Tuesday 8 January 2008
200 confused days are more than enough for both sides to have proven their point. One of course speaks of relay hunger strike launched in protest against the hydel project(work has begun on only one thus far) in Dzongu.
The protestors have made it clear that they are serious about their protest, convinced in their reservations(against the project) and committed in their pursuit to protest it. The Government on the other hand, by refusingto buckle in completely, has announced itsconviction on hydel delivering development to the Lepcha Reserve.
Two hundred days of continuing protest and stone- walling should have conveyed the message that protests and defence deliver only status quo; resolution requires communication. It is not enough for the protestors to count the number of support groups that have stepped forward or the expanded area of protest that the issue now commands. Similarly, the Government should not relax in the knowledge that the project related works have entered the next phase and that legally, there are no obstacles.
Development conflicts are not easy to resolve, but the present case is even worse; the two sides have withdrawn deeper into their incommunicado shells in the nearly seven months that have passed. At a time when they should have been debate across the table, they exchange snide remarks through the media. Reiterating positions taken 200 days back does not serve the issue at hand; it only reflects the failure of the two sides to approach the point of conflict with the intent to resolve it.
No one expects them to get along and the meeting need not be pleasant affairs, but they should get talking again……Get into shouting matches, but do it across the table. And please, approach the issue with the aim to resove it, not with the sole aim to win or embarrass.
(The above article appeared in the editorial column of NOW ! dated 7th January, 2008. Now! is a popular English Daily published in Gangtok.)
A programme was organized at BL House in Tibet Road Gangtok, the venue of the hunger strikes to mark the 200th day of the Affected Citizens of Teesta led Satyagraha which began on June 20th last year in protest of the hydel projects coming up in
The solemn function was attended by a large no of Lepcha organizations from various parts of the country and abroad who had gathered in a show of support and solidarity to the ACT cause which members Tenzing and Dawa braved for 63 days without food.
“We are happy with what we have and what we have survived thus far. We know development is necessary, but not at the cost of obliterating the very identity of the lepchas, the original inhabitants of
“We still have not received answers to various queries that we have put up till now. We are not against any party and we are above party politics”.But there are many who have labeled this call for justice as a political gimmick which is untrue” said Athup Lepcha, ACT President.
It was also mentioned that Akhil Bharititya Adivasi Parishad, a national organization representing the Scheduled tribes in the country will be holding a national level central meeting in Kolkata on 19th January which will bring the ACT protest onto one of the largest platform for deliberation. Representatives of 22 states from all over the country would be attending the meeting.
Meanwhile, reacting to the news report of the extension of the term of the Review Committee, the Affected Citizens of Teesta (ACT) has clarified that it had rejected the Review Committee long back and that there is no question of its president participating in the process as member in the said committee.
Stating that the ACT has made clear to the Government via letter dated 11/9/07 explaining their stand for not participating in the Review Committee, a press release issued by the ACT general secretary points out that they are in no way involved with the Review Committee.
According to the release, the Committee was formed “for the implementation” of projects in Dzongu by the government without any of the terms laid down by ACT being incorporated.
The release also clarifies that ACT had come to know of the extension of the term of the Committee only through media/newspaper reports.
The release further says that the news report that ACT member had mentioned that ACT “has not been given enough time to participate in deliberation” is misquoted.”