Concerns were raised that progress would be slow if Project DANTAK was awarded the work

Works and human settlement minister Dorji Choden said the road construction work from Shingkhar in Bumthang to Gorgan in Lhuntse would not be awarded to Project DANTAK. The Department of Roads (DoR) will construct the 56km road from Shinkhar to Gorgan.

The minister informed this during the National Council (NC) question hour on June 8. Sharing past experiences, the NC members raised concerns that the work progress would be affected if it were awarded to Project DANTAK like other projects.

The members shared that the bypass from Damchu, Phuentsholing to Thimphu highway construction is still not completed. It has missed several deadlines and created numerous problems to the public. The NC felt that it would face similar problems if Project DANTAK took up Shingkhar-Gorgan road construction work.

Council’s deputy chairperson and Haa’s representative, Tshering Dorji, said that although Project DANTAK is involved in construction of highways, it is still doubtful whether they would complete the work because the road construction from Chuzom to Haa Damthang is still not completed. “By observing this slow work progress, we’re doubtful of their capability and ability to take up such kind of work,” he said. “We should think twice before awarding the work and set the efficiency and quality of road high.”

Eminent member, Tashi Wangyel, said it was not just the poor work progress but it has also created inconvenience to people where labourers settle along the roadside for road maintenance.

He said today, Project DANTAK is working on the on-going Trashigang – Samdrupjongkhar highway construction, the East-West highway construction and the Chazam, Trashigang to Yadi in Mongar road, where work progress has been slow. “People have shown grievances on the quality of road and raised issues several times with regard to the highways.”

The members also pointed out that people believe that the slow work progress is intentional because the project is entirely dependent on the construction of roads where workers and staff receive allowances from the government of India.

Lyonpo Dorji Choden said that the earlier decision to award a part of work to Project DANTAK is now cancelled. The government and Project DANTAK had earlier jointly carried out an assessment from Shinkhar to Pelphu.

However, Lyonpo said that it was not sure when the construction for Shingkhar-Gorgan road would begin because the ministry is still waiting for the environment clearance from the National Environment Commission.

Once completed, the road would benefit the communities of Bumthang and Lhuntse where people need not have not to travel all the way from Sengkhor, Lingmithang, and Kuri Zampa in Mongar. They can travel directly from Chumey in Bumthang to Autsho in Lhuntse.

Yangchen C Rinzin