About a year and a half ago, the Gramsabha of the 29th mile forest village, in the Darjeeling hills, resolved that the dam-building by the National Hydro Power Corporation in the 27th Mile Teesta Lower Dam Project (TLDP) , Stage-III, impinged upon their constitutional rights to live.
No one paid any attention. But it is still not too late. Infact, if we don’t act, we may see a repeat of Uttarakhand in the Darjeeling hills. Reports from a local group, NESPON, are alarming. The National Highway 31 A--and adjoining areas in the Teesta basin in Sikkim and North Bengal are threatened by July’s heavy rains. As it is, the Geological Survey of India points out that any dams or building will re-activate dormant landslide zones and create new ones. Plus, this is an earthquake prone area.
Exacerbating this are the dams, TLDP III and IV, on the Teesta. Thousands of local people are in danger of being flooded out and caught in landslides. A guard wall to protect the villages has broken. This in turn will lead to landslides on the unstable slopes.
We just cannot ignore this. Dam building has to stop at once, and people in danger now and later, rehabilitated with land and adequate cash. And can we have high quality data please-about the carrying capacity of the entire zone, its disaster risks and a cumulative impact assessment of all the projects? It is foolhardy to let Darjeeling carry on like this.