Garpang landowners throw a spanner in the planned transmission line works

BPC: Frequent power blackouts in Bumthang will not go away, now that the construction of the 33-kilovolt (kV) transmission line, worth Nu 11.406m, from Garpang via Lamai goenpa to Dawathang in Bumthang has been shot down.

The decision was made during a meeting with the public on December 25 in 2014 after 24 landowners of Garpang refused to let it pass through their land.

Bhutan Power Corporation (BPC) suspended transmission works in Garpang from October 2014 after landowners submitted a petition to the dzongkhag to discontinue work as its alignment affected private lands.   The landowners protested that the transmission line should be realigned from above the highway to avert affecting their land.

“Following the refusal by landowners, the construction of transmission line has now been revoked,” BPC senior manager, Gyeltshen, said, adding materials worth Nu 5.7m, which were procured for the work, will be shifted to other places where need is felt.

The remaining budget of Nu 5.4m, supposed to be proposed in 2015, is also revoked, as the work failed to start by December 2014, because of objections from landowners.

The new 14-km long transmission line was planned to improve power supply in Bumthang by interconnecting all the substations, which currently rely on a single transmission system.

The single transmission line is the cause of the existing frequent power interruptions in the dozngkhag.

“With the installation of the radial system, power reliability in Bumthang would have improved by 95-98 percent,” the senior manager said.

For instance, should there be a breakdown in the existing transmission line between the renewable natural resource centre and Garpang, the new radial transmission line from Garpang to Lamai goenpa and Dawamthang would supply power back up, he said.  Similarly, the existing line will work as back up if the radial system goes down.

But with the work for radial system annulled, power interruptions will remain incessant like before, according to BPC officials.

Power officials also said that, should Bumthang hereafter wish for such a radial system, it must be routed through the dzongkhag tshogdu.

“BPC will carry out the construction of radial system only if the government provides the fund unlike earlier when the corporation funded the works,” Gyeltshen said.

Thromde thuemi, Karma Lekden, said that the landowners submitted in the meeting to realign the transmission line from above the highway.

A senior dzongkhag official said that the resurvey would be done through the government land.

“Should the alignment become too lengthy, then another round of consultation meeting will be held with the landowners of Garpang to consider their decision again,” the senior official said.

But BPC said that the resurvey conducted on the government land would increase cost and length of the transmission line.

“Realigning the line from the government land increases the length by 30-40 percent from existing 14km, shooting up the cost of construction,” Gyeltshen said.

Moreover, landowners in Lamai goenpa and Dawathang whose land will be affected by the realignment would also object for sparing the lands of Garpang he said.

BPC also dismissed possibility of compensating the affected landowners, as proposed by the people, as the additional transmission line is being installed in the public interest.


Tempa Wangdi, Bumthang