The Royal Bhutan Police in Gelephu arrested two men for larceny on 17 March. The men who are under police custody were arrested for theft of manhole covers at Taklai irrigation channel.
The culprits will be chargesheeted against the crime either by Office of the Attorney General (OAG) or by Royal Bhutan Police after ascertaining the nature of the case as to whether it is petty misdemeanor or misdemeanor.
The office of Royal Bhutan Police in Gelephu has informed the matter to the concern office for cost calculation of manhole covers.
Four pieces of manhole covers were recovered from one of the site of scrap dealers in Gelephu Industrial area.
The case was reported to police by Water User Association (WUA) of Taklai irrigation channel Chairman, Pema Tshechu, to the police after he was informed by staff of Central Machinery Unit (CMU) in Bhur, Gelephu.
One of staff of CMU seeking to remain anonymous, who also works in Taklai irrigation channel water source as technical operator, went to sell his scraps at Gelephu Industrial area. After arriving at the industrial area he informed the WUA chairman that someone had stolen the manhole covers and it’s sold to scrap dealers.
Upon interrogating the scrap dealer, the culprits, who were residents of Sarpang dzongkhag, were arrested for larceny. The convicts have confessed to the crime and confessed to have taken four manhole covers. Five pieces are still missing according to the WUA chairman.
Section 240 of the Penal Code of Bhutan states: “A defendant shall be guilty of the offence of larceny if the defendant takes or moves the property of another person without the owner’s consent, and with the intent to deprive the owner of the property or to appropriate the same to the defendant or a third person.”
The defense to larceny as per the Section 243 states: “A defendant shall have a defence to a prosecution for the offence of larceny, if the defendant: (b) Took property that was for sale intending to purchase and pay for it promptly.”
The grading for larceny offence as per the Section 244 shall be a value-based sentencing.
According to WUA members and concerned consultancy office, who sought anonymity, the manhole covers were probably stolen at night. The covers were kept open during the sedimentation work last year.
Nine manhole covers were missing according to the WUA members. It came under their notice only in March 2020 and it was reported to the police.
The officials said that four pieces were missing during the 1st year and five in 2nd year. They said the thieves must have stolen the covers at night.
Manhole covers are used at the water source of Taklai irrigation channel to cover the holes of den made for clearing the sediments. Made from cast iron each manhole cover weighing 128 kg was manufactured in Japan and transported via Kolkata, India to Phuntsholing and then to Gelephu. According to the officials each manhole cover cost Nu 1, 50,000.
The farmers of Chuzanggang and Sershong are worried as paddy cultivation is approaching. The chairman of WUA said that without manhole covers there won’t be proper water flow as it will be blocked by sediments.
Taklai irrigation channel was constructed by Dai Nippon Company (DNC) through Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in 2015. The seven kilometer irrigation channel can irrigate a gross area of over 2900 acres of paddy fields benefiting around 398 households of two gewogs.