Gangtok, Oct 14 (UNI) Central secretariat member of the CPI(M) Nilotpal Basu today said that the Constitution empowers the Centre to intervene for the protection of minority communities, including the Lepchas.
Reiterating the party's support to the protests against the proposed mega hydel power projects in a Lepcha tribal reserve, Mr Basu said the Dzongu issue was about protecting primitive tribes and their cultural significance.
''Our Constitution provides for preservation of different cultural and ethnic identities,'' the Left Front leader said while addressing a gathering of the Lepcha community, political leaders and social organisations.
''Besides Dzongu, issues from the Northeast as a whole were not considered properly by the Centre, no matter which ever party came to power,'' he said.
Lepchas from Dzongu at North Sikkim, under the banner of Affected Citizens of Teesta (ACT), were currently on a relay hunger strike from June 20 to protest the proposed implementation of mega power projects in Dzongu.
Six mega projects were being planned in Dzongu, which is inhabited by the last few members of the indigenous Lepcha community, who consider the area as sacred.
The protests had spread to the Lepcha community living in the neighbouring Darjeeling region also.
Meanwhile, the ACT today submitted a memorandum to Mr Basu, appealing for his party's intervention to scrap the proposed projects in Dzongu.
Mr Basu said developmental projects should address all the concerns or else the projects will be ''destructive''.
''If the hydel projects go ahead, Dzongu will be destroyed,'' he remarked.
Appealing to all to come forward in support of the Lepchas, the leader said the CPI(M) would support the Lepcha movement as their demands were justified.
Similarly, CPI(M) MP from Darjeeling Saman Pathak told the gathering that he had already raised the Dzongu issue twice in the Parliament and urged the local representatives of national political parties (Congress and BJP) to exercise their power in this issue.