Bhutan harnesses wind power for electricity

A wind farm of two turbines in Wangdue is expected to be expanded
Energy: Bhutan is now also generating electricity using the wind instead of only water.
At least 300 houses were provided with wind powered electricity from yesterday following the inauguration of two 300kw wind turbines in Rubesa, Wangdue.
“This is a historic day for renewable energy in Bhutan,” said Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay, who commissioned the two wind turbines.


Lyonchoen Tshering Tobgay inaugurates the wind turbines yesterday

The two turbines were developed at a total cost of Nu 177 million (M). The Asian Development Bank providing financing with a grant of Nu 163M (USD 2.7M). Construction of the two turbines began in 2014.
The two turbines can generate electricity for 300 households, said officials with the renewable energy department. This is calculated on the basis that each households consumes 2kw.
Up to 24 wind turbines of 300kw capacity each could be installed in the Rubesa area, however, officials said this could not happen because the proposed sites fall under private land.
However, the government is determined to work with the concerned landowners and explore up-scaling the scheme under various development models.
Officials said it is necessary to gain practical experience in planning, constructing and operating the wind farm, before up-scaling the technology.
Rubesa was selected over Tsimasham in Chukha and Chelela in Haa following three years of assessment.
Officials said that the development of a wind farm requires careful selection and various criteria had to be fulfilled.
This project was developed with the primary objective to demonstrate the technical feasibility of generating wind power. It is expected that wind power can alleviate power shortage Bhutan experiences during the lean seasons.
The project was executed by the renewable energy department and implemented by the Bhutan Power Corporation (BPC).
The project was handed over to BPC for operation and maintenance.
The two turbines were initially scheduled to be inaugurated on National Day, last year, however, it was delayed due to logistical problems.
The economic affairs minister Norbu Wangchuk, health minister Tandin Wangchuk, Punatsangchu managing director, Wangdue dzongda and other officials attended the ceremony.
Dawa Gyelmo, Wangdue

Judiciary to prevent inconsistencies in laws

Highlights major challenges
Law: The Judiciary will never remain free from deciding whether the country’s legislations are coherent with, or offends the Constitution.
This, as per the Judiciary’s annual report, comes with the concept of Constitutional supremacy over Parliamentary supremacy.
Highlighting what His Majesty had said; “The Judiciary cannot seek solace in the arguments that defects in laws are a legislative responsibility, and remain a mere spectator,” the report states that the High Court and Supreme Court has till date engaged to prevent inconsistencies in the laws affecting common people.
For instance, when the Supreme Court decided the first Constitutional case in 2011, apart from the verdict, the court also cleared the confusion with regards to the money bill. It interpreted that the assembly might consider recommendations of the council, but need not necessarily incorporate them on mater pertaining to money bill.
Likewise, sources said that the Judiciary has been informally holding dialogues with parliamentarians to amend certain laws that offends the Constitution and contradicts other laws.
However, in doing so, the judiciary is confronted with few challenges. In interpreting the vague or conflicting statutes instead of merely applying the provision, providing effective and efficient resolution of complex disputes is seen as a major challenge.
The judiciary, the report states will also have to adapt to the evolving social change and retain its social position of independence and public trust. The Judiciary also highlighted that increasing public understanding on the role of judges and court system is important but considers challenging.
The report points out that Bhutanese have limited understanding of the operation of court systems and perpetuating public trust in changing society is identified as a recurrent challenge.
For example, appeal system to the higher judicial authority is designed to remedy the aggrieved litigants. But this has been associated with silly complaints against the judicial personnel.
Without considering facts and circumstances, the report stated that over the years, people started to allege baseless, generic and stereotyped criticisms.
High Court justice Lungten Dubgyur’s recent book, “Wheels of Laws” sheds some lights on the generic criticism the courts face when decisions of lower court and appellate court varies.
“Disparities in sentencing are perceived as an indication of judicial bias or a discrepancy in legal skill,” he wrote. In some circumstances, he wrote, inconsistency can arise when there are overlapping or contradictory provisions of law, causing difficulties in application of law.
He also mentioned that the unpredictable and changeable nature of laws undermines broader values of rule of law in ensuring that government and individuals are kept to the law.
It was also mentioned, in the report, that some litigants use the appeal system to harass the other party while some, mostly on monetary cases, use it as tactic to delay judgment.
The present practice of liberal application of appeal provisions by the court, according to the report, has let most of the cases to go for appeal and burdened the appellate courts by accepting unnecessary appeals.
Particularly in small society like Bhutan, making value-based decision is difficult in practice. The report states that assuring the judges to maintain distance, but preventing their isolation from community in which a judge lives, is a judicial challenge.
Unconfirmed comments on social media are also reported to pose threat to credibility of the judicial system.
Undertaking educational initiative and creating awareness on the court system on regular basis also comes at the cost of delays and adjournment of regular court proceedings because of human resource shortages.
Tshering Dorji

