You are on page 1of 17

You are here

   



Hydro Power Projects
(Source: Ministry of Power)

Steps/ Measures Taken by The Govt. To Exploit Untapped Hydro Electric Potential in NE Region

The steps/ measures taken by the Govt. to give boost to the development of the balance hydro potential in the region are discussed below:

A. Policy Measures: 1. Policy on Hydro Power Development, 2008 was notified by Govt. of India on 31.3.2008 which aimed to provide level playing field to private developers and also provided for a transparent selection criteria for awarding sites to private developers and also for provision of merchant sales of upto a maximum of 40% of the saleable energy. Some of the clauses of the above Policy on Hydro Power Development, 2008, as listed below, have been recently modified:

1. The cost plus tariff regime (in which tariff is to be determined by the regulator under section 62 of Electricity Act, 2003) has been extended for public as well as private sector hydro power projects up to December, 2015. 2. In order to enable the project developer (public as well as private sector hydro developers) to recover the costs incurred by him in obtaining the project site, as mentioned in para (a) above, he would be allowed a special incentive by way of merchant sales of up to a maximum of 40% of the saleable energy. Projects that do not conform to the prescribed time lines would however lose this incentive of merchant sales in a graded manner. With a view to ensure timely completion of

.these projects. Non-Availability of skilled man-power. Minister of Water Resources. Mega Power Projects Policy has been revised. agro industries and non agriculture industries. earlier in the year 2002 which stipulated that in the planning and operation of system. This condition would be operationalised by the appropriate regulator duly apportioning the Annual Fixed Charge accordingly. Some of the major issues/ constraints in the way of expeditious growth of hydro power development in the Region were identified by the Group like Environment & Forest Clearance including the issue of compensatory afforestation. need for infrastructural facilities like roads construction of bridges. for availing mega benefits has been reduced from 500 MW to 350 MW. Other Measures for timely completion of the projects: . has prepared a Draft National Water Policy in 2012. A Task Force under the Chairmanship of Hon'ble Minister of Power with Deputy Chairman. delays of every six months in the commissioning date would result in reduction of merchant sales by 5%. irrigation. For that purpose. Minister of New & Renewable Energy. Sikkim and the seven states of North East. ecology. 5. and policy interventions were proposed in its report submitted in Feb.. better road transport/ air services etc. National Water Policy was notified by the Govt. as per which the minimum qualifying capacity of thermal power plants to avail mega project benefits. The corresponding qualifying threshold capacity for hydro power plants located in the states of J&K. non-availability of hydrological & other data. efficient and reliable telecommunication links. 4. has been reduced from 1000 MW to 700 MW in certain special category States of J&K. the impact of the massive hydro power development in Arunachal Pradesh on down-stream areas in Assam. navigation and other uses. hydro power. Funding arrangements and Problems associated with Evacuation of Power etc. strengthening of existing roads. 2009 under the Chairmanship of Secretary (WR) on the directions of Prime Minister's Office (PMO) to evolve a suitable framework to Guide and Accelerate the development of Hydropower in the North East. water allocation priority should broadly be in the order of drinking water. Planning Commission. Sikkim and the seven states of North East. Minister of Environment & Forest and Ministers of Power from Hydro rich states has been constituted to look into all issues relating to development of Hydro Power. 3. The policy is being proposed to be revised. Constitution of Inter-Ministerial Group (IMG) An Inter-Ministerial Group (IMG) had been constituted by Ministry of Water Resources (MoWR) on 7th August. Govt. 2010. Ministry of Power was also represented in the Committee. B. 2.

2. Following mechanism is in place to monitor the progress of projects under construction: Central Electricity Authority (CEA) is performing the duties (monitoring of the power projects) in pursuance of 73 (f) of Electricity Act. interaction with the developers. Chairperson. CEA holds review meeting with the developers and other stakeholders to sort out the critical issues.In addition to the above Policy Measures. Monitoring of Ongoing Hydro Projects : 1. likely date of placing of order etc. 2. Advisory Group: An Advisory Group has been set up under the chairmanship of the Minister of Power to advise for expeditious completion of ongoing power generation projects. status of E&F clearance. equipment manufacturers.  . 2003. and critical study of monthly progress reports. State Utilities/CPSUs/Project developers. 'Other Measures' taken for ensuring the timely completion of the projects presently under construction for benefits during 11th & 12th Plan period are given below: 1. etc.  Review meetings are taken by Ministry regularly with the concerned officers of CEA. regular meetings are taken by Chairperson. Monitoring of Future Hydro Projects :In addition to the Task Force which has been constituted under the Chairmanship of Hon'ble Minister of Power as mentioned above. Special Monitoring Group: A special monitoring group (SMG) under the chairmanship of Secretary (Power) has been constituted to discuss & sort out various issues through video conferencing for J&K and North Eastern Region. 3. CEA to review the status of future hydro projects allotted to various developers like preparation of DPR. The progress of each project is monitored continuously through frequent site visits.  A Power Project Monitoring Panel (PPMP) has been set up by the Ministry of Power to independently follow up and monitor the progress of the hydro projects.

