The wildlife corridor remains

Iron posts which enclose the Jigmeling Industrial Estate can be considered good news for the conservation sector because it will protect the important elephant corridor in Dolongang.

The demarcation will also ensure that the more than 150 acres of area does not fall under the new boundary that is being laid.

This change came recently after the economic affairs minister, Khandu Wangchuk visited the site.

For the industrial development a major bottleneck is the availability of land with required infrastructure such as water, electricity, road and others, said the minister. To overcome the problems, the ministry has earmarked development of three industrial sites in the south (Samdrup Jongkhar, Sarpang and Samtse) and one smaller site in Mongar. The mandate of site development in the south has been give to Druk Holdings and Investment.

The ministry decided to let the area of more than 150 acres which is densely forested and has a wildlife corridor remain. It was decided that the land will be acquired through other sources.

According to Lyonpo Khandu, the industrial development in the country must not impact negatively on the environment which includes the flora and fauna. “Ours is to be a green economy. So we need to keep in mind that economic growth can take place anytime. However if our environment is damaged, it would be lost forever,” he said assuring that the industrial development should not be at the cost if the environment.

Therefore, they will accommodate the environmental needs and priorities while developing the industries. “We would always emphasize on the economic growth supporting the environment and not damaging,” he added.

The Bhutanese earlier reported on the concerns over the disturbances to the wildlife corridor and also further increasing Human-Wildlife conflict when the walls are built around the estate.

One of the range officials said that the media has actually helped a lot in this, increasing the awareness on the potential threats.

The 700-acre Jigmeling Industrial Estate in Gelephu is supported by international financial organizations and could possibly have top investors like Tata.  The concern was that it might further intensify human-wildlife conflict in the area as the estate would be fenced and elephants which freely moved across will now turn toward villages there.

The area with dense forest has wildlife species like leopard, black panther, deer, pheasant, peacock and others.

Before any planning or development zoning is done for the area, located 17 kms from Gelephu along the Gelephu-Sarpang highway, the private land holders who fall in the project area should be relocated appropriately. There are about 43 private landowners who have to be relocated first. A total of 140 households which fall in the project area will have to get land in exchange, as reported earlier.

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