English | Dzongkha Tuesday, September 25, 2018

DPT calls PM’s PHPA l dam site relocation allegations a blatant lie

Sonam Choden, Thimphu
Jun 28, 2018

The Prime Minister last week blamed the delay in the completion of the Punatsangchhu Hydropower Project Authority (PHPA) I as the main reason why the PDP government has not been able meet its set GDP growth target of 10 per cent.  

He also accused the Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) government of changing the dam site of the Punatsangchhu Hydropower Project Authority (PHPA) I unilaterally.

Reacting to the allegation, the DPT described the prime minister’s accusation as “yet another blatant lie” to the people.

In a news release issued yesterday, the Opposition stated the relocation of the dam site was done after a thorough consultation with relevant agencies and stakeholders of the two governments.

DPT said the party had no authority to change design or make other changes to the mega project, which is funded by the Indian government, without consulting all the relevant stakeholders and agencies.

The party added the two governments and their technical agencies had carried out a detailed study and agreed to change the location for the betterment of the project.

“From December 2007 till February 2009, the technical agencies of the two governments discussed and studied the need to change the location of the Punatsangchhu dam site,” DPT’s Khandu Wangchuk said.

“So, after being fully convinced, WAPCOS on 12th February, 2009 gave the final clearance for the change in the dam location. WAPCOS is also the body, which undertook the Detailed Project Report (DPR) study of the PHPA I.”

In the case of the landslide at the site, MP Khandu Wangchuk said, it occurred in July 2013. That was around the time the PDP was elected as the new government. Therefore, the responsibility of solving the problem was with PDP government, he said.

DPT says PDP government has failed to resolve the problem in the five years of their term. This, the Opposition says, clearly reflects their incompetency and lack of commitment to tackle the problem.

However, the prime minister maintains the dam site relocation was decided unilaterally under the chairmanship of the then economic affairs minister Khandu Wangchuk.

“The dam site relocation was decided by the cabinet and authority,” the prime minister said.

“WAPCOS is just the consultant. When it comes to taking decision, the authority, authority’s chairman, and the cabinet decided.”

He also said it was not a landslide, but a cracked rock. He added the research for the relocation was carried out in haste because of which the cracked foundation rock at the dam site was not noticed.

“In 2013, there was a problem after the relocation of the dam site.”

He further said because of that problem, it cost the government Nu 5bn and delayed the completion of hydro-power project by six to seven years.

The delay, he added, is causing the government a loss of Nu 130bn.

The prime minister brought up the issue of delay in the completion of the PHPA l while responding to a question from the Opposition on the poor average growth rate of GDP at 5 per cent against the pledge of 10 per cent.

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