Dechen Dolkar  

During a National Assembly question-and-answer session, Member of Parliament (MP), Passang Dorji (PhD), from Bartsham-Shongpgu constituency, voiced concerns about the status of the government’s feasibility study regarding the establishment of an international airport in the eastern region.

He emphasised the need for an international airport in the east to promote regionally-balanced development, considering the region’s high population.

In response, Lyonchhen Dr Lotay Tshering said that feasibility studies have been conducted in Pongchula, Mongar.

Lyonchen explained that the studies indicated that Pongchula has approximately 900 metres of runway, while a minimum of 1,200 to 1,300 metres is required for an international airport.

Achieving this would necessitate mountain-cutting and the construction of retaining walls, incurring significant expenses.

Lyonchen said that three other potential airport locations have been identified in Trashigang. However, establishing an airport in these areas would require the relocation of villages. Additionally, experts from outside the region would need to stay at the location for at least one year to study factors such as daily wind direction and humidity.

Lyonchhen  informed the assembly that the further feasibility study for an international airport in the eastern region is included in the 13th five-year plan.

MP Tenzin from Khatoed-Laya requested Lyonchen to initiate a hydropower project in Gasa, given the potential of powerful rivers flowing from Laya and Lingzi.

Lyonchen acknowledged the feasibility of a hydropower project in Gasa. However, he explained that immediate construction is not possible due to the ongoing Punatsangchu I and II projects, which rely on the river basin flowing from Gasa.

These projects must be completed and the river force assessed to avoid any impact on Punatsangchu I and II, Lyonchen said.

Lyonchen also noted that Lunana is the only gewog in the country without electricity. As a solution, the government, he said,  is finalising plans to provide solar grid energy to villages in Lunana with the highest population in a phased manner.