Hydel projects shut down in the Hills of North Bengal
Darjeeling, July 12, 2017: Intensifying the ongoing Gorkhaland agitation the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) supporters have shut down all the hydroelectricity power plants in the Darjeeling district. NHPC has stopped operations in the Stage 3 and Stage 4 of the Teesta Low Dam projects from Wednesday.
Before becoming incommunicado GJM President Bimal Gurung had threatened to intensify the ongoing agitation which would include the shutting down of all hydroelectricity projects in the Hills. GJM supporters in large numbers demonstrated in front of the hydel projects on Wednesday.
Following the demonstrations NHPC authorities decided to shut down the projects. An NHPC communication stated that despite the ongoing Gorkhaland agitation since June 9, the projects were operational and generation of electricity has been uninterrupted from the power stations.
However on Wednesday Gorkhaland supporters (500 to 600 in number) demonstrated at the plants demanding immediate closure. Fearing that the protest may turn violent and might damage the power stations, the stations were being closed down. The matter has been communicated to the District Magistrate's of Darjeeling and Kalimpong Districts claimed the communication.
The Teesta Low Dam (TLD) project, harnesses the Teesta river, which originates in Sikkim and flows through North Bengal, to create a 332 MW capacity-split into four stages. The first two stages for a total of 100 MW are in Sikkim while stage 3 of 132 MW and stage 4 of 160 MW are in West Bengal.
Stage 3 is a barrage with 132 MW installed capacity located near Rambi Ropeway, 8 km downstream from Teesta Bazar. Stage 4 is a dam with 168 MW installed capacity located 800 m upstream from the Coronation Bridge, 15 kms downstream from Stage 3. They were commissioned in 2013.
"We have heard of the shutting down of the NHPC hydel projects." stated Joyoshi Das Gupta, District Magistrate, Darjeeling. The West Bengal Government run Rammam Hydel Projects and Jaldhaka Hydel Project have also been shut down along with the private enterprise Nippon Hydel Project.
There have been several attempts to vandalise the Rammam Hydel Project located at Lhodama, 77km from Darjeeling town. Offices inside the project have been torched along with vehicles. The project produces 51 MW of electricity. Jaldhaka located in Jholong in the Kalimpong district generates 35 MW of electricity.
Nippon Pvt Ltd is the first private hydro power project in West Bengal. Commissioned 10 years ago it has a capacity of 3 MW of electricity generation. It is 70km from Darjeeling and is located in the Bijanbari Block.
The day marked the funeral procession of 36 year old Ashok Tamang who had passed away in a hospital in Sikkim. Tamang was injured in the scuffle between GJM supporters and security forces on July 8 in Darjeeling town. As the indefinite bandh continued the Gram Panchayat office in Duptin in Mirik was torched. In Kalimpong bare body rally in demand of Gorkhaland was taken out.