YK Poudel

The Bumthang Valley Development Plan (BVDP) has come to the limelight after years of delays. Infrastructure designs and development works will be carried out by 2025.

What is BVDP really?

The Chamkhar town, which was supposed to be relocated, has still remained even after decades of planning. The present Chamkhar town lies along the Chamkharchhu and a major portion of it lies in the flood Red Zone.

Chhoekhor-Tang MP, Kuenzang Thinley, asked about the status of the new town and budget allocation, to which the Minister of Infrastructure and Transport (MoIT), Lyonpo Chandra Bahadur Gurung, said that in the fiscal year 2024 and 2025, the ministry would assist the dzongkhag administration in preparing infrastructure designs for the three Local Area Plans—Dekiling, Jalikhar, and Chamkhar.

The present Chamkhar town lies along the Chamkharchhu and a major portion of it lies in the flood red zone ares

“BVDP was prepared by the ministry in collaboration with the city of Zurich, Switzerland, between 2012 and 2013 and was approved on September 19, 2014,” Lyonpo said. “Subsequently, three local area plans (LAPs) were prepared and approved in 2015. The demarcation of the three LAPs was carried out in 2017 by the department of human settlement, the national land commission, and Bumthang Dzongkhag Administration, and the plan was released for implementation.”

The ministry, Lyonpo said, continued to assist the dzongkhag administration during the implementation of the BVD Plan by carrying out activities such as reconfiguration of plots, assessment of properties, and sourcing of funds from the finance ministry.

The dzongkhag administration carried out infrastructure works such as roads, footpaths, street lighting, and water supply, among others so far.

 “The finance ministry allocates a separate budget for the Local Governments as a Block Grant. At the same time, the ministry will continue to assist the dzongkhag in mobilising resources to implement the urban plans,” Lyonpo said.

The project initiated in 2015, has not achieved much outcomes.

According to the shop owners at Chamkhar, even after decades of town relocation plans through the LAPs, just a little has progressed. “The number of shops and permanent structures in the town has been increasing.”

As per the notice from the dzongkhag administration, the land lease agreement expired in September 2023 and the business people were supposed to move towards the three LAPs. Nothing has happened so far, however.

Dhan Raj Rai, a shopkeeper said that relocation would not be a problem for shopkeepers as long as the LAPs are ready with the basic amenities set-up.

Similarly, Om Nath Khatri, a businessman, said that without proper facilities in place, making people relocate would be cumbersome. “The LAPs are being developed slowly. We expect that the residents here will be benefitted well with basic facilities in place on time.”

BVDP has been incorporated with abundant open green spaces, green corridors, cycle tracks, recreation areas, walkways and stream buffers with plantations.