Wangdue dzong construction well in progress

The overall work is painfully slow, posted the prime minister

Heritage: In a simple ceremony last week, project officials of Wangduephodrang dzong reconstruction project, installed the main door and two rabseys of the kuenray, an indication of the work progress.

The progress, however, didn’t impress Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay, who visited the construction site a few days after the ceremony.  Following the visit, lyonchhoen posted on Facebook: “The good news is that the main door and two ‘rabseys’ of the Kuenrey are now up. The bad news is that the overall progress is painfully slow.”

Project officials at the site, when asked, said that, as per the work plan, the reconstruction progress isn’t that slow.  They admitted, though, that the four-storied utse (central tower) construction works are yet to start.  This is because the department of culture is yet to finalise what is feasible for the utse.

“The department is scheduled to finalise the utse construction within two months time,” said project officials.  They said the three-storied kuenray construction took off only in September, although the overall works were started since February, last year.

Project director, Kinley Wangchuk said last month that the department of culture had held a three-day conference on Wangdue dzong reconstruction, inviting experts from India, Canada and Portugal, and structural engineers from within the country.

The recommendations of experts were presented at the steering committee of the project on January 24.  Based on that recommendation, the culture department is working on how to go with the utse construction, keeping in mind its structural and cultural component.

The department will also see what is feasible, in terms of structural analysis, seismic designs, fire protections, plumbing and sewerage.

As of today, the project director said that 40 percent of the kuenray construction works were complete.  They have completed the ground floor, and about 50 percent of the first floor.  The adjoining buildings, on the left and right side between the kuenray and utse, have come up to the courtyard level.

The kuenray is only one of 10 parts of the entire dzong that face the end part of Wangdue river.

The project director said 70 percent timber works for the kuenray is completed.  Timber and stone for both the utse and kuenray were collected and kept in stock, and the wood carving works for the kuenray is in full swing, he said.

The project director said that several retaining walls have to be constructed on the left and right side of the kuenray and utse, as recommended by the department of geology and mines.

More than 320 workers, 23 open-air prisoners and 30 carvers are working on the kuenray construction.

The 17th century fortress that used to house more than 200 monks was completely destroyed in a fire in June 2012.  The government had mobilised Nu 1.3B, through various channels, to fund for the dzong’s reconstruction.

Reconstruction works on the dzong is expected to complete in 2018.

By Dawa Gyelmo,  Wangdue

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