Both sides in ongoing case wish to present more witnesses to bolster their pleas

Gidawom: Thimphu dzongkhag court’s bench II has asked the Department of Geology and Mines (DGM) to explain what caused the cracks on some 27 houses in Gidawom and Jamdo villages on July 12 last year.

In the ongoing case between the Gidawom villagers and the four mining companies, both parties requested the court yesterday to allow them to present more witnesses.

A former DGM employee, who was in charge of the Khasadrapchu region office, and an official from the rural water supply scheme with the health ministry, were among the witnesses the parties requested to present.

While villagers maintain that it was blasting in one of the four mines above their villages that caused the cracks, the department’s investigation ruled it out.

Mangdechu project authority’s civil engineers, who conducted the investigation for DGM, said that the investigation was done for three days during which six blasts were carried out.  Of the six, the instrument picked up only three instances of blasting.

Their investigation report said the equipment used did not have the capability to measure sound.  However, the sound level was found high and disturbing during the process of investigation.  The report mentions that the high sound of blasting could have a psychological effect on the residents within the locality.

After DGM ruled that the cracks on the walls of 27 houses in Gidawom were not due to blasting, the villagers filed a case against the four mining companies.

While the DGM representative submitted that the testing be done once again with the exact amount of explosives used on July 12, the villagers said there was no need.

“Even if the study is redone, there are many factors, such as rock type and blasting methods, besides others, could impact the results, so doing it again wouldn’t mean much,” a representative of the villagers submitted.

The DGM study did not record readings using 72kg of explosives in 18 different holes that were used on July 12.  Each hole, 85mm in diameter, contained about 33 pieces of explosives.

The two engineers from Mangdechu project also stated that, according to research, the intensity of blast depended on charge of the explosives used.

The engineers said they would not be able to do the investigation again, because such an investigation needed conclusive results, and only experts could do the job, which they weren’t.

The villagers first lodged a complaint with the regional DGM office on July 19, alleging that blasting carried out on July 12 caused cracks on the walls of their houses, and asked DGM to suspend the mining.

By Tshering Palden