Roads: The detailed project report (DPR) for the 56km Shingkhar-Gorgan secondary highway is expected to be complete by October, confirmed Project DANTAK officials.

After the government approved the controversial Shingkhar-Gorgan secondary highway last year, the 36km highway that stretches from Shingkhar to Pephu was handed over to project DANTAK towards the end of 2014.

Before project DANTAK took over, the Department of Roads (DOR) had already cleared a 20km stretch from Pephu to Gorgan.  This farm road will soon be handed over to DANTAK.

Chief Engineer Brigadier Panchanathan, said that to carry out an accurate road alignment, DANTAK is using a new technology called LIDAR to get a clear idea of the amount of the work involved.

“This technology will also give a fair idea of the impact on the environment and to seek a way forward,” he said. “The DPR will then be submitted to Ministry of Works and Human Settlement (MoWHS) and other stakeholders for final verification and approval.”

The initial environmental impact assessment carried out by DOR is also being used as a basis to reconfirm the highway alignment. After the DPR gets approved, DANTAK will work on the estimates and submit it to MoWHS. Initial surveys were also carried out to find road alignment and technical parameters.

Brigadier Panchanathan said that blasting activities will not disturb the habitat of wild animals much because DANTAK will be using silent explosives.

Once complete, the formation width of the road highway will be increased to 7.5m and the blacktopped area will be 3.75m. The 20km farm road will be widened and blacktopped to meet the secondary highway specifications.

The road is included in the 2007-2027-road master plan, and it is also in line with the government policy of shortening the east-west highway distance. It is expected to shorten the distance from Lhuentse to Bumthang by almost a 100km.

Distance from Lhuentse to Mongar is expected to be shortened by about 30km. The road will be of immense benefit to travellers who will not have to pass through Thrumshingla that remains covered in ice during winter.

The highway is also expected to boost the economic situation of Lhuentse, which happens to be one of the poorest dzongkhags in the country.

However, about 10km of the road passes through the core area of Thrumshingla National Park (TNP), which is considered a habitat for Royal Bengal Tigers.

“Every possible measure will be put in place to leave minimal impact to the environment or animal habitats,” said Brigadier Panchanathan.

By Tshering Wangdi