Kelzang Wangchuk | Samdrupjongkhar

The government of Bhutan has no reason to stop the irrigation water for the farmers of Assam in India at this time.

The allegation against Bhutan from the Indian media is distressing and baseless, according to the foreign ministry’s press release.

“It is also a deliberate attempt by vested interests to spread misinformation and cause misunderstanding between the friendly people of Bhutan and Assam,” the press release stated.

As per the press release, the people of Baksa and Udalguri districts in Assam have been benefitting from the water sources in Bhutan for many decades and they continue to do so even during such difficult times when the people are faced with the Covid-19 pandemic.

It says understanding the difficulty the farmers in Assam are facing, the dzongkhag administration of Samdrupjongkhar had taken the initiative to maintain the irrigation channels to ensure the smooth flow of water to Assam.

“The heavy monsoon rains and sudden rise in the water levels are posing severe challenges, but the concerned authorities with heavy machinery are on standby to clear any blockage and channel the water whenever there is a problem,” the press release stated.

The press release also states that Bhutan and the dzongkhag authorities will make every effort to ensure the disruptions caused by the monsoon rains to the irrigation channels are addressed without delay and that there is water available for the farmers in Assam.

“We would also like to request for the understanding of the farmers in Assam as sometimes there could be few delays in the flow of water due to disruptions caused by the heavy monsoon rains and the operational difficulties arising from the restrictions put in place by both the countries because of the Covid-19,” the press release stated.

The dzongkhag administration had also written a clarification to the Baksa district commissioner on June 25.

Dzongdag Tharchin Lhendup said the people of Assam come to Samdrupjongkhar and carried out irrigation channel maintenance works before, but could not come this time after closing the border gates due to the Covid-19.

He said the heavy monsoon rains often washed the water channel away, but the dzongkhag, thromde, regional offices, business community, private sectors, forest department, Indo-Bhutan Friendship Association, and police, among others, cleared and carried out maintenance works to make sure the smooth flow of water to Assam recently.

Dzongdag said that the Bhutanese carried out maintenance works as and when the people of Assam informed the administration, adding that the dzongkhag told the outpost duties to report the matter. “It is crucial to construct a permanent water channel as the existing channel is not stable and located along the river bed.”

Thromde’s executive secretary, Tougay Choedup, said the thromde administration awarded the works to construct the permanent water channel recently but the works would begin after the monsoon, as it would be challenging.

He said that the Bhutanese side did not understand which side of the water channel the Assamese were talking about. “We always assure the continuous and smooth flow of water to Assam by carrying out maintenance and clearing works daily even during such difficult situations.”