No. III 9.5 6x200 4x125 3x40 99 1200 500 120 2013-14 2013-15 2015-16 2014-15 . VI 10. Teesta St. (NEEPCO) 3. 2012) Status of Development of Hydropower Projects in Arunachal Pradesh (January. Teesta St. New Umtru Sub. Scheme State Capcity ( (State Sector): Private Sector 7. (NHPC) Kameng 2. 2012) Sl. Myntdu * 6. Pare (NEEPCO) Tuirial 4. 2010) Hydropower Projects Under Construction in NER & Sikkim (Source: Ministry of Power) (as on March. Rangit-IV Arunachal Pradesh 8x250 Arunachal Pradesh 4x150 Arunachal Pradesh 2x55 Mizoram 2x30 2016-17 2016-17 2014-15 2015-16 Meghalaya Meghalaya 2x42+1x42 2x20 126 40 166 2011-13 2014-15 Sikkim Sikkim Sikkim Sikkim 2x49. 2012) Hydropower Development in Arunachal Pradesh (April.For details. x MW) Capacity under Execution (MW) 2000 600 110 60 2770 Latest Commissioning Central Sector Subansiri Lower 1. Chujachen 8. see below:    Hydropower Projects under Construction in NER & Sikkim ( (Central Sector): State Sector 5. (NEEPCO) Sub.

16. The Protest Rally organised by Platform For Joint Action Against 99MW Ting-Ting. 2012 The hills of Yuksam and Tashiding are alive with the sounds of villagers voicing their protest against the upcoming 97 MW Tashiding Hydro Electric Project (HEP). 13. Ltd only seem to be concerned about the investment they have already made on 97MW Tashiding HEP. 2011 Sikkim: Anti-Hydro Project group protests and cautions Govt Gangtok: February.One unit Commissioned in Nov.river scheme that divert Rathongchu river through mountain tunnels in Tashiding are damaging the fragile geology in an area that has already experienced the wrath of severe earthquake on September 18 last year. 12. the Shiga Energy Pvt. 99MW Ting-Ting and 96MW Lethang HEPs based on State High Power Committee’s Report. 21. 14. 97MW Tashiding and 96MW Lethang HEPs.11. which saw the participation of people from all over Sikkim on February 13.5 3x32 2x33 2x48 96 51 97 96 66 96 2421 5357 2014-15 2014-15 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17 2015-16 In addition to the above. the Shiga Energy Pvt. In a press statement the convener of Platform for Joint Actions. Environmentalists believe that this run-of-the. When their tunneling activities have endangered the life of residents of people and there is a wide spread apprehension about the way they are using explosives to blast the fragile mountains. Jorethang Loop Bhasmey Tashiding Dikchu Rangit-II Rongnichu Sub. * . 2012 at Gyalshing has provided much needed moral support to the villagers of project area in West Sikkim. said that the upcoming 97MW Tashiding Hydro-Electric Project being constructed by Shiga Energy Pvt. . 97MW Tashiding and 96MW Lethang HEPs is yet to submit its report on 97MW Tashiding HEP and whereas the Government has already abandoned two projects viz. Ltd will damage surrounding mountain resources and affect livelihoods of hundred of villages. said Tashi Bhutia in the statement. EPC Contract for Lower Demwe HE Project (5x342+1x40 = 1750 MW) in Arunachal Pradesh being implemented by ADPPL in Private Sector has been awarded but due to pending Forest clearance work has not yet started. Even though the High Powered Committee appointed by the State Government to examine the issues of (Private Sector): Total: Sikkim Sikkim Sikkim Sikkim Sikkim Sikkim 2x48 3x17 2x48. 15. Ltd is hell bent on implementing the 97MW Tashiding project. Tseten Tashi Bhutia.

