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Fast off after govt scraps four power plants

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By OUR CORRESPONDENT in Gangtok
  • Published 15.06.08
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Gangtok, June 15: Two members of Affected Citizens of Teesta broke their indefinite fast after the Sikkim government told them that four hydel power projects in the Lepcha reserve of Dzongu have been scrapped.

However, ACT will continue with the relay hunger strike, which entered 361 days today, till all hydel projects planned for Dzongu were cancelled. In the yet-to-be scrapped list is the 300 mw Panan hydel project, which the government is determined to go ahead with.

ACT general secretary Dawa T. Lepcha and member Tenzing Gyatso Lepcha were on fast for 96 consecutive days before they withdrew it yesterday after the Sikkim government’s intimation.

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 .

“We thank chief minister Pawan Chamling for his personal intervention in considering the wishes of the people of Dzongu. ACT also thanks the initiative of the Chungtahng gram panchayat committee for having taken a bold step to establish an effective communication between the government and the people because of which this decision was taken,” Tseten said.

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.

“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.

Earlier, a review committee set up by the Sikkim government had shelved the implementation of the four projects, but given the nod to the biggest one located in the heart of the Lepcha reserve. The committee’s suggestion that the Panan project was feasible, based on sustainable development, had not gone down well with ACT. The organisation had also expressed its reservations about the composition of the committee headed by chief secretary N.D. Chingapa.