Mangan, 24 Jun:
The Dzongu Development Committee today condemned allegations leveled against it by members of Save Dzongu Committee.The DDC was formed recently to deal with the hydel project issue and to interact better with the media, dialogue with the concerned authorities, mobilizing awareness programs and legal channeling.
Regarding the issue of the gram sabha for Forest Rights Act (FRA)for Lum-Gor-Sangtok Gram Panchayat Unitheld on 13 May, Mikmar Lepcha of Tareng said that the people were not informed about the date being postponed.
“We were not informed about the postponementsince there was no official intimation which resulted in the holding of the gram sabha on the prescribed date as the people demanded that the resolution be passed on the same date,”he stressed.
Tareng Ward Panchayat, Passang Doma Lepcha, who had attended the FRA gram sabha on 13 May, further stated that the gram sabha was successfully conducted as per the norms with support from most of the people. She added that even she was not aware of the postponement.
“I was told to conduct the ward sabha and draft the demands of the public, so we conducted the ward sabha on 09 May and listed out the demands,” she informed.
She further alleged that she was pressured by other panchayat members from the GPU regarding the matter.
Responding to allegation thatmost of the people have opposed the Teesta Stage-IV hydel project from the left bank, Tashi Tongden Lepcha, one of the landowners, said that they have video evidence of all the FRAs held in every GPU recording how the public have endorsed their solidarity for the implementation of Teesta Stage IV.
The Development Committee further said that those blaming the administration should in fact be charged with defamation case.
Ugen Lepcha, landowner of Hee-Gyathang GPU,countered the protestors questioning why they accepted grants from NHPC in terms of CSR activities like the recently-awarded ambulance and are also engaged as contractors with NHPC.
Another landowner from Hee-Gyathang GPU, Tashi Ongdup Lepcha,further claimed that the FRA Gram Sabha for Hee-Gyathang GPU was not held as per prescribed norms and that the people were forced to sign the Memorandum.Only a selected few people were allowed to address the Gram Sabha, he alleged.
He further claimed that only unutilized land by the riverbed or along the cliffs which were not fit for agriculture or any other purpose were being acquired for the said project, hence people should not have any complaints.
Dzongu Development Committee has been formed for the overall development of Dzongu and is a representative group of all people, speakers further claimed, adding that it did not even have an executive committee since it was planned to be run by the people by consensus.
The DDC today further stated that they will be submitting a representation to the Chief Minister regarding the injustice inflicted on a woman panchayat member and seek an immediate apology from the rival group.
The landowner from Lum, Nima Tshering Lepcha,further conveyed that the group strongly condemns allegationsleveled against the district administration as well and reiterated that they, like everyone else, have the right to express their opinion when it comes hydel projects.