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Editorial: Electric car for Bhutan

10 June, 2009 – Bhutan celebrated World Environment Day on June 5. As usual, the day was marked by lofty official speeches. This year, however, a highlight of the celebration was the launch of an electric car in Thimphu by the department of energy.The car, from Bangalore, India, is small and compact and – because it runs on electricity – has zero emission. It is a very environment friendly car, no doubt. It is also – at 40 ch a km – said to be [... Read More]

Editorial: Drugs safety

9 June, 2009 – The drug regulatory authority (DRA) of the ministry of health recently collected about 130 drugs from the market that were being sold or used for patients. Twelve failed the lab tests six for people and six for domestic animals. The defects were detected through random sampling, picked up from the market, and not from the source of import, or during the process of being imported. We are not sure how many more of such substandard medicines are there in the market [... Read More]

Editorial: Two heads better than one

8 June, 2009 – In trying to figure out who will hold executive power in the gewog, the gup or the gewog administrative officer (GAO), we seem to have forgotten why they are there in the first place.Both these positions are crucial in ensuring that development programmes make a difference to the rural populace, some of whom live days away from the nearest sign of development. If this is to happen, the gup and the GAO must be able to work together rather than be [... Read More]

Editorial: Out of harm

6 June, 2009 – Tourists often marvel at the way Bhutanese archers in a traditional tournament stand near the target and dodge arrows flying from the other end.But getting hit by one can be fatal. And the chances are greater when you dont see it coming. This kind of danger has soared in recent times with the proliferation of archery ranges anywhere and everywhere, particularly in the urban centres. Last week in Paro a two-year-old boy, playing a safe distance away from an archery range, [... Read More]

Editorial: Collateral damage

5 June, 2009 – As many as 90 households will have to move to make way for the Punatsangchu dam, the country’s largest hydroelectric project. Their farmland will be inundated by the dam’s enormous reservoir, which could extend as far up as the Wangdue bridge. The project is nearly 8 km downstream to the bridge.The government has ordered farmers to start relocating themselves, but in their own gewog. In return they were told to either take monetary or land compensation. Meanwhile, farmers who have lived there [... Read More]

Editorial: To measure the immeasurable

4 June, 2009 -After all the talk on national policy being shaped to help citizenry find happiness, we have been stuck with the burden of proof.The idea is wonderful but how do we know if its working? We were cornered to live up to our own words. So huge efforts have gone into devising ways to measure what makes the Bhutanese heart sing or weep. Today we have in place a mathematical formula to do that. To some Bhutanese, the formula, as seen in the [... Read More]

Editorial: Wiser after the event

3 June, 2009 – Even though we only felt the distant effects of cyclone Aila that killed hundreds and displaced millions in Bangladesh and eastern India, it was enough to shake us to the reality of our vulnerability to nature’s fury.All it took was a few days of continuous heavy rain and everything seemed like it might fall apart. The swollen brown rivers flowed off course, taking precious lives and washing away roads, bridges, mule tracks and walking trails. Hillsides came down burying farmers, cutting [... Read More]

Editorial: Trees

2 June, 2009 – Today, schoolchildren all over the country will be planting tree saplings in the thousands, and official speeches and functions will be held to mark social forestry day.There will also be photographs and press releases sent to the media on tree planting activities carried out by the mining sector. That we have a day set aside to forest our hillsides, many of which are barren around population centres, speaks well of our intentions to keep our environment green. And anyone, who has [... Read More]

Editorial: The obvious thing to do

1 June, 2009 – Not long ago, Thimphu was a pleasant town with paddy fields that stretched as far as the eye could see. But the capital was getting crowded and the government felt it needed to be spread out.The new city plan was massive. It included the whole of Thimphu valley, from Changtagang in the north to Ngabirongchu in the south. Paddy fields yielded to buildings, farmers hung up their ploughs, and excavators replaced bulls in the fields. Seven years down the line, the [... Read More]

Editorial: The CDG debate

31 May, 2009 -A lot of storms have been whipped up against the constituency development grant (CDG), which gives National Assembly (NA) members Nu 2 million each, every year for five years, to be used in their constituencies, for development projects not covered by the budget. Even as CDG was passed by the NA and approved by the cabinet.  Meanwhile, the Speaker, notwithstanding the storm, has already pitched his ideas for release of the grant from the ministry of finance – becoming the first Assembly member [... Read More]