Affordable housing project to prioritise those residing across the border

The ongoing affordable housing project of 62 buildings with 506 units in the border town of Phuentsholing will give priority to Bhutanese people living across the border in Jaigaon.

Construction began in December 2016 after a special committee, chaired by finance minister, identified 10 locations in Phuentsholing consisting of 12.56 acres of land. The project has a deadline of June 2018. “Nine sites are within the Phuentsholing Thromde while one site is at Pekarzhing, on the way to Pasakha, under Phuentsholing Drunkghag,” said NHDCL CEO, Thinley Dorji.

He said NHDCL availed a loan of Nu 890 million from NPPF, with a sovereign guarantee period of 20 years, for the project. The whole amount will be treated as shareholder’s equity.

The rents will be subsidised and target middle and low income groups. The interest component of the loan for the project will be paid through the rent while the remaining will be paid through rental subvention, which will be paid by the government.

Of the total, seven private contractors are executing 41 buildings and the department is building 21 buildings. “We have given 41 buildings to private contractors to give them the opportunity and to facilitate them with the construction development. We are also executing departmentally as we want to gear up our construction capacity and for own sustainability.”

He said that NHDC is basically trying to ease the pressure of housing problems in Phuentsholing and first priority will be given to those residing across the border based on a criterion that will be developed.

He said that if there are more than 1,000 people residing in Jaigaon, then they will prioritize in the sense that they will see the number of people in a family and whether the person applying has a permanent job in Phuentsholing or not, among other things.

The apartments are of two categories: 4 and 3. Category 4 has two bedrooms, a sitting room, a kitchen and a toilet including a balcony and category 3 is of bigger space with two bedrooms, a sitting room, a kitchen, two toilets and a balcony.

According to the CEO category 4 will cost not less than Nu 10,000 a month as a private apartment. “We have not decided the rent, however, if we work out with the existing rent, category 4 will be around Nu 3,200 a month and Nu 5, 200 a month for category 3,” he said.

NDHC has already started receiving applications, which has crossed 1,000. “Not everyone who has applied will get an apartment,” the CEO said.

He also said that applications from those who fall under floating population and those residing within Phuentsholing will not be accepted.

“We know that people who fail to meet the criteria will make noise on the procedure and they will make a hue and cry over the allotment. Nevertheless, when we are carrying out an allotment we are going to involve all the relevant stakeholders for fair allotment,” he added.

For this particular project civil servants, private employees, corporate employees, drivers and industry employees can apply for housing.

The project is expected to be completed 2 to 3 months ahead of schedule and all contractors will be handing over the work before April 2018 without compromising the quality.

“We told the contractors that if they finish ahead of time, say two months, they can collect the rent for two months as an incentive,” the CEO said.

However, buildings executed departmentally will be completed by June as they started the construction 3 months after work was awarded to the private contractors.

For now NHDC is validating applications and documents they have received. “There are several people applying from the same family because they feel that if one does not get it the other might. But we will cross check all the ID cards and associated details and for that we have deployed a separate team”, he added. “This project will somehow ease the housing scarcity in Phuentsholing.”

Apart from that this project NHDCL has another project with six buildings of 48 units. The project will be completed by February and only civil servants are eligible.

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