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4 Jan 2017

Opposition to NHPC project on Teesta gains ground

HT, 3 January 2017, SILIGURI: Even as Teesta Samajik Sangathan Samiti (TSSS) is roping in environmentalists and NGOs to intensify the movement against the two proposed hydro electric projects on Teesta River in Darjeeling district, National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) has said it is committed to safeguarding the economic and religious beliefs of the people. It said the projects would neither affect tourism nor the religious beliefs of the local people.
The 81 megawatt Teesta Low Dam I and II hydro electric projects of NHPC have come under the scanner as people in the locality have vowed to oppose it tooth and nail citing the devastation the project could cause to human settlements, biodiversity and two highways connecting Sikkim and Kalimpong.
Many environmentalists believe the new projects would cause catastrophe.
The projects to come up on Rangit River, a little upstream from Tribeni (the confluence of Teesta and Ranjit rivers) in Kalimpong sub-division, was one of the four such hydro projects allotted to NHPC by the state government in September 2014. The MoU between the state government and NHPC was signed in July 2015.
The Teesta Samajik Sangharsha Samiti is spearheading the movement to oppose the project. Bishal Rai, coordinator of the samiti, said, “The devastation caused by NHPC’s earlier two projects at Rambi and Kalijhora is an eye opener. We are roping in environmentalists and NGOs before we intensify the movement. We will soon hold a citizens’ convention.”
SR Roy, NHPC executive director, said, “The DPR of Teesta Low Dam I and II hydro electric projects was prepared by the West Bengal government and NHPC is only carrying out some investigation in the area.” Roy said DPR has not yet been cleared and there has been misconception about the projects.
NHPC has refuted the apprehension that the existence of Teesta-Triveni confluence would be endangered and tourism and religious belief of the local people would be jeopardised.
Before commencement of any construction work, necessary approvals are taken from multiple agencies of both central as well as state governments. NHPC is committed to safeguarding the economic and religious beliefs of the general public while contributing towards nation building, said a NHPC press release.
The construction of TLDP-I and II will start only after all necessary approvals from the central and state governments and Gorkhaland Territorial administration, the release said.

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