Agri ministry to study Paro’s irrigation channel dispute

The PM also reiterated that BOiC is not illegal 

Visit: The long-standing dispute over the repair and maintenance of the 5.5 km irrigation channel in Doteng gewog that also caters to two nearby gewogs of Dop Shari and Hoongrel in Paro could now be settled.

Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay during his visit to Dop Shari and Doteng gewogs yesterday told residents that he would instruct the agriculture ministry to investigate into the issue. Lyonchoen is in Paro over the weekend to visit its six gewogs.

Following the investigation report, lyonchoen said the government would decide on the course of action. “Depending on the report, we will know about the expenditure,” lyonchoen said.

Located at Chashomayur in Doteng gewog, the irrigation channel runs until Jangsa in Dop Shari gewog. The channel mostly benefits about 750 people of Shari and Doteng gewog and a few chiwogs in Hoongrel.

The dispute is over the repair and maintenance of the irrigation channel as it caters to three gewogs. The villagers requested the prime minister to provide a separate budget for repair and maintenance or that the government take it up.

The source, according to villagers, is in dire need of maintenance after the mini hydel at the water source of the irrigation channel was closed about 20 years ago. Prior to that, Bhutan Power Corporation carried out the maintenance works.

With no separate budget allocated, gewog officials of Doteng and Dop Shari said that it’s was an issue owing to the budget ceiling.

Dop Shari gup Dago said that as part of the small development project budget, the gewog could carry out works on only about 1.5kms of the irrigation channel.

“As the water source is in Doteng gewog, we do majority of the maintenance and repair,” gup Dago said, adding that the gewog spends about Nu 100,000 to 200,000 annually.

Speaking to the villagers in the six gewogs, lyonchoen gave the status of the Business Opportunity and Information Centre (BOiC) approved projects in the gewogs.

Lyonchoen urged villagers to avail the services of BOiC and said the centre received a lot of applications from villagers, some of which were fake, which led to proper scrutiny of the proposals.

“This is why it took time to process and approve,” he said.

On the issue of BOiC turning into a state owned enterprise, lyonchoen said the government is doing so to expand the centre for the benefit of the people and not because it was illegal.

Reiterating that its institution was legal, lyonchoen said many criticized it as illegal. “Its not illegal, the government stands by it,” lyonchoen said.

Lyonchoen also informed villagers of the plan activities in the dzongkhag. He said that Nu 587M has been allocated for the 11th Plan for Paro. This, lyonchoen said translates to about Nu 133,000 for every household in the 10 gewogs. There are 4,413 households in Paro.

With 29 schools and 585 teachers, the teacher student ratio of 1:17 is one of the highest, lyonchoen informed the people. Paro’s rural water supply scheme coverage of about 98 percent and sanitation coverage at 95 percent, lyonchoen said was a good indication.

While it’s the government’s responsibility to serve the people, lyonchoen said people should understand and take part in the developmental activities.

There are five doctors, two drungtshos and 22 menpas in Paro hospital, among others. This way, lyonchoen said the facility was better in Paro. He also reminded about free education and health care, which people must respect and make use of rather than misusing it.

“Free health facilities are not provided anywhere in the region or in the developed nations,” lyonchoen said, urging people to reduce alcohol and tobacco intake to prevent themselves from lifestyle diseases.

Kinga Dema

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