Mining: A quarry each in Chapcha and Darla were given the green signal during the Chukha dzongkhag tshogdu (DT) yesterday.

The dzongkhag administration had presented the projects at the tshogdu for endorsement.

The quarry in Chapcha falls on an 8.5-acre plot of private land, which belongs to a resident of Shelma Gangkha village. Although clearances from the public, forest office, and dzongkhag administration were received in 2012, the landowner failed to start operations immediately for personal reasons.

Later, all mining activities in Gangkha were suspended in 2013 because the community had complained of another quarry nearby impacting water sources and local deities. In 2015, the landowner had again approached relevant agencies to revalidate the approvals.

However, when another round of public meeting for clearance was conducted, most of the people did not turn up. Only three people who share a boundary with the proposed quarry site turned up and only one of them gave clearance.

The process was left at that and the dzongkhag presented the issue at the DT yesterday. As the dzongkhag forest office also recommended that the site was feasible for operation, the DT then endorsed the quarry yesterday.

As long as the land is private land and the clearances were received, gups and officials said there should not be a problem.

Meanwhile, the problems that could arise in the future and the impact it can have on the farm road that will be constructed were raised in regards to the mining in Pipin, Darla gewog. Although the community had already given their clearance, an observer highlighted that the blasting could impact the farm road below the mining site in future.

“The boulders may fall on the road,” an observer said, adding that the site that is located in Pipin was somehow closer to the border.

Concerns about the quarry impacting the Manitar-Raidak highway were also raised. However, the road is 500 metres away according to the roads department and no risk would be posed.

However, as the mining was processed as per the rules and clearances acquired, the DT decided to provide a five-year term for mining. The DT also decided that the mining would be stopped if potential risks and impacts appear during this term.

It was also announced that the culture department had cancelled the quarry proposal that the State Mining Corporation Ltd made for a site in a place called Donged Tabsibu of Geling gewog. Although the place has a high potential for stones, the department cancelled the proposal as the place had many sacred sites.

No mining activities will be allowed in Donged Tabsibu.

 Rajesh Rai, Chukha