Pledge: In another three years all gewog center (GC) roads will be blacktopped, according to Department of Road officials.

While works on blacktopping 91 gewog center roads are either underway, tendered or will be tendered soon, funds for the remaining 23 GC roads (676km) is not definite yet.

The 23 roads are all more than 17km in length, which exceeds the minimum length to qualify for Small Development Project (SDP) funds. The 63km Getana GC road in Chukha, 48km Dohban gewog road in Sarpang, 25km Laya gewog road, 62km Silambi gewog road in Mongar and 18km Khibisa gewog road are some of them.

Department of Roads director Karma Galey said, although funding source for blacktopping the remaining 23 roads are not confirmed, it does not mean they will be left out while others are completed.

“Some of the 23 roads are still under construction. By the time construction is complete, funds will be ready,” he said. “It is being discussed.”

Blacktopping GC roads was one of the pledges of the government.

Blacktopping the 91 roads are carried out under five different categories; SDP I, II, III and IV and project tied assistance (PTA). Works are being carried out simultaneously.

In the SDP-I, the government of India released Nu 298.7M (million) last year to blacktop 120km or eight GC roads. However, one of the contracts, 20km Riju-Bartsham GC road in Trashigang has been terminated recently. It will be retendered and blacktopped but will not meet the July 2016 deadline.

According to DoR officials, blacktopping Tongmizhangsa gewog road in Gomkora, Tashiyangtse has been differed to SDP-IV because of some issues with Kholongchu project.

Another 28 GC road (343km) has been identified to be blacktopped under SDP-II. While contract for 14 roads has already been awarded, four were recently tendered and DoR will tender another 10 soon.

In the upcoming plan talks between the government and the government of India, a proposal of Nu 991M will be made to blacktop 39 roads (342km) under SDP-III.

In May this year, department of road received PTA’s first fund release of Nu 200M of the approved Nu 1.4B from the GoI. Sixteen GC roads (446km) will be blacktopped under PTA.  While blacktopping of 14 has already begun, the 30km Korphu road in Trongsa and 18km Dangchu road in Wangdue Phodrang are yet to be tendered.

Officials said Gross National Happiness Commission (GNHC) has directed DoR to prepare proposal for SDP-IV. GNHC will then propose it to GoI. An estimation of Nu 200M has been worked out to blacktop the Tongmizhangsa gewog road in Gomkora, Tashiyangtse SDP-IV along with few other bridges.

By Nirmala Pokhrel