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Kurichhu project: Unprecedented development for Mongar dzongkhag

Mongar should tap the huge power resource from the Kurichu hydroelectric project to launch industrial undertakings and usher their dzongkhag into an era of unprecedented economic boom and prosperity.

Addressing the gups, chimis, dzongkhag officials and members of the DYT and GYTs in Mongar dzongkhag at the Eighth Plan review, His Majesty the King said that industrialization was the key to developmental success and called upon the dzongkhag's 422-member Tshongpa community to start building industrial enterprises which will create jobs, generate revenues, increase the income of the people in all the 16 geogs of the dzongkhag and, in the process, spur the economic growth of the whole country.

Establishing industries and manufacturing as many products as possible for export would also improve trade balance with neighbouring India. "The government's objectives in developing the hydropower in the country is to supply electricity to all the towns and villages in Bhutan and to improve the quality of life of the people in the rural sector," His Majesty said.

Plenty of power will be made available throughout eastern Bhutan with the commissioning of the Kurichu project. Three generators at the project will be commissioned this year and the fourth next year to generate about 400 million units of power a year, sufficient even to export to India. To draw and distribute Kurichu power in Mongar dzongkhag, the government was spending Nu 214.8 million, excluding Nu 86.4 million allocated to supply power to 828 households in the villages and towns of Mongar in the Eighth Plan.

His Majesty said that the present cost of the project had reached Nu 5685 million and the actual cost could exceed Nu 6.00 billion after completion.

Sixty percent of the cost of the project had been given as grant and 40 percent as loan at an interest of 10.75 percent by the government of India. The Kurichu hydro-electric project, which is about to be completed, will supply abundant power to the whole of eastern Bhutan His Majesty added that the people of Bhutan were grateful for the 60 percent grant the government of India had given to construct the Kurichu project.

"When we signed the agreement papers the government of India was concerned that the project was economically not viable," His Majesty said.

"Nevertheless due to the close friendship between India and Bhutan they decided to provide the assistance." Explaining the government's plans to distribute power in Mongar dzongkhag, the power director said that 828 households, rather than 400 households as initially planned, would be supplied with power in the Eighth Plan.Transmission lines were being drawn from Gyelposhing to the Kilikhar substation, 80 percent of which has been completed under a non-plan budget of Nu 128 million.


The power distribution from the sub-station is scheduled to begin sometime in July and, by the end of the Ninth Plan, most of the villages and all the towns in the dzongkhag will be electrified.

"Mongar dzongkhag will be the first to receive power from Kurichhu," the director said, adding that the project had been started on the initiative of His Majesty the King to alleviate the kidus of the people in the eastern dzongkhags.

The director explained that the cost for bringing power to each household in the dzongkhag would come to Nu 100,000 while the power supply for the rural population will be heavily subsidised and the tariff will never repay the cost.

The Mongar Tshongpa chimi, Namgala, said that the Tshongpas of Mongar have gained the confidence to tap the business prospects that would be created by the Kurichu project after listening to His Majesty the King. "We'll establish industries big, small and medium, according to our capacities, and do our best to fulfill the vision shared with us today by His Majesty the King." Former official Dasho Tsheten Dorji said that the Mongar Tshongpas were not able to specify the industrial enterprises they could take up without feasibility studies but were, nonetheless, discussing the idea among themselves. "There was no electricity anywhere in the dzongkhag when I was young," he said, commenting on the transformation brought by development in Mongar. "Now the night has literally turned into day."

Contributed by Samten Wangchuk, Kuensel, Bhutan's national newspaper
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