Kelzang Wangchuk | Samdrupjongkhar

After carrying out site verification on the mining activities in Rishor which was blamed for damaging houses and land in the locality, Samdrupjongkhar dzongkhag administration has forwarded the report to the Department of Geology and Mines’ regional office on April 9.

It also stated that if not addressed, there is high risk for the damages to aggravate during the monsoons and might affect life and property losses to the people living nearby.

About 21 households in the locality complained that the mining affected and damaged their houses. The report stated that of the seven houses that were damaged, one was severely damaged.

It also stated that since the mining site is located right below the village on a difficult terrain and having no occurrences of similar damages in other places as naturally occurring land degradation process, it seems obvious that the damages were caused by the mining activities

The report, however, mentions that it is just a general observation and not technical.

According to dzongdag, Tharchen Lhendup, dzongkhag administration formed an investigation team and carried out the site verifications on February 19 after the gewog administration forwarded the case to the dzongkhag.

“We were no aware of the case before as nobody reported to the dzongkhag,” he said.

According to the verification report, during its initial phases of the mining when SD Eastern Bhutan Coal Company has begun coal extraction works at Rishor in 2004, there was substantial distance between the village and the mining area.

“However, the mining area has been expanded over a period with prior approval and prerequisite clearance from the relevant agencies and stakeholders,” it stated.

The reported stated the current issue where 21 households reported of house and land damages have occurred after the mining was closed, which was approximately six months ago.

The team upon reviewing the record maintained with the company found that the company paid monetary compensations to the villagers either directly or with the involvement of gewog administration.

The dzongkhag reported stated that the dzongkhag is not in the position to intervene to decide on the compensation, as it has become too complex. “Thus, any issues related to the compensation should be resolved within the parties concerned or refer to the court directly.”

Meanwhile, it was learnt that Jigme Namgyel Engineering College (JNEC) playground and basketball court also sank with huge risk during monsoon.

Tharchen Lhendup said they forwarded the findings and recommendations to the geology and mines office for further investigation, as they don’t have the expertise.

Meanwhile, the regional geology and mining office had forwarded the report to the Department of Geology and Mines (DGM) in Thimphu to send a team of geologist, mining engineers and experts, who can be able to assess the cause and effects and to ascertain the damages technically.