Against the petition: Chamkharchu Hydropower project.

The history of hydropower in Bhutan goes back to early 1980s when our visionary 4th King embarked our economic journey through harnessing of clean energy from our rushing rivers. Today if we look back after 40 years there has been never a slight hiccup in our economy rather the progress has been very steady.

Since then under the dynamic leadership of our great kings, the royal government has prioritized the construction of hydro powers on the top agenda after it was identified as one of the jewels of our economy.

However recently, one of the environmentalists had started online petition to put brake on Chmakhar Chu project which is likely to spark at my birth place. And the petition has proved as a source of worrisome for me and other fellow Khengpas. His petitions are solely based on degradation of our pristine environment and skyrocketing of our country’s debts due to such mega hydro project. While I appreciate the petitioner’s views, but I am wondering why his petition is only limited to Chamkhar chu Project. If he has genuine care for our environment he should have raised same voice for Kholong Chu and Nika Chu project which is on the verge of start.

According to the constitution of Bhutan article no.5 “The government shall ecologically balanced sustainable development while promoting justifiable economic and social development.”  And that is how our government has been doing for all the completed projects and the ones that are in the pipeline. Therefore I can never mistake in comparing Chukha and Shara desert like that of comparing a horse and the goat. How can one say that Chukha was deforested due to Chukha hydropower? I am always breathing clean air while plying to Phuntsholing through green Chukha. And who can believe that Mongar is Lhadhak of Bhutan owing to Kurichu hydro power? Who says that hydropower project can completely eradicate the poverty of the locality? I am sure none of the world’s top class economist would support this thesis. Can anyone name me a successful company that was never in debts during its incubation period? We must take calculated risk. Who says that United State of America never ran up in huge debts?  

For sure Chamkharchu project can alleviate the poverty of khengpas in many ways but we have never guaranteed that it can completely pull khengpas out of her poverty. Remember Zhemgang has been always topping the highest poverty rate in the country ever since the survey was conducted by GHNC. Further Chamkharchu project has an ability to echo our economy across the globe. As Arabs has oil, we have rivers. Besides our rushing rivers can anyone identify another bed-rock of our economy?

And this is what our 5th King has to share with people of twenty Dzongkhags during 107th national Day at Kanglung. “I commend the government for the ambitious scale of the 11th plan, and the manner in which they have handled the 4 hydropower projects, which are under construction. And I look forward to the Kholongchu Hydropower Project, with the anticipation that it will be hugely beneficial to the six eastern dzongkhags.

The budget for the 9th five-year plan was Nu. 70 billion and one hydropower project was initiated during that time. During the 10th five-year plan, the budget increased by over 100% to Nu. 146 billion and 4 hydropower projects were initiated. With the 11th five-year plan, we have a budget of more than Nu. 213 billion, and besides the Kholongchu project, feasibility for 4 more hydropower projects are being considered. This means in the near future, we will be tasked with the implementation of 9 hydropower projects, which is a heavy responsibility for the government.

It is good to be ambitious. From one standpoint, more is better and having something is better than not having anything at all. But we must also realize that increased workload compounds associated risks and possible failures. We must ask ourselves, ‘are we willing and able to take on this responsibility? Can our financial resources be matched by our human capital?’

The main aspiration of the people is that the 11th plan will succeed, and prosperity will grow all around the country. The realization of this goal depends more than ever on the government’s commitment to good governance, which should include check and balance, openness and transparency. The people must take individual responsibility and make a collective effort, instead of depending solely on the government.”

To fulfill the aspirations and wishes of our king all the Bhutanese citizenship card holders must support our government in combating corruption and narrowing ecological damages due to ongoing and upcoming hydro power projects. We cannot simply afford to point fingers at each other, rather we must work collaboratively.

The wisdoms of our great kings are always precious and priceless.

Pelden Drukpa Gyalo…


  1. I salute your thoughts and opinion...rightly said

  2. Working together is the key to solving problems.