After having spent Rs14 crore on the Chu hydel project on the Rathong Chu river, the government of the eastern state of Sikkim has decided to scrap it. Pawan Chamling, chief minister of Sikkim, made the announcement at a public meeting attended in the state on August 20. The decision has been applauded by the non-governmental organisation Concerned Citizens of Sikkim (CCS) that had led the protest against the project.
The people of the state resented the project on the Rathong Chu river that is considered sacred in their religious beliefs. It is believed to have 109 "hidden" lakes. Channelling the water would disturb the ruling deities of the hidden lakes, religious leaders had pointed out. The CCS also had the support of a body of monks, religious heads and two tribal organisations. They have been pointing out that the project was against the basic tenets of the Sikkimese Buddhist beliefs.
The reaction from political parties has been mixed. While some leaders welcomed it, others lamented the delay caused in scrapping the project. Some parties have objected to the timing of the decision, which has come just before the holding of panchayat (village council) elections.