Local leaders in Zhemgang said they have written to the government through the dzongkhag tshogdu (DT) seeking the status of the much-hyped Chamkhar hydropower project.

Bardo gup Kinzang Jurmi said the past two governments promised Chamkharchhu project to the people of Khengrig Namsum and people held high hopes of economic and infrastructural development from the project.

He said the first government initiated the feasibility study and the second government also ended their term assuring the construction.

“We need to know if the present government would start the construction,” the gup said.

He said the government has prioritised to uplift the lower and middle-income groups and Chamkharchhu project is a must to uplift the people of Zhemgang.

Phangkhar gup Tashi said the government had invested money to construct road and on the feasibility of the project and people expect the present government to start the construction.

He said many people in the locality took loans to construct houses hoping the project would start soon and they would earn some income by renting the houses.

“But if the government doesn’t construct the project, people would not be able to repay the loans,” the gup said.

He said there are about 60 school dropouts in the gewog, who believe they would get some employment if the project starts.

Many people in Kheng also said they would be able to earn some income from the sale of agricultural products if the project comes through.

A farmer from Langdurbi, Khandu, 62, said if the project starts, Kheng people would reap some benefits of development.

The DT’s letter is addressed to the secretary general of the National Assembly (NA) and was sent on December 6.

Zhemgang dzongrab Kinzang Dorji said the letter was a request to expedite the construction of the project.

Meanwhile, the 770MW project, which the former government promised to start on the modalities of the Kholongchhu hydro project, became the most discussed issue in 2015 when some raised the need to stop the construction to keep one of the rivers flowing without any hydropower construction. Many people, especially those from Zhemgang, were in favour of implementing the project reasoning it would open many economic opportunities in the remote villages.

A local leader said the former government, after all the discussions, agreed to go ahead with the project. “We would be very grateful if the present government would initiate the construction. The project would change the lives of people here.”

However, the fate of the project would be known only by next month, as the NA members would discuss the matter in the upcoming session scheduled from January 2.

Tashi Dema