Even after a year and a half since Naro gewog in Thimphu proposed for rural electrification, the gewog is still without electricity.
Although the National Environment Commission approved the project, it is awaiting forest clearance from the Department of Forest and Park Services (DoFPS). This is because the gewog falls within the Jigme Dorji National Park (JDNP).
Naro gup Wangchuk said that in 2017, the sixth technical advisory committee meeting of DoFPS approved the forest clearance with few conditions, which according him was not applicable, considering the requirements of spacing in the electrification process. “The department gave approval for transmission lines but ordered against tree felling for installation of poles and transmitters.”
The approval letter from DoFPS to Bhutan Power Corporation, dated December 27, 2017 stated, “Rural electrification to Thimphu should be done along the ongoing GC road to Barshong sharing right of way. Hence, no felling should be done along the line from right of way clearing.”
However, the gup said that the construction of the 29 kilometres gewog centre (GC) road, which began in 2008, is still ongoing. The construction was delayed by months in between as it came in conflict with habitat conservation of wild animals within the park.
“Wild animals are more important than the welfare of about 71 households,” he added.
Even if the road was complete, he said, the electrification process couldn’t be carried out along the GC road, as the road is steep and constructed by cutting through cliffs.
The chief of JDNP, Rinzin Dorji said that the park is in the process of field investigation and survey to ensure that no harm is done to both the people and the park. “We had consultation meetings with Bhutan Power Corporation and a report is underway.”
Once the report is submitted to the department, the gup said the consultation meeting among people of Naro and the park officials would bring beneficial results.
With an area of 281.37 sq. kms, Naro gewog has about 250 people. It shares borders with Kawang and Lingzhi gewogs, and Paro dzongkhag.