Sunday, 29 May 2011

Bhutan - Keeping Thimphu clean, a gargantuan task

Keeping Thimphu clean and beautiful seems like a distant dream, at least for now. Despite several cleanup campaigns and measures put in place by the Thimphu City Corporation, Thimphu city is not getting any cleaner.

The sidewalks and roads are strewn with papers and plastic wrappers, the drains are clogged with plastic bottles, and the walls of shops and buildings are smeared with doma spit and lime.

Phub Dorji, a Thimphu resident, said “most of the goods are wrapped in plastic of paper. People throw away the wrappings carelessly.”

The Thimphu City Corporation has deployed 16 workers to clean the streets. They work the whole daylong, seven days a week to keep the streets clean.

Budhiman Tamang, one of the cleaners, said “I have been cleaning the streets for 25 years now; the garbage only seems to grow. We clean today and tomorrow, there will be even more garbage.”

Chandra Bahadur Darjee has been cleaning the streets for 21 years. “We start work at 6am and continue till 4 pm. The waste doesn’t seem to become less.”

Ten garbage collecting trucks move around the city collecting waste. Gyeltshen Dukpa, the city corporation’s chief environmental officer, believes that the city will remain the same despite their efforts unless the residents assume responsibility and develop civic sense.

Thimphu is the capital. Most of the residents are educated. It is home to the country’s elite but it seems asking them to do their bit is asking too much.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Bhutan - Bhutan Nepal trade talks

Bhutan and Nepal began talks in the capital Thimphu today to draft a trade agreement between the two neighbouring countries.

Trade between Bhutan and Nepal has been growing steadily though there is no formal trade agreement.

In 2008, the volume of trade between the two countries is estimated at Nu.324 million. The next year it grew to Nu. 455 million and to Nu.625 million in 2010.

The two day meeting will draft the trade agreement, the protocol to the agreement, rules of origin, and the list of exportable items of the respective countries.

The Director of Department of Trade Sonam P Wangdi is leading the Bhutanese delegation. The Nepalese delegation is led by the Joint Secretary of the Ministry of Commerce and Supplies Toya Narayan Gyawali.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Bhutan - ~The Royal Couple~

Our Druk Gyalpo with Jetsun Pema, the future Queen of Bhutan.

Cr : Facebook ~His Majesty King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck ~

Friday, 20 May 2011

Bhutan - His Majesty’s address to the 7th session of parliament today

It is now almost three years and three months since the start of democracy. Our nation has so much to be proud of. The first years of democracy have been a great success, made possible by the blessings of the Dharma and our Guardian Deities and the foundations laid through the selfless efforts of our forefathers and Kings and the good fortune and karma of the People of Bhutan.

Our generation embarked on a profound process of democratization, with little experience but armed with the strength of our unity of vision and aspirations. Our people, government, religious institutions and bodies, private sector, media, legislature, constitutional bodies, judiciary and the armed forces have all served the country well under this new system, and have worked to slowly shape a strong and effective democracy. Through your hard work, it has been possible in the midst of such a dramatic transition to oversee the vast socio-economic development plans and projects we had in the 10th 5-year plan.

The government has worked tirelessly in all sectors such as hydropower, tourism, agriculture and industries. Remote villages are being connected with roads and electricity is being made accessible to villages while education and health facilities are being broadened or improved. Our traditions and cultural values continue to be strengthened and rural lhakangs are being renovated. The government has moved with intensified efforts to renew foreign relations according to the changing times. I am happy that our relations with India are as strong as ever. The people of Bhutan must appreciate all these efforts being made by the government.

In spite of all our achievements and the peace and prosperity we have experienced for so long – in fact because of this success – we must remember to never be complacent. If even a small fraction of the problems that plague other nations appear in Bhutan, our small society will be forever afflicted and we may never regain our jewel of a nation.

As we move forward, we must be guided by the most sacred and unchanging national goals – the security and sovereignty of our Nation and the peace, unity and harmony of our People. Today, as I have said before, our immediate and foremost duty is the success of democracy. That is our foundation for the future success of Bhutan. But democracy can only flourish if all Bhutanese uphold the rule of law; if there is good governance; if corruption is eradicated and if the delivery of public services is fair and effective.

As a small landlocked nation, the only way for us to fulfill these is to carry out our duties through cooperation, sharing and consultation. I know that each ministry, government institution, parliamentary body or public agencies has its own mandate. Still, you must work together, not in competition. Henceforth, I ask all of you to establish the practice of meeting regularly, sitting face to face every now and then, so that you will always be in collaboration as you carry out your separate responsibilities. And all problems may be resolved without being allowed to fester and grow.

Such shared effort will be in the true spirit of Gross National Happiness.

Today, at this auspicious gathering, I would like to make a short announcement to all the people of the 20 Dzongkhags.

As King, it is now time for me to marry. After much thought I have decided that the wedding shall be later this year.

Now, many will have their own idea of what a Queen should be like – that she should be uniquely beautiful, intelligent and graceful. I think with experience and time, one can grow into a dynamic person in any walk of life with the right effort. For the Queen, what is most important is that at all times, as an individual she must be a good human being, and as Queen, she must be unwavering in her commitment to serve the People and Country.

As my queen, I have found such a person and her name is Jetsun Pema. While she is young, she is warm and kind in heart and character. These qualities together with the wisdom that will come with age and experience will make her a great servant to the nation.

This union does not mean that I am starting my own family. From the very day I received the Dhar Ngay-Nga from the sacred Machhen, the people of the 20 Dzongkhags became my family. Such is the duty and privilege of all Kings of Bhutan. It is through this union, that I shall have a Queen who will support, and work with me, as I serve the People and Country.

