SIKKIM HYDRO ELECTRICITY: Survey nod for three Teesta projects – Clearance after changes in barrage height

SIKKIM HYDRO ELECTRICITY: Survey nod for three Teesta projects – Clearance after changes in barrage height – any more blasting of fragile mountains and land grabs without fair relocation ?!!

The project site of Teesta Stage III at Chungthang in North Sikkim. Six other projects on the Teesta are still awaiting clearance - proper planned development or more tears and delay ?!! (Photo by Prabin Khaling)

FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT

Gangtok, June 13: The Centre has given permission for the resumption of survey and investigations for three power projects with a combined potential of 709MW on the Teesta and its tributaries in North Sikkim.

The projects had been put on hold following an adverse report submitted by the University of Delhi’s Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies of Mountain and Hill Environment (CISMHE) last year.

The CISMHE, in the report on the carrying capacity of the Teesta in Sikkim, had recommended that six power projects proposed above Chungthang in North Sikkim should not be considered because of ecological sensitivity of the area. Based on the recommendation, the ministry of environment and forests had ordered the state government to stop all activities at the six sites.

The projects were Teesta Stage I (280MW), Teesta Stage II (330MW), Lachen (120MW), Bop (99MW), Bimkyong (99MW) and Lachung (99MW).

However, the Sikkim government and the developers approached the ministry with their own reports and got permission to resume the survey and the investigations for Teesta Stage I, Teesta Stage II and Lachung, said state power department officials here.

The ministry gave the go-ahead for the survey after some modifications had been made in the technical requirements for the project. The modifications mainly related to the height of the barrages and the area that the reservoirs would cover, the officials said.

The nod was given after reports had been submitted by experts from the ministry who had inspected the power sites in March.

In its order on May 31, the ministry told the developers of Teesta Stage I that the nod was only to facilitate geological investigations and hydrological studies and the project authorities should get back to it before they prepared the Environment Impact Assessment/Environment Management Plans.

Similar permission has been given to the Teesta Stage II and the project on the Lachung, a tributary of the Teesta, said state power secretary Pema Wangchen. “Survey and investigation are important for preparing detailed project reports which need to be approved by the Central Electricity Authority and then sent to the ministry for environmental clearance,” he said.

The state government and developers are yet to receive similar clearances from the ministry for the projects on the Bhimkyong, Bop and Lachen — other tributaries of the Teesta.

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