Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Bhutan : Bamboo exhibition boon to artisans

29 June, 2009 - Rinchen Wangchuk and Tshering Lham, who were in the capital recently, were all smiles yesterday as the two-day cane and bamboo exhibition wrapped up.

The artisan couple from Zhemgang, representing their fellow artisans, had not only marketed bamboo products but also sold about Nu 50,000 worth of the same.

“We’re very grateful to the government for providing us this opportunity to display our products and find potential buyers,” said Rinchen, adding that back home, the market being small, it was really difficult to sell their products, the only means to meet their food, health and children’s education needs.

“Till now our monthly income was about Nu 7,000 per month and we’re only able to break even. But, now, we hope things will change.” Just to sell their products at their local market in Zhemgang, they have to walk almost three days from their village.

Organised by department of industry (DoI), with funds from UNDP and technical assistance from SNV, there were other artisans from Trashigang and Mongar with similar objectives. “Such exhibitions also help artisans to showcase their talents,” said a DOI official.

Craft items, encompassing an array of cane and bamboo products, included not only traditional products like bangchung, zem and tser dhop, but also modern products such as cane wine holder, tser tissue box, penholder, bamboo tray and hangers, etc. Live demonstrations of various craft work were also presented.

SNV’s Galey Tenzin said that prices of bamboo products are set to come down by almost 20-30 percent in future. He added that, through the technical assistance they provide, bamboo artisans are encouraged into group-based business and also made aware of proper price fixation of their products. Earlier, prices were mostly fixed through guesswork.

“We’re encouraging artisans to use bamboo rather than cane, because cane has become scarce with extensive and unsuitable use in the past, which has even led to a sharp decline in production,” he said. “With most communities far from the road point, motivation is much needed for the artisans.”

Pema Letho, 24, from Mongar, said that assistance from various organisations in developing their skills and training them to make new products has really benefited in improving living standards and provided opportunities for others to take the path too.

By Passang Norbu


Saturday, 27 June 2009

Bhutan : His Majesty graces opening of parliament’s 3rd session

June 26: The 3rd session of the parliament began amidst traditional ceremony today. His Majesty the King graced the opening ceremony. His Majesty the King was escorted by the Prime Minister, the National Assembly Speaker, the Opposition Leader, the National Council chairperson, and cabinet ministers.

At the courtyard of the Gyalyong Tshokhang, His Majesty was received by members of the parliament and then ushered into the Gyalyong Tshokhang.

In the opening remarks, the National Assembly Speaker Jigme Tshultim expressed gratitude to His Majesty the King for touring remote villages in Lhuentse and Monggar and solving the pressing land related issues.

Tshogpoen Jigme Tshultim also congratulated the United Progressive Alliance government in India for its success in the national elections this year. The Speaker also commended the recent visit of India’s new External Affairs Minister to the country.

He also congratulated the new constitutional appointees to the Royal Civil Service Commission. Tshogpen Jigme Tshultim also expressed condolence to people who lost family members in the flood last month. On other issues, he said the unemployment problem in the country is expected to be solved by the upcoming hydro power projects such as the Punatshangchhu hydro power project.

Following this, the Prime Minister, the Opposition Leader, the National Council Chairperson and parliament members presented their appreciation to His Majesty the King.

During the recess, His Majesty also met with the parliamentarians and interacted with international diplomats and guests who attended the opening.

The 3rd session of the parliament is expected to discuss about 12 bills including the Local Government Bill, the Civil Service Bill and the Police Bill.


Thursday, 25 June 2009

Bhutan : Corporate employees not happy with pay raise

June 25: The recent pay raise for corporations announced by the government has ruffled more than a few corporate feathers. Most of the corporations said the raise is hogwash.

Some of the CEOs BBS spoke to, said the salary of their staff will actually decrease. Others said the raise, if there is any, is bare-minimal.

They said they were already facing difficulty attracting and retaining senior experienced staff.

