People of Tendruk gewog in Samtse, who are eagerly waiting for the Druk Bindu hydroelectric power project (DBHPP) construction to begin, are urging the government to expedite the work.

Villagers and local leaders claim that the project could bring major economic opportunities in the locality.

A Tendruk villager, Tashi Dorji, said that the project could help in increasing the price of cardamom, which has declined significantly.

He said that the villagers, who were informed about the upcoming hydropower project, do not have any idea on the status of the project. “I want the project construction to start as soon as possible.”

Tashi Dorji also said that the project could employ youth who are jobless and also deploy trucks and Boleros.

He said that the Druk Bindu River that flows across the border generates power downstream. “The river should be utilised to benefit the country too.”

Tendruk gup Nima Dukpa said the project development is at a very slow pace. “I sometimes feel like it is not in the plan,” he said.

He also said that besides generating employment opportunities, the project could shift farmers’ focus from cardamom, which is not doing well today.

The gup claimed that many villagers availed loans and invested in cardamom but the price for cardamom dropped to Nu 20,000 for 40kg from Nu 70,000. “People can go into depression.”

He said timely construction of the hydropower project could save farmers.

Meanwhile, it was learnt that the hydropower project is identified at the confluence of Druk Bindu stream and Kachin stream at Seotapsa village in Tendruk.

Bhutan Power Corporation (BPC) initially carried out the pre-feasibility studies and had suggested for a 12 megawatt (MW) hydropower project.

Later, the capacity was increased to 18MW and then to 20 MW. Today, the project capacity is estimated at 36MW.

DBHPP is also one of the only two hydroelectric power projects in the country that the government would allow Bhutanese players to take up.

DBHPP is currently under the Druk Green Power Corporation  (DGPC). Works on the detailed project report (DPR) started in June 2016.

DGPC’s managing director, Dasho Chhewang Rinzin, said that the DPR works would complete by the end of this year. “We are finalising it.”

He said that the DPR for the upper phase of 18MW has been completed, while the DPR for the lower phase of eight MW is ongoing.

Dasho Chhewang Rinzin said that once the DPR is completed, discussions for estimations and way forward would be held.

DGPC officials say that once complete, the hydropower plant would add to the energy security of Tashicholing (Sipsu) dungkhag and Samtse. The estimated annual energy production of about 82GWh can assist domestic energy security if consumed within the country and earn Indian rupee if exported.

Rajesh Rai | Samtse