The suspension of South-South National Highway’s construction is not because of external pressure and definitely not the government of India, the Prime Minister clarified.
Rather, Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay said that it was because internal security is given due importance. “Some people say GoI don’t want this road,” he said. “If it’s true we would not have built Jomotshangkha-Samrang and Nganglam – Dewathang roads. Kidnapping and records of militants has been an issue.”
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) was to finance the project initially. Under this project, foreign contractors are also invited to participate in the tender.
“We do not want to take this risk especially when foreign contractors were involved,” Lyonchhen said.
He said that the highway would not be constructed at a cost of the country’s security and not at a time when security is still a concern.
This is why the Jomotshangkha-Samrang road is domestically financed. However, the local contractors are already requesting for security. “We are building this road from domestic resources, carefully and slowly.”
Regarding the Gyalpoishing – Nganglam highway, the agriculture minister Yeshey Dorji said that stiff cliffs are posing a major challenge. However, the formation cutting has been almost completed and bridge at the confluence of Kuri Goongri, and Dangmechu is due. Black topping would be completed by June 2018.
Due to security issues, Lyonpo Yeshey Dorji said that the plans of Dewathang-Nganglam highway are not discarded but would be pursued at a favorable time.
At the moment, the Dewathang-Nganglam road is constructed as feeder road with re-alignment to benefit the people.
The feeder road will pass through Chokhorling gewog centre to Dongdungma via Bahudar and Khanatsho .
As of now, the 6KM feeder road until Dongdungma has been completed and about 11 km is due. Thereafter, he said the Dewathang road will have to be maintained and two bridges have to be constructed.
The initial plan of the highway was aligned through the forest. “The people in the community deserves the road and realignment was done to take the road through villages,” he said.
However, one portion of the South-South Highway, from Sarpang to Lhamoizingkha is still not safe. Lyonchhen said that there is still occasional movement of miscreants reported in that area. “We are monitoring the situation carefully,” he said.
Meanwhile, the South-South National Highway is expected to connect Samtse and Samdrupjongkhar with internal road network. Most part of this road was initially supposed to be a SASEC project under ADB funding.