Housing: The government is working on a plan to build temporary houses to solve the housing crunch in Phuentsholing. Eight acres of land has been identified for the project.

Speaking at the Meet the Press yesterday, Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay said the temporary housing project is besides the National Housing Development Corporation (NHDC) housing projects. A committee is looking at what kind of houses and who would be building them.

However, the prime minister said the long-term solution of the problem lies in balanced economic development in all regions. “Job and economic opportunities should be created in all dzongkhags to avoid overcrowding of a few places,” he said.

With the establishment of dzongkhag thromdes in all dzongkhags, the prime minister said the opportunities will naturally spread in other dzongkhags as well. He said, there will be economic and job opportunities in all dzongkhags slowly with the establishment of thromdes.

Works and human settlement minister Dorji Choden said the housing problem in Phuentsholing, the second largest city of Bhutan, has been an issue for a number of years. She said a number of factors such as existence of industries and business establishments in and around the town aggravated the problem.

She informed that the NHDC is also undertaking housing projects to provide affordable houses in the town. The government has given Nu 250M to undertake low-income housing projects.

About 5,000 Bhutanese live across the border in Jaigaon.

The minister said the government has opened up the housing sector for private investors. “But the concern is that the kind of rental charges the private sector will come up with may not match the cheap rates they get across the border,” she said.  “But overall we are trying our best to solve the housing crunch in Phuentsholing.”

The Prime Minister said it is not advisable for Bhutanese to live across the border, as there are a number of concerns. The prime minister said, “It’s natural that people will reside across the border when there is are not enough houses in Bhutan.”

Lyonchoen also said that His Majesty The King also shares the concern on the housing concern in Phuentsholing.

Lyonchoen called for the private sector to come with housing projects. “The government alone cannot fulfill the needs of housing,” he said.  The government is looking at how it can encourage private individuals to construct houses with the least hurdles, he said.

MB Subba