The controversial Pannam Hydro power project erupted once again.

GANGTOK, 17 Aug: The controversial Pannam Hydro power project erupted once again after the union government decide to addresses the issues arises to implement the hydro project to be implemented by National Hydro Power Corporation from the grassroot level. In the same footing, State government last week reconstituted a committee to prepare a fresh Environment Impact Assessment Report and Social Impact Assessment Report to addresses the issues raised in previous report. Welcoming the State government initiative to study a fresh Environment Impact Assessment Report and Social Impact Assessment Report for Teesta IV HE Project, the land owners of the proposed project area said that the initiative of the Government of Sikkim for taking a step forward adding that the landowners have been victims of the Hydro-Power Politics in North Sikkim. The SDF government had signed the MOU and despite the agreement the previous Government under, Pawan Chamling put various hurdles in taking the project forward. The landowners have been mute spectators of the ongoing battle between the various agencies, political parties and politicians to delay the project for whatever reason best known to them. The irony is that not a single landowner or stakeholders is privy to this spectacle. One of the landowners of the proposed project, Norden Lepcha in a press release said that the Social Impact Assessment study was completed in June, 2018 and the draft report was submitted to the Government. The public hearing of SIA was carried out by North District Administration on 30/06/2018 and after incorporation of the views of the landowners, the final SIA report including SIMP was submitted to the Government in August 2018. The Notification for Constitution of Expert Group was issued on 18 Jul, 2020 i.e. after almost 2 years, therefore, it is wrongly mentioned that the Government is in a hurry to proceed with the Development of Teesta IV HE Project. The members of the Expert Group had been nominated in the tenure of the previous Government in 2018–2019. It is pertinent to mention here that the Memorandum of Agreement, was signed between Government of Sikkim and NHPC in March 2006 and the construction of the project has till date not commenced even after the lapse of 14 years. Owing to the delay in the implementation of the project, those suffering are the Government of Sikkim, the project developer, the landowners and most of all the people of North Sikkim. The project is the need of the hour in this Pandemic, where every source of income has dried up. The project will bring in considerable amount of funding that will boost the economy of the whole area, apart from the 12% of free power to the state of Sikkim, it will contribute 1% of its power generation for local area development which will considerably transform the socio-economic status of the affected GPU’s in North Sikkim. The total relief and rehabilitation benefits will be to the tune of Rs 122.71 crores and compensation of land will be about 627.48 crores. The Project will boost the infrastructure development in the affected GPU’s and North Sikkim in particular. The general business of the towns and villages will flourish. The project will generate indirect employment of more than 1000 man days daily, during construction stage and more than 250 man days daily, during operation stage. The project will enhance healthcare facilities, educational standards and professional skills. With the execution of the project, the demand for business opportunities like Tours & Travels, shops and groceries, dairy products and vegetable, will automatically get a boost. The project will take up most of the infrastructure development works through local agencies and local workforce thereby enhancing tremendous livelihood opportunities. The NHPC being a public sector undertaking of Government of India, which has the track record of having successfully installed/developed many Hydro-Projects in the country, that have been generating huge revenues for the States (unlike the private sector companies brought into the State with ulterior motives and vested interest that ruined the State’s economy and environment in the past). NHPC’s credibility is unquestionable and we have full faith in this public sector undertaking. Lastly, the Government should move ahead without fear or favour and give justice to the people of North Sikkim. We urge one and all to refrain from misleading the innocent public of North Sikkim. We have full faith in the current Government led by the Chief Minister, PS Golay. The people of North Sikkim will always remember your bold, yet compassionate ideology for achieving the goal for the sustainable development of Sikkim.