Dubai.P. Pradeep Kumar at Gangtok on 6th. Now it is known to everyone in Sikkim that because of the deep tunnelling work undertaken by Teesta Urja in the fragile and tectonically active rock of the Chungthang region killed so many people in North Sikkim when earthquake took place. The Sikkimese people do not want to witness the Chungthang being repeated at Gyalshing-Tashiding and Yuksam area when the next quakes rattle their fragile mountains.Ltd some socalled ‘local’ workers engaged in the Tashiding HEP have come out strongly in support of the Tashiding HEP saying that abandoning the project would render them jobless. Ltd.12. The Teesta Urja’s Project at Chungthang has already taught them a lesson. Ltd. The Platform for Joint Actions is of a strong view that it will not allow companies. Shiga Energy Pvt.Ltd.2011 against (i)Dans Energy Private Limited(DEPL). The Platform for Joint Actions shall not sacrifice its movement intended to save the lives of generation-next Sikkimese simply because it will cost the jobs of few people.Ltd. At the behest of such vested interest group of Shiga Energy Pvt. The Platform for Joint Actions apprehends that private companies like Shiga Energy Pvt. Mr.A. should stop misguiding our innocent workers there at its site. What is most disturbing is their financial trustworthiness. This has come to light in a recent interim-order of Delhi High Court (O. The lives of people are more important than the jobs of few hundred people being engaged by Shiga Energy Pvt. Tashiding and Lethang HEPs must also examine the credibility and trustworthiness of all the companies engaged in promotion of HydroElectric Projects in Sikkim. while seeing the mounting people’s protest against their Tashiding HEP is using another means to achieve its end.February 2012 he suggested that. 19638/2011) judgment passed on 23.M. Platform for Joint Actions stated in strong voice. The Committee should take note of the fact that in a press statement made by a New Delhi based representative of Mauritius Investing Company Aitreya Ltd. 819/2011 & and I. The so-called workers of Shiga Energy Pvt Ltd. (Who is also the Director of Shiga Energy Pvt.(ii) Energy Innovations Limited. the Sikkim Government should conduct a thorough inquiry of all Power Developers engaged in Sikkim. acting as a front for dubious investors and hedge funds. the statement added. Its drive for profit has put the morality and ethics at back seat. The State appointed High Powered Committee on Ting-Ting. Ltd. to exploit our holy rivers and mountains just to multiply their riches and our government watch their interests and not of their citizens. . Dans Energy and the like are up to exploiting rivers in Sikkim simply for their financial gains. Platform for Joint Actions is always ready and available to State High Power Review Committee in case of any query or questions. Nagendra Rao.He claimed that the vested interest group of Shiga Energy Pvt. must take note of the fact that the Sikkimese people have joined this movement being spearheaded by Platform for Joint Actions spontaneously because they have learnt from their experiences of September 18 Earthquake. UAE (EIL) and (iii) T.

representatives from 1 all the monasteries of the former kingdom marched through Gangtok. actual and sensitive enough to find some echo in many Sikkimese hearts. original inhabitants of Sikkim. political and economic issues. Bhutia-Lepchas were offended. history and personality were sufficiently genuine to gain the trust and support of Bhutia-Lepchas. with Sikkim literally handed over with only one casualty among the Sikkim Guards.Cover A Sikkim awakening September 1995 By Ludwig Schaefer Share For the first time in Sikkim´s recent democratic history. Why were the Bhutia Lepcha. The area. On 29 July this year. demanding that their land and heritage be protected. the Sikkimese Bhutia-Lepcha have come forward to defend what remains of their original homeland. now representing only 20 percent of Sikkim´s population (which has registered a Nepali majority for over a century). uniting them and prompting them into action. Why Say No? The central argument -against the Rathong Chu is based on the cultural and religious significance of the project´s location. They were demanding that work on the Rathong Chu hydroelectric project be stopped and the whole exercise be abandoned immediately. the activists´ tactics. The docile Bhutia-Lepcha have little tradition of protest and tend to shun confrontation even when things turn unpleasant. Even the integration of the kingdom into the Indian Union in 1975 was carried out without much resistance. environmental. On the other hand. was prompted by the construction of a hydro-electric project in the very heart of Sikkim´s most sacred region. It was to be a full 20 years before Sikkimese lamas would take to the streets of Gangtok. as the project would in many ways desanctify the region of Demojong and they thought it unjust that the basic foundation of their history. otherwise renowned for its timidity. This sudden awakening of Sikkim´s indigenous population. who stand at the core of what is left of the Bhutia-Lepcha´s distinct identity. This is where the first Chogyal was crowned in 1642 AD. suddenly rising in opposition to a relatively small project of no more than 30 megawatts? On the one hand. culture and religion should be sacrificed in the name of ´development´ and for the benefit of others. the Rathong Chu project touched a combination of religious. known as Demojong. beating drums and cymbals and carrying banners. is the abode of Sikkim´s protective deities. which is the area of Yuksum beneath Mount Khang-chendzonga. leading to Sikkim´s birth as a kingdom. . cultural.

