For the people of Dagana, who have been waiting for the construction of Sunkosh Hydropower Project, this election period brought them some good news.

People say the two political parties, candidates and supporters are all promising to start the project soon.

Karpo Dorji, 63, has been running a shop in Sunkosh town for last three decades.

He said he heard about the project since the time he settled in the area. “But nothing has happened in reality.”

All the candidates and supporters pledged it, he said. “The project is expected to lift the dzongkhag from poverty.”

Karpo Dorji said in the early 90s, Sunkosh was a thriving town with vibrant weekend market visited by people from Tsirang and Dagana. “The hydropower is expected to bring back the vibrancy of the town.”

Dagana is the poorest dzongkhag among the 20, according to the Population and Housing Census (PHCB) 2017.

People say that one of the reasons people have not progressed in the dzongkhag is because of fewer opportunities and market for their farm produce.

Farmer Pema Dorji said now that party presidents and candidates are pledging the Sunkosh hydropower Pproject, whether Druk Phuensum Tshogpa or Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa comes to power, it is certain that the project would come through.

“We look forward to a market for our farm produce, employment creation and other economic opportunities,” he said.

He also added that the project would urge farmers to work hard to produce more products.

“Besides boosting economic opportunities in the dzongkhag, it will bring business into the dzongkhag.”

A resident of Tashiding gewog, Sherab Zangmo, 40, said she learnt that the Sunkosh Project would be established below her village. “Whatever we do in the village, we expect to have a source of cash income.”

She said she has land, which she can either sell at a high rate or construct a house, which can bring rental income.

In the manifesto, DPT pledges to execute at least three mega hydropower projects and actively pursue the others with the Government of India. Sunkosh with a capacity of 2,56MW is one among the three in the list.

The former Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay, in the June 2018 State of the Nation report had said that discussions were currently underway with the Government of India to start construction of Sunkosh Hydropower Project.

Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT) in their manifesto stated that the party would generate an additional 5,200MW of hydropower through Sunkosh, Kuri-Gongri and other projects.

The party’s manifesto states that they will implement the inter-governmental projects of 2,585MW Sunkosh  and of 2,640MW Kuri-Gongri hydropower projects.

Nirmala Pokhrel | Dagana