The CEOs said some of their more experienced senior staff have started leaving for greener pastures. A leading financial institute said it has lost one deputy managing director, one manager, and three other senior staff. Another financial institute said it has lost three senior staff.

The Bhutan Post has lost eight of its staff over the last three months– two of them just recently. The Food Corporation of Bhutan lost a senior engineer.

The salary revision for corporations owned by Druk Holding and Investments is being re-discussed with the Finance Ministry.

There are about 10,000 corporate employees in the country.


Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Bhutan : Keeping abreast of the unemployment problem

23 June, 2009 - Demand for all forms of labour from employing agencies is expected to drop by almost 80 percent by 2012, says the first establishment census carried out by the ministry of labour and human resources (MoLHR).

The 2008 census was done to capture the number of existing establishments and their potential to provide employment opportunities to the increasing number of youth. It collected data from 7,162 private sector establishments, government agencies, corporations, joint ventures and FDI companies.

Only 4,962 organisations of the total 7,162 have plans to expand, according to the census. The remaining 2,200 establishments, about 31 percent, do not have plans to expand because of credit constraints, lack of demand for goods and services and shortage of skilled labour.

This means unemployment rates are expected to rise, states the study. "The census results would abreast us on the problems affecting the growth of business and employment," said the statistical officer of MoLHR Ugyen Tenzin. "Unemployment rates are expected to rise, but by how much I can’t say for sure."

The study also pointed out that, of the 38,066 existing employees in private sectors and corporations, 29,759 were Bhutanese and 8,307 foreigners. For every 100 Bhutanese employees, there are 28 foreigners working in private and corporations, although this excludes the expatriate workers in Dantak and GREF and the day workers across the borders, said the report.

The study however did not include upcoming establishments. The data was collected from various sectors in all the 20 dzongkhags, but it excluded places like Merak and Sakten in Trashigang, and Lingzhi, Soe, Naro.

Bhutan’s unemployment rate for those above 15 years of age has increased from 1.8 percent in 2003 to 3.7 percent in 2007.

The highest number of unemployed was for females, 3,200 between the ages of 15-24 in urban areas. There are 3,100 unemployed males.

Job fairs, vocational education training, and the introduction of internship programs at the zorig chusum institutes were some of the measures the labour ministry initiated to tackle unemployment.

Labour officials said that the census was only a start in providing crucial information to address youth unemployment. "The census is designed to collect timely data on labour market on which important decisions would be based," said an official.

By Phuntsho Namgay


Bhutan : Nehru-Wangchuck scholarship agreement signed

June 20: The Indian External Affairs Minister and the Foreign Minister Lyonpo Ugyen Tshering signed an agreement to give scholarship worth Nu. 50 million to Bhutan under the Nehru-Wangchuck scholarship. The agreement was yesterday morning at the Royal Banquet hall.

The Nehru-Wangchuck scholarship worth Nu. 50 million will be implemented over the next five years.

Lyonpo Ugyen Tshering said Bhutan has always accorded the highest priority to the development of education sector. He said it is the vision of His Majesty the King and His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo that education of people be central to our nation building for economic and social well being.

“The scholarship is not only symbolic of the close ties of friendship and cooperation between Bhutan and India but will also contribute immensely towards further developing the human resources capabilities of Bhutan,” said Lyonpo Ugyen Tshering.

Also speaking, the Indian External Affairs Minister Mr. SM Krishna said the Nehru-Wangchuck scholarship will be available to talented and meritorious Bhutanese students. He said under the scholarship Bhutanese can study in prestigious universities and institutions in India for courses leading to graduate, postgraduate degrees or diplomas. Priority will be accorded to postgraduate professional studies.

“I am confident that the Nehru-Wangchuck scholarships will further cement the already exceptionally close ties between our two countries and will, in particular, provide new opportunities to the talented youth of Bhutan,” said Minister Krishna.


