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Global NGO network calls for worldwide campaign against push for big dam in Sikkim

Counterview Desk
The International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL), a multinational civil society network, has opposed the state-owned National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC), which is “pushing” for constructing the Teesta Stage IV Hydroelectric Power (HEP) project in North Sikkim.
One of the 21projects planned in Sikkim, calling it a destructive move, IPMSDL said in a statement, the profit-oriented mega-dam would choke a river, which would also mean indigenous people would be lose their lands, rights, culture, and identity.
Calling for worldwide protest against the move, IPMSDL said, protesters should “make a statement of support” to the Sikkim people’s organizations and indigenous people’s (IP) movements everywhere; take video or photo with calls to stop the dams in Sikkim; and dedicate a song, dance, artwork, poem, or other creative ways to populate the social media and internet about these issues and struggles.
It also insisted on the use of hashtag #SaveTeesta #StopStageIV #StopNHPC #LetOurRivers #FlowFree #NoToLargeDams #DefendAncestralLands #DefendIPRights
#StruggleForSelfDetermination, adding, supporters of the campaign should “read and share studies, stories, and write-ups about Sikkim and its people”.

An IPMSDL statement:

The Worldwide Protest Against the Implementation of Dams in Sikkim calls for our solidarity. The International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination stands with the IP and communities of Sikkim, North East India in defending their rights and lands from the threats of Teesta Dam. Let us be one in the struggle of Indigenous Peoples (IP) against all destructive mega-dams and hydro projects.
State-owned National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) Limited is now pushing forward in constructing the Teesta Stage IV HydroElectric Power (HEP) project in North Sikkim. It aims to generate electricity from the strong currents of Teesta River, a tributary of Brahmaputra River, that rises in the eastern Himalayas and flows through the States of Sikkim and West Bengal through Bangladesh.
The Government of India identified 21 hydro electric power projects to be developed in Sikkim. Six projects have been envisioned in Teesta including the Teesta I-IV. Since the project’s inception, strong resistance from the Lepcha and Dzongu community whose lands, livelihoods and culture will be completely drowned and wiped out once the dam is built.
Amid the pandemic, this July, government is railroading public hearings for the dam’s Social Impact Assessment (SIA). The government’s efforts to dilute environmental regulations were met with people’s protest stressing the threat it poses to the landslide and earthquake-prone environment, and violations of IP land and customary rights. But in response, people have been coerced by paramilitaries, while some were arrested and jailed for months.
Corporate and state development projects fail to benefit vulnerable and poor communities, serve profit-oriented world market
The stories are common whether in Sikkim, in Asia and around the world. More often, IP communities, environment and human rights activists defending their lands and rivers are labelled enemies of the State and anti-development. IP remain excluded as dams engulf their lands. In far-flung areas, defense of ancestral territories is met with militarization and more rights violations.
In reality, corporate and State “development projects” fail to benefit the most vulnerable and poorest communities. Instead, the booming energy demands serve the profit-oriented world market and burgeoning world powers like India. Unless all the issues surrounding the mega-dams and people’s demands are met by States and government, we call that all constructions be stopped.
To stand with the people of Sikkim and IP, let’s join in defending their lands and their lives. It’s the source of their livelihood, identity, ways of life and their vital expression of the right to self-determination. Alternatives and sustainable energy sources must be prioritized. What’s at stake with mega-dam construction is not only the loss of biodiversity and IP culture but the future of succeeding generations. Just like the flow of our mighty rivers, let us brave our fight forward!
Save Teesta! Stop Stage IV! Stop NHPC! Let Our Rivers Flow Free! No To Large Dams! Defend Ancestral Lands! Defend IP Rights! Struggle For Self-Determination!

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