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  Craving a path to Disaster  
 

 

By: Tara Dhakal
April 25, 2007
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iews expressed here are authorís own and not of this website. Full disclaimer is at the bottom.

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National Hydropower Commission (NHPC) has started the Teesta river project for hydro- electric power generation in Sikkim, India that is craving a path to disaster. It has been conceived without adequate participation from the people. Now the construction process has disrupted the lives of many people without just and adequate compensation. The extensive use of dynamite detonation has destroyed peopleís houses, their land and livelihood. NHPC project have been a disaster to the rural highlands communities whose crop productivity has decreased, agriculture fields damaged and losing water sources due to the project. This has pushed them to the edge in their struggle for survival. In addition, the construction process has had extensive negative environmental impacts adding to the already fragile mountain ecosystem. The traditional livelihood of the mountain people are shattered already, their houses are cracking down due to the force of dynamite blasting, which have further weakened road network and itís surrounding mountain belts causing massive land slides and soil erosion. Sikkim is an example of how indifferent and ignorant Government policies could ultimately destroy livelihood of the people.

In the name of development, disaster has been prescribed with the destruction of rich natural habitats of beneficial plants and herbs and traditional knowledge that runs among the mountain people with ultimately displacing them. All these destruction of natural resources and uprooting of the mountain people will not fetch economic outcome that the government is thinking that it would achieve through generation of electric power by constructing and controlling the flow of river by constructing dams. At the end, when glaciers are retreating at an alarming rate, such project would serve no purpose than a complete failure.

Many of the victims are waging a struggle to assert their right to life and livelihood. However, in this process they have suffered human rights abuses. Opposing NHPC is opposing the government .When people whose rights were violated tried to voice their concerns with both the project and related government officials they were beaten up by police and hooligans sent by the government. Political suppression in the form of threat of victimization of families, forced job transfers, abuse and manhandling by government hooligans, and destruction of properties/livelihood by hooligans that has been imposed since many decades is the reason behind our silence. It is human behavior that everyone values their own life and family and this adds to our compulsion to an extent that we do not even exercise our fundamental rights of freedom of speech and expression. Leave alone people, even local media are politically suppressed. Mainstream media does not represent our issues. We the Sikkimese have become victims of such projects and political suppression. The Government of India is least bothered about the plight of its own citizens. Indian democracy boasts of being the largest democracy in the world which is the biggest irony for citizens of Sikkim.


Tara Dhakal

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