The memorandum submitted then was ignored even as the formalities to start the project were accelerated. and part of its catchment area lies within the Khangchendzonga National Park. Tashiding and Dzongu) are either located in areas inhabited by Bhutias. This group of Bhutia activists started a peaceful protest and a movement to educate. In August 1994. vandalise the stupas. and the state government had yet to appoint mem¬bers to the committee. Yuksum is one of the last stretches of land where Bhutia-Lepchas and the Tsongs are still in a majority. Finally.One cannot help but notice that all three new sites which have been selected for the construction of large hydroelectric projects in Sikkim (Yuksum.three tribal organisations (the Bhutia Lepcha Association. the project will have serious environmental consequences for one of the richest areas of the world in terms of biodiversity. fasted for 28 consecutive days. and it is feared that the g outsiders will import an alien £ culture. Meanwhile. before work had been started at the dam site.the court case led nowhere." Unfortunately. CCS member Sonam Paljor Denjongpa. the CCS staged a hunger strike in Gangtok demanding that work at the project site be suspended while an independent team of experts reviewed the entire project. Although the religious argument is what eventually motivated the Bhutia-Lepcha activists. exploit the ethnic minorities. In May 1995. the Concerned Citi-zens of Sikkim (CCS) was formed to fight the project. Those Who Oppose The first objection to Rathong Chu was expressed by the Association of Buddhist Monks of Sikkimon 24 July 1994. the Tribal Women´s Association. Sensing that drastic measures were required. or located near sites which are holy to the Buddhists. Chief Minister Pawan Kumar Chamling and Power Minister Yeshe Lachungpa assured Denjongpa that work would indeed be suspended and that "the State Government would constitute a high level committee which will thoroughly ex-amine all the aspects of the project duly taking into consideration the effect of the project over the environment. There is also resentment against the migration of thousands of outside workers who will come to Yuksum in search of job opportunities once the project is in full swing. with the in¬tention of getting the project scrapped. work still had not been suspended but was instead intensified. with hearings delayed and the construction work continuing. and the Association of Buddhist Monks of Sikkim) submitted a writ petition to the Sikkim High Court. on 5 July. and eventually build mandirs and mosques next to the stupas. Lepchas or Tsongs (Sikkimese Buddhist Limbus). social and historical sites of the area. three weeks later. They were firm in the belief that the environmental and socio cultural costs of the project would be too high a price to pay for its hypothetical economic benefits. degrade the environment. religion. a Sikkimese businessman who had returned from the United States as a lama. the hunger strike . The Concerned Citizens felt they had been cheated and started preparing the next phase of their movement. The project is located near a virgin forest. Unfortunately. cut the forests.

in monasteries as well as households.had established the newly-formed CCS and particularly its three core members. ancestor worship and healing rituals. as the one who faithfully carries out the orders of Guru Rimpoche. as persons who were ready to speak up and take risks in order to defend what remains of Sikkim´s cultural and religious heritage. but because they are one of the only segments of Bhutia-Lepcha society which can still unite and see beyond political and other differences. disease and bloodshed. Sikkimese lamas do not live their lives segregated from society. it only took one letter addressed to the 60-odd monasteries of Sikkim for the lamas to descend on Gangtok in large numbers. Chukie Tobden and Pema Namgyal. Being "Sikkimese" itself may in fact be defined by the worship of this mountain god. The Nay Sol describes the area of Demojong beneath Mount Khangchendzonga and mentions the abode of Sikkim´s deities in the name of mountains. Fear grew among the local population that anyone actively con¬tributing to the implementation of the project would be the future victims of the deities´ anger. not only because of the religious aspect of the controversy. The Importance of Demojong For the united action of the lamas to be understood. who are usually worshipped during harvest offerings. he may be worshipped as the owner of the land. trees. but are marwould directly affect the deities of Sikkim and provoke disasters in the form of natural calamities. uniting the territorial deities. Of all the deities of the land. These local deities. lakes and streams. were also incorporated into Sikkimese Buddhist rites. and as head of all territorial deities and spirits of Sikkim. hilltops. which is the main source of news for there mote villages of Sikkim. As a result. as protector of Sikkim´s nay (sacred locations) and ter (hidden treasures). Sonam Paljor Denjongpa. The Demonstration All India Radio´s Gangtok station. which is an offering to Dzonga and the local deities. it inte¬grated the original animist religion of the early inhabitants. The monks were the right group to appeal to. rocks. Dzonga has other aspects as well. whose invocation as a national symbol served to create the Sikkimese identity. When the CCS decided that the time had come for the lamas to defend the land. When Buddhism took root in Sikkim in the 17th century. many were quick to attribute the cause to the hydro-electric project and the dynamiting of the deities´ abode. When a series of accidental deaths took place throughout Sikkim during the hunger strike by Denjongpa. all Bhutia-Lepchas worship deities and spirits of the land who reside in the mountains. The Nay Sol ritual text. has been broadcasting the developments in the Rathong Chu protest in the Bhutia and Lepcha languages. one must first take a look into some peculiarities of Sikki-mese Buddhism and Sikkimese society. the Chogyal. the most important is the mountain god Khangchendzonga. caves. is the most important indigenous Buddhist ritual performed in the state. lakes and caves which form a circular area around the . the national festival of Pang Lhabsol was a celebration of Dzonga. To name a few. and his people under the Sikkimese flag. During the old days.

