<strong>Too Good For a Bill</strong>

Too Good For a Bill

NA members said that the Bill talks only about benefits that can be reaped and there is nothing on issues people could face

The discussions on the Biological Corridor Nine Bill of Bhutan 2023 today, saw several members of the National Assembly questioning the committee responsible for the Bill.

Kinga Penjor, NA MP from Gangzur-Minje said that while the committee talks about benefits like eco-tourism that can be reaped, there are restrictions on making documentaries, photography, sound recording and others. As per the Bill, Chapter 3 concerns Prohibition and Restrictions. Under Section 13, Prohibition, The following commercial activities are prohibited in the Biological Corridor Nine: (1) Quarrying (2) Mining, (3) Logging; and (4) Destroying wildlife

Meanwhile Section 14 concerns Restriction and the following activities are restricted subject to conditions prescribed in the rules and regulations under this Act: (1) Construction of any infrastructure; (2) Clearing corridor for transmission line; (3) Recording documentary or commercial film or any sound recording; (4) Collection of any specimen; (5) Construction of cable car and ropeways; and (6) All other activities that is restricted in State Reserve Forest Land.

Kinga Penjor’s argument in essence was about contradictions; on one hand talking about eco-tourism and on the other hand imposing restrictions that will affect tourism. The MP went on to say that he does not understand how photography, for instance will affect animals.

Meanwhile, Dremetse-Ngatshang NA MP, Ugyen Wangdi said that the entire Bill speaks only about benefits that can be reaped. He said that along with benefits, there would be some issues. He also spoke about clarity. “Will people be deprived of firewood? Can people cut one or two tress as they venture for water sources? What about collections from the forest,” he said.

Speaking on the same issue, Bartsham Shongphu NA MP Dr. (PHD) Pasang Dorji spoke about research. “The area has 124 birds and 227 trees,” he said. He also added that the Bill says 268 people living in the biological corridor will be affected. “268 may be a small number for large countries. But for Bhutan, it is huge,” he said. Mongar NA MP, Karma Lhamo also reiterated what Dremtse-Ngatshang MP had said. “All are benefits,” she said, while adding that as the people living there are farmers, alternatives for marketing their products should be explored. She also called for livelihood support.

Ugyen Tenzin from Thimphu