Ura farmers urge government to subsidize electric fencing

The farmers have been losing crops to wild life despite guarding their fields overnight
Agriculture: As the potato cultivation season draws closer, villagers of Ura in Bumthang are beginning to prepare their fields for potato cultivation in March.
Sounds of tractors drown out the songs of birds as villagers prepare their farmlands.
“People have begun tilling their fields, which were hardened by the cold winter frost,” Tashi Peljor from Pangkhar said. “Everyone is busy.”
This year, the winter was rewarding. It snowed twice and hopes are high for a bountiful harvest in the fall.
But crop depredation by wild animals remains a concern. The villagers will experience sleepless nights over a five-month period, guarding their potatoes from the wild life.
“We have to guard the fields from the day the seeds are sown to the end of the harvest or else the wild animals wouldn’t spare anything for us,” Gyetsa tshogpa, Chundu Tshering said.
“Gyetsa still doesn’t have an electric fence to protect the fields save for one patch of land, which received one on trial sometime back,” the tshogpa said. Despite the electric fence’s efficacy in combating human-wildlife conflict, villagers cannot afford it.
Around 30km of electric fence has been constructed in Bumthang but this covers only 194 of the 1,544 households. The farmlands of over 1,350 households are not protected by electric fences.
“Loss of crops to wildlife is still a major problem for farmers,” Chundu Tshering said.
Last year some households in Gyetsa were left with almost nothing after wild boars ravaged over seven acres of barley. In Ura, wild animals damaged potato and buckwheat fields.
“Every year crops are lost to wildlife despite guarding the fields sleeplessly every night,” Chundu Tshering said. He added that this occurs even after some opt to guard the fields rather than take care of the sick in their family. He said it is a depressing situation.
Records show crop damage from wildlife amounting to over 754 truckloads across the country from July 2013 to June 2015.
Farmers are urging the government to subsidize electric fencing.
Chundu Tshering said that way the electric fence can still benefit those who cannot afford it.
“Right now because the fields are situated in same area if someone in the village couldn’t afford everyone has to drop the plan of electric fence as its costly for a handful to bear the expenses,” Chundu Tshering said.
In absence of budget for electric fence in the 11th Plan, Ura gup, Dorji Wangchuk said the fencing must be incorporated in the annual plans.
“Until now in Ura, electric fences were issued either with funding from projects or were procured by re-appropriating funds from other activities or from gewog development grant,” he said.
The dzongkhag meanwhile is increasing the span of electric fence by 32km in June through funds from the commodity programme to reduce human wildlife conflict and reclaim the fallowing lands.
“Electric fences were given only for groups, communities, far flung farmlands and for households with acute labour shortage for coverage of larger area,” dzongkhag agriculture office (DAO), Gaylong said.
From this year the dzongkhag will fund only energizer, solar panel, controller and Gavanised Iron wire but farmers would have to buy nails and polythene pipes on their own, he said.
Gaylong also said plans to incorporate electric fence in annual and FYP plans is being deliberated. “Avenues to replace wooden posts with non-wood posts are also being explored to reduce tree felling,” the DAO said.
Tempa Wangdi, Ura