Morcha to block low dams

Darjeeling, May 27: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has decided to stop all ongoing projects of National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) in the Darjeeling hills from June 7 as part of its movement for a separate state.
Binay Tamang, the media and publicity secretary of the Morcha, made the announcement today. “The party has decided to stop all work at the NHPC sites from June 7. We will also close down the corporation’s offices.”
The Morcha has already stopped movement of timber from the hills to the plains as part of its economic blockade programme designed to put pressure on the Bengal government. However, the decision to stop construction work at NHPC’s Teesta Low Dam Project (TLDP)-III and IV is likely to hit the country’s premier hydroelectric utility hard. NHPC is a central government enterprise.
“NHPC will earn crores from the projects but what will the hill people gain from them?” asked Roshan Giri, the general secretary of the Morcha. The party has recently revived the demand for Gorkhaland in the hills.
Although officials of the NHPC could not be contacted, sources said the corporation is looking to complete TLDP-III by the end of this year. The scheduled date of completion of TLDP-IV is September 2009.
While, TLDP-III is a Rs 768.92-crore project (according to estimates made in December 2002), TLDP-IV is estimated to cost Rs 1,061.38 crore. Both the sites are in the Rambhi-Kalijhora area, about 20km downstream from Teesta Bazar in the Kalimpong subdivision.
The two projects are the biggest in the area as TLDP-III is expected to generate 132mw of power and TLDP-IV 160mw.
The media and publicity secretary of the Morcha today confirmed that the party would hold a meeting of the central committee on May 29 to adopt a resolution for the immediate dissolution of the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council. Morcha president Bimal Gurung had made the announcement in Siliguri on Sunday.
“We also want the Bengal government to take a decision on the Mirik Municipality where L.B. Rai, the chairman, has resigned from the GNLF. We will ideally want either the Kurseong subdivisional officer or the executive officer of the municipality to take charge of the civic body,” said Tamang.
The state government is expected to issue a notification for holding by-elections in the three vacant wards of the Darjeeling Municipality on May 29. (The Telegraph)

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