Signage: More than 10 months after the works and human settlement ministry secretary wrote to the Border Road Organisation’s (BRO) Project DANTAK about a gate constructed within the road’s right of way in Bondey, Paro, local residents are raising concerns about a signboard in which project DANTAK welcomes visitors to the country.

Observations have been made that the signboard is inappropriate and that other donor agencies may do the same. A former local leader in Paro told Kuensel the issue was discussed during the Paro dzongkhag tshogdu in May 2016.

He said it was then discussed that it should be the dzongkhag administration and not project DANTAK that welcomes visitors to the dzongkhag.

He also said that having such signboards violates the rules and regulations specified in the road and the local government Acts.

“We have rules in place that states that the dzongkhag tshogdu and Department of Roads should regulate roadside signs, posters and billboards,” the former local leader said. “All signboards and billboards should be uniform and appealing to people.”

A Paro-based tour guide also said that having the signboard in Bondey is inappropriate since tourists, who see the signboard right after their arrival in the country ask them why DANTAK has to welcome them. “Its awkward,” the tourist guide said.

A retired bureaucrat said while everyone in the country appreciates what project DANTAK has been doing in the country, welcoming visitors and thanking people for visiting is not their mandate. “There are many such posts by project DANTAK along the Thimphu-Paro highway.”

The minister for works and human settlement, Dorji Choden, said the Department of Roads (DoR) has been asked to come up with uniform signboards throughout the country in accordance to the roads Act. “That should take care of that signboard.”

DoR’s director Karma Galay said they are working with the Bhutan Standards Bureau to standardise road safety symbols and signs.

The chief engineer for DANTAK, brigadier PKG Mishra said media should ignore the concerns of people and should not do the story. “We don’t respond too. I have not even responded to the letter MoWHS sent.”

He said that project DANTAK, as part of the Border Roads Organisation, is displaying the signboards as per the norms of BRO. “The content of the signboard is not offensive.”

Brigadier PKG Mishra also said comparing DANTAK to other donor agencies is not right, since DANTAK has been an integral part of the infra-structure development of this country since 1961 and has sacrificed 1,244 lives as of now. “No other donor agency can have similar claims.”

He also said comparing DANTAK to other donor agencies is inappropriate and insulting to those people who sacrificed their lives.

The chief engineer said the signboard in Bondey is an information board and DANTAK considers itself as an integral part of this country. “With outmost respect, regard, love and affection for the people, culture, tradition, flora and fauna of this great nation, welcoming visitors is a way conveying our love, affection and gratitude to this great nation.”

He also said DANTAK, is in no way, trying to convey the greetings in isolation.

He, however, did not answer if DANTAK will consider the concerns raised by locals and if DANTAK would remove the signboard.

He also did not respond on the procedure DANTAK follows in deciding the signboard and messages and if DANTAK needs to consult local agencies while putting up such signboards.

Tashi Dema