Infrastructure: If everything goes according to plan, the Amochhu Land Reclamation and Township Project (ALRTP) in Phuentsholing is expected to start by October next year.

The Construction Development Corporation Ltd (CDCL) has taken over the ALRTP in Phuentsholing from DHI-INFRA after the two were merged.

“By end of next year, we intend to complete 10 percent of the river training works,” CDCL’s director, Pema Wangchuk, said.

In a meeting conducted among the stakeholders on October 28 this year, it was highlighted that the Asian Development Bank  (ADB) would fund 70 percent of the total Nu 14 billion (B) reclamation project as a loan. Druk Holdings and Investments (DHI) would fund the remaining 30 percent.

This comes after DHI cancelled the public private partnership (PPP) model initially chosen for the project. In the PPP model, private investors, including foreign investors, would invest on the project. But it was not allowed as it contradicted the Land Act.

About 60 percent of the total funding will be invested on river training work alone. The reclamation works will commence after river training work is completed.

Initially, the reclamation and township project area size was about 865 acres as indicated by a study carried out by the Danish Hydraulic Institute, India, which was increased to about 1317.79 acres later. The new size of the area is as per the detailed topographical survey carried out by the land commission.

The project will reclaim 1,146 acres of land along the Amochhu banks starting from Purbey until the international border downstream and stretch about nine kilometres. The span of the river training channel will be 300 metres.

The area will be divided into five zones, which will be worked out phase wise. The project period is five years.

The reclamation and township project was identified in 2007. Its feasibility studies started in December 2011 and were supposed to have been completed within a year.

However, the study came to a halt in April 2012 when work on the detailed project report for the Amochhu Hydropower Project (AHP) began. A re-study was initiated to find out if there would be any impact on the reclamation project with the coming of the AHP.

The study did not find that AHP would significantly impact the project.

The reclamation project finally gained priority with the hydropower project shelved.

As Phuentsholing is the biggest commercial hub that shares a porous international border, trade and commerce is expected to boost once the township project is completed. A state of the art flood warning system will also be installed.

The project, once complete, will also generate employment opportunities. It will also create more space for rentals that should push down exorbitant rents today and solve housing problems in the town. Recreational parks and open spaces will also be installed to attract tourists.

Meanwhile, Kuensel has learned that the new integrated detailed project report (IDPR) is ready and to be approved by next month. M/s HCP Design, Planning and Management Pvt Ltd, Ahmedabad, India was awarded the contract to prepare the IDPR.

Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing