Lepcha clean-up plans for ‘holy’ river


Kalimpong, April 25: A cleaner Teesta river may soon be on view, thanks to a group of nature worshippers.

Rong Ong Prongzom, a Lepcha youth organisation, plans to conduct a clean-up drive on the Teesta river banks at Triveni and Reang on Sunday. It will be part of the preparations for Tendong Lho Rum Faat, the annual Lepcha puja of Thedong Hill near Namchi, Sikkim, held on August 8.

Triveni, the confluence of the Teesta and Rangeet rivers located 16 km from here, is a favourite spot for picnickers. Reang at 27 Mile on NH 31A, on the other hand, is where the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation is currently executing Stage III of the Teesta Low Dam Project.

“Both places are heavily littered, which is why we want to clean them, especially since the Teesta is our holy river,” said Azuk Tamsangmoo, an adviser to the youth organisation and coordinator of Pum Sezom, the apex body of the community.

The nature-worshipping Lepchas are the original inhabitants of Sikkim and the Darjeeling hills. According to figures available with the Indigenous Lepcha Tribal Association, there are about 40,000 of them in the Kalimpong subdivision and another 35,000 or so in Sikkim.

“No Lepcha marriage is solemnised without invoking the name of the Teesta. We won’t be able to do so anymore if we continue to destroy the river as we have been doing till now,” said the coordinator.

Apart from cleaning the riverbed, the youth organisation will also conduct an awareness campaign against the desecration and destruction of the Teesta. “We will put up signboards near the river, urging people not to litter the place,” said Tamsangmoo.

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