Thursday, October 18, 2007


No development will come at the cost of the culture, tradition and identity of the Lepchas: Dr.Chamling
GANGTOK, October 17: A major breakthrough has been achieved on the long 118 days of ACT led hunger strike by way of a direct dialogue between Chief Minister Pawan Chamling and representatives of various Lepcha organizations.
A delegation of representatives from various Lepcha associations under the banner of Dzongu Holy Land Protection Joint Action Committee met the Chief Minister yesterday at his official residence at Mintokgang and placed a memorandum of demands over Dzongu issue which primarily sought government protection and preservation of Dzongu and traditions and customs of primitive Lepcha tribe in Dzongu and State.
During a meeting “held in a cordial and positive atmosphere”, the chief minister committed to protect the sanctity of Dzongu and said that no development will come at the cost of the culture, tradition and identity of the Lepchas.
He further stated that the Government of Sikkim has stopped all works on all the five hydel projects till the Review committee completes its report. He also urged the members of the JAC, particularly the members from outside Sikkim to view the issue rationally and suggest necessary steps to find reasonable solution and that the ACT should participate in the review process so that the Government can find a way to fulfill the wishes of the Lepchas without having to face legal and other complications later on.
Most importantly, the meet is considered by the Lepcha protestors as a “historic meet” which enabled the tribe to reestablish their dialogue and put forth their demands directly to the chief minister. It may also be mentioned here that the ACT had been demanding to place their grievance directly to the chief minister from the first day of the hunger strike.
In the memorandum, the Dzongu Holy Land Protection JAC had stated that Dzongu is the one and only land from where the Lepchas originated and will return to their ancestors after death no matter where they reside. “No matter which religion we belief or practice today, we are primarily nature worshippers and so the mountains, lakes, rivers, hills, trees etc in Dzongu are sacred to us,” the memorandum read.
Many Lepcha leaders also put forward their observations on the contagious issue of the implementation of the mega hydroelectric power projects in North Sikkim, including those proposed in the Lepcha reserve of Dzongu.
Informing that all the organizations involved in the protest are apolitical and committed to the cause, the JAC during the meeting also believed that the hopes and aspirations of the Lepchas will be fulfilled soon.
Moreover, the Satyagraha will continue till a final solution is achieved, JAC leaders say.
The JAC was represented by the President, Lyangsong Tamsang, who is also the President of Indigenous Lepcha Tribal Association. NT Lepcha, Secretary Kalimpong Lepcha Association, SM Lepcha ,Advisor Darjeeling Lepcha Association, Dorjee Lepcha, President Rong Ong Prongzom, KPG, Advocate B Namchu of Kurseong Lepcha Association, Nhen Tsh Lepcha, President of Darjeeling Lepcha Youth Wing, Samden Foning, General Secretary Darjeeling Youth Wing while Namgyal Lepcha, Advisor CLOS, Gyatso Lepcha, President CLOS, Representative of Sangha of Dzongu, Tenzing Lepcha. And Sherap Lepcha of ACT were representatives from Sikkim State.
The day was also the 59th day of the hunger strike initiated by the Lepchas of Kalimpong and the 46th day of the Lepchas of Darjeeling. All the associations had carried out the hunger strike to protect the Sanctity of Dzongu against the implementation of numerous destructive Mega hydro electric Power Projects in North Sikkim.
The meet was also attended by senior cabinet Ministers and senior government officials.