Fund: The Bhutan-India Small Development Project Committee approved the last nine projects worth Nu 181.28 million in the 11th Plan under this funding scheme at its fifth meeting yesterday.

With the approval of the fifth batch of SDPs, the total committed Government of India (GoI) assistance of Nu 8.5 billion for SDPs has been allocated for 595 projects in the 11th Plan.

The approved projects include solar lighting and CGI sheets for yak herders in Gasa, construction of permanent structures and a motorable bailey bridge in Paro, river bank protection in Duksum of Trashiyangtse, internal roads and pedestrian footpaths in Samdrupjongkhar thromde, and a research study proposed by the culture department.

The proposals were prepared in consultation with the communities and relevant sectors mindful of the positive impact they would create, officials said.

Deputy Chief of Mission of the Embassy of India in Bhutan, Bishwadip Dey said:  “Completing the approvals of the projects with two years of the Plan still remaining demonstrates the seriousness, the priority and the importance that we give to these projects.”

He said the Indian government is satisfied with the progress of the projects underway so far without needing additional time and costs.

“We’re completing the approval of the entire allocation of the fund so that the progress continues,” he said.

Bishwadip Dey, who led the Indian members of the committee at the meeting, said the emphasis on timely completion and quality must continue.

The Bhutanese delegation was led by the director of bilateral relations of foreign ministry Kesang Wangdi. He said that the Royal Government of Bhutan and the people of Bhutan remain ever grateful to the Government and people of India.

The meeting reviewed progress of earlier approved projects. The committee approved the first batch of 46 projects amounting to Nu 1.4 billion (B) in March 2014, the second batch of 254 projects amounting to Nu 3.1B in November 2014, the third batch of 182 projects worth Nu 2.4B in August 2015 and the fourth batch of 104 projects amounting to Nu 1.4B in May 2016.

The parties noted that Nu 4.5B has been received for the three batches of SDP and agreed the need to expedite the pending release of Nu 2.6B.

The Government of India will release more than Nu 520 million for SDP projects this week, he said.

“We already have the sanctions and money release has also been steady,” Bishwadip Dey said.

The SDP started from the 10th Plan and the projects under this funding scheme have been successful in alleviating poverty in rural parts of the country, government officials said.

Tshering Palden