Gangtok,October13 : Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Kumar Chamling on Tuesday defended his government's decision to tap hydro power resources for augmenting revenues for development of the state even as he assured the Affected Citizens of Teesta (ACT), opposed to the move, that their genuine concerns and grievances will be addressed.
Addressing the ACT activities for the first time after the outfit withdrew its 27-month long agitation last month, he said that the state government had gone ahead with tapping its hydro power resources to generate revenues and ensure all round development in the state.
It must be understood by all that the state has limited natural resources for generation of domestic revenues and at the same time the hydro power potential worked out to be a tempting proposition for development to sustain the state economy in the long term, Chamling said.
It was in the larger public interest that the state government went ahead with the award of 29 projects to the developers so that Sikkim may become self-dependent in terms of economy through accrual of revenue from the hydro power projects, the Chief Minister said.
The general public interests and the impact of the hydro power projects on the ecology and environment of the Himalayan state too were taken into account while going ahead with the projects, Chamling said.
On the ACT's contention that the hydel projects at Dzongu posed a threat to the socio-cultural and religious ethos of the indigenous Lepcha people, the Chief Minister said that the majority in the area favoured hydel projects and had elected the ruling Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) nominee Sonam Gyatso Lepcha as their MLA. However, the state government has respect for opposite views, he said and asked the ACT to submit their demands to the high powered committed headed by the Chief Secretary for redressal.
The ACT Chief Coordinator Tseten Lepcha said that the organisation always wanted the state government to hear their grievances, but it did not work out, prompting them to carry on with the agitation.
The ACT had called off its 27-month agitation against the proposed projects at Dzongu in North Sikkim on September 27.
The ACT had hailed the state government's decision to engage in dialogue with it but said that it was keeping all its option, including judicial remedy, open if the dialogue failed to address its concerns.