Seven years after work began, construction of the Damchu – Chukha bypass missed its fourth deadline last month.

According to the latest report from Project DANTAK that was shared with the works and human settlement ministry, the two ends of the bypass have converged connecting the entire length of the Damchu-Chukha bypass. However, work on lowering of the formation cutting to connect it to the existing Thimphu-Phuentsholing highway is still on-going.

Project Dantak had assured Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay during his visit to the site in November 2016 that the construction of the 29.2km bypass would be completed by June 2017. The construction of two bridges would be completed by December this year.

“Project DANTAK has told me that the road would be readied for inauguration by June 2017,” Lyonchoen had told Kuensel earlier.

Works and human settlement minister, Dorji Choden, said that according to the report, there has been progress and the formation cutting has been completed. She said the Project is working on lowering the level of the road to the existing highway by benching down.

“The difficult part of the construction has been completed, now they will have to widen the road to make it pliable, which is still on-going,” lyonpo said.

The two ends of the bypass were connected towards the end of May last year. However, Lyonpo said work on the construction of bridges would spill over to the third quarter of 2018.

Although the ministry receives a monthly progress report on the on-going projects under Project DANTAK, officials said, the report doesn’t mention the definite date for completion. “It is still uncertain when the bypass would be complete,” Lyonpo Dorji Choden said.

The construction’s progress was impeded after it hit over a kilometre of rocky cliff above Theckchen Zam, located around half a kilometre from the existing Phuentsholing-Thimphu highway.

The construction of Sirupa Chu Bridge has been completed while 73 percent of the construction of Jangtalungchu Bridge and 39.50 percent of the Tanalungchu Bridge has been completed as per Project DANTAK’s June 20 report.

However, the construction of a 50 meters long bridge at Damchu at 131.150km on the Phuentsholing-Thimphu highway was completed in 2015 at a cost of Nu 47.148 million.

The formation cutting has been completed by almost 106 percent while blacktopping by almost 91 percent according to the report.

The construction of the bypass started on March 19, 2010. The bypass would reduce the Thimphu – Phuentsholing highway by 19.5km. The revised cost of the project is Nu 2,803.4 Million.

The initial date for project completion announced during the groundbreaking ceremony held at Damchu was December 2013. In 2011, Project DANTAK informed the Department of Roads (DoR) that the project would be completed by 2015.

Later Project Dantak again informed the DoR that it would be completed by December 2016 while three bridges would be completed by December 2017.

However, according to the report, Project DANTAK again changed the deadline and informed the ministry that it would complete the road works by June 2017 while the bridges would complete ‘slightly later than that.’

The delay in the realignment has been criticised by residents and commuters.

Project DANTAK officials asked Kuensel to obtain permission from the Indian Embassy for them to speak to the media. Embassy officials then asked Kuensel to obtain information from the works and human settlement ministry.

In an earlier interview with Kuensel, Project DANTAK’s chief engineer, Brigadier PKG Mishra said that the road would be completed by June 2017. “I am sure that as I earlier declared I will be opening this road by June 2017,” he had said.

Yangchen C Rinzin