Zhemgang: Economic affairs minister Norbu Wangchuk said that the construction of Chamkharchhu hydropower project will begin soon.

Bardo-Trong MP Lekey Dorji and Panbang MP Dorji Wangdi submitted a petition from Zhemgang’s Dzongkhag Tshogdu to the National Assembly yesterday.

Lekey Dorji informed the houses that the people of Zhemgang are questioning whether Chamkharchhu project will ever come. “As one of the poorest dzongkhags in the country, if hydropower doesn’t come to the dzongkhag, people will have little else to improve their life.”

Lyonpo Norbu Wangchuk said that the Chamkharchu is a priority project for the government. “We’re in the final stages of discussion with government of India.”

Preparation of detailed project report (DPR) for the project took almost three years from 2009 to mid-2011.

Trong Gup Dorji Wangchuk said that it is important for the government to take big projects to remote areas for balanced development.

Zhemgang is one of the dzongkhags with high prevalence of poverty, said Dorji Wangdi.  If Chamkharchhu is stashed or put aside, the communities of the dzongkhag will be affected by way of inadequate social and economic amenities. 

Phangkhar Gup Rinchen Lungten said: “We thought the project started. But everything stopped after construction of a 10-km road from Rindibi.”

There are materials stacked up in Rindibi to construct a bridge for Chamkharchhu.

The 770MW Chamkharchhu hydropower project will be situated near Khomshar village in Zhemgang, with a 108m high concrete gravity dam constructed near Thazong village, 85km east of Zhemgang.  The underground powerhouse will be located at the right bank of Chamkharchhu, 3.5km upstream of Mangdechhu and Chamkharchhu confluence.

It is a big project, said Lyonpo Norbu Wangchuk.  The project will require 1,861 acres of land.  The project will not displace even a single household.

“However, 34 households from three gewogs of Bardo, Shingkhar and Nangor will have to surrender their land to the project.  Land replacement and compensation will be made according to the Land Act 2007 and Sustainable Hydropower Development Policy 2008,” said Lyonpo Norbu Wangchuk.

Ten bridges and an 82-km road will be constructed for the project.  The project is expected to cost Nu 44.7 billion.

Lyonpo Norbu Wangchuk said that the project will benefit the people of Zhemgang by creating employment and economic opportunities among others.

Jigme Wangchuk