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Amochhu Reservoir to displace oldest indigenous community

Dec 5 2012

Believed to be the oldest inhabitants of the country, Lhops or Doyas have lived along the banks of Amochhu for longer than anyone can remember. The modern facilities in this part of the country such as farm road, power supply and mobile service are very recent.

They have remained isolated for years, close to nature, drawing strength and blending in with the forest surrounding them. Their sense of home is the vast forest and small land holdings their forefathers have passed onto them. But all that is to change.

The upcoming 540 Megawatt Amochhu Reservoir Hydro Electric Project will alter their sense of home and their sense of identity. The backwater from the dam to be built between Samtse and Phuentsholing will submerge their homes and land.

Lotokuchu Jigme, Lotokuchu Singye and Lotokuchu Wangchuck under Samste are the three villages where the Lhop community has lived for years. And these are the three villages out of five that will be submerged by the backwater of the Amochhu Reservoir.

The other two are Sanglung under Dorokha Gewog and Taba Dromtey in Tading Gewog.

Tandi Phub, one of the Lhops, says the small land holding she has near the Amochhu is good for double-cropping. “There is enough water from for irrigation. I would like to keep my land,” he says.

Some say there are self-sufficient. “If we are to move I worry if we can get to eat, forget about being self-sufficient,” said another Lhop.

Dam to be built at Purbay, eight Km away from Phuentsholing
Dam to be fed by two rivers, Pachhu and Amochhu
Backwater of Pachhu will stretch 11 km and Amochhu’s backwater 23 Km
The backwater will submerge 33 villages of Samtse and Chhukha
Project to begin next year. It is expected to be complete within five and a half years

Gup Chandra Prasad Phuyel of Dorokha however says Amochu Power Project will have less impact on the Lhop community of his gewog.

He said a total of 35 households land holding along Amochhu’s bank will be affected by the project. “But none of the household’s entire land will be affected by the project.”

The gup said people from his community would want land substitute in their gewog.

Lotokuchu Jigmi village is about 50 kilometer away from Samtse town. The village has 83 households.

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14 comments on “Amochhu Reservoir to displace oldest indigenous community

  1. Why did the Government changed their gewog name at the first place?We see these days Election Commission changing names of every villages specially in the south.On one hand we talk of preserving cultures and traditions and on the other hand we keep on changing those old name of gewogs and villages.
    Why did the Government changed the old name?We would have kept it that way to preserve it the preaching of Government to preserver cultures and traditions is to be followed.And I request some agency to stop this so called Election Cmission to remind them to stop changing names of those villages at the first place.It is nit just with Doyas village,they have changed name of so many villages which were associated with our cultures,traditions from time immemorial.EC doesn’t have any right to alter it.Somebody STOP this crazy EC.

  2. Densoo Zhuwa on said:

    As Doya said so, we find different spellings for one village name, e.g. for Pelrithang village, some write Palrithang and some writes Perithang etc. And again for person’s name also when some writes Dema, others write Drolma, Dem etc. So we get perplexed that which ones to write and follow. Concerned authorities must looked into this different spellings for one please.

  3. leegok on said:

    1. BBS is wrong on Lotokuchu jigme, Lotokucho Singye and lotokuchu wangchuck are gewogs; these are villages. All these villages are under Dophuchen gewog which is earlier known as Dorokha Gewog. for the information of the the rest of the citizens, Dorokha gewog is very large onto which ECB has added Tading gewog and made it into one constituency called Dorokha-Tading constituency and represented by only one elected member in NA. But if you look at the population, this constituency can easily be broken into two constituencies. I feel this is unfair representation as compared to other populace.
    2. Practising and upholding national culture and language should be number one priority. However, giving due recognition, encouragement and putting in planned activities the local and minority culture, language and religious beliefs also should be second priority in our constitution. then we can have one nation with one people. engulfing minority sentiments by majority will not bind a nation; just see around the world.

  4. pureman on said:

    Doya, those names were not original names of those places, it was romanized by the people living there, so to bring its originality Election commission is doing great job, otherwise i hear as if we are talking about santipur, chamarchi, janakpur, baktapur, lailtpur or kirtipur etc… it sounds more Bhutanese and original.. we have to continuously look into and bring it to its originality. cheers!

