Children of the Snowy Peaks (2020-)
River Teesta, a trans-boundary river, which originates from the eastern Himalayas of Sikkim and further flows through the state border with West Bengal in India, and then cross the Indo-Bangladesh international border into Bangladesh, it's a home to 30 million people from the Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal. The river has a deep cultural, spiritual and economic relationship to the people that co-exist with the river. But, the dynamics of the river and people are rapidly changing, due to the negative effects of climate change and large-scale development projects in the name of economic growth and development. The river which is 414 kms in length has been heavily dammed across its stretch. A total of 47 hydropower projects of Sikkim and West Bengal in India, within the Teesta River basin are in different stages, of which majority are in Sikkim, a small mountain state in the eastern Himalayas, sandwiched between three international borders with Tibet-China, Bhutan and Nepal. This has not only caused tremendous stress on the fragile ecology of the state of Sikkim, in India but also effects the communities living along the river, right down to the nation of Bangladesh, where floods and droughts are a yearly affair.
In Sikkim, the fight against the building of hydel project has been a long-drawn-out struggle for the people of Dzongu, the hunger strike protest of 2007 was successful in cancelling 4 out of 5 hydropower projects inside Dzongu. With these, Sikkim arguably became one of the only states in India and in the world to scrap so many hydel projects in response to people’s demands. Since then, over more than 14 years, the fight to stop the last remaining project (300MW Panan Hydropower Project) over the Rongyong River, believed to be the most sacred, is still on, despite severe threats and intimidation from the state. It remains the only major river and tributary of Teesta River in Sikkim which is free-flowing. And people have been demanding the State to scrap the Hydel project plan over it and instead declare it as a river sanctuary. But their demands have been completely ignored and massively repressed by the state.
“Children of the Snowy Peak”, is based upon the hope and resilience of the people from Dzongu, whose lives are intertwined ¬symbiotically with their environment. Their activism, undying faith and strength to protect their sacred landscape from large scale modernist development agenda of the State. It is an attempt to tell the story of the community, by using photography as a means of documenting this history, and tracing the larger practices of the Lepchas at the intersection of ecology, sustainability, culture and indigeneity