The route to a road

PM says rules have to be followed

 Usha Drukpa, Thimphu

During question hour on June 16, 2017, the National Assembly (NA) Member of Parliament (MP) from Gangzur-Menji, Lhuntse, Karma Rangdol questioned the Prime Minister (PM) about the Shingkhar-Gorgan road. The MP said that the National Assembly unanimously endorsed its approval in the second session. However, even as the ninth session is about to complete, nothing has happened. The MP sought clarifications from the PM.

In reply, the PM said that the Ministry of Works and Human Settlement (MoWHS) is closely working with the National Environment Commission (NEC). As per the latest understanding, the meeting between MoWHS and NEC, Shingkhar to Pephu should have a revised Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) report done. The report should be prepared using Primary Data and not Secondary data. The Report that the government today has been prepared using secondary data, which is the data generated for the Thrumsengla pass areas.

The NEC has maintained that only with the revised EIA report they will be able to give their informed decision or the NEC clearance to be specific. The PM said that accordingly, the Department of Roads is in the process of revising the EIA report. In addition, the PM said that works cannot be done at ones whims and fancies. There are rules framed by the NEC and other agencies concerning construction of roads, which has to be followed.

A brief picture of the road scenario was also presented.  The cost of the Northern East West Highway expansion project till completion under GOI funding is Nu.7.702 billion (including Nu.188.74 million through DoR force account those by Dantak). According to the Road Classification System Booklet launched on June 7, 2017, the length of the Primary Highway between Simtokha and Trashigang is 512 Kms. Currently, the distance from Semtokha to Lhuntsi  is 474 kms. Construction of the Shingkhar – Gorgan road would reduce the distance from 474 to 382.3 kms, which is a saving of 91.7kms. Similarly, currently, the distance Simtokha – Mongar road is 421kms. This distance would be reduced to 391.30 kms, thus saving 29.70 kms.

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