Alarmed with the cost overrun, the PM has directed DoR, GNHC and MoF to discuss  the issue

MTR: The Department of Roads (DoR) would require an additional budget of Nu 15,979M (million) to complete the construction and upgradation of roads and bridges for the 11th Plan.

During the Ministry of Works and Human Settlement’s mid-term review on September 10, lyonpo Dorji Choden said the increase in budget requirement from Nu 21,109M to Nu 36,632M was mainly because of increase in the allocation of road works.

“There was an overall increase of 38 percent on road and bridge works from the initial allocation,” she said.

The revised budget outlay after reprioritisation for the upgradation of North-East-West Highway (NEWH) alone is Nu 8,247.21M from the initial outlay of Nu 1,364.43M.  Construction and improvement of North-South-Highways needs an additional budget of Nu 2,565.22M.

For the construction and improvement of 106 km hydropower project roads including four bridges, the budget has increased to Nu 1,607.27M. Blacktopping gewog centre roads’ revised budget is Nu 5,683M.

However, budget for construction, upgradation and improvement of South-East-West highway has dropped from Nu 7,295.91M to Nu 5,788.81M.

DoR director, Karma Galay said the decline was because of four projects being either dropped or deferred. While the 60km Lhamoizhingkha-Sarpang road was dropped, Dewathang-Nganglam (68.3km) was deferred.

Construction of the 65km Gelephu-Panbang road worth Nu 1,221M and the 68km Samrang-Jomotsangkha road worth Nu 1,793M could not be started for lack of funds.

Of the six Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), DoR in the last two years has achieved three, while two are on track and one at risk. The target of reducing the travel time along the South-East-West highway from 46 hours to 30 hours may not be achieved as Dewathang-Nganglam road construction is deferred and Lhamoizhingkha-Sarpang highway is dropped.

From the initial outlay, about Nu 7B is yet to be released from the Government of India (GoI), which was one of the reasons for delay in road works.

“Quite often the progress of DoR’s projects are hampered due to delayed release of funds from the donors, mainly GoI,” the director said.

DoR requested the government to release the remaining 40 percent of the total outlay of Nu 7.284B for NEWH as its confident on completing work within the plan period.

Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay said that the cost overrun was alarming. To resolve it, lyonchoen said that the finance ministry, DoR and Gross National Happiness Commission should sit together and discuss.

However, other three departments of engineering services, human settlement and Construction Development Board has reduced Nu 456.63M from the initial budget outlay of Nu 5,000M.

With, eight KPIs achieved and 24 well on track of the total 36, work and human settlement ministry is confident to achieve all its targets for the 11th Plan.

Nirmala Pokhrel