Mayel Lyang Sut Lom (Voices from the Hidden Land)

Tapas Majumdar and Souparna Lahiri
Thursday, February 5, 2009

Mayel Lyang Sut Lom is a 20 minute documentary by Tapas Majumdar and Souparna Lahiri that shows the campaigns of the Lepcha community in Sikkim, India, against the construction of large dams in their homeland. The film shows the Lepcha’s struggle against the damming of the Teesta River and the destruction of the Dzongu region.

Dzongu, on the banks of the Teesta, overlooks the sacred Khangchendzonga – the world’s third highest mountain – and is home to red pandas, snow leopards, and the famous Khangchendzonga National Park. The Lepcha are waiting in apprehension for the harbingers of “development” – the giant bulldozers, the heavy cranes, the polluting crushers. The film asks whether the dams being built in the name of development will destroy the Lepcha’s culture, identity and socio-economic fabric. It questions whether the construction of dams on the Teesta will leave the Lepcha homeless and disconnected from their mountains and hills, their sacred rocks and springs, their forests and streams. The film seeks to uncover who loses and who benefits from this kind of development.

Part 1

The impacts of the Teesta Stage V Hydropower Project, the first big dams being built in Sikkim, have forced the people to come out of the Mayel Lyang (the hidden land) to manifest their apprehensions and concerns in peaceful protests. The film follows the Affected Citizens of Teesta and their protests against the planned dams. It tells the story of the Lepcha people and their supporters, who are not staying silent amidst the plans of the national government to dam their river and flood their land.

Part 2