The Lepcha call themselves "Mutanchi Rong" meaning the beloved children of God. Their original ancestors, "Fodong-Thing" and "Nazong-Nyu", the first man and woman were created by Almighty God "It-Bu-Rum" from the eternal purity and the holy snows of the Kongchen-Chu, meaning Mt. Khanchendzonga. As such, even to this day, the Lepchas worship Khanchendzonga as their Guardian deity.
The story is woven around two lovers - Rangeet and Rongnue. Rangeet symbolizes river Rangeet and Rongnue symbolizes river Teesta, popular rivers of Sikkim. They used to meet in a place secretly. When their love was known to all, they offered salutations to the Kanchen-Chu (Mt. Khanchendzonga) and decided to go down to the plains.
Rangeet was led by a bird called Tut-Fo (Partridge) and Rongnue by Paril-Bu (King Serpent) who served as their guides and agreed to take them to Pozok, now known as Pesok, their promised trysting land or confluence through slopes of Himalayas meandering through the lovely valleys, thick forests and steep hills. From there they would travel together to the plains to the land of the unknown.
Rangeet"s guide being a bird traveled through circuitous routes in search of food and thereby led him through many zig zags and thus reached very late for their appointed tryst at Pesok.
As Rongnue was guided by a serpent, she was led in serpentine way searching their destination long before their appointed time. There Rongnue waited patiently for the lover Rangeet who had not arrived yet.
When Rangeet reached the promised place, Pozok, he was surprised to see his darling Rongnue had arrived there much before him. In surprise he uttered the words "Thistha", Rangeet was very much ashamed, vexed and also disappointed as being a male he should have arrived first and then waited for his darling Rongnue to take her down to the plains, the land of the unknown. But instead his darling had arrived first, so he decided to go back to the Himalayas, the land of his origin. At this time a very great flood occurred and marooned all the people and living creatures. The people and the creatures all fled to the high hills and mountains and even then the flood rose and lapped them.
The flood waters went on rising up and even threatened to reach the top of the mountain, "Tungrong" (Mt.Tendong), even then to the surprise of all, the presiding deity in the form of a bird - Kohok Fo - appeared on the top of Tungrong and prayed for subsiding the water by sprinkling Chi. Miraculously the flood subsided saving the remaining Lepchas and other creatures.
On the other hand, Rongnue lovingly wooed his lover Rangeet not to be vexed. She explained to him that he had been brought late to the trysting place due to the fault of the guide, therefore it was no fault of theirs.
Thus Rongnue agreed to flow and Rangeet. Both of them decided to go down together to the plains from Pesok.
As such to this day in Lepcha marriage the tale of river Rangeet and river Rongnue is sung and danced by the Lepchas. The bride and the bride groom are always taken as the river Rongnue and Rangeet. The Lepchas wish the newly wedded couple a happy and prosperous life in future like the river Rangeet and the river Rongnue.
River Teesta has glacial origins. The glaciers in Sikkim are located in the northern and northwestern part of the Sikkim Himalaya. Apart from providing scenic beauty they are the water tower in the region and the controller of the hydrology and geo-hydrology and hence the water ecosystem in the region. They are the sources of all the perennial rivers and streams. Observations, by the geo-scientists, of the Himalaya have led to the detection of various rates of glacial retreat in different parts of the Himalaya. In this connection it is observed that the Zemu Glacier of North Sikkim has been retreating 8 meters per year while the Kangchenjhau Glacier in North Sikkim is behaving differently from those of the adjoining areas in recent times. The retreating glaciers are altering the hydrological regime in the Himalayan region and also pose environmental risks such as Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOFs) and increased sedimentation. Therefore information on the glaciers and impact of climate change on them are critical to gauge the long term viability of dams in the Himalayan region.
| SATYAGRAHA |
Warriors for a Cause
"I will die but won't allow the mega power projects in Dzongu" - Dawa Lepcha.
Two Lepcha youths from Dzongu rocked the state of Sikkim and the world with their selfless stand against the hydro projects. Dawa T. Lepcha and Tenzing Lepcha went on hunger strike in the spirit of Gandhian Satyagraha from June 22, 2007 to September 27, 2009.
Chronicles of the campaign - and more - at
| TEESTA |
Will the Teesta river survive? In order to construct one kilometer of tunnel, approximately 150 tons of dynamite are required. Imagine how much blasting will be done for 30 power projects! Seventy percent of the river to flow underground!
| DZONGU |
Dzongu in North Sikkim is the holy place for Lepchas spread all over the world. Process has begun for seven mega power projects spanning the length and breadth of this protected area.
| ENVIRONMENT |
Environment Impact Assessment (EIA)
Blatant violations of procedural and environmental norms. Get the distressing facts at our EIA-page.
| TEESTA STAGE V |
Much went wrong during design, assessment and construction of Teesta Stage V HEP. For a truly sustainable and adapted development, a different approach is required.
| VIOLATIONS |
Environment Protection Act (EPA) as well as Forest Conservation Act (FCA) were repeatedly violated by the companies involved. A non-exhaustive listing for Teesta Stage V only (NHPC).
| DOCUMENTS |
• Statements, appeals and proceedings by ACT
• Scientific papers substantiating ACT's concerns
• Press reports covering disproportionate projects in Sikkim and ACT's struggle for protection
| MEDIA |
• Collection of Documentaries