and most serve their communities with a limited understanding of higher forms of Buddhism. From the end of the last century. They have always lived in a valley of abundance. The plateau of Yuksum is con-sidered to be a Umkhang (house of gods) in the shape of amandala where the protective deities are made offerings to.Rathong Chu project site. Sikkim has no tradition of tulku. The influx of highly knowledgeable Tibetan lamas and tulkus into Sikkim following China´s takeover of Tibet has had a significant influence on the practice of Buddhism within the . The nay and ter in and around Yuksum as well as their religious significance are not known to the lay Buddhist public and their locations are considered secret knowledge. understanding of Sikkim´s territorial and ancestral deities or of how to serve the simple needs of their fellow villagers.state. in lush and under populated forests and jungles. and Sikkim´s revered masters of the past have always been enlight¬ened practitioners (Gomchen) who lived in retreat on the top of mountains. if any. which have made the hunger strike and the demonstration seem like such departures. may not only be due to their compassionate Buddhist background. These new lamas study in large monastic institutes instead of under village lamateachers and meditate in centres instead of joining their Gomchen ancestors on the mountains above their villages. The demonstration in Gangtok thus also served the purpose of re-turning the place of honour to the senior village lamas of Sikkim. territorial. Problems of an Internal Nature The Bhutia-Lepcha´s timidity and accommodating nature. have been replaced by Tibetan rimpoches. with their secret level of self-realisation and rumoured power. It has served to forge a particular form of Buddhism that is unique to Sikkim and its neighbouring areas. outer and secret meanings of the scriptures. They have been segregated and elevated above their community and now look down upon the senior lamas of their own village gompas. The mountain god Khang-chendzonga and his role as a national symbol is only the apex of a pyramid of territorial and ancestral deities who influence all aspects of Sikkimese village life. Only a small percentage of village lamas have had access to Bud¬dhist philosophical teachings. who have now become the most respected Buddhist figures in Sikkim. only certain lamas are capable of understanding the inner. In the rimpoches efforts to ´purify´ Buddhism. of what they have inherited and what their ancestors have stood for as being purely Sikkimese. While this syncretism may well be criticised by outside purists. Consequently. Thus. ancestral and Buddhist deities form a single hierarchy and are propitiated at the same time by lamas and shamans. the traditional pat¬terns of learning and practice were changed and a new breed of educated and well-dressed lamas came to the fore. with little. The elusive Gomchens of the past. and have access to the nay of Demojong. it has nevertheless evolved as a Sikkimese religious culture rooted deep in the topography and history of the land. when life became more competitive following British . so that they may express a wisdom which does not come from books but from the heart.

the Bhutia seem to fee more comfortable with an apparently impartial outsider as head of the state who may give the impress on of fair arbitration between their various factions. because it meant elevating one above all the others. the bustiwallas of the past. there was never any need for the Bhutia-Lepcha to conquer or look beyond their bor¬ders. These Christian Lepchas. The first division among the Bhutia-Lepcha is the one which still exists between the kazi (feudal landlords) and their tenant subjects. Bhutia bustiwallas were not necessarily treated any better by the kazis than were their Lepcha brethren. Bhutanese and British forces at different times in history. The second division is the one existing between the Bhutia and Lepcha communities themselves. locally referred to as ´Lho Men Tsong Sum´. many of whom are of mixed Bhutia-Lepcha descent. The third division is created by the fact that few Bhutia leaders would consider working under a potential rival. The reason for the Bhutia´s downfall in this respect is the superiority complex which many have displayed as a "civilised community" which had to educate the "untrustworthy and happy-go-lucky forest dwellers". The task of uniting Sikkim´s communities and creating a Sikkimese national identity was not an easy one for Sikkim´s Chogyals. Although they had to defend themselves against Gorkha. The Bhutia blame Nepalis for having recently antagonised the Lepcha against them in order to weaken the grouping as an electoral force.dominion and Nepali migra-tion. When Nepali-speakers eventu-ally took over the running of the state. While Sikkim´s specific form of Buddhism served as a common symbolic platform to unite its original communities. tend to portray the Bhutia as ruthless exploiters who have kept Sikkimese Lepchas under slavery for over three centuries. who generally feel closer to Nepali speakers with whom they have widely inter-married. they claim that this has been achieved by encouraging the migration of Christian Lepchas from West Bengal into Sikkim. As evidence. Although they have lived side by side for centuries and do inter-marry. it was not strong enough to sustain Sikkim´s fragile ethnic cohesiveness against the British divide-and-rule policy. they have had a definite problem uniting under a single leader. the Bhutia-Lepcha do not always stand together. Failing these. It would seem that the Bhutia´s trust and the legitimacy to rule may only be inherited by rights of descent or gained through external intervention. Landlordism was abolished only as late as 1951 and the kazis. Lepcha (Menri) and Limbu (Tsong). Specifically. the expansion of cardamom cash crop farming smoothly carried them through from a subsistence to a mar¬ket economy. Ever since the Bhutia lost their Chogyal in 1975. Sikkim was founded as a multi-ethnic state which from the beginning had a mixed population of Bhutia (Lhori). internal in nature. . nor the aggressively productive and overwhelming mig¬rant Nepali population. Rather. their problems have been. Bhutia-Lepchas had no resistance to offer as they had by then already been fragmented as a community. form a social class of their own who have at times preferred to associate with high-caste Nepalis rather than with non-kazi members of their own ethnic community. Sikkim has never had a Bhutia Chief Minister. Although there is some degree of truth in these accusations. and still are.

