Ura, Bumthang (Kuensel/ANN) - A decision on the proposed golf course to be located at Shingkhar in Ura, Bumthang in Bhutan is yet to be made. Tourism council of Bhutan (TCB) director general, KesangWangdi, said that the proposal is still under consideration
and that no government directive to reject the proposed golf course had been received.
The proposed golf course, which could cover about 165 acres in Shingkhar, Ura, was first reported by Kuensel in July. Almost immediately a petition to reject the proposal was started by a Bhutanese academic, Karma Phuntsho.
Following this, agriculture minister (Dr) Pema Jamtsho also told Kuensel that the proposal had already been rejected by the ministry.
But TCB director general, Kesang Wangdi, said that a decision on the proposed golf course would be made, following the completion of a "full impact study". TCB is awaiting the report of a technical study being conducted by the department of forests and parks (DFP).
DFP director, Karma Dukpa, confirmed that his agency is currently conducting a technical study of the area that will fall under the proposed golf course. He said the objective of the study is to find out whether "such enterprise or intervention would lead to destabilisation of ecosystem that is already there."
The study is also looking at whether or how much of the golf course falls on parkland, wetland and marsh areas, he said.
The study is also examining what environmental and social impacts the proposed golf course may bring. For instance, Karma Dukpa pointed out that, if a water source falls under the area of the proposed golf course, then its impact downstream will have to be determined. Another area to be determined is how grazing will be affected by a golf course.
On when the final report will be out, Karma Dukpa said that a specific time could not be provided, but that it would be "very shortly".
Meanwhile, observer opinions on the proposed golf course are mostly against the idea, based on social and environmental grounds. Some though say the Shingkharps should have the final say. On the online petition to reject the proposed golf course, Dorjee writes: "Common folks, let the people of Shingkhar decide! This is democracy. Who are we to deny a local community their right to economic and material development?"
Tshewang R Wangchuk writes: "Given the ecological and social impact that a golf course would bring, I would hope that any sensible person would oppose this proposal. As a concerned Bhutanese I am vehemently opposed to this idea." But he does also point out: "However, the Shingkharps should have the final say on something that is proposed in their community."
Shingkharps themselves remain divided on the issue, with some seeing employment opportunities and a chance for direct and indirect income. Cattle headers, on the other hand, who use the area for grazing, are wary of losing their pasturelands.
The extent of benefit and control the community eventually has over any proposed golf course has also been a matter of discussion among Shingkharps and observers.