Mangan: Hundreds of pro dam supporters of NHPC Tessta Stage IV hydel project in Dzongu staged a protest in Mangan town on Thursday.
Most of those protesting are land donors from the Right Bank of the river. For years, Affected Citizens of Teesta, river activism and anti-dam protesters have been opposing the dam project from the Left Bank of the river.
Teesta Stage IV, a 520 MW hydroelectricity plant at Lower Dzongu is yet to be initiated despite the Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2006 between the NHPC and Sikkim Government for the plant.
The land donors staged a protest demanding early initiation of dam construction upon Lower Dzongu. They submitted a three-point memorandum to District Administration with Additional District Magistrate Karma Denzongpa receiving the memorandum from the supporters.
The pro dam locals claimed, “There is no substantial progress in the implementation and land acquisition process by December this year, the villagers will write to the Prime Minister appraising him of lackadaisical attitude of the district administration and the project authorities in implementing the long term green energy goals of the country.”
The agitating pro-hydro power villagers further said, “If there is no progress by December, it can only be assumed that NHPC is in agreement with certain anti-hydropower elements in the society and is not interested in increasing hydropower generation. The land owners will ask the power developer to stop the generation of Teesta Stage V and abandon the under-construction Teesta Stage VI project also.”
The land owners also demanded compensation for losses suffered by them during the last 17 years since the Letter of Intents was issued to NHPC in 2003.
When asked about the present status of the project, NHPC Senior Manager (Environment Division) Dr A K Jha said, “Despite first phase environmental clearances issued by the Ministry of Forest and Environment between 2017 and 2019 and after issuance of land acquisition, no substantial development has happened. As per Forest Rights Act, it was mandatory to get consent from all the affected stakeholders. Out of 10 Gram Panchayat Units, seven have already given consent for the implementation of projects. However, three Gram Panchayat units are still not agreeing to get second phase clearances.”
NHPC officials informed the initial project cost of Rs.3594.88 crore has increased to Rs. 6113.12 crore. “If further delay there is very less possibility of implementation of project due to overrun cost burden. NHPC is very positive that within the next three to four months, they may get all necessary clearances for early implementation of the project. If a further delay is hinted for closure of the project, it will be a great loss to the nation in the green energy sector,” the officials said.
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