This created an uproar among the Nepalis. the Bhutia-Lepcha are beginning to realise that they have more in common than they might have been led to believe and that only by working together can they defend their common interests. Recently. the idea of uniting is such a foreign concept that they need time to get used to it. Gurungs and Tamangs pressing the Indian Government to grant them the status of Scheduled Tribe. separate issues. theCouncil has gained widespread support among Lepchas of North Sikkim who are ready to voice their objections but until recently lacked the organisational power to muster quick and effective resistance. which triggered another one among the Bhutia-Lepcha. Without going into too much detail. one concerned the reservation of 13 seats for the Bhutia-Lepcha in Sikkim´s 32-member Legislative As¬sembly. Non-Lepchas are forbidden to settle in Dzongu and may only enter with permits for seasonal agricultural work. 1200 MW) still in its planning stages. an already existing association with similar purposes. Teesta will bring in thousands of outside workers into the protected area of Dzongu. However. The provision had been chal¬lenged in the Supreme Court by a Nepali politician. These political and economic rights which had been granted by their Chogyals and secured by the Indian Constitution have in a way even protected the Bhutia-Lepcha from themselves. and come under.The staggering number of cultural. which they assume would be sufficient to allow them to acquire protected Bhutia-Lepcha land. just sat there in silence to observe the hunger striker and were clearly puzzled as to how on earth anyone could stop a project at one end of the state by starving himself and lying . Protected Lands Despite these differences. and the Lepcha would soon lose what is left of their culture and territory. a Lepcha reservation created by Chogyal Tashi Namgyal in order to protect the vul¬nerable Lepchas of North Sikkim. by keeping them united over essential issues. This restriction will have to be lifted if the mega-project is to come up. The Lepcha from Dzongu who visited the site of the CCS hunger strike in Gangtok. The second was over the "income tax issue". Over the years. when New Delhi proposed to introduce central income tax in Sikkim but to exempt the Bhutia-Lepcha community. and a mega-hydroelectric project on the Teesta (phase III. Now that they only represent 20 percent of the population. there are thousands of Limbus. The Teesta project has been opposed for some five years by the Sikkim Tribal Salvation Council chaired by ex-Minister Athup Lepcha. religious or welfare associations that exist among Bhutias and Lepchas in Sikkim is enough to illustrate the point that any person with an idea and a goal feels it a duty to form a new association rather than join. These two projects do not only challenge Bhutia-Lepcha religious rights but also question the delicate matter of protected Bhutia-Lepcha lands. Yet another issue which may bring the Bhutia-Lepcha even closer is the proposal for Rathong Chu. A wise Chogyal at the beginning of this century had issued Revenue Order Number 1 of 1917 to prevent any other community from acquiring Bhutia-Lepcha land. Bhutia-Lepchas have come together on three. The third issue to unite the Bhutia-Lepcha was an ambiguous case over land rights. which eventually brought down the 14-year-old gov-ernment of Nar Bahadur Bhandari.

