Wednesday, July 04, 2007



GANGTOK: Three more persons today joined the on-going Satyagraha and indefinite hunger strike initiated by Affected Citizen of Teesta (ACT).
Ratna Bahadur Gautam (50) from Lower Raley under Rakdong Tintek Constituency along with Khemlal Gautam (60) and Sanchabir Limboo (61) both from Lower Samdur joined ten other protestors on the hunger strike today at the BL House here, making them the first ones from outside of Dzongu to take part in the hunger strike.
The three are affected persons from the 510-MW Teesta Stage V power project in East District, developed by the NHPC, which is presently in the advance stages of completion.
Ratna Bahadur Gautam informed that it was imperative that people from other communities joined the protests as the issue concerned all Sikkimese communities and not just the Lepchas of Dzongu. “We are the worst sufferers of the NHPC Stage V project and we do not want the same to be repeated at Dzongu. This is our way of extending our solidarity towards the cause and also give our moral support to ACT,” he said.
According to him, the Teesta State V project has been doomed right from the beginning and the local people have been suffering because of several lapses in environmental and safety norms by the project developer. “Severe cracks have developed in and around the damsite, head-race tunnel area and powerhouse areas, resulting into massive seepages of the water.” He also added that no compensation has been made till date to the affected families. “We are fed up of the vague assurances being provided by the Administration and has lost our faith completely’ says Sanchabir Subba. According to them, various applications were submitted to the office of the District Collectorate but in vain.
The indefinite hunger strike completed its two weeks today, with no break in the deadlock in sight. While Tenzing Gyatso Lepcha and Chimi Ongyal Lepcha are still in the Hospital and continuing with their hunger strike from there, Dawa Lepcha, ACT general secretary is leading the hunger strike after being discharged from the Hospital three days ago.
Meanwhile, in a press statement issued by IPR Department, Government of Sikkim clarified that none of the projects components fall within the Khanchedzonga National park and its bio-sphere reserve. The press statement has further stated that all the steps have been taken and pros and cons have been probed in order to protect the ecology before taking the project and therefore there is no room for any apprehension. The development of ecology would be taken by Forest Department at the cost of developer, the press statement adds.