Court: The legal tussle between Gidawom community and the four mining and quarry companies operating in the area will conclude in the next 10 days.

Thimphu district court’s Bench II summoned the parties for the closing argument of the case yesterday and it is expected to issue the verdict within 10 days after the closing argument hearing.

Both the parties did not make any new submissions to the court yesterday.

The case over the past 20 months had seen two out-of-court negotiations fail, a judicial investigation, and summoning of more than five witnesses including government officials.

The negotiations stretched to about four months wherein the plaintiffs claimed Nu 72 million as compensation for the damages after their earlier demand was found to be too high.

The main issues in the court were whether the blasting on July 21 2014 had caused cracks on the walls of 26 houses in the community, breach of an internal agreement between the companies and the community on social corporate responsibility, and alleged fraudulent practice in obtaining public clearance to renew mining license.

Witnesses, including two government officials, were summoned to testify several aspects of the case, but most did not have answers the parties sought.

The court also summoned village elderly to locate the sacred place (nye) of the local deity Jeesuup, which the plaintiffs claimed could be lost as mining expands in the area.

Officials from the geology and mines department could not answer whether there could be a cumulative impact of blasting at the mines on the structures in the community. The officials submitted that they did not have technical background and lacked details of how the blasting was done.

The department conducted a study that ruled out blasting as the cause of cracks on the houses in the locality.

Tshering Palden