Constitution of the Kingdom of Bhutan
“Every Bhutanese is a trustee of the Kingdom’s natural resources and environment for the benefit of the present and future generations and it is the fundamental duty of every citizen to contribute to the protection of the natural environment, conservation of the rich biodiversity of Bhutan and prevention of all forms of ecological degradation including noise, visual and physical pollution through the adoption and support of environment friendly practices and policies”.
That says it all ….. “Every Bhutanese is a trustee of the Kingdom’s natural resources and environment …… and it is the fundamental duty of every citizen to contribute to the protection of the natural environment, conservation and prevention of all forms of ecological degradation….”.
Have you done your part in fulfilling your duty towards protection of our natural environment, as charged by the Constitution? Dr. Karma Phuntsho attempts to do his. He makes the following point, in response to my post titled “Yet Again, The Shingkhar-Gorgan Road Rears Its Ugly Head” (http://yesheydorji.blogspot.com/2014/05/yet-again-shingkhar-gorgan-road-rears.html):
Dear Lopen Yeshe,
Thank you for the well written and well researched article. I hope it will get the attention of the relevant authorities. As much as I stand for the economic development of the local communities and the provision of good and easy communication facilities to people of these areas, I too remain suspicious of the benefit of this road. I am myself deeply connected to this part of Bhutan, with some deep roots in Shingkhar and quarter of my origin in Tsakaling, which lies on the edge of Kurtoe and shall benefit from this new road. In spite of the likely short term economic benefit and convenience this new connection will bring, I am wary as you are of the ecological consequences. The geological make of that terrain is precarious to say the least. Just next door in the Ngalakharchung valley, a whole mountain broke loose a dozen years ago causing not only great ecological disaster but much loss of life and property. The whole Kurichu project was nearly swept away downstream. That was already enough warning for people to be careful when they deal with the steep terrain in these areas.
The economic argument that the local communities can develop with the construction of these roads has no basis. Shingkhar already has road, so does villages in Kurtoe on the other side of the mountain. The connection that will pass through sheer wilderness is not going to add any significant bit to their economic betterment. Some commentators above say that the farmers could easily sell their dairy products. What we know is dairy farming almost immediately stops with the arrival of road as people have quick access to Amul. Shingkhar is a good example. Closure of yak farming and decline in dairy farming started when motor road reached Shingkhar.
The most important question is really about where we envision Bhutan to be in 30, 50 or a 100 years time. Do we want all our valleys and wild life reserves crisscrossed by highways? Do we want gas stations and auto-workshop shacks to prop up in every idyllic valley we have today? Bhutan's main wealth is and will be its environment and culture and this will be our lasting source of income and happiness as well as our contribution to the world. Any untoward intrusion into ecological watershed and spiritual valley such as Shingkhar will not result in economic loss (as we increasingly rely on hydro power and tourism) as well the very unique characteristics which make Bhutan special. It is for this reason, the Shingkhar community campaigned against a golf course and the responsible government of the day saw reason to stop as they have to stop the road. The Shingkhar-Gorgan road plan deserves much more debate than it is given, certainly more than MP salary packages.
Dr. Karma Phuntsho is among Bhutan’s most learned scholars. He is the founder of the Loden Foundation and authored a number of publications, including the highly acclaimed “The History of Bhutan”. This colossal book is the only book I read in the last 30 years. This book is so readable that during my last trek to the frigid regions of Lunana that lasted 28 days, I carried it with me - so it can keep me company during times of snow and blizzard and foul weather.