In a bid to generate 10,000 MW of electricity by 2020, Bhutan and India have jointly ventured to harness Sunkosh river at Kalikhola (Lamoizhingkha) estimated earlier to be of 4,060 MW installed capacity.
An empowered joint group comprising officials from both the countries met in New Delhi yesterday to finalize the actual feasible capacity of Sunkosh. It is agreed to downsize it to 2560 MW.
The whole plant of electricity generation will not have the irrigation component now, informed Dasho Sonam Tshering from New Delhi.
At the installed capacity of 4060 MW, it was estimated to have the largest dam (265m high) with largest artificial lake to be formed in Bhutan, running 52 km upstream from the dam site.
Eight gewogs of Dagana, Tashiding, Tsendagang,Sunkosh town, Lamoizingkha, Nichula,Barsong and Rangthaling were expected to be directly affected by the project, according to an earlier study by Indian council of forestry research and education.
People in Deorali, Nichula and Kalikhola are rather happy to see the development of such magnitude in their locality.
“There is already a boom in the land prices of our village”, a resident of Katarey, Nichula told the Kuensel.
“We are hopeful that we can sell our agriculture and dairy produce just across Sunkosh”, said an elderly village man over the telephone. ‘We might not have to carry it far down on our back’, he hoped.
In Deorali, some villagers who had gone out to urban areas for better living are returning to their homesteads because of the prospect of thriving business and other income generation activities along the fair-weather road of Kerabari and Kalikhola.
The Sunkosh project was initially signed between the two countries, with a parameter of maximizing the benefit to local people, and giving them the opportunity of shareholding in the development thereof. Whether or not such consideration for sharing the benefit to local people be upheld is a matter of concern.