Kalimpong, Oct. 1: Lepcha organisations from the Darjeeling hills and Sikkim have come together to form a Joint Action Committee (JAC) to intensify their on-going agitation demanding that all hydel power projects proposed for the Lepcha reserve of Dzongu be scrapped.
The JAC will be headed by L.S. Tamsang, the president of the Indigenous Lepcha Tribal Association (ILTA) and comprises members of Affected Citizens of Teesta (ACT), Concerned Lepchas of Sikkim and the Rong-Ong-Prongzum (Lepcha Youth Association), besides other Lepcha associations.
Tamsang will be assisted by ACT’s Dawa Lepcha as secretary and four vice-presidents — Athup Lepcha (ACT president), Dorjee Lepcha (Prongzum president), S.M. Lepcha (chief adviser to ILTA) and Nima Thsering Lepcha.
Dorjee later told The Telegraph that the decision to form the JAC was taken as the on-going Dzongu agitation was not creating the desired impact. “With the formation of the JAC, we hope to coordinate our agitation better,” he said.
The JAC will start off with a procession from 10th Mile to Damber Chowk here on October 6. “We will invite members of other communities to be part of the rally. From October 6 we will also be holding regular public meetings,” said the Prongzum president.
Tamsang is away in Jaipur, Rajasthan, attending a conference. Tomorrow, he will meet the chairperson of the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes, Kunwar Singh, in New Delhi.
ACT members — who have been spearheading the protest in Sikkim — expressed happiness at the formation of the JAC. “It is a welcome move. Henceforth, the JAC will be able to coordinate between the Darjeeling hills and Sikkim and organise programmes more effectively,” said Tseten Lepcha, the chief coordinator of ACT.