Chhimi Dema

Under the first phase of improving 201 farm roads (FR) with granular sub-base (GSB), only 35 farm roads were completed as of May. 

The Gross National Happiness Commission started the project in September last year.

Improvement of 164 FR is underway and two FR are in the tendering process. There are 2,232 farm roads in the country, measuring 9882.78km.

The National Council’s good governance committee will carry out a review to assess the conditions of farm roads, identify challenges and issues faced in the construction and maintenance of quality farm road.

The committee also aims to recommend the way forward to improve rural livelihood through sustainable and optimal utilisation of public resources.

During the interim review report yesterday, the committee chairperson, MP Sangay Dorji, said that farm roads were the most important public asset which stimulates growth and contributes to the socio-economic development of the country. “As farm roads connect the rural areas, they contribute towards enhancing regionally balanced development thus reducing the rural-urban migration.”

Phase I of the project will improve 201 farm roads covering a length of 1,564km.

MP Sangay Dorji said: “In the first phase of the project, one farm road for each gewog was prioritised based on resource availability (priority as identified by the local governments) and provided with the budget of Nu 1.66 million for 1km of GSB and drainage.”

He added that local governments had the flexibility to change the scope of the FR.  However, additional resources were to meet from the LG’s own Resource Allocation Formulation budget.

The second phase of the project will improve 572 farm roads with a length of 3,866km. A total of Nu 6.4 billion was allocated for it.

“Phase II will be rolled out based on the performance of projects under Phase I,” MP Sangay Dorji said, adding that the second phase was deferred till end of the monsoon.

In the 12th Five Year Plan, the government has allocated Nu 1.05 billion for the construction of new farm roads and gewog connectivity roads. And for maintenance works and laying base course (soling) Nu 4 billion was allocated.

The committee’s deputy chairperson, MP Surjaman Thapa, pointed out that the findings of the Royal Audit Authority showed that there was an execution of sub-standard works, non-rectification of damaged work, financial irregularities, irregular grant of time extension and delay in taking over of the completed FR works.

He said that the Guidelines for Farm Road Development was developed in 2013 and revised in 2019 to sustain rural livelihood and assist farmers and relevant stakeholders in implementing farm road plans and programmes were “yet to be fully materialised.”

The committee proposed to review budget allocation, permanent structures along the FR, environmental, social and economic impact. The committee is also to review the implementation status of FR guidelines.