Sikkim is a small state of India bordered by Nepal, Bhutan, and Tibet. The landscape is defined by the mighty Himalaya Mountains, and the river Teesta that meanders through much of the state.
The Teesta river basin has recently seen the introduction of hydro-electric dams. The proposed development project has created much tension between the state and Sikkim residence.
The state-owned National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHCP) responsible for the dams development has been widely criticised for its methods of acquiring land. People have been forced, often by threat of violence, to sell their homes and land for drastically low rates. The coercion was implemented by Government District Collectors, at a rate of 2.5 Rs per Sq. Foot. (US$ 0.05).
Environmental concerns have also been raised at the level of the proposed construction. In total, 36 dams have been submitted for development, spanning the entire river. Rumours of corruption have been voiced regarding the environmental clearance needed to create such structures. Concerned citizens are wary that the fragile ecology found in the national parks that cover much of the state will be affected.
Resistance has come in the most part from Lepcha Tribals. Indigenous to the area, they are concerned about the future of their people's existence. Tribal leaders initiated hunger strikes in protest to the dams, which lasted for 277 days.
For the Lepcha people, the river Teesta is central to their traditions, culture's and religious practice.
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