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Question Hour Session with the Minister for Economic Affairs

Posted on :10 December 2021

The House conducted a question hour session with the Hon'ble Minister  for Economic Affairs, Lyonpo Loknath Sharma this afternoon. Hon’ble Member Karma Gyeltshen sought clarification on whether the Government is concerned about the delay of the Kholongchu project, and also raised questions on the work  progress, plans and strategies to resolve the existing issues to expedite the construction of the Kholongchu project. 

 

Acknowledging all the concerns shared by the House, the Minister said that the Government also shares the same concerns with regard to the delay of the construction of Kholongchu project. Highlighting various issues and challenges faced in carrying out the project, he said that the project was the first Joint Venture(JV) project which is between the Druk Green Power Corporation and Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam. The work was not able to progress due to SJVN management not willing to comply to the Inter-Governmental Agreement for the Joint Venture Project signed between Bhutan and India. The Government had also signed the Concession Agreement in 2020 which is related to the major works of the project. However, he said that the construction of the dam, tunnel and powerhouse had been delayed due to some management issues in the JV project. The Government is currently working on completing the project and  resolving every issue identified  with regard to the JV agreement.

 

Hon’ble Member Ugyen Tshering, in the second part of the question hour, inquired about the notification by the Ministry on the lifting of the moratorium on new applications for lease of mines and quarries, despite the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill 2020 not being passed in the last session of Parliament. He pointed out that most recently, the MOEA Minister in an interview to BBS stated that 36 provisions in the Mines and Minerals Management Regulations are being reviewed. In particular Section 15 of the Regulations on allocation of mines is being reviewed. In this regard, he asked whether the proposed changes made to Mining Regulations will lead to a lifting of the moratorium on issuance of new mining leases and renewal of mining leases before the amended Act is passed by the Parliament, and asked the Hon'ble Minister if he can assure the House that any changes to the Mines and Minerals Management Regulations will be in adherence to the Constitution of the Kingdom of Bhutan. 

 

Responding to the questions, the Minister reported on the impact on revenue generation to enhance the economic situation of the country due to delay of the work related to Mines and Minerals. The delay in the endorsement of the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill 2020 in the Parliament had further delayed the work and led the Ministry to make changes in the regulations to ensure the work is carried out accordingly. He further ensured that the Ministry will comply with the Constitution of Bhutan while making changes in the regulation and carry out the work for the benefit of the country.

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