that Bhutia and Lepcha lamas have also looked beyond their differences and joined hands during the demonstration against Rathbng Chu. because they still fear the abuse of power which was rampant in Sikkim until last year. A primary reason behind this state of affairs is that the government is the one major employer in the state. Embezzlement of public funds is practised from the highest levels of the government down to the village panchayats. the North District headquarters. After the screening. The isolated tribe tapped its own social organisational power and myths in order to organise and motivate themselves effectively. but has also divided the population of Sikkim along class and ethnic lines and has even managed to divide people of the same ethnic and socio economic background as well as close family members. and a widespread culture of corruption has taken root within the state. this practice has contributed to the ero sion of any sense of unity and trust among Sikkim´s residents. on the basis of the purchasing power of the political leadership rather than on issues and principles. Their techniques had been of a totally different kind: on three occasions. their job. Thinkers and Pessimists When the CCS was still debating which form of protest to adopt. the Sikkim Tribal Salvation Council has held an important meeting on 20 August at Mangan. Such were the times that no one could voice his resentment against the state government without fear of violent repression. Second. Although the newly-elected Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) government is encouraging democratic procedures. It has not only widened the gap between the rich and the poor. In a landlocked agricultural state with but a handful of small industries. Elections are fought and won. 15 years under Nar Bahadur Bhandari´s autocratic rule is not likely to be forgotten overnight. There are very few people in the state who still have any sense of pride and moral obligation towards Sikkim and who would risk their reputation. have united against the Teesta project. anyone who raises an opposing voice is automatically identified as doing so for some hidden financial benefit. Sikkim is well-known for the high level of corruption which plagues its administration and political parties. First. all politicians originally from Dzongu.down on a camp bed in the middle of Gangtok town. Now. whatever party they represent. closer cooperation between the two communities in opposing Teesta and defending the common interests is more likely. they watched a video relating the story of how the Kayapo Indians of the Amazon had successfully opposed the construction of a World Bankfunded hydro-electric dam which would have submerged their territory. all CCS members felt immensely depressed as they knew very well that the BhutiaLepcha had long lost their power to unite for reasons more recent than the ones discussed above. the government employs practically every . where all the panchayats of the district signed a representation opposing the Teesta project. Since then. even on simple environmental grounds. the affected ethnic minorities are hesitant to voice their objections. As a result. Over the years. they had chased away the first road workers by rolling boulders down on them. In a significant move. and their security for a cause.

none of whom dares express his opinion for fear of losing his sinecure. This system destroys society´s moral and ethical values and encour¬ages corruption. Sikkim has bred a host of well-known politicians and administrators who have mastered the art of embezzling public funds and who take pride in getting away with it. they have witnessed their own grandfa-thers coming out with banners. While pessimism is thus quite common among the Bhutia-Lepcha. the Power Department will eventually receive IRs 200 crores (U$ 65 million) from the Central Government. The case was argued on behalf of the CCS by eminent Supreme Court lawyer Rajeev Dhavan. CCS members filed a new writ petition in the Sikkim High Court deman-ding cancellation of the entire project. They believe that the ethnic community as a whole has no security or even a chance to survive. Under such conditions. in every heart there remains hope that something can be done. they have seen the demonstration. The protest took a decisive turn after the first hearing on 14 August. an analysis of the Government of Sikkim´s financial position brought out by the SDF. The resulting institutionalised corruption has created problems of leadership and has eroded the potential for genuine de-velopment. It is well-known that massive fund allocation from donor agencies opens the door for kickbacks and commissions which then leads to the concentration of wealth and power in the hands of a few. maladministration. whose three-hour argumentation focused on what he called the "avalanche of illegalities" surrounding the . Indeed. and only a few isolated individuals capable of openly analysing and expressing a critical opinion for the benefit of the state´s development. and that the only possibility left is to at least try and amass as much wealth as possible for oneself. "If the naked Nagas [meaning the Kayapo] can do it. The Power Department´s inefficiency and great capacity for wasting money has already been exposed with the publication of a "White Paper". and they are now starting to think that perhaps this movement might be genuine and that indeed something could and should be done. The bench also mentioned that they would award the litigants a stay order should the respondents fail to file their counter-affidavit on time. which is not a loan but a gift from Delhi in an effort to help develop Sikkim´s economy. As a result there are no independent thinkers. no intellectual circles. Thus.educated soul. Following the demonstration and the screening of the Kayapo documentary. For the Rathong Chu project alone. Some Sikkimese feel that the massive allocation of development funds by the Central Government has gradually turned Sikkim into a wel¬fare state and made beggars out of the state´s population. many Sikkimese have taken a fatalistic attitude and attribute their passivity to the fact that there is no better alternative for the Bhutia-Lepcha under the present conditions. they have followed the hunger strike. when the Sikkim High Court fixed 20 Sep-tember as the date for final disposal of the case. senior Bhutia-Lepcha lamas went back to their villages saying that everyone must agitate. injustice and crime. so can we!" Courts and the Department As the next step of their campaign. unity and trust.

