In a major development, the permanent construction works on the first package of Zone A of the Phuentsholing Township Development Project (PTDP) in Torsa has begun.

Construction Development Corporation Limited (CDCL) shared the update at the stakeholders consultation meeting for the PTDP in Phuentsholing on January 24.

Under the river training works, construction of the diaphragm wall, which is its primary component, has started. A mechanised procedure would dig about 8.7 metres under the riverbed and a concrete wall would be constructed underneath.

A total area of 162.88 acres would be made available for development in Zone A. Works such as river training, embankment works, back filling, and landscaping would be done under its first package. CDCL is the implementing agency and has awarded the package to an Indian company, AFCONS Infrastructure Limited.

Project director Tshering Nidup told Kuensel, that the diaphragm wall would be 4.5kms long.

“We have started the work from the northern end where Zone B ends,” he said, adding that the works are in full swing.

At the site yesterday evening, AFCONS workers were busy with the construction of diaphragm wall. A hydraulic grab fitted with a crane excavates the rocks and stones from six to seven metres deep below the riverbed. If there are hard rocks below, AFCONS uses a customised machine called RH6 rig. Reinforcement works and concrete works are done later.

After the work of diaphragm wall is completed, works for outfalls, embankment and backfill, and promenade finish and landscaping under this first package would begin.

On the preparedness to the floods in summer, project director Tshering Nidup said the current alignment of the diaphragm is beyond the river.

“We have enough buffer between the diaphragm wall and the river,” he said, adding that temporary river diversion and protection is already in place as a buffer. “We will continue to retain them until the diaphragm wall is completed in that stretch.”

Meanwhile, there are about three construction companies that are lifting boulders and stones from PTDP’s Zone A area at Torsa. Rigsar Construction Company covers the maximum portion of the zone area.

As an emergency, Phuentsholing thromde awarded Rigsar and Chukha constructions the dredging works considering the flood risks in 2017. The company dredged the river and has stocked the materials at an embankment and currently exports it. Buddha construction is the other company that is also lifting the boulders.

As of now there is no problem with the works under township development.

Tshering Nidup said Rigsar is negotiating for a sub-contract work with AFCONS.

“If it is finalised, there wouldn’t be any problem,” he said, adding that Rigsar would be able to supply the materials to AFCONS. “But if the sub-contract deal does not happen and problem arises, we will have to inform thromde.”

Chukha construction has been given until March this year to lift all the materials in stock, while Rigsar has been given until November (11 months) deadline.

Beyond the project area boundary, towards Amochhu Bridge, there are two construction companies that are also lifting boulders, CDCL officials said.

Although there is no immediate hindrances because of these two companies lifting the boulders, Tshering Nidup said there are technical and cost implications in future. In case of a flood, CDCL is concerned that there would be problems downstream, where the project works are ongoing, due to activities upstream.

As per the Integrated Detailed Project Report (IDPR), 80 percent of materials required for the project are supposed to be taken out from the project area. CDCL, while preparing the IDPR, has also considered the entire area in totality—Zone A, B, C, D, and E, and had sought NEC clearance for five years from September 2017 to August 2022.

“As boulders are lifted, when the project really needs these materials, we may have to buy from outside at a higher price,” Tshering Nidup said, explaining that this would mean cost implication.

A forest official, meanwhile, told Kuensel there would not be problem of materials. “The down flow would again bring the materials in the next season,” he said.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the government are funding this project at a 70-30 ratio. ADB’s 70 percent has a grant of USD 24.26 million (M) and a loan of USD 28.74M.

Zone A has two more packages and a budget of about Nu 1B would be pumped in. Works such as road connectivity, drainage, water, and telecommunication fall under these packages.

With all the zones included, PTDP would reclaim 1,146 acres of land. Work on other zones would start only after Zone A is completed. Zone C would have the highest land coverage of about 800 acres.

Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing