Yangchen C Rinzin

Works and human settlement ministry would soon allocate Nu 19 million (M) to the local government (LG) for restoration of gewog connectivity (GC) roads.

The minister for works and human settlement, Dorji Tshering, said this while answering Drametse-Ngatshang member of parliament (MP) Ugyen Wangdi’s query on the government’s decision to handover GC roads to local government last year without any consultation.

According to the MP, GC roads were handed over without any budget for maintenance and restoration works.

He said most roads were damaged last summer. “Without budget to pay salary, laborers who work along the roads also had to leave their jobs.”

Ugyen Wangdi asked the minister if the government consulted or conducted studies before issuing the Cabinet order in May last year mandating LG to be responsible for construction, maintenance and operation of GC roads.

Lyonpo Dorji Tshering said roads were handed over as per the 12th Plan to decentralise and build the capacity of local government.

He said local government would receive separate budget and there should also be equal responsibility. “When the roads were handed to the ministry, we also didn’t receive the budget. So, there was no budget to handover to the local government.”

Lyonpo said the ministry has already worked with finance ministry and a total of Nu 25M has been estimated and allocated to the local government. “But there are few gewogs that are yet to receive the budget and those gewog officials should propose to the finance ministry to release the budget.”

He said they have been asking the gewogs to submit the proposal for the budget as per the rule.

Of the 205 gewogs, only three gewogs of Soe, Lingzhi and Lunana are without GC roads. The 23 GC roads, which were not blacktopped in the 11th Plan, would be blacktopped through funding from government of India.

Meanwhile, queries were also made on the status of the Shingkhar-Gorgan highway where the minister said that while the issue on the environment clearance is yet to resolve, the ministry would focus on the maintenance of three other roads that would benefit Lhuentse people.

“We’ll carry out the maintenance work on Ura-Lingmithang road, Gangula-Lhuentse road and Yongkola-Tsamang-Dorjilung where a bridge would be also constructed,” he said. “These would also shorten the travel to Thimphu and people should not only concentrate on the Shingkhar-Gorgan highway.”