The recent case of non-Bhutanese mining illegally in large quantities in parts of Gomtu has opened up a can of worms as to whether we are monitoring such illegal activities in our borders.
The issue dates back to decades when the issue of illegal timber extraction and wildlife poaching, especially in our southern frontiers, were rampant that it called for an immediate intervention and security measures were beefed up to curb it. The incidences have been drastically contained and our forest guards and security personnel are on a constant vigil to make sure that our valuable resources are not plundered for individual gains.
However, it is sad to know that the authorities have been turning a blind eye to the Gomtu incident if what residents say is true. According to the residents of Phuntshopelri in Gomtu, Samtse, the illegal miners have been operating for quite a while now. They are equipped with excavators and earth moving equipments and dozens of Lorries ferry dolomite across the porous border everyday.
What is more disturbing is that the miners seems to be working hand in gloves with some individuals or organizations inside Gomtu, because the illegal miners seem to escape detection every time the villagers tip the dzongkhag officials and they come for inspections.
A farmer even said that he has lost hope with the authorities as nothing has been done so far despite them informing the concerned dzongkhag officials about the ongoing activity. The residents also say that the miners are destroying their valuable water sources and have led to the depredation of their valuable arable land.
According to some sources, about 35-40 trucks illegally ferry limestone and dolomite from the mining site on a daily basis. This is a large operation and we can be sure that the miners will have a large nexus of individuals working in the organization. But how is that the dzongkhag officials in Samtse aren’t able to detect such large scale activities that are taking place right under their noses? Or is there a sinister twist to this tale? Something is very wrong here.
It is time the concerned officials take the matter seriously and bring the perpetrators to justice and put an end to this illegal activity. The residents have even notified the officials of Department of Geology and Mines here in the capital of the ongoing activity but nothing has been done till date to address the issue.
We cannot afford to turn a blind eye to this incident as we are loosing valuable resources worth millions to these illegal miners. The issue warrants immediate attention from the government and we cannot let this thing continue. Something must be done and the earlier the better.