Saturday, 20 June 2009

Bhutan : Kanglung BHU treats over 80 diarrhoea patients

June 18: The Basic Health Unit (BHU) in Kanglung has been receiving many diarrhoea patients of late. Just this week, the BHU received over 80 diarrhoea patients.

According to the BHU staff, most of the patients were students. They said it is normal to suffer from diarrhoea at this time of the year.

However the figure this year is unusually high. They said it could have been caused by unclean drinking water.

Officials from the Dzongkhag health sector visited the water source. Health officials said it is important to boil and filter drinking water especially at this time of the year.

They also advise people to wash their hands before and after every meal and keep their toilets clean.


Friday, 19 June 2009

Bhutan : His Majesty grants audience to the Indian External Affairs Minister

June 18: His Majesty the King granted audience to the Indian External Affairs Minister Mr. SM Krishna at the Dechencholing palace this afternoon. He arrived in the Kingdom on a two day goodwill visit this morning. This is his first foreign visit as the External Affairs Minister of India.

He became the External Affairs Minister in May this year. Mr. SM Krishna was first elected to the Karnataka legislative assembly in 1962 and made his debut in the parliament in 1968.

Over a career spanning almost five decades, he has served as the Minister for commerce, industries, and parliamentary affairs. Minister of state for industry, Minister of State for Finance, the speaker of Karnataka legislative assembly, and the Chief Minister of Karnataka. Before he assumed the present post, he served as the Governor of Maharashtra.

His Majesty also hosted a lunch for the External Affairs Minister and his delegation. Their Royal Highnesses the Princesses also attended the lunch.

Following the audience Mr. Krishna called on the Prime Minister Lyonchhen Jigmi Y. Thinley. The Foreign Minister Lyonpo Ugyen Tshering was also present.


Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Bhutan : Bhutan’s record pretty dismal

16 June, 2009 - Status of Maternal and Child Health Report At least three women die every month on an average in Bhutan from pregnancy related complications (maternal death), according to the public health’s status of maternal and child health report.

The status report was presented yesterday by the public health director, Dr Ugen Dophu, during the launch of UNICEF’s “State of the World’s Children 2009,” report.

Excessive bleeding after delivery or post-partum haemorrhage (PPH) is the main cause, which accounts for 55 percent of deaths.

Dr Ugen Dophu said that home delivery was the main reason for maternal deaths in Bhutan. “Although Bhutanese are aware, only about 50 percent come to health facilities for deliveries,” he said. “In some areas, it’s also due to quality of heath services.”

Maternal death is more common in the southern and eastern districts.

In newborns, blood infection or sepsis causes 34 percent of deaths in Bhutan. Fifty percent of maternal deaths in Bhutan occur during the first 24 hours after delivery, while in newborns, it’s in the first one-week.

“The first 24 hours is the crucial period where the placenta needs to come out. It can cause death if that doesn’t happen,” said the public health director. “Week-old newborns die because they’re premature, don’t get adequate feeding and are more susceptible to infection.”

The UNICEF’s report ranks Bhutan 45th among 198 countries in under-five mortality rate, the highest in the region after Afghanistan. India is at 49, Nepal 62, Sri Lanka 110, Bangladesh 58 and Maldives 88.

Dysentery, diarrhoea and pneumonia still top the causes for death in children under five in Bhutan.

“The state of the world’s children is intimately linked with the state of the world’s mothers,” said the education minister Lyonpo Thakur Singh Powdyal in his address.

The report states that, globally, women in the world’s least developed countries are 300 times more likely to die in childbirth or from pregnancy-related complications than those in the developed world. “A child born in a developing country is almost 14 times more likely to die during the first month than a child born in a developed one.”

About 99 percent of all global deaths related to pregnancy and childbirth occur in developing countries, said the UNICEF representative, Dr Gepke Hingst, in her presentation.

To lower maternal and infant mortality, the report recommends creating a supportive environment for women and children through education, empowerment, respecting their rights, investing in maternal health and protecting them against violence and abuse.

