To bring together policies, plans and programmes of different agencies including the private sector in the country, the works and human settlement ministry is in the process of formulating a comprehensive national development plan (CNDP) for Bhutan.

The CNDP would address issues such as rural-urban migration and regional imbalances in development through national spatial plan, national land use and action plan. The plan, which is being drafted with support of JICA Bhutan, would look into addressing the two most important issues, rural-urban migration and regional migration, and social disparity in the development between the regions.

The ministry’s regional and rural planning division’s chief urban planner, and the project manger of the CNDP, Chhado Drukpa, said going by the GNH index, there are differences in happiness between rural and urban areas. “Poverty level is still high in rural areas while urban people are happier and richer.”

He said that birth rate is high in the eastern part of the country while the population growth rate is high in the west, which indicates that people are migrating to the west.

Chhado Drukpa said CNDP would come up with a regional spatial plan where it will divide the regions for the purpose of development, give directives, strategies and action plan to address these issues.

He said there are three phases where phase I, which looks into analysing the existing situation, identifying the problems, priorities, gaps in policies, and agencies has been completed.

Phase II, which is also completed, would look into agreeing on the development alternatives through a consultation process with 22 working group members from all the agencies, 10 members steering committees, core group members and JICA project team comprising of expertise.

“However, we’re yet to finish the phase III, which is about the land use plan. The final draft will have development guidelines and priorities.”

The project, which began in January 2017, is expected to complete its draft in December this year provided the ministry receives all the information required.

He said that Population and Housing Census of Bhutan (PHCB) report is critical to formulate and shape the CNDP.

“A lot of the projections we have carried out is based on the 2005 PHCB but the 2017 PHCB is important. Our deadline would also depend on when NSB would release the report.”

The project, which would act as a national plan for holistic planning would be first approved by the steering committee before proposing it to GNHC and then to the cabinet.

Meanwhile, as a part of the project, a seminar was also held yesterday where the president of the Toyohashi University of Technology based in Japan, Takashi Onishi, shared the successful experience of national development plans in Japan.

“Monitoring and evaluation are very important, which should be included in the plan because often the government is good at planning but never looks back if it was successful,” he said. “Judging the effectiveness of the plan is as critical.”

Yangchen C Rinzin