ACT protest against hydel power projects completes 200 days

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Gangtok, Jan 6(UNI) The Affected Citizens of Teesta(ACT) have decided to harden their stance in their protest against the mega hydroelectric power projects proposed for Dzongu in North Sikkim.

Tired over an "unresponsive state government" regarding their protests the ACT have pledged that ''Dams in Dzongu will be built over our dead bodies''.

The message that they will fight the mega projects proposed in the Lepcha reserve of Dzongu 'tooth and nail' was made clear today with banners screaming out their protests combined with speeches stating that the projects would come at the cost of their lives.

The ongoing relay hunger strike and protests carried out by ACT in association with the Concerned Lepchas of Sikkim(CLOS) and the Sangha of Dzongu today reached their 200th day. A function was organised at the BL House here to mark the occasion.

ACT general secretary Dawa Lepcha, who along with Tenzing Lepcha fasted for 63 days, said they had approached the highest authorities in the country from the President to all other concerned authorities regarding the issue.

''Dzongu is the heart of the Lepcha world. The place of the origin of the Lepchas and all their customs and traditions. The only place from where their ancestors had descended,'' said Lepcha.

''On the occasion of 200th day of protest against the mega projects in the last bastion of the Lepchas, I declare that dams in Dzongu shall be built over our dead bodies and in no other way,'' he said.

Lyangsong Tamsang, the president of the Joint Action Committee of Lepcha association based all over the country reiterated Dawa and said that this was not just a speech and that the Lepchas would act on it. Tamsang also said that all the Lepchas of Ilam, Nepal, Bhutan and all over India as well as those settled abroad supported the protests against the projects in their 'holy land'.

He also said that he had been invited to the All India Adivasi Vikas Parishad's national convention to be held in Calcutta on 19 January to speak on the issue of the protests over dams by the Lepchas in Sikkim.

Dorjee Lepcha, president of the Darjeeling-based Rong Ong prongzom, said that a 40 member contingent would visit Dzongu shortly on a pilgrimage and also to assess the situation. He said that 20, 000 Lepcha youths who were ready to die for their holy land had already been mobilized.

A new flag of ACT was unfurled at the function followed by a release of a documentary on Teesta and Dzongu titled 'Message from Mayel Liang' at the function attended by some 200 members of the Lepcha community. Mayel Liang means the home of Lepchas in Lepcha language.

UNI BG LL RD 1918

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