Saturday, July 23, 2011

Sikkim boycotts NHPC Stage-IV Hydro Project

The affected people of Teesta Stage-IV and their representatives boycott the public hearing scheduled for 22 July at Namprikdang.
North Sikkim, 22 July: The affected people of Dzongu carried through their resolve to boycott the public hearing called for Teesta Stage-IV hydel project with complete unanimity today. When all of them, including their panchayats and MLA, remained no-shows at the venue of the public hearing, the Namprikdang Ground, even till noon, the DC [North], who chairs the public hearing panel, postponed the public hearing till further notice since not even a single person had shown up, save the concerned officials and NHPC representatives.
The venue was hit by a minor case of arson last night when some banners and decorations at the stage were burned by miscreants. No substantial damage was caused.

The affected people, along with their panchayats, it may be recalled, had resolved that even though they were not opposed to the project per se, they could not trust NHPC anymore since they had seen the denials and ignored promises suffered by the affected people of Teesta Stage-V developed slightly downstream from where NHPC proposes to develop the Rs. 3,594.74 crore Stage-IV. They had drafted an 11-point list of queries and clarifications [see NOW! issue dated 22 July 2011 for details], which was submitted to the DC earlier in the morning.
The joint representation of the panchayat and public details that they want a written reply from NHPC to all the queries before they reconsider their decision.
Announcing the postponement of the public hearing, the DC directed NHPC to carry out thorough public consultation before the public hearing whenever it is called for next so that such a boycott was not repeated.
As per the Environment Impact Assessment and Management Plan prepare for the project, a total of 14 villages/ blocks will be “directly affected” due to various project activities. The total population of these villages is 14,291 divided among 2,793 households. As of now, none of them has any faith in assurances that NHPC would have made at the public hearing.
The hearing was scheduled to begin at Namprikdang Ground in Upper Dzongu at 11 a.m. this morning, but no official business could be conducted in light of the zero turn-out of people or their representatives.
Speaking with media-persons here, the NHPC Executive Director [Siliguri], Dhiman Parija, sought to alleviate the feeling of hurt expressed loud and clear today, by insisting that if the corporation has missed out something, it will make amends.
He added that NHPC will now approach the affected people, understand their grievances in more detail and fulfil their demands. He also stated that the people should express their demands and commented that today’s boycott came as a surprise, insisting that “everything was normal till the day before”.
AK Choudhary, Chief Engineer, NHPC Teesta Stage-IV, explained the project details. NHPC plans to generate 2,372 million units of power from Teesta Stage IV, 13% of which will be the State’s share. He also stated that the corporation was “always open to discuss as per the memorandum”.
The Teesta Stage-IV hydroelectric project is located on the Teesta in North Sikkim and 327.07 hectare will be acquired for it- 143.49 ha Government and Forest land and 180.58 private land.
The proposed dam site is located downstream of the confluence of Run Chhu with Teesta near Chandey village.
The major components of the project are located on the right bank (Dzongu area) while other infrastructure (project headquarters, store, workshop and labour colony) will be created on the left bank to minimize the land requirement in Dzongu. The dam is to be located at Zimchung and Hee-Gyathang villages, while the adit works will be confined to the Gnon Sangdong GPU. The labourers and officers colonies are proposed in Tingchim-Mangshilla GPU.


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