Early warning

Early yesterday morning, the health assistant in Lunana was woken up by loud rumbling sounds from the Gotu-chu. At 3:30 AM he found that the river, a tributary of the Pho- chu, had swollen to thrice its size and dispatched a wireless message to the Early Warning Station in Wanduephodrang warning them of a possible flood downstream along the Pho-chu and Punasang-chu.

The rumblings that the health assistant had heard spread panic in Punakha and beyond. And by mid-day, the entire nation was consumed by fear of the impending dangers in Punakha and Wangduephodrang. His Majesty the King was immediately in Punakha. As were our prime minister and home minister.

By the time I reached Punakha, traveling from Phuentsholing, the alert had been called off, and everything appeared normal.

I was happy to see the quick response of our government to a potential disaster. And I was happy to see our prime minister admit: “we were not prepared, thousands of lives would have been lost if this was a real flood.”

We now know that we are “not prepared” to handle a flood in Punasang-chu. And we know that, if the river were to flood, thousands of lives would be at risk. We also know that a “real flood” is inevitable – it’s only a matter of time.

How we use this knowledge will determine how we react to future rumbling sounds from Lunana.


Facebook Comments:


  1. Where do we place the Punatsangchhu project in this context? Are we knowingly putting billions of ngultrums in harm’s way just to be washed away? I wish there was more open dialogue on this.

  2. This is not even “flood season.” Remember the last flood happened in October 1994? And I don’t quite know which one is Gotu-chu. If it is the one coming by Tshozhong, then the glaciers and lakes at its headwaters don’t even seem that significant compared to Thoththormi and Rapshthreng. Yet it raised water levels quite high. Now imagine when those big ones come rumbling down.

    This calls for better preparedness. Wake up!

  3. Bhutanese Youth says

    Yah..besides our historic dzong, khuru town & many villages, we are voyaging back billons of indian rupees ( which we ve received in the name of assistance) to India, & I am afraid if Indian Laborers will also follow water mode of transport this time.. because it is "inevitable" and we are "unprepared". DPT, do something. Otherwise many Punaps will miss Lyonpo Sangay.

  4. Michael Carson says

    Hi Tshering,

    How are you. I hope that all is well. I like your new website. FYI, I gave your name and contact to a friend, Laura Kale-Taylor who will be visiting Bhutan in a few weeks. She might contact you to arrange a meeting.

    Take care and good luck in your endeavors.


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