Hundreds of pro dam supporters of NHPC Tessta Stage 4 hydel project in Dzongu staged a protest in Mangan town on Thursday. Most of those protesting are land donors from the Right Bank of the river. For years, Affected Citizen of Teesta, a river activism and anti-dam protesters, have been opposing the dam project from the Left Bank of the river.
Teesta Stage IV, a 520 MW hydroelectricity plant at Lower Dzongu is yet to be initiated despite the Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2006 was reached between NHPC and Sikkim Government for the plant.
The land donors staged protest demanding early initiation of dam construction upon Lower Dzongu. They submitted three point memorandum to District Administration with Additional District Magistrate Karma Denzongpa receiving the memorandum from the supporters.
The pro dam locals claimed, “There is no substantial progress in the implementation and land acquisition process by December this year, the villgers will write to the Prime Minister appraising him of lackadaisical attitude of the district administration and the project authorities in implementing the long term green energy goals of the country”.
The agitating pro-hydro power villagers further said, “If there is no progress by December, it can only be assumed that NHPC is in agreement with certain anti hydropower elements in the society and is not interested in increasing hydro power generation. The land owners will ask the power developer to stop generation of Teesta Stage V and abandoned the under construction Teesta Stage VI project also”.
The land owners also demanded for compensation for losses suffered by them during the last 17 years since Letter of Intents was issued to NHPC in 2003.
When asked about the present status of the project, NHPC Senior Manager (Environment Division) Dr. A K Jha said, *Despite all first phase environmental clearances was issued by the Ministry of Forest and Environment in between 2017 and 2019 and after issuance of land acquisition no substantial development is happened. As per Forest Rights Act, it was mandatory to get consent from all the affected stakeholders. Out of 10 Gram Panchayat Units, seven have already given consents for implementation of projects. However, three Gram Panchayat units are still not agreeing to get second phase clearances”.
NHPC officials informed the initial project cost of Rs.3594.88 crore has increased to Rs. 6113.12 crore. “If further delay, there is very less possibility of implementation of project due to overrun cost burden. NHPC is very positive that within next three to four months, they may get all necessary clearances for early implementation of project. If further delay is hinted for closure of the project, it will be a great loss to the nation in the green energy sector”.
Following to the protest by the Pro-dam population, Gyatso Lepcha amogst the anti dam population said, “I inherit this patch of small yet precious land at the bank of mighty Teesta river from my ancestors ! “Our land is more valuable than your money. As long as the sun shines and the waters flow, this land will be here to give life to humans and animals. Therefore, we cannot sell this land. It was put here for us by Great Spirit, and we cannot sell it because it doesn’t belong to us ” #𝘚𝘵𝘰𝘱𝘚𝘵𝘢𝘨𝘦𝘐𝘝 #𝘚𝘢𝘷𝘦𝘛𝘦𝘦𝘴𝘵𝘢 #𝘚𝘢𝘷𝘦𝘚𝘪𝘬𝘬𝘪𝘮 #𝘈𝘧𝘧𝘦𝘤𝘵𝘦𝘥𝘊𝘪𝘵𝘪𝘻𝘦𝘯𝘴𝘰𝘧𝘛𝘦𝘦𝘴𝘵𝘢”