Connectivity: The groundbreaking ceremony of the construction of the golden mahseer hatchery at Harrachu on November 7 came as a blessing for people of Rukha and Lawa Lamga chiwogs in Athang gewog.

With the construction of the hatchery, the two remotest chiwogs located about two days walk will be connected to the Wangdue-Tsirang highway at Harrachu with two bridges.

Gyeltshen, 52 of Rukha village joined more than 20 villagers to attend the ceremony that the Punatsangchu Hydropower Project Authority (PHPA) dedicated to the 60th birth anniversary of His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo.

Athang gup Khandu Dorji said the hatchery project would benefit more than 74 households of 13 villages that were economically disadvantaged and lacked market access.

Gup Khandu Dorji said that although the chiwogs are connected with 18km power tiller track from Punatsangchu and Harrachu confluence to Rukha in 2007, lack of a proper bridge over the two rivers hampered connectivity.

As of now, the villagers make use of a suspension bridge.

The demand for a bridge prior to 2007 failed to materialize as the construction was estimated to cost more than Nu 18M. “The gewog couldn’t initiate it because of the budget ceiling,” he said.

PHPA II’s deputy chief environment officer Sangay Dorji said the golden mahseer hatchery project would be constructed with an estimated cost of Nu 188.6M. The project also includes the construction of 200ft and 45ft long bridges over Punatsangchu and Harrachu and 1.2km road besides improvement works on 800metre road.

Sangay Dorji said the project includes a one-storied hatchery building, an office with laboratory building, three residential buildings and four pounds (brood stock rearing pound), water supply from Harachu and river protection works.

An Indian company, WAPCOS and the Construction Development Corporation limited (CDCL) would execute the project. The road construction is expected to begin this month.

The hatchery project is expected to protect the endangered migratory fish, golden mahseer (Tor putitora) in Punatsangchu River. With the construction of hydropower projects, the dam construction over the river in particular would block their migratory route and prevent the mahseers from entering Bhutan’s rivers.

According to the project data, the mahseers start migrating to Bhutan from February and leave by September.  They breed and spawn there.

Meanwhile, PHPA also inaugurated the Nu 200M (million) Namgyalzam (bridge) at Denthri and the 1.5km long highway tunnel on November 7. The highway tunnel was constructed at a cost of Nu 800M.

Dawa Gyelmo, Wangdue