wangchen; Forest Secretary, DB Shrestha; District Collector, North, TN Kazi, including the Law Secretary and the Chief Conservator of Forests.
According to a Home Department communiqué, the State Government, during the meeting “requested ACT to call off their hunger strike in the interest of maintaining peace and tranquillity in the State.” The Acting CM, DD Bhutia apparently asked the protestors to call off the hunger strike on health grounds.
“We presented a memorandum to the high-level committee of the State Government placing on record our concerns and demands. We have demanded that the State Government furnish us with certain documents regarding power projects planned in Dzongu in order to initiate further talks. We have been assured by the State Government that all the required documents would be provided to us by June 28 this month. Only after this, we will consider having a dialogue with the State Government,” Tseten Lepcha said.
While it is clear that the State Government has been turning a blind eye to the various appeals and representations made by the affected people of Dzongu led by ACT all this while, this fact has become all the more apparent with the revelation that the Power Department apparently “misplaced” an important memorandum submitted to the Department by ACT.
In the memorandum that was submitted to the Chief Secretary addressed to the Chief Minister by ACT during the meeting today, ACT has said that the State Government went back on its words of assurance that all the concerns of the people of Dzongu would be resolved. “The Chief Minister had assured us that all our demands would be fulfilled following which we had called off our proposed protest rally scheduled to be held on December 12, 2006. We believed his words and we were confident and hopeful that our demands would be met with. However, instead of fulfilling our demands and resolving this issue, the State government went ahead with the process of land acquisition in Dzongu,” Mr. Lepcha said.
Having exhausted all other means of protest, the affected people of Dzongu had no other option but to go on the indefinite hunger strike, Mr. Athup Lepcha said, adding that ACT will continue with the satyagraha until its demands are fulfilled as envisaged by Article 371f of the Constitution.
“The present setup in the State Government should be responsible and bear the consequences of any affect on the health of the protestors on the hunger strike and also that of any national and international ramification brought about by this protest,” the memorandum said.
Meanwhile, three members from Dzongu have joined the relay indefinite hunger strike from yesterday. Dawa Lepcha and Tenzing Gyatso Lepcha, who are sitting on the hunger strike since day one, are still on the hunger strike.
The Sangha of Dzongu began their Nay-Sol puja (worship of nature) from today at the BL House. The puja will continue for another four days.
1. Certified copy of the Collector’s report submitted to the State Government under provision of the Land Acquisition (Companies) Rule 1963, relating to the Panan Hydro Project in Dzongu, North Sikkim.
2. Certified copy of the order/ direction/ authorisation of the State government issued to the Collector under the provision of the Section 3 of the Land Acquisition Act 1894, relating to the Panan Hydro Project in Dzongu.
3. A copy of the appointment order issued by the Comptroller & Auditor General of India appointing the auditor(s) of the SPDC, if it is a government company.
4. A copy of the State Government’s annual reports with the Comptroller & Auditor general’s comments relating to the SPDC for the year 2004-2005 and 2005-2006 laid before the Sikkim Assembly, if it is a government company.
5. A copy of the statute establishing the SPDC, if it is a corporation owned or controlled by the Sikkim government.
6. A certified copy of the Catchment Area Treatment Plan prepared by the Forest, Wild Life and Environment Management Department of Sikkim government and approved by the Ministry of Environment and Forest, government of India and the amount of cost scheme provided by M/s Himagiri Pvt Ltd as per the Article 4.6 of the Agreement signed on December 5, 2005 between the Energy and Power Department, Govt of Sikkim and M/s Himagiri hydro Energy Pvt Ltd
7. A certified copy of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) studies report prepared in full consultation with the Forest, Wild Life and Environment Management Department, government of Sikkim, as per the Article 4.8 of the agreement signed on December 12, 2005 between the Energy and Power Department, government of Sikkim and M/s Himagiri Hydro Energy Pvt Ltd.
8. A copy of the permit issued to M/s Himagiri Pvt Ltd or agents to enter the KNP by the Chief Wild Life Warden, government of Sikkim, for survey and studies.
9. A copy of the Clearance Letter/ Permit given to M/s Himagiri to execute the Catchment Area Treatment Plan in the Khangchendzonga National Park and Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve.
10. A copy of the letter of the Sikkim government appointing, ‘agent’ as per Article 1.2.2 of the agreement dated December 5, 2005.
11. As per the Article 1.2.5 of the agreement dated December 5, 2005, if ‘SPDC’ is a company registered/ incorporated under any law a copy of its certificate of incorporation/ registration.