PM arrives in tragedy struck Oong-gar chiwog, Lhuentse

PM arrives in tragedy struck Oong-gar chiwog, Lhuentse

The Prime Minister (PM), Dr. Lotay Tshering left the capital early morning yesterday (July 21,202) to Oong-gar Chiwog under Maedtsho Gewog in Lhuentse, where a devastating flash flood struck the tranquil village on July 20, 2023. The flood has caused widespread destruction

Arriving at the spot at around 6.00 pm, the PM went around the areas affected, assessing the ground realities. He also visited the sites where bodies were retrieved. While there has been no official information from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), sources said an official press release could come as soon as meetings with the Dzongdag and other relevant persons are held. The PM is accompanied by Dasho Chewang Rinzin, chief executive officer (CEO) of Druk Green Power Corporation Limited (DGPCL). The gravity of the situation has prompted a response from the highest echelons of the government. A team of disaster management officials are also with the PM.

Meanwhile, from the 23 missing, the bodies of six have been recovered. While 19 are still missing, there are hopes that they would be still alive.

Sources said that the search for other missing people yesterday was stopped due to the swelling river and lack of adequate light.  The paper also learned that the flash flood was ferocious and devastated the region, washing away a Desuup base camp and camps belonging to the DGPCL.

In the aftermath of the catastrophe, rescue teams have been tirelessly working to locate missing persons. The Maedtsho Gewog officials, Dessups, and other rescue teams have been leaving no stone unturned in their efforts to find the remaining missing individuals. The search and rescue operations continue round-the-clock, fueled by the hope of reuniting the missing persons with their families.

A preliminary assessment indicates that the flash flood was not caused by a lake outburst, as initially presumed. However, the exact cause of the disaster remains uncertain and is subject to further investigation.

Meanwhile, the 32MW Yungichhu Hydropower Project is being constructed in Maedtsho gewog. At an estimated project cost of Nu 3,565mn, the Yungichhu Hydropower Project is expected to be completed in three years. Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering graced the Salang Tendrel ceremony at the powerhouse of the 32MW Yungichhu Hydropower Project in July 2022.

It is a pioneering project to be launched under the first phase of the Small Hydropower Projects which will also include the construction of the 54MW Burgangchhu in Nangkor Gewog, Zhemgang, and 18MW Suchhu in Sangbaykha Gewog, Haa.  The idea of building numerous small hydro projects across the country was initiated by the government when the country was experiencing major economic difficulties due to the pandemic.

With an aggregated installed capacity of 104MW, the three small hydropower projects would contribute to strengthening overall energy security and improving grid stability in the country.

DGPCL conducted the feasibility studies and developed the Detailed Project Reports. The Druk Hydro Energy Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary company of DGPC will oversee the implementation of the projects. The construction works at all three sites are undertaken by Bhutanese contractors.

The three power projects are expected to employ at least one thousand Bhutanese youth during the construction phase including a hundred De-suups who will be deployed through the Desuung National Service for Hydropower Construction at the Yungichhu site.

There are eight gewogs under Lhuntse Dzongkhag. The incident occurred at Oong-gar Chiwog, under Maedtsho gewog.

Tshering Pelden from Thimphu