The education minister said that the wellbeing of the mother and child is the wellbeing of a family, an index of the health of our world. “The report that we launched today is more importantly on the state of our world.”

Members of the national council, who were present during the launch, were also briefed by the national commission for women and children (NCWC) on the conventions on the rights of the child (CRC), elimination of all forms of discrimination against women (CEDAW) and gender.

By Sonam Pelden


Bhutan : Stepping up measures to prevent entry of influenza A (H1N1)

June 14: The government has beefed up measures to prevent influenza A (H1N1) also referred to as swine flu from entering the Kingdom.

Cases have already been reported in India as well in Thailand. Influenza A (H1N1) has already been reported in neighbouring India as well as in Thailand. The government has beefed up measures at all entry and exit points to ensure that the virus does not enter Bhutan.

At the Paro Airport, health officials are thoroughly checking and screening all the arriving passengers.

The health ministry says people should not panic but follow good hygiene practices, avoid crowds, and use a handkerchief while coughing.

The health ministry says people should avoid traveling abroad especially to the affected countries. Those who have been to affected countries are asked to seek immediate medical check up if they show flu like symptoms.

The health ministry is also monitoring other entry points.

A pandemic preparedness plan is also ready just in case.

Guidelines for management and treatment have also been developed and advocacy programs like posters and leaflets distributed to the public. A Rapid Response or Outbreak Investigation team has also been formed.

The Health Ministry also has a hotline for inquiries or assistance regarding influenza A (H1N1). The number is 107.


Sunday, 14 June 2009

Bhutan : Parops protest mining boom

12 June, 2009 - Paro dzongkhag, known for its cultural and religious sites, and popular with tourists, may soon be known as a mining dzongkhag, with an increasing number of quarries coming up in the last few years and scarring the landscape.

Paro currently has 10 quarries that came up in the last four years. An additional 3-4 quarries are under process.

Affected local communities are unhappy about the new developments and have even lodged complaints with the dzongkhag administration.

About 40 people from surrounding villages, including the Hebu monastery trulku, complained about the dust, noise, blasts, road blocks, and environmental damage caused by a road being built towards the 9.48 acres Haselo marble mine in Shaba, according to the dzongkhag forest officer, Akey Dorji.

“They also said that the blasting threatened the safety of school children and that the mine area was at the entrance to an important nye (religious site),” said Akey Dorji.

The residents had also complained about not being consulted, since a former village tshogpa had signed a local government clearance on their behalf without consulting them, according to dzongkhag officials.

Based on local complaints, the dzongkhag had earlier stopped the quarry, but the department of geology and mines (DGM) had given the go ahead to the company.

In Dawakha, villagers were shocked to find that their nye was being mined in violation of their original agreement with the 12.41 Thynsungkha stone quarry that was supposed to quarry only at the base of the nye.

The quarry has been temporarily closed after strong protests from the people.

The former Paro dzongda Namgay Wangchuk had written a letter against the increasing number of quarries in Paro to DGM, with copies to the national environment commission (NEC), ministry of economic affairs, ministry of agriculture and ministry of home and cultural affairs.

His letter had strongly recommended stopping further stone quarry and mining operations in Paro.

“Most of these quarries are around settlements, historical monuments and are adjacent to highways, which have both direct and indirect impact on the local environment and communities,” said Namgay Wangchuk.

In fact, the Lamjolo stone quarry, with extensive excavations and blasting, is located just around 150 to 200 m from Dobji dzong and could be affecting the structure, says Namgay Wangchuk.

“These mines are also causing a lot of social tensions, community discords, repeated legal litigations and also diverts the dzongkhag administration from their normal work,” said Namgay Wangchuk.

The present Paro dzongda, Tsencho, said: “Paro is an important tourism gateway to Bhutan and one can see everything from the air, so DGM should be careful while allotting mines.” On the Heslo marble mines, he said, he had written to DGM to resolve the issue with the local people before reopening the project.

