The front-page issue of the Kuensel dated November 10, 2014 carries a news item that in part reports; “DANTAK will also construct a new 56km segment of the highway between Bumthang and Lhuentse”.
Hello, excuse me! what segment and what highway? There is no highway between Bumthang and Lhuentse. Except for the ancient, rarely used annual migration trail, there is not even a farm road between these two Dzongkhags.
Ofcourse, the erstwhile DPT government attempted to build, what came to be infamously dubbed, “Shingkhar-Gorgan Highway” that was intended to connect Lhuentse with Bumthang. It was initially promoted as a highway. However, because the road was cutting across a protected area and splitting a tiger corridor into two and breaking all the rules in the book, the environmentalists made a hue and cry which forced the erstwhile government to downgrade the proposed highway to that of a farm road. That still did not appease the conservationists - eventually forcing the DPT government to scrap the whole idea, in deference to popular sentiments.
Now, I wonder if the “56km segment of the highway between Bumthang and Lhuentse” is the resurrection of the infamous Shingkhar-Gorgan Highway? Even if it were, why is DANTAK involved? More importantly, why is government of India involved in this environmentally disastrous project that is illegal and of no benefit to any one, atleast no one in Bhutan? India should already be feeling ashamed and guilty for all the environmental damage their hydro-power projects have caused in Bhutan.
I am intrigued and I have been intrigued for a long time - with respect to this foolhardy idea of a road. I simply could not understand why anyone in his right mind would want to do this road.
Never in my wildest dreams did I suspect that India was the grand puppeteer pulling all the strings from behind. However, if it is true that the road is being done at the behest of India, then I would say that the veil of mystery has finally been lifted and all the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle have fallen into place!
Now that the bully is openly in the fray, I wonder if the organizations such as National Environment Commission and Wildlife Conservation Division will still be allowed to do their job or be told to take the highway?