MTR: Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay assured the people of Lhuentse that construction of the much-awaited and controversial Shingkhar-Gorgan highway will commence this year.

The road is awaiting clearance from the forest and park services department. Lyonchoen said that he will look into the reasons why the clearance was delayed and if the road is not illegal, work should start this year. Lyonchoen was responding to a question from the Lhuentse dzongdag, Sonam Wangyel who raised the issue during the 11thPlan mid-term review meeting yesterday.

After the government approved the controversial Shingkhar-Gorgan secondary highway last year, the 36km highway that stretches from Shingkhar to Pephu was handed over to project Dantak towards the end of 2014.

Before project Dantak took over, the Department of Roads (DOR) had already cleared a 20km stretch from Pephu to Gorgan.

Once complete, the formation width of the road highway will be increased to 7.5m and the blacktopped area will be 3.75m. The 20km farm road will be widened and blacktopped to meet the secondary highway specifications.

About 10km of the proposed road passes through the core area of Phrumshingla National Park (TNP), which is considered a habitat for Royal Bengal Tigers.

Meanwhile, Lhuentse dzongkhag highlighted two problems during the review. Officials said that they have exceeded the production target of cauliflower and cabbage. But without market, villagers were losing interest in producing the two vegetables.

Another problem was the production of chicken. As a religious dzongkhag, the dzongdag said that people were not keen on running poultry farms. The dzongkhag didn’t meet the chicken production target. They produced only 1.63metric tonnes (MT) of the 4MT target.

Dzongdag Sonam Wangyel requested the government to drop the chicken production target.

The dzongkhag had achieved most of its target in crop production. The dzongkhag produced 1,385MT of potatoes against a target of 182MT. Citrus production exceeded by about 100MTand barley exceeded by 0.4 MT. Rice production target exceeded by 22MT while wheat production is short of 10MT and chili by 20MT.

On their way to Lhuentse, Lyonchoen and the delegates visited Takila where the Rinchen Terdzoe blessing and lung is ongoing presided by Jamyang Khentse Rinpoche. They offered Ku Sung Thukten Mendrel in the morning yesterday.

Tashi Phuntsho, Lhuentse