Quarry: People of Taksha in Daga gewog, Wangdue, say that they were worried Economic Affairs Minister Norbu Wangchuk might be thinking to allot Taksha-IV stone quarry to Punatsangchhu II.

The minister said that they would soon allot one quarry to Punatsangchu II while answering to a member’s question during the recent session of Parliament.

Villagers alleged that Punatsangchhu II officials didn’t follow proper procedures and has availed public clearance through alternative ways.

“About 34 villagers were called at the gewog conference hall sometime in 2012. They were given lunch following a consultation meeting and were made to sign a paper citing that they have to claim bills for lunch,” said a Taksha villager.

That signature was later used as public clearance.

“We wonder how could Dzongkhag Tshogdue approve of such ways,” said another villager. “We didn’t know that the paper we singed as lunch slip would be used as public clearance,” said a village elder, who attended the consultation meeting and was among those who singed on the paper.

The gewog has 152 households and population of about 1,300 as per the dzongkhag profile.

Daga gewog, under which falls Taksha village, has five stone quarries. Villagers wrote to dzongkhag last year complaining about pollution resulting from the quarries.

Officials of Punatsangchhu II denied the claims made by the people of Taksha and maintained that public clearances for the Taksha-IV stone quarry was applied and secured according to government procedures and norms.

Officials said that during the public consultation meeting held on August 1, 2012, some people raised concerns and asked for alternative farm road since the former road falls within quarry boundary. Clearance was singed after a presentation about the quarry. Clarification was made to the people of the gewog in the presence of Daga Gup, former Daga administration officer, and officials from department of geology and mines.

“We have video clips and documents to justify that the claims are not true and that the clearance was procured according to government procedures and norms,” said officials of Punatsangchhu II.

Punatsangchhu II officials said that the local government of Daga issued the gewog clearance in 2012, and the dzongkhag approval subsequently in 2014 through the seventh Dzongkhag Tshogdue.

The quarry proposal, the officials said, is currently with the National Environment Commission. If approved, Jai Prakash and Associates Limited will operate the quarry for four years.

Officials said that this is as per the provisions of the detailed project report and the contract agreement that requires Punatsangchhu II to provide a captive quarry to the main contractors for sourcing of raw materials.

Without a quarry of its own, contractors of Punatsangchhu II have been buying stones from private quarry in the dzongkhag.

Dawa Gyelmo, Wangdue