Although satisfied with his performance, Gelephu thrompon Namgay believes its time for a more dynamic leadership to occupy the hot seat

Q&A: Would you re-contest in the upcoming Thromde elections? Why?

I have decided not to re-contest in the upcoming Thromde elections. I have given my best for the last five years in shaping the urban form. The dynamics of urban functions, its complexities are ever on the rise with increase in population and size. Hence, it is time for a more abler and dynamic leadership to occupy the hot seat and experience the challenges.

What according to you are some of the significant achievements in the Thromde after you assumed office?

The Gelephu Thromde then in 2011 was fairly new and there were lots of challenges starting from the inadequate working space, lack of professional manpower, disarray in the services we provided, insufficient funds and above all the moratorium imposed on all plot owners to halt building constructions. Today, we have:

• Constructed an ambient working space, accommodating all staff and established service standards, procedures and turnaround time

• Enhanced revenue from Nu 8 million in 2011 to Nu 30 million in 2014

• Developed Tax User Interface in-house

• Framed Development Control Regulations 2013 in-house

• Reviewed Structure Plan 2005 in-house

• Land disputes and problems solved for Urban Core, LAP-I, LAP-II and extended areas after which the plots were released for construction.

During the Thrompon election, you pledged that your office would make Gelephu a model town. The town more or less is still the same. What happened?

It may be ignorance on your part to not know that Gelephu has transformed to a large extent if you revisit Gelephu 2011.

The vision of Gelephu itself is to be a growth centre with ample of inter-linked green open spaces for leisure and sports. I am happy to say that we are on track to achieve all these objectives given the rapid pace of development during my tenure.

We have expanded our services and constructed drainages by maintaining the natural gullies to combat incessant rains and flooding. The places have become more secure with streetlights. Waste management has been outsourced, expanded and well managed for which we have been showered with appreciation by visitors that Gelephu is the cleanest city in Bhutan.

LAP-III, LAP-IV and Industrial Service Centre (ISC) has been prepared and completed. The final demarcation and revalidation by National Land Commission is underway after which plots shall be released for constructions. In addition, LAP-5 has already started and we are left with just one more LAP to cover whole of the urban area as we await the relaxation of ‘No Construction Zone’, a security buffer provisioned in the Namkhaling area.

Any urban development is gradual as it gains its form and shape. However, Gelephu’s development pace has been so lightening fast that we are left with just one Local Area Plan before we expand our urban boundary in 2018. This couldn’t have happened without funding from government, support of our hard working staff and cooperation of the property owners. Hence, I am proud, satisfied and pleased to inform that many positive developments have happened within a short period of my tenure.

You had also promised proper drainage system in Namkhaling village but it continues to flood during monsoon?

There are drainage provisions and protection of natural gullies as per the Structure Plan of Gelephu. In compliance to it, we are also keeping the required buffer from streams, rivers, natural gullies and drainages to maintain certain setbacks to avoid the risk of buildings getting flooded.

With regard to the drainage in question, the detention pond to mitigate the existing flooding is underway at Namkhaling. The work awarded to detention pond to a tune of Nu 11 million is to collect the surface run-off from airports and other areas for certain period of time and then discharge downstream in a controlled manner. The work is underway and is expected to complete before the onset of monsoon. For proper flood away channel downstream, we are also planning to construct huge drains that will connect detention pond and the existing drainage located at the Boulevard Road.

What is the most challenging part of being a Thrompon?

Having to deal with a variety of complexities, maintaining urban form, gathering public consensus and above all to make the right choice, provide sound judgment and decision-making. Retaining professional manpower was also a challenge given the fact that we are not able to incentivize the professionals adequately.

What is the biggest problem in Gelephu Thromde that needs attention today?

Public awareness and support is very much crucial for Thromdes to grow and self sustain. Since the nature of Thromde’s job is very much imposing and regulatory, people’s cooperation in abiding by the laws, rules, regulations etc would provide more time for our professionals/officials to think bigger and plan better.