Govt scraps 4 power projects, indefinite hunger strike called off

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Gangtok, June 14 (UNI) After sitting on an indefinite hunger strike for the past 95 days, two agitators, protesting against the hydel power projects, withdrew their strike today following the state government's decision to scrap four mega power projects proposed in Dzongu, North Sikkim.

Official sources said the scrapped power projects were Rangyong (141 MW), Lingza (120 MW), Ringpi (90 MW) and Rukel (33 MW), all of which fell in Dzongu, a protected area of the indigenous Lepcha tribal community in North Sikkim.

The two protestors, Dawa Lepcha and Tenzing Lepcha, began their indefinite hunger strike from March 12 under the banner of Affected Citizens of Teesta (ACT) against the proposed mega power projects in Dzongu.

The ACT had demanded scrapping of all the proposed projects.

Following the protests, the state government informed the ACT on June 12 that the four projects had been scrapped after carefully considering the sentiments of the local people and appealed to the body to call off its strike.

However, the state government informed it that the Panan project and NHPC Teesta Stage IV project proposed in Dzongu will not be stopped considering the investment already made by the developers and the long-term benefits it will bring to the government and local people.

Terming the scrapping of the four projects a ''positive development'', Dawa Lepcha reiterated that protests against Panan and Teesta Stage IV will be continued in the form of a relay hunger strike by the ACT.

Dawa Lepcha, who is also the general secretary of the ACT, said the Dzongu Lepchas were hopeful that the other two projects will also be scrapped by the government to protect the sanctity of Dzongu and its rich bio-diversity.

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