DPRs of the projects, officials said, were subject to change
Joint Venture Projects: Having struck an agreement on the four joint venture hydropower projects, it is now about working out compensation for people who will be affected by it.
Detailed Project Reports (DPRs) for Bunakha, Chamkharchhu, Kholongchhu and Wangchhu, which having been approved from the Bhutanese side, awaits approval from the Indian partners.
Since DPRs of the four projects were unapproved from India’s side, economic affairs ministry officials, who at the moment, choose to call it a draft report, said details of the acres of land that would be acquired for the projects and people who would be affected were subject to change.
Draft DPR for Bunakha shows that the project, which will be a reservoir dam located below Bunagu, would need to acquire the most among all joint venture projects of more than 2,146 acres of land, of which 2,083 would have to be taken from the government reserve forest land and 63 acres from private individuals.
About 40 households, it was estimated would be affected by the project, in that they would lose parts of their land. Out of the 40 households, seven would probably lose both parts of their land and house.
For Chamkharchhu project located in Goshing gewog, about 70km from Zhemgang, its DPR shows, it would require a total of about 1,623 acres.
About 1,591 acres from the total would be acquired from the government and the rest from the private individuals.
In Kholongchhu about 494 acres of land, the smallest among the four projects, would be required to accommodate the hydropower project, of which 441 acres is expected to come from the government land and the rest from the private.
The project, it has been worked out, would affect 47 families of which about four would lose both portions of their houses and land.
The powerhouse of the project would be located about 15km from Duksum towards Trashiyangtse and its dam site would be about 5km towards Trashigang from Duksum.
Wangchhu hydropower project, the dam site for which is located about 7.5km downstream of Tala tail-race-tunnel, will need to acquire about 944 acres of land, 818 from government and the rest from private.
The project, it has been learnt while preparing the DPR, would affect about 40 households.
One of the executive engineers of the ministry said the land acquisition for the project and the number of households it would affect would reduce.
“The estimates have been made keeping in mind the worse case scenario, meaning the largest area needed and most families to be affected,” he said.
He said the estimates were based on those that the Indian public sector undertakings drew in keeping with the Indian standards without considering the difference in topography.
“Once the technical approval of the DPR for the projects come through after signing the joint venture agreement, Druk Green Power Corporation will come in,” he said. “They will apply their experiences, which is in keeping with the local requirements.”
He also said affected families would be given land substitute and cash compensation in keeping with the country’s laws.
Besides, he said families would also be given 10,000 units of power.
“In rural areas, people will not use all that much energy and the excess can be sold,” he said, adding it would be sold along with what the country exported by then and the money would be given to the affected families. “Cost of electricity will only escalate over the years.”
By Samten Wangchuk