Observers say that the current system of “first come first serve” indiscriminate offering of mines would be detrimental to the environment and local communities.

Paro dzongrab Namgey Rinchen said that Paro was supposed to receive a high level inspection after a discussion on mines in the annual dzongda’s conference, which had not happened yet.

“The problem is the lack of understanding at the local level in terms of grating permission and other issues,” said acting DGM director general, Ugyen Wangda .

Mining head Sangay Tshering said that all the mines in Paro had sought clearance from DGM.

NEC deputy minister Dasho Nado Rinchhen said. “We ‘re talking with DGM on making quarry system more systematic and going on joint inspections.”

By Tenzing Lamsang


Saturday, 13 June 2009

Bhutan : Celebration’ barred from Memorial Chorten

12 June, 2009 - Members of the Druk Nangpei Zhoennu, a voluntary association of young Buddhists, expressed their disappointment at not being allowed to start their June 7 programme from the national memorial chorten.

On June 7, Lord Buddha’s Parinivana, the group were barred from entering the memorial chorten by the caretaker, when they came with six of them dressed like Buddha and his first five disciples. They said that the lack of support had led to some of the youth losing interest from become a membership. The group said that the caretaker was informed about the programme a day before the Lord Buddha’s Parinivana and already knew about it.

“I was disheartened,” said a member, Kinley Dorji. “The caretaker, instead of supporting us, discouraged our initiative to promote Buddhism,” he said.

Another member, Tshering, said that the programme was neither a political campaign nor a civil strike. “It was a message on the importance of Buddha’s birthday to every Bhutanese,” he said. “The programme was the first of its kind in Bhutan and we wanted to start from the memorial chorten in memory of the Late His Majesty, King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, but couldn’t.”

Kezang 24, said he waited at the chorten early in the morning to offer a khaddar but when the caretaker did not allowed the group to enter, he could not offer a khaddar. Like Kezang, over 100 people waited at the chorten premises to offer khaddar.

However, the caretaker, Tshering Dorji, said that the group did not have written permission from the ministry of home and cultural affairs to enter the chorten premises. He said that the group, dressed up in robes and singing gurma (a religious song), surprised him. “Except for monks and nuns, laypersons can’t wear robes and sing gurma.”

The home minister, Lyonpo Minjur Dorji, said that the ministry approved the group’s celebration of the Buddha’s birthday but had no idea that it wanted to start from the chorten. He said that the chorten was public property and every Bhutanese had the right to go and cir*****ambulate it. Lyonpo Minjur also said that the group was trying to dissuade youth who were into alcohol and substance abuse by celebrating Buddhism in a modern way. “They aimed at propagating Buddhism among young Bhutanese in a modern way. stopping them was a dicouragement.”

By Tenzin Namgyel


Friday, 12 June 2009

Bhutan : Govt.-Genpact IT MoU

10 June, 2009 - The government and Genpact, a business process outsourcing (BPO) company in India, signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in Bangalore yesterday to develop the information technology (IT) sector in the country.

Under the agreement, the company will employ 200 Bhutanese graduates every year to work in operation centres in India. A “train the trainer” program will also be established to train Bhutanese candidates, who would be responsible for training within the country.

With the company’s assistance, the government will also introduce an IT curriculum in schools and colleges.

In return, the government will set up an operations centre in the country by 2011. More such centers may follow.

The CEO of Genpact, Pramod Bhasin, said that with “favourable government support, a growing talent pool, surplus of green power and good infrastructure,” Bhutan would soon emerge as a suitable location for the BPO industry.

Bhutan’s climatic conditions and location was ideal for setting up operation centres, said the minister of communications, Lyonpo Nandalal Rai. He also said that Bhutan’s English speaking population would facilitate the development of IT enabled services. The minister said that Bhutan was fortunate in partnering with the company in its attempt to promote the local IT industry.

