Drakteng residents reject MHPA compensation

One household offered as little as Nu 193 

The Trongsa Dzongkhag Tshogdu (DT) has asked the Mangdechhu Hydro Electric Project Authority (MHPA) to reassess damages caused by its heavy trucks plying along the Trongsa-Zhemgang highway.

Drakteng Gup, Kinzang Dorji who raised this issue in the DT said people refused to accept the compensation the team, comprising of engineers from the dzongkhag administration and MHPA, offered to the victims. “People are unhappy with the assessment carried out by the team. They say the team did not assess the damages properly.”

The gup said the compensation ranged from Nu 193 to Nu 8,000. “People say the compensation is too less for the damages caused.”

Kinzang Dorji said he returned the money to MHPA authorities.

The compensation, particularly Nu 193 to a household, amused the occupants who questioned the basis of the finding. Some members said if the damage was of that amount, MHPA could have said they are not liable rather than paying the amount.

Although the engineers who assessed the damages were not present during the session to explain, it was learned that the assessment was done applying technical knowledge.

Trongsa dzongdag, Sonam Rinchen, said people from the gewog raised the issue during the finance minister Namgay Dorji’s recent meeting in Dangdung. “People said over speeding of Volvo trucks caused damage to their houses.”

The dzongdag said the finance minister has provided a vehicle to the Road Safety and Transport Authority (RSTA) in Trongsa so that RSTA officials could monitor the speed of the trucks.

RSTA’s motor vehicle inspector, Rinzin Jamtsho, said they go to the area frequently and monitor the speed of the trucks. “Most of the trucks drive within the speed limit but we impose fines when the drivers exceed the speed limit.”

The speed limit in the area is 50-60km an hour.

Police officials also said they frequently went to the site for speed checking and they found the speed limit is being respected.

But some DT members said the Volvo trucks over speed during the nights, as they know police and RSTA officials are not on duty.

Some DT members suspect the damages were caused due to overloading and not over speeding. They said the trucks carry loads of between 50 to 60 tonnes and given the road condition in the area, it cause damages.

The Drakteng gup said this problem cannot be solved by RSTA and the police alone. “MHPA has a bigger role to play by briefing the drivers to drive within the speed limit.”

Some DT members suggested restricting truck movement at night for a certain time, as people complain they are unable to sleep because of the vibration the trucks cause.

People also alleged the trucks have damaged drains by the road.

But the DT thrizin, Nubi Gup Ugyen Tenzin said restricting the movement of the trucks at night could hamper MHPA’s work progress.

The DT decided to ask MHPA to resolve the issue. They also decided to notify Tangsibji Hydro Energy Ltd since some of the Volvo trucks using the road belong to the company.

MHPA’s chief environment officer, Yonten Gyeltshen, said the authority paid compensation to the affected residents as per the findings and estimation calculated by the investigation team. “I had to take the money back since the gewog informed me that the victims were not accepting it.”

He explained that there were only seven households who complained about the damages initially. “It later increased to 37 but the team investigated and found only 17 were genuinely affected.”

Yonten Gyeltshen said he is willing to cooperate on a reassessment as the DT recommended.

DT chairperson Ugyen Tenzin asked that the investigation team also include representatives from the gewog administration.

Nima Wangdi | Trongsa

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