Land: The Amochhu land reclamation project could begin by next year said works and human settlement minister Dorji Choden at the Meet-the-Press on July 7.

The Amochhu land reclamation project was conceived in 2003 to address growing congestion, housing problems and to create more commercial space in Phuentsholing which is reeling under a space crunch.

While areas in north and west Phuentsholing are unsuitable for constructions given instability, floods from the Amochhu every year have also been a rising cause of concern for the city’s residents.

“The Amochu Land Development and Township Project was therefore conceived originally in 2003 to construct river training structures to channelise the flow through a defined path thereby providing safety to the city infrastructure and properties,” states the DHI-INFRA write up on the project.

The reclamation project is expected to reclaim an estimated land of about 865 acres, of which 70 acres belong to private individuals.

But the National Council recently stated that the construction of the Samtse-Phuentsholing highway was hindered because of non-finalisation of the Amochhu land reclamation project raising questions on the progress of the reclamation works.

However, the minister said that the Amochhu land reclamation project is underway and that ground works are going to be completed in a few months. Lyonpo also said that the project’s preliminary studies and ground works are nearing completion. “The works on the Amochhu land reclamation project should begin from next year,” Lyonpo added.

She said that most of the studies would be completed by September end this year. The project will start its procurement works once the studies are completed.

The Asian Development Bank is funding both the 3.3km Phuentsholing-Samtse highway stretch from Chamkuna-Phuentsholing and Amochhu land reclamation project.

On the 3.3km stretch of the Phuentsholing-Samtse highway from Chamkuna, the minister said that the construction of a river protection wall is important since it runs on the riverbed.

The ministry worked out an estimate on whether it is viable to construct just the road or if the road should be constructed along with the project. “Asian Development Bank’s study found out that constructing just the road would incur huge expenses of USD10 million just for 3.3km,” Lyonpo said. “The ministry therefore held a talk with the Cabinet to integrate the construction of road with the Amochhu project for its construction viability.”

The ministry is also in the process of holding talks with DHI-INFRA, the finance ministry and works and human settlement ministry on how the road and the project should be approached.

But the minister said that it is not like the road won’t be opened until the land reclamation works begin. “We will start as soon as the clear mandates are drawn between the project and the Department of Roads,” Lyonpo Dorji Choden said.

Tempa Wangdi