Infrastructure:  Work on the construction of an international border check post in Nganglam dungkhag remains suspended since September last year following a technical glitch.

A dungkhag official said this was because of a dispute that erupted between the contractor and the Pemagatshel administration. The dispute is still being arbitrated by the Construction Development Board (CDB) and is yet to be resolved.

The border gate located at Potonala will stand between the Indian state of Assam and Nganglam.

The issue was submitted to CDB by Samphel Drukpa Construction after dungkhag officials refused to approve the bill claimed by the contractor for carrying out excess work.

The work was awarded to the contractor in April last year.

The Nganglam dungpa said that sometime in July it was found that excess work was carried out without the prior approval of the dungkhag administration, which should have been sought as per norms.

But the contractor claimed they had approval although there was no “evidence” to prove it.

“Since we didn’t approve any excess work, the administration rejected the bill. The case, after it was reported to CDB, has been forwarded to the home ministry and we’re waiting for their response.”

Officials said apart from the dispute, the work was also prolonged because of technical issues like underground water and pit holes that need river protection walls, without which, the issue won’t be solved.

The seasonal river at the Potonala also initially disturbed work during the monsoon with the swollen river entering the construction site.

The integrated border gate worth Nu 34.5 million is the first of its kind in the country. It was supposed to have been completed in 36 months.

The gate is expected to improve service delivery systems. As per the structural plan, the integral check post will consist of main entry and exit gates, a six-lane road, a truck parking and a one-storey house for BAFRA, immigration, police, forest and customs  counters. The gate will also have CCTV cameras.

The current police check post records more than 200 trucks, excluding small and medium vehicles, carrying local cement from Dungsam, and coal and other materials from India.

The delay has irked residents because the present road that people use from Potonala till the current Nganglam check post and then to the Nganglam town, is already pockmarked with potholes and is worsening.

But if the integrated gate is completed on time, the residents can use a newly constructed bypass, which is currently closed. It will be opened to traffic only after the new check post is completed.

A resident said driving on the road has become treacherous and their complaints have reached nowhere.

However, the dungpa said the roads department may start maintenance of the current road, from the town to the high school, as soon as budget is acquired. This has to be done to prevent health issues arising from dust.

Meanwhile, despite several attempts, Kuensel could not contact the contractor.

Yangchen C Rinzin | Samdrupjongkhar