Monday, August 20, 2007

4 Dzongu Flash Flood Victims Had No Inner Line Permits

Gangtok, Aug. 19: The four surveyors who were washed away in a flash flood in Dzongu in North Sikkim on Thursday did not have entry permits for the Lepcha reserve.
All four were employees of Shivalik Geological Survey, a Hyderabad-based agency engaged by Himagiri Pvt. Ltd to develop the 280mw Panan hydel power project on the banks of the Tholung Chu river.
The members of Affected Citizens of Teesta (ACT) have been protesting against all hydel power projects in Dzongu on religious and environment grounds. Outsiders need permits to enter the reserve.
In Gangtok, 65km from Dzongu, the relay hunger strike by ACT members at B.L. House completed two months. There has been no headway in the talks, with the government making repeated appeals to the members to break the fast. A car belonging to Himagiri was also set on fire in Gangtok last night. Police are yet to track down the culprits.
The ACT enjoys the support of the Opposition in the state and 25 Congress workers, who were arrested for burning the effigy of Sikkim Governor V. Rama Rao on August 4, were released on bail yesterday.
Four persons, including the general secretary of the state Congress J.B. Darnal, had been picked up on August 5 and 6, for the incident. The remaining 21, led by party vice-president Major T. Gyatso courted arrest five days later.
The Congress members were protesting against the alleged apathy of the governor towards the fasting members of ACT, despite repeated appeals by the Opposition.
Like their counterparts in Sikkim, the Lepchas of the Darjeeling hills have decided to go for an indefinite relay hunger strike in Kalimpong from August 23.
At least 10 representatives from different Lepcha organisations of the hills will sit on fast at Titanic Park till their demand is met.
Efforts are also on to hold similar hunger strikes in Darjeeling. “We are still awaiting permission from the administration. Once that comes through, we will begin our strike there as well,” said Choygen Lepcha, secretary of Rong Ong Prongzom (Lepcha Youth Organisation).
A Lepcha team from Kalimpong, which will also include representatives from Sikkim, will leave for New Delhi on August 25 to take up their cause with UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi.