Sikkim CM says dam burst at Chungthang amplified devastation, blames SDF government

Sikkim CM says dam burst at Chungthang amplified devastation, blames SDF government

CM Prem Singh Tamang CM exposes financial mismanagement and environmental negligence in Teesta-III project

Sikkim CM says dam burst at Chungthang amplified devastation, blames SDF government Sikkim CM says dam burst at Chungthang amplified devastation, blames SDF government

Sikkim Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang on November 3 shared shocking details regarding the Teesta-III Hydroelectric Power Project (HEP). Addressing the second day of the two-day assembly session, Chief Minister Tamang expressed his concerns about financial mismanagement, environmental negligence, and questionable decisions made during the execution of the ambitious project.

Addressing the concerns of the opposition, Chief Minister Tamang clarified his timeline of events on October 4th stating that he had been informed of the catastrophic flood around 12:30 PM. He said that government were quick enough to respond to the situation by alerting all relevant authorities and the local administration in the vulnerable region along the Teesta River.

On October 3, Chief Minister Tamang had been preoccupied with a full day of meetings with the people of Mangan Lachen constituency as part of the Janta Bhetghat program, concluding his activities around 11:30 PM. He stated that there were no indications of the impending disaster during his time in Mangan, and he promptly informed authorities as soon as he received the distressing news, dismissing allegations of delay.

The Chief Minister went on to assert that the Teesta-III dam break and the subsequent glacial lake outburst flood (GLOF) were consequences of prior government decisions. He pointed out that the project had deviated from Central Water Commission guidelines, utilizing a rock fill dam instead of a concrete dam, which contributed to the disaster.

The Teesta-III Hydroelectric Power Project, initially awarded to the APGENCO-Athena Consortium in 2005, took a perplexing turn when the Letter of Intent (LOI) was issued solely to Athena Projects Private Limited (APPL) instead. This unexpected shift set the stage for a complex journey filled with financial controversies and environmental concerns, as outlined by Chief Minister Tamang during the assembly.

One revelation from the document presented by the Chief Minister pertains to the valuation of equity shares of Teesta Urja Limited (TUL). The report indicated a significant devaluation of shares, from the initial investment of Rs. 1,879.88 crores to a range of Rs. 1,115.02 crores to Rs. 1,178.57 crores. This devaluation raised questions about the prudence of the government's involvement in the Teesta-III project.

The document also throw light on a substantial loan of Rs. 2,898.97 crores that the Government of Sikkim (GoS) had taken from the Power Finance Corporation (PFC) to fund the project. This loan's peculiar nature, given the GoS's 12% free power share, raised concerns about the state's financial decisions.

Another alarming discovery was the purchase of shares from APPL and Asian Genco Pte Ltd (AGPL) at a rate of Rs. 8.5315 per share in 2015, during a time when the Teesta-III project was non-operational and facing financial instability. Chief Minister Tamang questioned the fairness of share valuations and the decision to buy shares with a loan from PFC.

The document highlighted the contrast in the GoS's approach to the Teesta-III project compared to other hydroelectric projects in the region. While two other projects awarded to the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) required no GoS investments, they secured a 12 per cent free power share, which was efficiently utilized for state developmental activities.

The document also exposed discrepancies in the formation of Teesta Urja Limited (TUL), suggesting that there was no valid consortium agreement among initial stakeholders, as required by the Implementation Agreement (IA).

Edited By: Bikash Chetry
Published On: Nov 03, 2023