Gangtok, 03 November : Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang (Golay) has leveled serious accusations against former Chief Minister Pawan Chamling in connection with the devastating events that unfolded on October 4th. These events resulted in widespread destruction, loss of human lives, and extensive damage to infrastructure along the Teesta River, stretching from Chungthang up to the plains of West Bengal.
During the second day of a two-day Assembly session, Chief Minister Tamang squarely placed blame on the former Chief Minister for the construction of a sub-standard dam at Chungthang, which he believes was the primary cause of this catastrophe.
He emphasized that during Chamling’s tenure as Chief Minister in 2004, he ignored the voices of the people and instead pushed for the construction of 28 additional dams, interestingly while serving as the Power Minister himself. Chief Minister Tamang lamented that if Chamling had been more people-centric at that time, this tragic day could have been averted. This, he argued, is a glaring failure on the part of the Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) government.
It’s worth noting that the dam was constructed primarily for the profit of a single individual, without proper consideration of technical aspects or conducting a sustainable case study. The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed hastily, and the disaster could have been prevented if the government had been more forward-thinking and focused on the welfare of the people and the environment as a whole.
Former Chief Minister Nar Bahadur Bhandari, social activist Anil Lachenpa, and social activist Balchand Udai Ram had filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the high court to halt the dam construction. Regrettably, the SDF government at the time skillfully sidestepped the PIL, accusing it of being politically motivated. Furthermore, the government disregarded the voices of people who went on a 915-day strike demanding a halt to the dam construction.
Chief Minister Tamang informed the Assembly that the main figure behind the negligence and corrupt practices surrounding the construction of the Chungthang Dam is none other than Pawan Chamling. He reiterated that the opposition, mainly the SDF Party led by Chamling, accuses the present government of being unfairly targeted while they escape responsibility.
Anyone who opposed the negligence during the Dam construction was labeled as anti-social and anti-development elements by the SDF government. Chief Minister Tamang added that the former Chief Minister, who still maintains a high ego, has not reached out to the needy people suffering due to his mismanagement and is merely masquerading.
On the night of October 3rd, when the Lhonak Lake burst occurred, Chief Minister Tamang reported that he was conducting a public meeting in Mangan. Upon receiving the information, he promptly instructed the authorities to take measures for the safety of people and property. It was the present government that acted swiftly, preventing even greater devastation. The Chief Minister asserted that the dam proved to be weak and unable to withstand the water flow resulting from the lake burst, highlighting its fragility and outdated design.
Furthermore, Pawan Chamling disregarded the statutory advice from prominent central authorities like CWC , despite numerous warnings from the central monitoring agencies regarding the dam’s quality and the potential for a Glacial Lake Outburst situation. Chief Minister Tamang concluded by stating that the sole culprit behind the disaster on October 4th is none other than former Chief Minister Pawan Chamling, driven by his personal greed, he’s devastation director cum composer!