The Prime Minister Lyonchhen Jigmi Y Thinley in his recent visit to the Amochhu project site met with families who will be affected by the Amochu hydropower project works.
Lyonchhen, accompanied by Economic Affairs Minister, Education Minister and Agriculture Minister, met with the people of Dorokha, Tading, Denchukha, Lokchina and Phuentsholing gewogs at the Tading gewog center in Samtse yesterday. About 276 families in these five gewogs are likely to be affected by the 540MW Amochhu Hydropower Project.
During the meetings, Lyonchhen said to the families that if they collectively wish for the government to do away with this project or felt that the benefits were smaller compared to the sacrifice that they would have to make, then the government would reconsider and respect the decision of the community. All families including the local leaders said that they sincerely supported the project in the area and are aware of the economic benefits. However, they requested the government to ensure appropriate compensation and land replacement.
Lyonchhen assured the families that they will receive land replacement and compensation before they are displaced or have their land taken for the project. Citing examples of land substitution and compensation status in other hydro power project areas in the country, Lyonchhen urged the families to raise their doubts, worries or concerns at the meeting in order to find solutions.
Of the 276 affected families, 66 are from the Lhop community (Doyaps) of Tading and Dorokha gewogs in Samtse. Tading gup Ashok Muktan said that the affected families in Tading, 49 households, have expressed desire for land replacement within the gewog to help preserve their unique culture and age-old tradition. Lyonchhen said that the government will give priority to communities that strive to preserve their tradition and culture.
Lyonchhen and the ministers said that it must be difficult for one to leave his/her ancestral home and therefore, this government will assist the families in every way possible.
Economic affairs minister, Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk, spoke of how important Amochhu project is with a reservoir scheme. He also highlighted the economic benefits of the project and the importance of Bhutan becoming self-sufficient.
Agriculture minister Lyonpo Pema Gyamtsho said the government will help them, upon land replacement, with distribution of seeds, machinery for agriculture, terrace, irrigation and livestock. Lyonchhen said that upon reaching their replaced land, the government will provide essential services such as water, electrification and road connectivity.
Lyonchhen also met and interacted with local leaders, civil servants, corporate employees and business community members of Phuentsholing at the Phuentsholing higher secondary school multi-purpose hall on 10January.
Several issues including housing shortage, fronting, parking areas for vehicle were raised at the meeting. One of the businessmen submitted to the Prime Minister that the road from the town area toward the Phuentsholing hospital remains in bad condition and caused difficulties for patients in particular.
Lyonchhen instructed the Thrompon to solve the issue immediately.