As a boy who grew up herding sheep and cattle in the plains of Shingkhar, the idea of Golf course coming there has been anything but a thing that broke and shattered my heart into pieces. I came to know about the idea when it initially surfaced on facebook page. It was then being discussed among the scholars and native indigenous folks who have more insight into the ecological structure economic wellbeing of Shingkhar that are in stake, should the golf course idea succeed in black mailing innocent Shingkharps.
Now the topic has reached its hype. The National news paper “Kuensel” on 1st Oct, 2011, has been seen reporting on the issue as “Golf course proposal still up in the air”. From the report, it was even more disheartening to know the Tourism Council of Bhutan’s involvement in it. The concern authorities, by merely ‘considering’ the idea, have disclosed their inefficiency in implementation of country’s tourism policy, both in terms of social and economic perspective. (And I am not going to discuss in detail, the adverse affects of Investment in golf course, never going to yield positive benefit)
Petition to reject the proposal was first led by Dr. Karma Phuntsho which was supported by majority of people, not only from Shingkhar but also from a distant village of Ura. This is because, a plain and innocent people in the locality knew more about the backwash effects of the proposed investment than those statisticians.
The Paper also reported “that no government directive to reject the proposed golf course had been received” but report also mentions a very conflicting statement; “Following this, agriculture minister (Dr) Pema Jamtsho also told Kuensel that the proposal had already been rejected by the ministry”
Now, if the idea has been already rejected by a highest authority, then why is there a need to conduct a “full impact study” now? When the variable outcomes are known, the study is nothing but a deliberate act of misallocating the resources (be it a Foreign or a national)
More than the ecological destabilization, the imminent risk Shingkhar community face is a total loss of their control over a land that has been an economic backbone passed down from generation to generation. Therefore the third party involvement including the local leaders should be excluded from influencing the decisions. The decision should be entirely left to the people of the community.
The most distressing thing to see in the report was, that Shingkharps themselves remaining “divided on the issue”. This, to some degree is true and is not a new phenomenon in Ura valley. This can be credited to the local leaders who fancied polarizing rather than bringing consensus and unity among the folks.
To quote my Ashim (sister) Pema, "I dont think Shingkharpas are EQUALLY divided 50:50. I rather feel its like DPT and PDP, he he.." (Please there is no politics here). Through this statement, its is very clear that opinion on coming of golf course are divided BUT NOT WIDELY DIVIDED as media (Kuensel) has reported. 99.99% has already said "No". Therefore its only that negligible 0.01% who are presumed to have said yes in principle. As per my opinion, people who still act adamant and choose to say "yes" are not rational people and therefore should not come in the preview of Economic discussion. Moreover, their their proclamation as Shingkharpas are highly questionable.
The only foreseeable solution to this problem is proper allocation of property rights. Assign the property right of plains in Shingkhar to Shngkharps. I think they are far more capable of making their own decisions with their property than those people, who see only one side of an affair. I also don’t think any Government agency have that right to barge in and start doing things that are not in the interest of local community.