Kalimpong, Oct. 27: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha today stopped all work on the NHPC’s Teesta Low Dam Project Stage III at Reang to protest against the delay in the construction of the alternative road to Takdah and Teesta Valley.
Supporters of the Morcha from the Takdah-Teesta Valley constituency drove down to the dam site, 25km from here, in about 10 vehicles around 9am and “requested” the NHPC authorities and the workers to shut down their offices and stop all work. They also asked the workers to leave the area.
Norbu G. Lama, the co-ordinator of the Morcha’s Takdah-Teesta Valley unit, said: “It has been two years since the NHPC authorities first assured us that the alternative road would be constructed. However, the fact is that they are yet to get even the no-objection certificate from the forest department to build the road.”
The people of Takdah and Teesta Valley demanded the alternative road after a 2km stretch of the existing road connecting their areas to NH31A at 27 Mile had been badly damaged in landslides.
The NHPC project site is just below the highway, which, too, has suffered extensive damage in the landslides and sink-ins triggered by the construction of the dam on the Teesta. But the NHPC has never admitted that the damage was caused by the dam.
The delay in executing the work on the new road, NHPC officials claimed, is because of a protracted process required in acquiring the forest land. The entire two-km stretch of the proposed route from NH31A to the point where it meets the existing Takdah-Teesta Valley Road falls under the forest department.
“We applied to acquire the forest land in September 2008. The state forest department has sent our application to the regional office of the Union ministry of environment and forests in Bhubaneswar. We hope that the clearance will be given in one month,” said a senior NHPC official.
Expressing dismay at the forced closure of the site, the official said the NHPC had already earmarked Rs 1.8 crore for the road project. “The disruption of work was wholly unwarranted, especially when we try to do so much for the local population,” said the official.