Demanding the relocation of the substation to a different location from their settlement area, Tamang Indigenous Peoples and other local community members of Shankharapur municipality 3 (Lapsiphedi) have marched in front of the office of the Asia Development Bank (ADB) in Kathmandu. They conducted a sit-in at Lainchaur, as the security forces did not allow them to conduct a sit-in in front of the ADB office.
After 338 days of nonstop sit-ins and protests calling for the relocation of the Lapsiphedi substation, which the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) will be building with the assistance of an ADB loan, they gathered at the ADB office in Lainchaur, Kathmandu, on December 18, 2023.
The community members affected by the substation were marching with different slogans. Indigenous Peoples Organizations, including civil society organizations, also joined the march with their support. Mohan Gole, the chairperson of Nepal Tamang Ghedung, an umbrella organization of Tamang Indigenous Peoples, Prem Yakten, the chairperson of Kirat Yakthung Chumlung, and Sanjiv Upreti from the civil society movement, addressed the corner meeting.
The chairperson of Kirat Yakthung Chumlung, Prem Yakten, said, “The ongoing land grabbing and militarization against Tamang Indigenous Peoples is unacceptable.”
Gole also alleged that Tamang Indigenous Peoples have been oppressed for a long time, and the construction of a substation in Lapsiphedi has also been planned with the same design.
The chairperson of Kirat Yakthung Chumlung, Prem Yakten, stated that there is support and solidarity of the people of Limbu Indigenous Peoples from eastern Nepal to the movement of oppressed Tamang Indigenous Peoples, Newar, and any other movement of Indigenous peoples, and said, “The ongoing land grabbing and militarization against Tamang Indigenous Peoples is unacceptable.”
Addressing the meeting, a representative of the civil society movement, Sanjiv Upreti, said, "The government doesn’t have the right to rule if it fails to fulfill the right of Tamang Indigenous Peoples to Free Prior and Informed Consent upheld in the international human rights laws that it is party to.”
Choho (the chief) of Tamang Dunghyul Chokchhen, the customary institution of Tamang Indigenous Peoples, Tularam Tamang, said, "Police administration terrorized Tamang Indigenous and other locals in Bojheni through militarization, arresting, beating, and displacing them.”
Choho (the chief) of Tamang Dunghyul Chokchhen, the customary institution of Tamang Indigenous Peoples, Tularam Tamang, stated that despite having options for the construction of a power substation in Upper Tamakoshi, the government planned at Bojheni with the ill intention to displace Tamang Indigenous Peoples from their ancestral land. He further said, "Police administration terrorized Tamang Indigenous and other locals in Bojheni through militarization, arresting, beating, and displacing them.”
The coordinator of the Upper Tamakoshi Struggle Committee, Ranjit Tamang, while addressing the mass meeting, said that they are not tired and will continue their struggle and protests.
The government has a plan to build 400 KV, 220 KV, and 132 KV power sub-stations in Sankharapur Municipality ward no. 3, Lapsiphedi (Bojheni), for the distribution of electricity to Kathmandu, the capital city, and other areas of hydroelectricity projects that are built in the Sindhupalchok, Dolakha, and Sunkoshi River basins. But Tamang Indigenous and other local communities are protesting against the project, demanding to relocate the substation to a different area, citing that it would impact their customary lands, including their livelihoods and cultural and ceremonial sites, and would harm their health and environment.
The construction of the substation has been stopped, although the authority has already taken 170 ropanies (930920 square feet) of land belonging to 70 landowners through repeated acquisitions in Lapsiphedi (Bojheni). For the substation, the landowners who have received compensation have continued to protest, demanding their land back.
This powerhouse substation in Lapsiphedi (Bojheni) is also the starting point of the interstate power transmission line that the government will build with grant funding from the US government through the Millennium Challenge Corporation.