Monday, July 20, 2015

The Surprise about the Geological Surprise in Punasangchhu-I

In his most recent post on his Blog:, K B Wakley makes some shocking exposé, pertaining to the oft-quoted “geological surprise” in the Punasangchhu-I hydro-power project.

It has now been proven, from records secretly filed away in some dingy corner of one of the offices in the Economics Affairs Ministry building, that the now famous “geological surprise” was actually “envisioned” and a foregone conclusion!

The project authorities were well AWARE THAT THERE WOULD BE GEOLOGICAL SURPRISES at the dam site of the PHPA-I. And, yet, they went ahead with the dam construction and caused losses amounting to tens of billion of Rupees.

Going by the audit report submitted by the Royal Audit Authority (RAA) to the Ministry of Economics Affairs, it becomes clear that:

a.  The Geological Survey of India (GSI) had clearly pointed out the “presence of weak
      geological features in the new dam axis and envisioned geological surprises” at the
      Punasangchhu-I new dam site.

b.  In spite of the GSI’s recommendation to extend the right bank drift at least up to RD 135 m - 140 m,

     the project authorities ignored the GSI’s recommendations.

c.  The work on the dam construction should have been started only after GSI’s thorough investigation,

     which began on 29th April 2009. Shockingly, the project authorities had already
      awarded the work to the contractors on 27th March 2009 - even before the investigation began!
     The GSI’s final investigation report was submitted only in November 2009 - seven
       months after the work on the dam started!

It is now clear that the dam construction of Punasangchhu-I was done in great haste and without proper investigation. The unstable geological make of the location was clearly pointed out by the GSI. And yet, they went ahead with the construction.

One can see that the project authorities have been blatant in their irresponsibility. The two governments of Bhutan and India should now have no problem in fixing accountability on those responsible for this disaster that is still ongoing. And, it is still not too late to heed my New Year’s Wish:

For Bhutan, the cheaper way out is still the closure of the projects.


  1. Sabotage! Pre-planned and intentional.

  2. The problem is that all quarters of our society have considered hydro-power projects as a trustworthy undertaking, going by the cost escalations,geological surprises and commitment of the employees, I fear that it is a deliberate ploy to keep our country indebted for perpetuity.What is more worrisome to me is that our govt. doesn't acknowledge , MP's of both houses are ignorant, ACC is on a wild goose chase and the sponsors are having a hearty laugh over the Bhutanese stupidity.