Agencies intending to build a hydro-electric project usually first as¬sess the project against ethicalenvironmental and socio-cultural criteria. the great majority of which are either defunct or not producing to full capacity due to high siltation and poor maintenance. It is indeed surprising that one of the richest areas for biodiversity would have fewer bird species than does Calcutta! When seeking clearance. Failing to do this could result in expenclashes over environmental issues and ethnic minority rights. while an independent survey carried out in the neighbouring area of Rabdentsi revealed that there are no less than 47 species. and that Yuksum is a sensitive location from a religious point of view and potentially an important tourist destination. the site with the least damaging consequences. The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF). Sikkim would forever destroy one of the best areas in the state which could bring in a much higher income. the State Power Department has gone ahead with the execution of the work at Ra thong Chu without implementing the great majority of these safeguard conditions and without having obtained the final clearance. the Department also "forgot" to mention that the catchment area of the project area lies within the Khang-chendzonga National Park. New Delhi. The in-state demand for electricity may easily be met by renovating and upgrading the many existing power houses. and his intervention in the Rathong Chu issue seems to have decisively tilted the balance of the controversy in favour of the CCS. As confirmed by the regional office of the MoEF. the CCS has evidence that the Power Department has submitted false reports to the MoEF in order to obtain the conditional clearance. Rehabilitating these power houses and initiating new small projects would protect the environment as well as the way of life of the ethnic minorities. If the Rathong Chu project were to be built. the Power Department stated that the area of Yuksum has only three species of birds. has issued a list of safeguard conditions to be implemented along with the preliminary environmental clearance given for projects. in foreign currency. Dhavan contended that Rathong Chu´s implementation infringed the people´s fundamental right to preserve their religious and cultural identity . For example. Income through tourism has the potential to benefit all levels of . by gen¬eral consensus. through well-organised ecotourism in the Yuksum-Dzongri region. Litigations he has been involved in include Ayodhya and Tehri. The Power Department´s mis-take regarding the choice of project site could have been avoided had they initiated a debate with the local population with the aim to select. Further. while meeting the energy needs of the state.hydel project. It was in the Department´s interest to have initi-ated the debate since ethical and envi¬ronmental preconditions are highly cost-effective. Dhavan has been deeply involved in several social and environmental movements across the country. Electricity is only needed in Sikkim for household purposes as there is no heavy industry and water pumps are not being used for irrigation. The Bhutia-Lepchas have now become hopeful that the destruction of Yuksum could perhaps be stopped.

A good example of the type of projects they do not welcome is the 60 MW hydroelectric dam at Legship below Tashiding. the Ecclesiastical Department has submitted an adverse report on the project.society and also offers fewer incentives for people to indulge in corruption. Money is the only language currently understood in Sikkim and the Rathorig Chu project alone will eventually bring in some U$ 65 million which will be digested through the money-starved bowels of the Power Department. Unfortunately. In February 1993. flood waters have washed away the temporary coffer dam of Legship and a bull dozer. as with Rathong Chu and Teesta. Now that some Bhutia-Lepchas have shown that they will not let others destroy the foundation from . The role of Buddhism in Sikkimese society is enormous and extends to all spheres of life. The verdict upheld the validity of the reservation of one seat in the State Legislative Assembly for the Sangha (Lhaday monk body). Why is the Power Department so eager to start new hydroelectric projects despite their obvious negative consequences for the Sikkimese people? The answer is simple. Even today. High rimpoches and monks had formally objected to the project in 1988. Since the Buddhist voice is recognised by the Constitution of India. But now. His accusations which re¬ferred to the CCS´ concerns as "emotions getting in the way of development" and to the CCS´ activities as being "anti-people" now sound rather out of place and hollow. Indeed. which the Power Depart-ment has seen fit to ignore. from defining true knowledge to codes of behaviour regulating relations with others and the environment. The members of CCS say that they are not against development per se. causing more than IRs two crore worth of damage. Religious sentiments need not be disregarded for states to develop. Sikkim is the only Indian state where a reli-gious body has been given political recognition. Meanwhile. it would seem the duty of the government to take into consideration what the Sangha has to say about Rathong Chu. and for the second time. but that they do oppose illegal projects which are not cost-effective and cause irreparable damage to Sikkim´s bio-physical and socio cultural landscape. No to Party Politics The monks of Sikkim were traditionally consulted on all matters of state relating to religion and were represented at the Palace by a monk body called Lhaday. Instead. the rimpoches did not even receive an acknowledgement of their representation. the Supreme Court of India issued a verdict which upheld the validity of the 36th Constitution (amendment) Act 1975. people were assured that the project would be successful and was needed for the development of Sikkim. which provided for special provisions in Article 371F of the Constitution to accommodate certain incidents in the evolution of the political institutions of Sikkim. as the waters would submerge eight stupas which had been built for world peace and prosperity in Sikkim. the Power Secretary´s comments not long ago that the project was "too small a venture to justify such a dialogue" clearly underesti¬mated the depth of feelings it had aroused. Small and prosperous nations of the world such as Japan and Israel are also among the most religious.

the CCS says it is prepared to continue work to help preserve the religious. economic and political rights of the BhutiaLepcha.which such a society has evolved. For its part. but this will probably happen in a very unconventional manner for Sikkim. . since it does not plan to join the local game of party politics. there is hope that this is only the be¬ginning of a movement which will take on other issues to check the de¬cline of the indigenous community.