Chhimi Dema     

The government should prioritise the construction of bridges for the existing farm roads that are not yet connected, the Parliament decided yesterday.

The joint session of the Parliament endorsed it as a recommendation during the deliberation on the Review Report of Performance Audit Report on Farm Road Development and Management.

According to the Royal Audit Authority’s report, a total of 16 farm roads in 12 gewogs remained without provision for bridges.

The report stated that 19 farm roads from 13 dzongkhags constructed at the cost of approximately Nu 41 million remained abandoned due to non-functionality, alternate access, change of priorities, and lack of funds, among others.

The recommendation to consider prioritising the construction of bridges for the existing farm roads was endorsed following the members of parliament’s proposal for it during the joint session on December 5.

The new recommendation also requires the local government to carry out a pre-feasibility study including drawing and realistic budgeting for approval before the construction of any new farm road as per the Guidelines for Farm Road Development 2019.

The committee recommended Department of Roads (DoR) as per the Road Act of Bhutan 2013 review the strategic master plan, institutional arrangement, road classification system including GC, chiwog and farm road development, inventory management, maintenance and oversight role in ensuring quality management system of the farm roads in the country.

It also recommended DoR review the Guidelines for Farm Road Development, 2019, and rationalise the length of the chiwog and farm roads to be maintained by local government and road user groups. And DoR to take over the maintenance of gewog centre roads.

Chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), MP Ugyen Tshering, said that the committee could not agree on including the second recommendation on giving land replacement for the construction of farm roads because it would cause huge expenses for the government.

“The farm roads are constructed for the benefit of the farmers such as to access the market. Moreover, as per the guidelines for farm road development, there is no provision for giving land replacement while constructing farm road,” he said.