An ongoing stir has been created due to the press releases on the official NHPC website and on their official twitter handle. The stir up was over the discussions between AK Singh, CMD, NHPC, and CM PS Tamang and his cadre of ministers that included Power and Labour Department Minister, Mingma Norbu Sherpa, Dzongu MLA, Pintso Namgyal Lepcha and MP Indra Hang Subba whose mention wasn’t on the press release but was evidently seen to be sitting in on the meet as shown in the pictures that came with the release. The discussions held were on NHPC 500 MW Teesta-VI and NHPC 520 MW Teesta-IV Projects in Sikkim.
The screenshots are been taken and are circulating social media and being discussed by people who have been fighting against the proposed hydroelectric projects, rendering people livid and concerned over the future of these projects. This has come in close proximity to the recent submissions of memorandums to various ministers and officers. The Local Governing Body of Hee-Gyathang GPU, Dzongu, North Sikkim, consisting of the Panchayats, along with ACT members and general public, had recently submitted a memorandum to the Governor of Sikkim, Ganga Prasad on his visit to North Sikkim regarding scrapping of hydel power projects, NHPC Stage IV power project and Panam Project in Dzongu, North Sikkim. These memorandums have also been reportedly handed over to all the ministers that have been mentioned above, as told by the members of ACT.
These projects, specially NHPC 520 MW Teesta-IV, have been viscerally opposed by the locals of Dzongu, the indigenous Sikkimese people, and environmentalist trying to save the last free flowing stretch of Teesta. The ethics of it transpires around the tremendous cultural hurt to the sentiments of locals. The Affected Citizens of Teesta (ACT) established in early 2004, since the proposal of hydropower projects and dams near Dzongu, is a forum which consisted mainly of indigenous Sikkimese (Lepchas) have been advocating against the hydropower projects. ACT has been stipulating the riddance of all hydel projects to protect environmental and socio-cultural ethos in the region.
A few years ago when Government of Sikkim announced the supposed approval of the Stage IV dam and to save the last free-flowing, untouched stretch of Teesta, hence kindling campaign “Save Teesta” that spawned. A team of young Sikkimese people under the banner of ACT took up the mantle to dismantle the proposal of the alleged “unholy” Teesta Stage IV, that would molest the last remaining stretch that is just about 11 Kms. The Lepchas of Dzongu, opposing the 520 MW Teesta Stage-IV project and 300 MW Panan project, the couple of which are constructed in Upper Dzongu, have been fairly vocal and in a constant fight since the proposal of these, let alone the construction.
The Chief Minister had already met AK Singh on April 2nd over “NHPC’s efforts and desired speedy execution of projects”, whose press release is still on the NHPC website.
The release reads:
“Shri A.K. Singh, CMD, NHPC had a courtesy meeting with Shri Prem Singh Tamang, Hon’ble Chief Minister of Sikkim on 2nd April 2022 at Gangtok, Sikkim. During the meeting, discussions were held regarding ongoing projects of NHPC in Sikkim including 500 MW Teesta-VI & 120 MW Rangit-IV Hydroelectric Projects and prospects of future Business Development in Sikkim. Hon’ble Chief Minister appreciated NHPC’s efforts and desired speedy execution of projects. He also assured continued support & cooperation of the State to NHPC.”
On this topic, Gyatso Lepcha, General Secretary of the ACT forum and an ardent founders of the Save Teesta movement posted on his facebook “NHPC website says that CM of Sikkim, MP of Sikkim, Power Minister of Sikkim and MLA of Dzongu had a meeting on 8th April 2022 in Delhi regarding 520 MW NHPC with NHPC officials.”
“Have they sold DZONGU? sincerely hope that this was just a courtesy meeting otherwise this will be the biggest scam and destruction not just in terms of monetary but on sentiments of indigenous people and to the ecology of state” the post added.