Amochhu Reservoir to displace oldest indigenous community

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.

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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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