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Affected Citizens of Teesta (ACT), the Lepcha activist group that opposes the construction of dams in the Dzongu region of northern Sikkim, has suspended its long-lasting relay hunger strike. ACT opposes the proposed power dams because they threaten the natural ecology and the sacred character of the Dzongu, an area in the Himalayas that is sacred to the Lepcha people.

In August this year, ACT charged the state government of Sikkim with a variety of illegal actions, and the government appears to be taking a conciliatory stance as a result. The government sent ACT a letter nearly three weeks ago that proposed a resumption of talks about the situation. It also requested that the group stop the hunger strike.

Last week, Dawa Lepcha, the General Secretary of ACT, said the group decided it would suspend its hunger strike in order to build confidence between itself and the government. It also wants to foster further initiatives that might help resolve the issue. Mr. Lepcha called the relay hunger strike a very successful strategy since it has brought attention to their cause not only in the state of Sikkim, but nationally and internationally. It has awakened “the voice of the people” against the hydroelectric power projects, he maintained.