Monday 16 June 2008
DAWA AND TENZING FINALLY CALLOFF INDEFINITE HUNGER STRIKE OF 96 DAYS HOPING THE GOVT WILL RECIPROCATE THEIR SACRIFICE AND PEACEFULPROTEST............
Dawa Lepcha and Tenzing Lepcha, Satyagrahis and members of Affected Citizens of Teesta finally broke their indefinite fast after going 96 days hungry.
However, ACT will continue with the relay hunger strike, which entered 361 days today, till all hydel projects planned for Dzongu were scrapped even though the government is determined to go ahead with it and the Chief Minister firmly reiterating of going ahead with all costs.
ACT vice-president and chief coordinator Tseten Lepcha said along with his organisation, Concerned Lepchas of Sikkim and the Sangha of Dzongu — the three bodies spearheading the anti-dam protests to preserve the fragile ecology of the Lepcha reserve — consider the government’s decision a bold one with regard to the scrapping of 4 smaller hydel projects coming up in Dzongu and seems optimistic of the government reconsidering the 300 Mw Panan Hydel Project too.
The letter from the principal chief engineer-cum-secretary of the state power department, P. Wangchen, requesting ACT members to call off the hunger strike said the 90mw Ringpi, 33mw Rukel, 120mw Lingza and the 141mw Rangyong projects have been scrapped officially. This is relevant as the government acknowledged it in writing to ACT.
“Ringpi and Rukel are located inside Khangchendzonga National Park. The government took a conscious decision not to allot these projects to any developer to conserve the environment and ecology of the area,” the letter to ACT president Athup Lepcha reads.
Meanwhile the Chief Minister laid the foundation stone for the 1200 MW Teesta Stage III Hydel Project coming up in ChungthangSspeaking on the occasion, he has welcomed and appreciated the decision of the Affected Citizens of Teesta (ACT) to withdraw their indefinite hunger strike but stated that the 300 MW Panan Hydel Project will not be scrapped.
Besides, the Chief Minister also said at the occasion that a two-storied building would be constructed for those people whose land has been acquired by the government for the power project here.
“The project on completion would supply 12% free power to the State Government for the first 15 years and 15% free thereafter. Full ownership would be transferred to the government after 35 years, which would significantly contribute towards GDP revenues and overall development of the State,” Mr. Chamling said.
He further said that the power project will bring in economic boom for the people.He also urged he promoters of Teesta Stage III to cater to all the demands of the local people, which include the construction of a Community Center, maintenance of roads, school repair, construction of monasteries, drinking water supply and the construction a statue of Guru Padmasambhava!
Stressing on the point that stopping on-going work at hydel projects even for a day means a loss Rs 500 crore, the CM said that the local people would get 80 % job placement facilities as per the guidelines given by the State Government.
The 1200 MW Teesta Stage III Project at Chungthang project has been awarded to the consortium of promoters led by M/s Athena Projects Private Limited under the joint sector with the State Government under BOOT (build, own, operate and transfer) basis for a period of 35 years. Athena Projects in turn formed a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV)-Teesta Urja Ltd- for the implementation for this project. The Teesta III is the largest power project in the State.
Earlier, the Managing Director of Teesta Urja Private Limited, YN Apparao while placing the technical detail of the project. Stating the project as totally environment friendly, Mr. Apparao said there would be two underground desilting cambers of size 285X16mX21.2m each to exclude silt particles above 0.20 mm. “There will be 60m high concerted faced rock fill dam, two numbers, 11.0 m finished diameter tunnels, one intake tunnel, two desiliting chambers, headrace tunnel, two pressure shafts, underground power house complex, tailrace tunnel and pothead yard,” he informed. The project has received all the statutory clearances from the concerned authorities, he added.
The Area MLA, Lachen Mangshila, Hissey Lachungpa and MLA, Dzongu, Sonam Gyatso Lepcha also addressed the gathering.
Well.....time will only tell whether promises made like the ones mentioned above shall actually be delivered in terms of economic development which they speak at the cost of the various negative factors that are taking place to achieve the said result.
Sadly, the Rangit Hydel Project commissioned a decade ago and the Teesta Stage V Project commissioned a few months ago does not have 80 % Employees that are local! Locals here do not have the exprertise or are trained on the technical aspects of running these turbines and will not have so in the future unless and until they are begun to be taught now!
Likewise, the government has left basic services it should provide compulsorily ....'like construction of a Community Center, maintenance of roads, school repair, construction of monasteries, drinking water supply etc'! to private white gold corporates!
Who dosent notice the utter disregard of even the responsibility of at least patching up the tiny stretch of NH 31 A above Kalijhora that the NHPC was responsible for damaging!
And the omnipresence of Guru Padmasambhava does not need to be reminded in a statue built by profiteers from a distant deccan land! I just hope it is not encircled like the Natraj!!
Barely a few months in the commissioning of the Teesta Stage V prject at Dikchu, serious cracks have appeared in the reservoir walls and its a time bomb waiting to explode. More and more big and massive hydel projects being commisioned by the government on a war footing is nothing but a cancer which will make all of us suffer rather than get enlightened by the vague promises of economic development. Well yes....time will tell....and i wont be wrong...
It is also disheartening to know that an IITian and another environmentalist goes on a fast unto death to protest and demand the scrapping of 4 barrages to come up below the gangotri before Haridwar. Interestingly, Uttaranchal is ruled by a BJP government . If Setu Samundram is as important than the gangotri, it is hypocritical and rather amusing that it isnt an issue. This is India at the present and Energy onward to the national grid seems to be the mantra and to be acieved at any cost and it does make me highly cynical of my existence living in the Himalayas at this point of time in history. Sadly, we do not live in interesting times!
With inputs from:The telegraph & the Sikkim Express.
Posted by weepingsikkim