Wednesday, October 14, 2009
GANGTOK, October 14: Ending 915 days of protest against proposed mega power projects in Dzongu, North Sikkim, the Affected Citizens of Teesta (ACT) today formally entered into a dialogue with State Government with both sides expressing hopes of early settlement of grievances and concerns attached with the projects.
The State Government had invited ACT today for an ice-breaking meeting for the talks ahead after the anti-hydel body withdrew its 915 days of relay hunger strike on September 27 this year following the offer of talks.
Chief Minister Pawan Chamling, State power minister Sonam Gyatso and chief secretary TT Dorji were present during the meeting with ACT team led by its president Athup Lepcha and chief coordinator Tseten Lepcha here at Samman Bhavan.
While welcoming the ACT for the dialogue with the State Government, the Chief Minister said that he had never intended to hurt the sentiments of the people of Dzongu, North Sikkim with the mega power projects. These developmental activities have been ushered in the by State Government with the objectives of making Sikkim an economically self-reliant and giving tempo to the ongoing socio-economic development of the State, he said.
Incidentally, today was the first time that Mr. Chamling had come face to face with the ACT since the protest began two years ago.
Appealing the ACT to forget the past, the Chief Minister said that both sides should focus on the present and work for the development of the State while giving enough protection to the local aspirations and sentiments.
“The doors of dialogue and let us sit together and talk. Let us search for solutions and not focus on problems only. Whatever the State government can do to pacify your concerns, we will do”, said Mr. Chamling asking the ACT to place their grievances and concerns to the Chief Secretary to set the dialogue process in motion.
Mr. Chamling also congratulated the ACT for the democratic mode of protest to raise the concerns attached with the mega power projects in Dzongu.
The Chief Minister added that the State government is leaving no stones unturned in developing Dzongu and other parts of North Sikkim. He informed that the State government has already launched into an ambitious project of setting up a monastery inside a massive rock in North Sikkim.
Earlier ACT president Athup Lepcha expressed his hopes that the State Government will address the issues and concerns of his body and Lepcha community of Dzongu during the talks.