General Secretary of Sikkim Lepcha Bhutia Apex Committee (SIBLAC) Pem Tshering Lepcha issued a press release today thanking the Sikkim Government’s notification that scrapped two anti dharma (religious) power projects over River Rathongchu in West Sikkim. Sikkim government recently scrapped two of the three hydro power projects on the Rathong Chu river considered sacred by the Buddhists in Sikkim. The two cancelled projects are 96 MW Lethang and the 99 MW Ting Ting project. The state govt. has also kept the third project, 97 MW Tashiding hydro project under examination. The cancellations came nearly a month after a high-powered committee formed by the state government submitted its report recommending scrapping of projects.
SIBLAC said in its release that it’s the victory of dharma (religion). It said that the scrapping of this power projects is the victory of Sikkimese lineage and dharma, of the Sikkimese people, of the Sikkim Government and is indeed the victory of peace and tranquility. This notification ensures preservation and respect to the age old tradition of Sikkim, propounded by Mahaguru Padmasambhava, way back in 8th century AD, it said.
It further reads, “We thank all the Monastic bodies of Sikkim, the Sikkimese people, Sikkim Government, various NGOs, National Minority Commission member Ms. Spalzes Angmu for all their support and cooperation rendered in scrapping these anti dharma power projects.”
“With equal breath, we appeal the Government to immediately scrap Tashiding HEP as well, also slated over the same sacred Rathonghcu as it is the spiritual aspects that Sikkim is symbolic to, rather than materialistic scopes.”
However, it was easy for the state govt. to scrap the Ting Ting project since it was in the initial stages of land acquisition and the project in Lethang was rejected by the National Board for Wildlife last year. But in the Tashiding project more than Rs 100 crore has already been invested and tunnelling work has been going on. The state govt. has asked the high-powered committee to conduct another study on the project, exploring the possibility of keeping the project afloat.
Tseten Tashi Bhutia, a member of the Joint Action Committee (JAC) and convener of Siblac had said last week that had the state government listened to their demands, the expenditure (of Rs 100 crore) would not have been incurred. He had said that the Pawan Chamling government had scrapped a Rathong Chu project at Lethang in 1997 after an amount of Rs 33 crore had already been spent. The JAC will organise a rally on February 13 at Geyzing against the Rathong Chu project.