Infrastructure: Memories of the terrifying Barsachhu flood of 2000 were refreshed this year in July when heavy and continuous rainfall caused the river to swell once more.

Rain raised the water level higher than most people expected. Many, especially the tenants of industrial establishments such as Bhutan Ferro Alloys Ltd (BFAL) and Bhutan Carbide & Chemicals Ltd (BCCL) had to evacuate to higher ground for safety and sleep elsewhere.

However, this scenario should not repeat. Two flood protection works have been initiated along the Barsachhu. While the works have already started, an official inauguration was conducted yesterday.

These two projects are under the Least Developed Countries (LDC) funding of the National Adoption Program of Action (project) II coordinated by the UNDP’s Global Environment Facilities (GEF).

M/s Jamtsho Construction is working on both the projects which are expected to be completed by July next year.

Under the first project, a 170m long gabion wall will be constructed on the right bank of the Barsachhu besides the industrial colonies of Pasakha. A fund of Nu 24.19 million (M) has been allocated for this project.

“This will protect the colonies of BFAL and BCCL,” the national project engineer from the Phuentsholing thromde, Gautam Thapa said.

More than 265 tenants of BFAL and BCCL in Pasakha will benefit from this protection work.

An employee with BFAL, Kencho Pelden said that people had almost forgotten about the Barsachhu flood in 2000. “It was surprising to see the river swell this year in July,” he said.

Cheku Gyeltshen and AR Gurung, employees of Bhutan Sillicon Metal Private Ltd (BSMPL) also welcomed the new protection measures. “The water level was about to touch the bridge this year in July,” Cheku Gyeltshen said. “People had to run to safer places.”

The second project is a 240m long gabion wall on the left bank of the river. This will protect industries such as BFAL, BCCL, and BSMPL.

A funding of Nu 48.67M has been allocated for the project.

Tenants in the colony hope that the first project will be completed by June next year, before the onset of monsoon.

Meanwhile, there is another NAPA II project in Phuentsholing that involves slope stabilisation and protection works at the Rinchending Checkpoint and Reldri High School.

The work has been awarded to a Japanese construction firm M/s Marushin Shitaka in joint venture collaboration with a local firm M/s Yangkhil Construction.

The area below the Rinchending Goenpa and the areas below the town’s old hospital are also undergoing landslide protection measures. About 30 percent of these landslide protection measures have been completed, thromde officials said.

Phuentsholing thrompon Uttar Kumar Rai attended the inauguration ceremony yesterday.

Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing