In regards to the Facebook announcement made by Haa NC regarding the stoppage of proposed mining, let me put things in proper perspective. A few days back Dasho Dr. Gado contacted me. He said he had prevailed upon Mr. Pema Juney and RSA owner Mr. Rinchen Dorji to lift their equipments away from the proposed mining site. He told me that due to his busy campaign schedule, he was unable to take up the matter earlier. Dr. Gado himself had nothing to do with the project but since he was the DPT candidate, rumours had sprung up about him being a promoter of the mining project. He felt it was the rumour against him which cost him Katsho Geog votes. So in desperation he took up the matter with the mining company who agreed to remove their equipments. It is very possible that Mr. Pema Juney and Mr. Rinchen Dorji of RSA Company had realized that it would be futile to carry out exploratory mining works at huge financial cost since the public of Haa and the Local Government of Haa have already objected to it and was prepared to go to the highest authority of the land. Therefore it could not have been much of a pain for them to accede to Dr. Gado’s request.
Possibly Dasho Dr. Gado may have also informed about the development to Haa NC and therefore the announcement from Dasho Tshering Dorji’s side. The fact is that as of date, the Director General of Geology and Mines has not yet responded to the two letters sent by Haa Dzongkhag Administration and the Chairman of Haa Local Government.
Initially, the people of Lhayulkha Village approached the Dzongkhag Administration to stop the mining project. They also submitted an appeal letter to the Director General of DGM which was forwarded by the Dzongkhag Administration to DGM Office in Thimphu. However, a few days later, Dasho Dzongrab who was officiating as Dzongda issued an order to the Katsho Gup and Town Thuemi directing them to tell the Lhayulkha villagers that the project cannot be stopped since permission had already been granted. That stand by the Haa Dzongkhag Administration spooked the communities of Haa and they decided to join the people of Lhayulkha Village to stop the imminent destruction of local environment by the proposed mining project.
The people of Katsho Geog came together and approached the Geog Yargye Tshogdu (GYT) and led by the GYT members they approached the Chairman of Dzongkhag Yargye Tshogdu (DYT) and also the Dzongkhag Administration of Haa. They submitted a petition which in nutshell asked the respective leaders of the Local Government to stop the destructive mining project and if they are unable to carry out this task then let the people of Katsho Geog approach His Majesty the King. Both Dasho Dzongrab and the Chairman of Local Government addressed the gathering of over 250 household representatives and assured that the mining project would be stopped because it was against the decision of the Local Government to keep Haa as a Green Dzongkhag. Further the project did not have any clearance from the stakeholders and the Local Government.
The Dzongrab and the Chairman of Local Government have written to the Director General of DGM to stop the project even if it is purported to be exploratory in nature. The people were not buying this explanation. The letter from the DYT Thrizen was very explicit. It stated that the DYT had declared Haa Dzongkhag a green zone and a tourist destination for cultural and trekking tours. The stakeholders were never consulted and the Local Government was kept in the dark and the proposed mining project would destroy the most densely populated region of Haa Dzongkhag. Therefore DGM must stop this project immediately and instruct the project management to leave the site with their equipments. And if the Central Government insists on pushing the project then the Government must first complete the task of relocating all the villages, goenpas, two schools, hospital, army encampment and the Haa town.
To me it was unthinkable that the Government would go to such extreme length to destroy 50 years of development in Haa for the purpose of quenching the thirst of few money mongers. Therefore I was confident that the proposed mining project would be stopped sooner or later. And when it is stopped the people of Haa have to only thank themselves. It was the united efforts of the humble communities themselves that stood in defiance against the powerful forces behind the mining project. There is one person who must be really thanked and he is Samar Geog Gup Tshewang Tandin who is the Chairman of Local Government of Haa. I thank the Haa Deities Meri Phuensum and Ap Chundu for blessing the people of Haa with a surprising very honest capable and courageous Thrizen of DYT. I do not deserve any credit and I don’t think anyone else should also lay claim to what is rightfully the united achievement of the humble Haa communities consisting mainly of poor villagers who are rich in honesty and integrity.
During the recent visit of His Majesty the King and Her Majesty the Queen, the people of Haa were told by His Majesty that they were courageous, sensible and forthright and that Haa people have always been faithful to the Kings and the Country. I pray that the bond between the people of Haa and our Monarch remain as strong as ever and that may His Majesty protect the harmony of Haa community.