The wedding will be in accordance with age-old tradition, to seek the blessings of our Guardian Deities. I ask the government not to make any plans for a grand celebration. The happiness of my beloved father and the blessings of our People will give me the greatest joy and happiness.

Friday, 13 May 2011

Bhutan - Bhutan and Maldives sign Air Services Agreement

Bhutan and the Maldives have signed an Air Services Agreement, paving the way for the two high-end tourist destinations to be connected by direct flights or flights transiting through other countries in the region.

The flight details and routes will be worked out between the airlines of the two countries, one a tourist hot spot on the roof of the world and the other an ultimate destination for those interested in sunbathing and deep sea diving.

The Maldives Minister for Transport and Communication, Mohamed Adil Saleem, and the Secretary for Information and Communications in Bhutan, Dasho Kinley Dorji, signed the agreement on May 8, 2011. They emphasised the fact that air connectivity was vital for tourism and broader economic development. High-end tourists could find the connection a very attractive possibility with the tourism industry viewing both countries as niche markets.

Bhutan, which saw about 40,000 tourists last year, is currently building three new domestic airports. The Maldives, which is constructing its third international airport, has achieved an escalation of tourist numbers to about 800,000 tourists a year and is still expanding.

With Bhutan holding the chairmanship of SAARC, the agreement is also a step forward in one of SAARC’s goals, to connect all the capitals of the region.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Bhutan - His Majesty issues Kasho on Local Goverment Elections

During the audience granted to those who had appealed against their disqualification, His Majesty the King said that their appeal and the submissions made by the Prime Minister on behalf of the National Assembly, National Council and the two political parties, was with regard to the failure of the respective political parties to abide by the laws on procedures for de-registration in particular and on the interpretation of the laws on de-registration in general. Thus, the appeal would merit full consideration from the relevant agencies, if the individuals had themselves acted in accordance with the laws.

His Majesty said that the Election Commission of Bhutan was simply abiding by the Constitutional requirement that Local Governments must be apolitical. His Majesty said, “I have always encouraged political participation and the growth of political parties. Having heeded my request to all citizens to participate in the political process in the past, you may now, as prospective candidates for Local Government offices, be surprised that your participation in political parties have hindered your chances to run for office in Local Government. The Constitution requires apolitical Local Governments for very important reasons. Local Government responsibilities are very different from those of political parties or any other institution. Local Governments are the foundation for grassroots democracy. They must have intimate knowledge of the daily lives of the people in their constituencies; work in constant and close interaction with their people and nurture cooperation, consensus and close-knit communities. In a largely rural country Local Governments are even more important not just in carrying out vital duties towards achieving development objectives of their people, but also in bringing about a harmonious society.”

His Majesty said, “As individuals, having a preference for a political party is not bad. The majority of people will always hold certain preferences. However, in carrying out one’s duties as part of an apolitical institution, we must keep our political affiliations aside. It is as simple as carrying out one’s official duties without being biased by preference for family and friends at the cost of the larger community.”

His Majesty said that he always encouraged institutions to resolve issues on their own, through consultation. He said, “Once the Throne is involved, the Throne will protect the Constitution and the laws in place – it has no other path before it.”

His Majesty said that, “the sacred Constitutional duty of the King is to protect and uphold this Constitution in the best interest and for the welfare of the people of Bhutan. As I do so, I shall seek if necessary, the Supreme Court’s opinion, for the Supreme Court is the guardian of this Constitution and the final authority of its interpretation.”

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Bhutan - Hope for Radhi farmers

Irrigation project 1 May, 2011 - Radhi farmers could live up to their name- rice bowl of eastern Bhutan, once the major irrigation revival program in the gewog is completed, by the end of this year.

After the irrigation canal built in the early 1980s, measuring over three kilometers in length and dug out by excavators was damaged by landslides at several places, farmers became totally dependent on the monsoon.

“We had hopes that it would solve the problem forever but landslides took away the intake source of the canal and we’re left wanting for water,” a farmer from Jonla village, Ngawang Tshering said. It was funded by international fund for agriculture development (IFAD).

The revival plan is to use huge polythene pipes in places where the original canal was washed away. The survey is complete and Trashigang dzongkhag engineers are working on the designs. The canal has a new in take source and would use over three and a half kilometer of pipes mostly in places prone to slides.

“It requires drilling in to rocks and even using rods at the source of the canal to strengthen it,” dzongkhag engineer Chador Phuntsho said.

Radhi Gup Samdrup said most of his gewog’s paddy fields rely on irrigation canals drawn from monsoon fed streams. “Despite the fact that most of our land is paddy fields, there has always been irrigation water shortage,” he said.

The project would be funded from funds allocated for activities in the gewog that were dropped from the 10th Plan. As an additional fund, Speaker of the National Assembly and member of parliament from Radhi, Tshogpon Jigme Tshultim had approved his constitutional development grant for the project.

He said the new canal would bring great relief to farmers. Of the 775 households in the gewog, it is expected to benefit over 450 spread over 12 chiwogs.

“It would also allow farmers to do winter cropping,” he said.

Farmers said that they had suffered severely, over the past decades; from dry spells as monsoon showers were either delayed or poor. To make things worse, their irrigation canals broke down repeatedly because of loose soil.

Radhi gewog’s rice yield decreased by over 30 percent in 2009 mainly because of lack of rain. Ngawang Tshering said as his fields were located at the bottom of the village, he received little water, as he is the last to receive among 20 households. “I have to depend mostly on the monsoon for transplantation,” the farmer from Jonla village said. As water shortage grew acute farmers started to convert their paddy fields in to dry land to grow maize. The project would solve his problems.

However, the gup said that the canal would not reach one village in the gewog, Tongling, as it on the other side of the hill. Farmers said that some villagers in Tongling have left their fields fallow because of the shortage of water.

By Tshering Palden