By Gyalsten K Dorji


Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Bhutan : Library for Talo Shedra

June 7: Her Majesty the Queen Mother Ashi Sangay Choden Wangchuck and Dr. Frederick Paulsen- President of Institute Minos inaugurated the Talo Shedra Library yesteday.

The Tashi Ngasoel ceremony was performed by the lam and the monks of the Talo Shedra. The library was constructed under the Royal patronage of Her Majesty the Queen Mother Ashi Sangay Choden Wangchuck with financial support from Dr. Frederick Paulsen.

The two storied library building was constructed at the old site of the Kasa Lhakhang and has two rooms, one on the first floor and one at the top floor.

The top floor open space will serve as a gallery during the tshechu and as a reading room on other days. The ground floor has one visitors room with toilet facilities and one storage room. The top floor also has a huge hall which will house valuable scriptures (sungtens) of Talo monastery collected by successive Zhabdrungs of Talo since the establishment of Talo Sanga Choling Monastery by the 26th Desi Boep Choeda in the 1800s.

The Talo Shedra was established more than 10 years ago and has about 90 monks.


Sunday, 7 June 2009

Bhutan : Wangchu basin plantation project launched

June 2: June 2 is also celebrated as the social forestry day. To mark the day, the department of forest launched the Wangchu basin plantation project. Under this project, all degraded areas along the Wangchu river basin will be rehabilitated.

According to the Department of Forest, some 60,000 hectares of forest land are degraded in Bhutan. And every year on this day, the department of forest plants saplings in the degraded areas.

Today the Department launched the Wangchu river basin plantation project at Tshalu Marphey in Babesa, Thimphu. Under the project, degraded lands along the Wangchu river basin will be rehabilitated. The Agriculture Minister Lyonpo Dr. Pema Gyamtsho said the healthy forest vegetation and natural environment that people enjoy today is because of the vision of His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo.

“Forests are crucial for the well being of humanity and intricately linked to the survival of mountainous country like Bhutan. It provides goods and services to human and wildlife. It provides numerous opportunities for employment, recreation, spiritual renewal and inspiration for intellectual and artistic creativity,” said the Agriculture Minister.

The agriculture minister also launched a book entitled the value of trees and conservation of forests. Students from Babesa Primary School performed a drama highlighting the importance of forests. They also recited a poem on the theme plant trees and Green Bhutan.

Forestry officials, volunteers, students and members from the intentional organizations took part in the tree plantation. More than 3,000 saplings were planted in the degraded areas along the Wangchu river basin in Babesa today.

The project which will cost an estimated Nu. four million is funded by Tala Hydroelectricity plant.


Saturday, 6 June 2009

Bhutan : Construction of Royal Textile Academy to begin

June 5: Culture preservation is one of the four pillars of Bhutan’s developmental philosophy of Gross National Happiness. Textiles, undoubtedly, constitutes an integral component of Bhutan’s unique cultural identity. Apart from this, textile is one of the primary means of income for many Bhutanese women living in rural Bhutan.

To preserve and promote textiles, the Textile Museum was established in 2001 under the patronage of Her Majesty the Queen Mother Ashi Sangay Choden Wangchuck.

In 2005, Royal Textile Academy was founded. After completing almost five years, the textile academy is now looking forward to become Bhutan’s first textile educational centre to educate and train Bhutanese youth on preservation and traditional art of weaving Bhutanese textiles.

The academy premises will be constructed at Chubachu in Thimphu. Her Majesty the Queen Mother Ashi Sangay Choden Wangchuck graced the ground breaking ceremony for construction of the institution this morning. The area is over four acres.

Her Majesty the Queen Mother said the academy is founded with a purpose of promoting and preserving Bhutanese textiles in a much larger scale.

Her Majesty the Queen Mother said the core objective is to provide a national centre offering professional training in weaving design and production along with the collection, conservation and documentation of important artifacts.

