ThimphuTech was the first technology blog in Bhutan. We started writing it in 2009, just as broadband and mobile internet started to take off. (Although internet in Bhutan was launched in 1999, it was either super-slow or super-expensive, and was only used by a selected few).

In the blog, we wrote about technology and food, but also about plenty of other stuff. The blog became popular and influential in Bhutan. A companion bi-weekly column -- Ask Boaz -- was published for many years in the Kuensel, Bhutan's national newspaper. (The complete Kuensel columns are available as an ebook, Blogging with Dragons).

We stopped updating the blog when we left Bhutan in 2014, but the information within the posts can still prove useful, and thus we decided to keep it online.

We thank all our readers.
Tashi Delek,
Boaz & Galit.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Luxury mineral water brand @VEENWaters operating in Bhutan?

I was rather surprised to learn that VEEN, a luxury mineral water brand from the far-away land of Finland, will soon be starting a bottling operation in Samste, exporting Bhutan's water to India:
"The company will now be introducing two new variants - VEEN Still and VEEN Classic. VEEN Spring will be bottled from Samste, Bhutan ... The source, which VEEN purchased in November 2013, has a flow capacity of 25 million litres of water per year. The Bhutan facility will be fully functional by this month-end." — Business Today article
Bhutan has a good track record of carefully managing its environment, and thus I find this puzzling. Water is a natural resource - like timber, minerals, or oil. And bottled water is a very controversial issue. Who has the rights to Bhutan's water? I am surprised mainly because I don't recall ever hearing any discussion or reading about this initiative in the Bhutanese media or anywhere else.

PS: There are enough status-obsessed Indians who have no problem paying exuberant prices for water. The 660ml glass VEEN bottle will be sold at an MRP of Rs 110, while the 330ml will be a bargain at Rs 77.
This translates to anywhere between US$2700 and US$3500 per 1 m3 (one cubic meter) of water. How much of that, by the way, will find its way back to Bhutan?


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