Mines accused of destroying Bhutan’s mountains

Mineral mining in Bhutan is not only drawing the ire of locals over alleged health effects, but is also accused of damaging agriculture and killing wildlife in neighbouring India, Reuters reported on Wednesday.
The Pugli hills around Gomtu, an industrial town in southwest Bhutan, are being blasted to extract dolomite, a mineral used in steel manufacturing and horticulture.

Residents complain that inhaled dolomite dust is giving them respiratory problems. They have also claimed the destruction of forests and hills may have affected the area’s microclimate.

Just across the Indian border are tea plantations in West Bengal state, where landslides and erosion caused by mining have left at least 14 estates prone to flooding, the Indian Tea Association says.

India’s environment ministry complains that Bhutan is not enforcing scientific mining norms. It wants forest cover to be replanted where possible and barriers constructed to stop landslides affecting West Bengal.