Construction experts or hydropower gurus might find it strange, even funny, to hear management of a mega hydroelectric project seeking divine intervention to get rid of obstacles.
But it is the way in Bhutan.
Whether we shift to a new flat or engage in building a massive project, government or private, the power of the omnipresent is sought to prevent a mishap. Going by the delays caused to the Punatsangchhu I project, any intervention is necessary if it can help the project get back on track.
The 1 ,200MW project was a dream project. A lot of hope was pinned on the white gold. Two elected governments even counted the chicken before the eggs hatched. Today, the project has become a synonym for delay, a reference point for discouraging “putting all eggs in one basket” and an example of how nature could derail plans.
Sinking soil, sliding hill slopes and unstable rocks are driving engineers crazy and worrying the managers and planners. If there is anything that could help the project, we should bring it on.
Bhutanese believe in divine powers. It is sought every now and then. Apart from doing it at home for the family, government institutions, schools, public corporations, everybody does it. In fact, it is one event that is seen as a must-do and everybody agrees. So we have “office rimdos and chokus” every year. We have national kurims.
It may be difficult to explain scientifically, but it does bring the much-needed positive energy. It boosts confidence and calms the stressed. We respect nature and believe they shouldn’t be disturbed. There is a close co-relation to our beliefs and what science tells us. If we dig the base of a slope, the top will fall. And in our belief, every tree, cliff, rock, has a protecting spirit. If we disturb them, we will feel their wrath.
This is not the first time that we have gone out of technical or engineering solutions. Today, many are convinced that the notorious Jumbja and Sorchen slide along the Thimphu-Phuentsholing was stabilised only after His Holiness the Je Khenpo installed the sacred vessel of stability or Sachu Bumter. It has become the undeniable example of divine intervention.
The importance of the omnipresent is stressed in the term “Menchoed Rimdo”. Most Bhutanese seek divine power simultaneously when a family member is sick and getting the best of modern treatment in a hospital. The sick and the old get the energy to fight and recover. In medical terms, they call it patient’s motivation.
The blessing and the installation of the Sachu Bumter should if nothing else drive the project officials to work hard on their technical and engineering solutions.
Everybody driving by Punatsangchhu projects talk about the delay and the escalating cost. It is not good for the project. A Kharam Shing could come handy, too.