Friday, December 4, 2015

The Illegal Shingkhar-Gorgan Road, Yet Again

In a world that is beset by climate change related problems, Bhutan is projected as a shining star of environmental conservation. Bhutan has the reputation of being the most “carbon negative” country in the world.

A recent glowing report by the Guardian says:

“The Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan has made the world’s most far-reaching climate promise to the Paris climate summit …."

It further goes on to say:

“Bhutan, which tests all policies and projects against a Gross National Happiness (GNH) index ……"

High praises indeed that make you proud, as a Bhutanese. Unfortunately, hidden away from the gloss and the glitter, something sinister has been in the works for the past few years - construction of the Shingkhar-Gorgan road which breaks all the rules in the book. It is an environmentally disastrous project that was proposed, and stopped, by the erstwhile DPT government.

The construction of this road breaks all the rules in place. In fact, given the rules in place, its construction is illegal. NEC and the Wildlife Conservation Division has repeatedly denied environmental clearance for this project because of the impact it would have on the environment and because it will destroy one of the most important habitats of the critically endangered Royal Bengal Tiger.

It is not a healthy sign when a citizen finds the need to oppose almost every move that the lawmakers propose. It is really tiresome. I am not going to say much on this issue - I am plain tired of making so much noise. I have already written close to 10 article on this issue - under the lebel “environment”.

The situation has not changed in any way - from the time the road was first proposed. The DPR and the EIA cannot be any different from how it was presented earlier. The rules have not been changed that would now allow the road to be constructed. Thus I am going to leave it to the agencies responsible - NEC and the WCD - to do their duties, as they must, as the custodians of the law.

Bhutan has to begin to be serious about the promises it makes. Or face the danger of being ridiculed.

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