New Delhi: The Environment Ministry has
turned down a controversial Lethang hydropower project
proposed in Sikkim following stiff opposition from local
communities citing violation of religious sentiments.
Organisations like Sikkimese Bhutia Lepcha Apex
Committee(SIBLAC) and National Sikkimese Bhutia Organisation
(NASBO) had resisted the 96 MW Lethang hydro power project in
Yuksam in West district of the state and petitioned the
ministry in this regard.
Their contention was that the project which was near
to the Kangchendzonga national sanctuary was proposed on the
Rathong Chu, a river considered sacred by the locals and hence
in violation of the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act
of 1991, extended to Sikkim in 1998.
The project was being developed by KHC Lethang Hydro
Project Pvt Ltd.
"The Standing Committee for National Wildlife Board in
a recent meeting rejected the proposal keeping in view of the
social, cultural and religious sentiments of a large section
of Sikkimese society," sources said.
In 1997, the state government had scrapped a 30 MW
project in the same area, the Yuksom Valley, for similar
reasons even though Rs 20 crore had been spent on it.