Expert to be field to study drying of water sources

Visit: Drying up of water sources, unclean drinking water and the tardy progress of upcoming Gamrichu hydroelectric project (GHP) were issues raised by villagers of Bidung during Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay’s first visit to the gewog yesterday.

Although the gewog doesn’t face any severe shortage of water, drinking or irrigation, Bidung gup Dorji Wangchuk expressed concerns over the drying up of water sources in the gewog.

“Without any proper study by experts on why our sources are getting dried up, we fear water shortage would become a major issue in near future,” he said. “It is high time that we protect our water sources. The government must intervene.”

Though the gewog has 26 rural water supply schemes, the gup said that clean drinking water is still a problem. The problem aggravates during summer. Another issue worrying villagers was the slow progress of GHP.

“We are hearing about substantial progresses made in the case of Nyera Amari and Kholongchu hydroelectric projects but nothing much about GHP,” he said.  “We are unsure if the much awaited project would at all come up in northern Trashigang.”

Lyonchoen Tshering Tobgay, who arrived in the morning in the helicopter straight from Phuentsholing, said that the government is currently focusing on bigger hydroelectric projects like Kholongchu (600MW) and Rotpashong (1025MW) while GHP is on the radar as well.

“We have already carried out geotechnical studies for GHP but are yet to start looking for funds. I will look into the current status of the project,” Lyonchhoen said. “Since the government cannot take up all hydroelectric projects at one time, we have to prioritize projects depending on their potentials.”

On addressing the water issues in the gewog, Lyonchoen said protecting water sources and carrying out timely maintenance activities were crucial responsibilities of the community.

“We have to act before issues of water shortage arise. Villagers have to understand that protecting the source is a way forward to sustaining it,” Lyonchoen said. “I will discuss about the issue with the dzongkhag administration and send an expert to take up studies.”

Lyonchhoen informed the people on how much the government is constantly investing on developmental activities and how it is the responsibility of every individual to use these facilities wisely.

For instance, Bidung gewog was allocated a budget of Nu 12.4M in the last two years. This year, the annual budget increased to Nu 8.6M. Which means, of the 487 households in Bidung, the government is spending roughly Nu 17,600 per every household.

“The government will keep constructing farm roads, irrigation channels, electric fencings and bring about rural development but people must take care of these facilities,” Lyonchoen said.

Lyonchoen also stressed on the importance of health, sanitation and education among others. Villagers were advised to avail the services of Business Opportunity and Information Center (BOiC). So far, BOiC approved 108 projects in Trashigang of which four projects are from Bidung.

Lyonchoen accompanied by the works and human settlement minister, Dorji Choden landed at Bartsham yesterday for his visits to the gewogs in Trashigang.

After visiting Bidung and Bartsham gewogs yesterday, Lyonchoen will visit the northern gewogs of Shongphu, Radhi and Phongmey today.

Tshering Wangdi,  Trashigang