Assembly: Panbang MP of Zhemgang, Dorji Wangdi criticised the government for the delay in implementation of the Chamkharchhu hydropower project during the Question Hour session in the National Assembly, yesterday.

He asked economic affairs minister Lekey Dorji, who is the Bardo-Trong MP from the same dzongkhag, when the project would actually begin. The question has been asked in almost every session of the second session of Parliament.

Dorji Wangdi said the Detailed Project Report was prepared during the former government’s time although it was endorsed during the present government’s tenure. The government had earlier said that since the Chamkharchhu project was a Joint Venture Project (JVP), it would be implemented as soon as its implementation framework was finalised.

The Panbang MP said the government has failed to live up to its words. He said Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay during his visit to Kheng last year had said the project would begin soon and that the people of the region should be ready to sell their farm produce to project employees.

According to Dorji Wangdi, the Prime Minister during that visit had asked the people there to “be ready to sell eggs, milk, butter and vegetables.”

“But after one year, the project is yet to begin,” the MP said.

The Panbang MP said that there aren’t big projects in the Kheng region, and that moreover developmental activities such as construction of BHUs, bridges, roads and schools were postponed in the four gewogs of North Kheng. This is because the Chamkharchhu project and developmental activities in the four gewogs were to be carried out simultaneously.

In his reply, Lyonpo Lekey Dorji said that the project will immensely benefit the people of Zhemgang and the neighbouring dzongkhags. He said works such as construction of bridges and roads are being carried out by the works and human settlement ministry.

“I am really concerned about the project as it falls under my constituency,” he said. However, he did not mention a possible date of commencement of the project.

He said unlike the Chukha and Tala projects the Chamkharchhu project was a JVP and that the government was awaiting finalisation of the concession agreement for the Kholongchhu hydropower project. The Kholongchhu project is the first JVP between Bhutan and India.

Education minister and former economic affairs minister, Norbu Wangchuk said the government is executing works related to hydropower projects without deviating from its promises.

On a different note, the education minister said the opposition MPs often claimed that the “former government did everything right and the present government didn’t”.

“But the people know that a lot of problems like the Indian Rupee crunch have been solved,” he said.

He added that the country’s GDP growth has increased from 2.5 percent to about six percent during the government’s tenure.

“There were no loans available for business in 2013. Now not only are loans available, interest rates have also been reduced by the present government,” he said.

Lyonpo Norbu Wangchuk said the economy was in shambles when the present government took over.

MB Subba