SIBLAC urges Sikkim govt. to scrap hydro-power projects

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SIKKIM BHUTIA LEPCHA APEX COMMITTEE (SIBLAC) has said in a press release that Sikkim’s ruling Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) Government does not have any long-term vision for the development of hydro-power proejcts in Sikkim. Referring to the speech of governor B P Singh in a recent conference, SIBLAC said that the Governor of Sikkim could have invoked his full powers provided under Article 371F of the Constitution and ordered the State Government to scrap Ting-Ting, Tashiding and Lethang Hydropower Projects.

Excerpts from the Press Release

The Governor of Sikkim in his significant inaugural speech on Globalization and Cultural Practices in Mountain Areas: Dynamics, Dimensions and Implications recently at a conference in Sikkim University urged the policy makers of Sikkim to make judicious choices of development in view of concerns about ecology and culture. The government was referring to hydro-power projects of Sikkim.

The governor suggested that it is highly imperative that instead of blanket policies we evolve more imaginative strategies to tackle the developmental challenges as well as to suit the needs of mountain people. “Policies for fragile mountain environments require a holistic approach that adequately addresses the economic, social and environmental concerns. The stress should be on sustainable development with a long-term “, the Governor said.

It is notable that the International meet on the subject of Globalization and Cultural Practices saw the participation of internationally renowned ecologist Prof. P. S. Ramakrishnan whose report on Rathong-Chu had forced the ruling SDF Government to scrap the controversial Rathong chu Hydro Power project in the year 1997.

“This region (Yuksom-Tashiding) has a number of glacial lakes in the higher reaches. These are sacred lakes. The Rathong Chu, itself a sacred river, is said to have its source in nine holy lakes at the higher elevations, close to the mountain peaks. Besides, the river in the Yoksum region itself is considered to have 109 hidden lakes. These visible and less obvious notional lakes identified by religious visionaries are said to have presiding deities, representing both good and evil. Propitiating these deities through various religious ceremonies is considered important for the welfare of the Sikkimese people. It is no wonder that Rathong Chu is the focus of religious rituals. During the Bum Chu ritual, considered holiest of all festivals, held annually at Tashiding, the Rathong Chu is said to turn white and start singing. This is the water to be collected at the point where Rathong Chu meets the Ringnya Chu attracting thousands of devotees from the State and the neighbouring region”, Prof.Ramakrishnan observed in the same conference. He advised the State Govt. to scrap the Rathongchu Hydropower project.

The Platform for Joint Action Against Ting-Ting, Tashiding and Lethang Hydropower Projects welcomes the observation made by the Governor which assumes significance where the ruling SDF Government is indiscriminatly pushing hydro-power projects in Yuksom-Tashinding region at the ultimate expense of the most valuable Buddhist treasures and natural heritage.



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