More than 30 people of Tading village, Samtse, yesterday met the Tading gewog administration officials and raised concerns over the ongoing mining (quartzite) operations in their villages.
The gathering underlined that several people’s land have been affected by the mining activities. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is also not met, the villagers highlighted. There are three mining companies operational at the village today.
Some villagers also questioned the gewog officials on the mining clearance and procedures.
One of the residents, Ugyen Lama, said it was surprising there are several mining operations in just one gewog.
“Are they feasible? The gewog office has to tell us who signed for the clearances,” he said.
Ugyen Lama also said that he would like to see and understand the terms and conditions of the mining. After his land was affected, the businessman had also written to the gup office.
Villagers stressed that mining is causing problems such as landslides, lack of drinking water as pipes were damaged by mining activities, and dust.
They said the farm road condition has gone from bad to worse – dry and dusty in winter – and muddy during summer. In a desperate move, villagers have also stopped trucks from plying their roads a few times.
One villager said that the mining company told people they didn’t have fuel to help clear the road when villagers had approached for help once. They were there to earn, the mining company had told, he said.
Another villager from Howri Khola, Bhim Bahadur Ghalley said he objected to mining operation at Jhandidara about 10 years ago.
“I still have the objection letter,” he said. “But I don’t know how it got through later. About three people from my village had signed for the clearance.”
Bhim Bahadur Ghalley said there was an urgent need to take consultation and discuss further because the impact is happening now.
“Should we talk to the mining owners or do we take this from the gewog?” he said.
Rudra Singh Ghalley told the gewog officials that it was still not late and proposed something must be done now.
“We all know the damages done by the mining,” he said, adding that development activities would never happen if mining activities kept causing damages in the villages. “People expect the gewog office to do something.”
Dredging was another issue some Tading villagers stressed. The dredging works at Purbeychhu have not helped the river diversion as expected.
Although dredging works are necessary in Purbeychhu, works should help river diversion, villagers said.
Gewog officials told the villagers that they would take the concerns to the forest office.
There are about four dredging companies at Purbeychhu.
Meanwhile, those in the meeting and the gewog officials yesterday said that most people who knew better about the mining operations and clearances were missing.
Villagers have demanded another round of meeting on July 8. This time, villagers asked the gewog officials to request the mining and dredging owners to attend the meeting.
Tading gup, gewog administration officer, mangmi, and tshogpa attended the meeting. They also took notes of people’s problems and said they will inform to relevant authorities. The gewog officials also said they would arrange a meeting with the mining and dredging owners.
Rajesh Rai | Tading