The Executive Director of the Royal Textile Academy Rinzin O Dorji said the construction works will start after the monsoon is over. She said main components of the construction project will be a textile school, a textile museum, a textile conservation centre and a central administrative division.

The Executive Director added that construction works will be divided into four phases. The first two phases include the construction of textile museum, plaza, entrances, courtyard and administrative offices.

Under phase three and four, a banquet hall and conservation centre will be constructed. The donor member of the first phase is Mr. Frederik Paulsen, chairman of Ferring Pharmaceutical Company in Switzerland.

The second phase is funded by the government of India. The textile academy is looking for funds for the third and fourth phase.

An estimated sum of Nu 500 million will complete the overall construction works.

Cabinet ministers, parliamentarians, business communities, members from international agencies and government officials attended the event.


Friday, 5 June 2009

Bhutan : Bhutan Telecom to introduce M-money

June 3: Soon people will not have to go to the bill collection centres to pay their utility bills. They can make bill payments online or through the mobile phones.

Bhutan Telecom says the facility, called M-money or mobile money payment, will be a one stop shop for making payments of all utility bills including telephone, electricity and water bills.

To discuss and raise awareness on it, Bhutan Telecom today conducted a day long workshop.

Bhutan Telecom says the facility is being initiated to help people make optimum use of Information and Communication Technology and thereby make their lives more comfortable.

The Managing Director of Bhutan Telecom said it will also help reduce the cost for both the service providers and consumers.

He said the facility is also to make use of mobile applications since there has been an exceptional increase in the number of mobile users.

During the workshop, the participants were briefed on the market situation and advantages of M-money in the country. The participants also discussed about the feasibility of such facility in the country.

The participants were briefed by two resource persons from Siemens Information Systems Limited in India.


Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Bhutan : Nation plants trees

3 June, 2009 - As the nation observed social forestry day yesterday, students, community members and officials all over the country planted thousands of tree saplings.

In Thimphu, the day was observed at a forest fire prone area in Tshalumarphey, with the planting of more than 2,000 saplings on a ridge repeatedly destroyed by fire.

With the theme “Plant Trees and Green Bhutan”, forest officials distributed saplings of oak, maple, cypress and blue pine.

The agriculture ministry also launched the Wangchu river basin plantation program worth Nu 4m. “The program would help in the steady and unaffected flow of the Wangchu river,” said a ministry official. The plantation program was funded by Tala hydro project authority (THPA).

Agriculture minister Lyonpo (Dr) Pema Gyamtsho, said that the day would highlight the importance of forests and its benefits for society. “It’s everyone’s responsibility to take care and diversify the natural environment, as we all are totally dependent on nature for air, water, heat and wind,” he said.

Students of Babesa primary school also performed a skit and recited poems on conserving natural resources with the agriculture minister as chief guest.

In Mongar, led by Her Royal Highness Dechen Yangzom Wangchuck, the guest of honour, MPs, dzongkhag officials, students and teachers and community members planted about 1,300 saplings in the Yakpogang community forest.

The 290 hectares community forest is one of nine in the district, which was established in 2001 and owned by 103 households in Yakpogang and Kilikhar.

By Tashi C Dorji


Bhutan : His Majesty grants audience to the JICA Resident Representatives

June 2: His Majesty the King today granted an audience to the new as well as the outgoing resident representative of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

Tomoki Nitta is the new JICA resident representative. He takes over from Mr. Tetsuo Yabe.

Mr. Nitta joined the Technical Cooperation Division of the Mining and Industrial Development Cooperation Department of JICA as a staff member in 1984.

In a career spanning over 25 years, he served in various departments under JICA. Prior to his current appointment, Mr. Nitta served as the Deputy Director General of JICA Global Plaza.

The outgoing resident representative of JICA Tetsuo Yabe has been posted in the JICA headquarters in Japan. He served as the resident representative of JICA office in Thimphu for over three years.