LETHANG AND TING TING SCRAPPED, TASHIDING "UNDER EXAMINATION"
GANGTOK, 01 Feb: The state government has finally taken its decision on the three hydro projects under scrutiny in West District. Two projects, namely, the 96 MW Lethang and the 99 MW Ting Ting projects have been scrapped by the government. As for the third project, the 97 MW Tashiding hydro project is ‘under examination’. This is the decision of the state government a month after the high powered committee under the Chief Secretary was constituted to examine issues related to the implementation of the 3 projects and make recommendations to the state government. The decision to scrap the 2 projects and further examine the status of the Tashiding project was taken at the state cabinet meeting held on 25 January.
The decision on Ting Ting and Lethang projects were not so hard to take as there have hardly been much investments or construction activity related to these projects. In fact, as regards the Lethang project, it had not even been accorded approval by the National Wildlife Board. The National Wildlife Board had rejected the project proposal for the Lethang HEP in November, 2010. As regards Ting Ting, the project was in the initial phases of land acquisition.
As for the 97 MW Tashiding project in Tashiding – Yuksom constituency and being developed by Shiga Energy Limited the state government will ‘further examine’ the project. In fact it is informed the power developer has spent more than Rs.100 crore already and the project is in an advanced stage with tunnels and adits being constructed including the colony for the officer’s quarters. The land acquisition has also been completed and the site of the power houseidentified and approach roads under construction. With the power developer having invested such a huge amount there will be complications if it’s taken off the grid and legal repercussions cannot be ruled out. Only recently the affected people living in the project area had formed coordination committees to supervise the implementation of various works which the project would entail in their area.
The decision of the state cabinet is obviously based on the report of the high powered committee which had submitted its report to the government last year itself. The opinion of the committee on the projects was that it should be scrapped; this opinion had then been forwarded to the Law Department. The cabinet meeting of 25 January was the first cabinet this year during which the report of the committee was put up and discussed and finally, decided upon.
Several organizations including Buddhist organizations had made several representations to the state government raising concerns about erosion and disturbance of certain religious and cultural symbols attached with the Rathong Chu river on which all the three named projects were to be developed. The Minority Commission had also taken up cudgels on behalf of the protesting associations and organizations on similar grounds and had even written to the Prime Minister.