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National Assembly Discusses Local Government Petitions

Posted on :10 January 2019

Approval for Subsidised Rural Timber

The Member from Athang-Thedtso constituency, on behalf of the Wangdue Dzongkhag Local Government, submitted that despite the establishment of Gewog Forest Offices in the Gewogs, the public still had to travel to the Division Office at Lobeysa to get approval and other forestry related services. It was therefore submitted that the policy and procedure for approval of subsidised timber permit be reviewed and the authority decentralised to the Gewog Forest Offices.

 

To this the, the Agriculture Minister clarified that, Chapter IX of Allotment of Timber and Other Forest Produce in the Forest and Nature Conservation Rules and Regulations of Bhutan 2017, clearly outlines the procedure and approval for allotment of Rural Subsidized Timber through  the Community Information Center (CIC) in the gewogs.

 

However, since the issue has been raised several times, Members agreed that there was a need to revisit the procedure and management of the CIC. It was also pointed out that, before the permit can be granted by the Gewog, verification has to be carried out. This process took time since it has to be routed through the center. Members also pointed out it was high time to review the Forest and Nature Conservation Act of Bhutan passed in 1995. The Ministries and Agencies should be responsible for monitoring the decentralization of authority to the Local Government to ensure proper management and working of the Local Government.

 

The House decided to refer the matter to the Good Governance Committee for review and consultation with concerned agencies. The Good Governance Committee would report on the matter in the next session.

 

Establishment of Chamkharchhu Project

The Member from Bardo_Trong submitted the need for immediate establishment of Chamkharchhu Hydro Power Project. The Member mentioned that the Chamkharchhu Hydro Power Project was supposed to start from 10th FYP. Even after all the preliminary works for the project being almost completed, the establishment of the Chamkharchhu Hydro Power Project is yet to start. The Member from Panbang seconded the proposal.

 

To this, several other Members acknowledged the important role of Hydropower in revenue generation but raised their concerns over the sustainability of the Hydropower and its impact on the environment. The possibility of emergence of “Dutch disease” if the government only focused on the Hydropower were also discussed. The Members also highlighted the importance of diversification of economy, mentioning that tourism sector have advantages over Hydropower in revenue generation.  

 

The Economic Minister mentioned that Chamkharchhu Hydro Power Project is joint Venture project like the Kholongchhu Hydropower project. Kholongchhu Joint Venture project is still going through lots of issues between the two partners. The Economic Affairs Minister submitted that there was a need to resolve the current issues faced by Joint Venture before another one is initiated.

 

The House through majority show of hands resolved that the Minister for Economic Affairs review the petition during the Empowered Joint Group meeting and report to the next session.

 

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