Dechen Tshomo

Authorities are continuing to monitor the cracks on the road and private homes in Kuengarabten in Trongsa, economic affairs minister Loknath Sharma said at the meet the press yesterday.

The minister said it is important to understand how hydropower project is developed in other countries, and how the establishment of the settlements in earth happens after the bombardments during the construction of hydropower project and after building the tunnels.

“This is the first such experience because earlier hydropowers like Chukha and Tala were not so big and such problems were not faced,” Lyonpo said. “The tunnels of the Mangdechhu Hydroelectric Project are quite long and the geology of it, all these have to be taken into account.”

The first assumption was that the cracks could have formed from leakage of water in the tunnel. He said that the fear was that it might continue happening and it might be severe in the future.

Immediately after the cracks appeared, which is suspected due to hydropower project, Lyonpo asked the experts including the dzongkhag administration to conduct a study and a task force was formed.

The study could not prove whether the cracks were because of the hydropower or the tunnel. It could not find any leaks from the tunnels, therefore, the assumption that the cracks were because of the impact of current water discharge was ruled out.

However, what was not ruled out was that there could be some disturbance in the earth because of many blastings during construction.

The experts reported that this would not continue in the future. “It is a settlement process, a one-time process and it should not happen in future. But we are not satisfied.”

Therefore, the task force has placed inclinometers to monitor the cracks. “It will be continuously monitored and everyone concerned including the dzongkhags is involved.”

Lyonpo said it could be because of an earthquake somewhere in Mongar. “Whatsoever, he said whatever has happened to these homes is their moral responsibility to address so that the measures are taken.”

“I can very much assure that continuous assessment will be done, and we’ll make sure that bigger things or problems do not happen in the future,” Lyonpo said.

Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering said until proven otherwise, it is man-made. “It is because of the underground activities that happened.”

“We are not trying to prove whether the crack is due to the tunnel or an earthquake somewhere else, that is not important. The most important thing is to monitor, that is if the divide is going to be deeper and further, what are the risks on the tunnel and the inhabitants there,” Lyonchhen said.