So, tell me, how many of you know of the existence of a Master Plan for the number and location of hydro-power projects in Bhutan? Don't look crestfallen - I too did not know. May be our government never spoke of it to us or may be there really isn’t one. The one I am showing you below has been conceived and plotted on the drawing boards of the Central Electricity Authority of India. The map outlines the planned projects, projects under construction and those already commissioned.
The above map was sourced from:
Quite obviously the master plan is of recent conception. That is evidenced by the fact that the map used is the most recent official map - the one with the truncated Northern border. What is amazing is that this plan envisages a total of 80 hydro-power projects, overall. These planned projects poke-mark the entire length and breadth of the country - worst than a Chinese Checkers Board, which has only 60 marbles at full house.
Is this really going to happen? Has this plan been drawn up in consultation with relevant authorities in the Royal Government of Bhutan or has this been conceptualized by a delusional person at the Central Electricity Authority of India?
If this is really true, can you believe what it will do to the landscape and ecology of Bhutan? It calls for damming every single river, every single tributary and, perhaps, even some of our irrigation channels, to turn the turbines of that many hydro-power projects!
If the debt burden from two disastrous hydro-power projects - the Punasangchhu I & II is debilitating enough to sink us to the 14th position among countries headed towards debt crisis, can you imagine what 80 hydro-power projects will do to us?
Please reconsider - let us not dam every single river we have. Let us be responsible to future generations and leave some of our rivers free flowing in perpetuity - because there are other alternatives to generating electricity. THERE IS NO SUBSTITUTE TO WATER.
Let us be more imaginative about what we do with our rivers. We certainly have other more profitable and environmentally safer ways of benefiting from our water resources.