After 15 years since it first started as a flood mitigation project, work for the Phuentsholing township development project (PTDP) has begun. A salang tendrel for the first package (CW 01) of Zone A was held yesterday at the Amochhu site.

A total area of 162.88 acres will be made available for development in this zone. Works such as river training, embankment works, bank filling, and landscaping would be done under this first package of Zone A.

CDCL is the implementing agency and it has awarded the package to AFCONS Infrastructure Limited (AIL) in India.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the government are funding the 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.

At the salang tendrely esterday, CDCL CEO Phuntsho Gyeltshen said the contractor has already arrived at the site.

“They are in the process of mobilisation,” he said, adding that it is as good as the project has started. “We are confident they can deliver the job because the selection process has been done diligently.”

For the first phase, Phuntsho Gyeltshen said the contract period is for four and half years time. He also said there are two other concurrent packages.

Stressing on the delay in the commencement of the project, the CEO attributed funding process as the primary reason.

“For a project of this size, you first need to secure the funding,” he said, explaining that it was to do with a funding of about USD 60 million to USD 66M with just the Zone A.

Meanwhile, the construction companies that carried the dredging works for flood protection are still at the site. Phuentsholing thromde had given the construction companies the job to dredge and divert the river and the firms had taken up the job free of cost where the construction companies are allowed to export the dredged riverbed materials.

Although the construction companies were given a deadline of October 31 to move out, they are still there. “Now that we are starting the project, they will have to move out,” Phuntsho Gyeltshen said.

He said the project is by far the biggest urban development project in the country and it would certainly have huge development in the country, primarily because the project is in the commercial hub.

CDCL officials also said that the project would save Phuentsholing town from flooding. As the town has also reached its topographical limit of expansion, the project would give a new way for expansion. PTDP would also create more trade and business and create employment opportunities.

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

With all the Zones included, PTDP would have reclaimed about 1,146 acres of land. However, other Zones would start only after Zone A is completed, CDCL officials said. There are five zones in all. Zone C would have the highest land coverage of about 800 acres.

The township would have a new town on the reclaimed land, which would comprise of commercial, residential, special development areas, institutions, and recreation areas. The infrastructures that would be developed include road network, water supply and sewerage collection and treatment, power and telecommunication and flood warning system. The land would be given on lease.

PTDP was initially conceived as “Toorsa River Training & Flood Mitigation Project” in 2003.

The works and human settlement ministry and Phuntsholing Thromde with support from DANIDA (Danish International Development Agency) had initiated a pre-feasibility study in 2005 and submitted the report in 2007. This report did not take into account the Amochhu Hydro Power Project and required it be revised.

The Druk Holding and Investments (DHI) chairman Dasho Ugen Chewang, Tsugla Lopon Samten Dorji, DHI CEO Dasho Karma Yezer Raydi, officials from Construction Development Corporation Limited (CDCL), AFCONS, Phuentsholing thromde, and various government and private agencies attended the ground breaking ceremony.

Rajesh Rai  | Phuentsholing