Update: Although marginal, the Amochu Land Reclamation Township (ALRT) project has started making some developments. While the project has acquired an in-principle clearance for land registration, the Druk Holdings and Investments (DHI) also has made some progress with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) for funding.

A senior DHI official said ADB has given an outlay of about USD 15 million. “However, it is at a preliminary stage,” the official said, requesting anonymity.

Its learnt that the World Bank, Exim Bank in India, and JICA are some of the agencies, DHI is looking for funding. However, the collaboration has to route through the government.

The official also said that the cabinet has given approval to DHI in terms of spawning funds. Although the government will not finance the project directly, DHI will approach development partners through this approval, it has been learnt.

Officials said DHI has also submitted a project report of a financing plan to the finance ministry. The ministry will first introduce the project to the development partners for potential outcomes.

A preliminary estimate of the project has also shot to Nu 10 billion from the initial Nu 9 billion.

“Since the financial requirement is so huge, the timeline is not going to be as we expected,” the senior official said, explaining that DHI’s expectation is to start some groundwork implemented by next year.

Officials said more than 60 percent of project work will be on river protection. The reclamation works would be carried out after river trainings are done.

Meanwhile, it is more than two months now since DHI had submitted a letter to the NLCS for land approval and registration.

Some private plots that fell under the reclamation project area were relocated without proper approval from the right authority. Although the cabinet had approved the project and DHI was figuring out the funding aspects, the reclamation and township projects are still awaiting a resolution on the land issue.

The implementing agency, DHI-INFRA, is evaluating the consultancy services of preparing an integrated detailed project report. The bid opening was carried out on June 22 this year.

It has been learnt that reclamation and township project area size is also likely to increase. The earlier project size of 865 acres as indicated by the study carried out by the Danish Hydraulic Institute, India based on the Google estimate will now be a total of 1,317.79 acres approximately.

This new size of the area is as per the detailed topographical survey carried out by the land commission recently. However, the size of the final project area will depend on the approval of land commission.

Meanwhile, the funding of ALRT project is a 70 percent debt and 30 percent equity-based. DHI will invest 70 percent of the total equity investments, while its subsidiary company, DHI-Infra will explore the remaining 30 percent.

With the project’s budget estimated at Nu 10 billion, the project will reclaim land along Amochu banks starting from Purbey until the international border downstream, and stretch about nine kilometers. The reclaimed area will be divided into three zones.

By Rajesh Rai, Phuentsholing