    • leegok on said:

      Pureman’s type can create differences among diverse groups of people living in this country which will be very unhealthy for the peace and tranquility that we enjoy, otherwise to have status quo we may have to resort to use of brutal force, which does not suit the very founding philosophy for which our country is known by rest of the world.

  5. kencho on said:

    hellooo…..citizens of bhutan wake up..!!!!! this construction of amochu reserviour isnt the wise thing we are hearing…we need to do something,something which we are taught in schools,colleges,institutions,and seminars about the preservation and conservation of our aestheic cultures and tradition and most importantly the very life of human and other flora and fuana existence which are put to a danger…at some point we stress on the importance of gross national happiness but we knowingly tend to put the life of innocents in conflict, i feel like we are insulting the philosophical views of his majesty the king…yes there’s lot of impact to the ecosystem running in and around that premises for instance the displacement of people affects their life in some ways which i bet isn’t going to get better with the onset of the project and like wise we also have to look for the other wild animals,they may lose their favourite spot of feeding and others and consequently may led to habitat loss…..
    why isn’t that the govt. of bhutan run some project which is environment friendly like we can raise agriculture crops and other since the soil is usually fertile near the rivers or is it the govt. of bhutan is lacking energy supplies in the country???

  6. Pureman,if you insists on changing the names of all the southern places,than you don’t you change the names of whole Bhutan towns,cities, gewogs and villages too?Because,these names all sound like it is derived from Tibet and Arunachal Pradesh?My suggestion to you is very simple.So,can you do it?

  7. Spelling mistakes gives us a lot of problems e.g. the spelling of our names in different record holders have different spellings for just one and one person or place.

    For example : When someone writes Dendup, some writes Dhendrup, some writes Dendroop and no body writes one for one.

  8. Victime on said:

    http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/unpfii/documents/DRIPS_en.pdf
    Please try to go through this Link.

  9. Seriously if it hampers the lives of them, why don’t government stop the plan? It’s not so easy to get resettled in a new place where every genes are well acclimatized to where one was born. Destroying their age old homes which are embedded with rich cultures, isn’t a welcoming step.
    Don’t just ask leaders. Ask those people’s who are losing their ancestoral land and find what they got to say more about it.
    A pillar for GNH is also the preservation of culture and traditions. Preserve what has remained till now for we can revive once lost.
    A MUST THINK SITUATION FOR THIS!!!

  10. Meghraj Tamang on said:

    This community of lops/Doyas survive onl cultivation on slopy land and betel leaf harvest ; really poor lots of Bhutan near my village. Though this project may benfefit country in terms of GDP ,it would be greatest virtue to spare this community from the upcoming project; after all himalyan rivers has limited life span as proved by researcher and climatologist around….by 2 to thee decades this project may not earn as much as we hope for …let us spare this poor community from the race of GDP..

  11. It saddens me to read this as I live in a country where the land and air are routinely ruined by greed and hopes of making more capital. Many of us look to places like Bhutan for inspiration and leadership as advertised by the Peace, harmony, happiness which supposedly exists among caring Bhutanese who are led by a rare group of fair and honest people in governmemt.

    I pray your leaders will look at the ruin and greed going on in countries where leaders do not honor the history, the indigenous people, nature, and the resources. I had thought about coming to Bhutan to study history and the old ways, but this type of news causes me to reconsider. This type of thing is already too prevalent in my own country. Enough of this, I have already learned.

    ariel

  12. lakeman on said:

    There is no need to crazily pursue so many power projects at once. Let us plan with enough space in between. First rule should be to respect people’s rights &wishes.government is acting greedy n selfish. Let people of local community decide first, with their own voice, before Thimphu make life changing decision. Empower Bhutanese community first by giving them freedom of choice. Don’t shackle us with false ideals of democracy. Let voice of people n poor ones, be heard.

  13. Namgay N on said:

    If the doyaps dont want to sell or substitute their land, i is totally up to them. They have been living for generations there n who else but them the doyaps know best what is good for them. The govt shouldnt really go ahead with the project if majority of them dont want to substitute their land. Remember in democracy majority vote counts….

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