Meeting: The Bhutan-India small development committee endorsed 104 new projects amounting to more than Nu 1.418 billion in the fourth batch of small development projects (SDP) yesterday.

This batch has new projects on development of the Thimphu landfill site, integrated vegetable market complex at Phuentsholing, integrated water resources use and management in Thimphu, and commercialisation of winter vegetable and early chilli production in Samdrupjongkhar.

Under the fourth batch of the 113 proposed projects, the approved 104 include black topping of gewog connectivity roads, construction of staff quarters, irrigation channels, motor vehicle bridges, water supply, farm roads, and permanent structures.

Gross National Happiness Commission director Thinley Namgyel said that these projects would have maximum impact on the development of local government and communities.

“Across the dzongkhags during the recent 11th Plan mid-term review meetings people have expressed appreciation and gratitude for the SDP projects,” Thinley Namgyel said.

The Indian government was represented by Deputy Chief of Mission of Indian Embassy in Thimphu, Bishwadip Dey while Thinley Namgyel led the Bhutanese delegation.

“A few good things that we would like to see continue is no time overrun or cost overruns of the projects,” Bishwadip Dey said.

He added that the communities must continue to involve in forming the projects and their monitoring.

He said that in India, boards with information on the project sites are installed to inform the communities and allow them to ensure the quality of works.

With the approval of these projects, a total of Nu 8.318 billion has been programmed out of the overall Government of India (GoI) commitment of Nu 8.5 billion for the SDP projects in the 11th Plan.

The remaining of a little over Nu 181.28M will be programmed in the subsequent SDP meeting in July this year.

The meeting also reviewed the progress of the first, second and third batch projects that were approved in March 2014, November 2014 and August 2015.

Gross National Happiness Commission officials said that the first batch of small development projects of the 11th Plan with GoI funding will be complete by June.

GNHC director Thinley Namgyel said as of yesterday 22 projects have been completed and the remaining 24 projects will be completed next month.

Of the Nu 1.424 billion approved for the first batch of projects, Nu 1.281 billion has been released. The GoI agreed to expedite the release of the balance final tranche release of Nu 142.419 million.

The committee members said there is a need of a good monitoring system and emphasised the importance of timely and effective implementation of the projects.

In total, 485 projects have been provided with a budget of a little more than Nu 6.909 billion which has been programmed out of the total of Nu 8.5 billion. As of yesterday, more than Nu 4.524 billion has been released for the three batches of projects.

Of Nu 3.125 billion approved for the second batch of 257 projects, about Nu 2.491 billion was released.

While 34 projects have been completed, 223 projects under this batch will be completed by mid 2017, GNHC officials said.

Of the 257 projects, three were dropped and therefore the approved cost after excluding them is Nu 3.115 billion.

GoI released Nu 751 million out of Nu 2.360 billion for the 182 projects in the third batch.  These projects are expected to be completed by end of 2017.

The Government of India has committed Nu 45B in the 11th Plan to Bhutan. It has committed Nu 28B for Project Tied Assistance, Nu 8.5B for Programme Grant and Nu 8.5B for Small Development Projects (SDP).

Tshering Palden