The Department of Roads (DoR), under the Ministry of Works and Human Settlement on Friday 14th of April changed the controversial welcome sign by Project Dantak at the entrance of the Paro International Airport.
The new sign in the front now reads “Paro Dzongkhag Welcomes you to Bhutan” in English instead of the earlier ‘Dantak welcomes you to Bhutan’. The back says ‘Paro wishes you a happy journey’ instead of the earlier, ‘Dantak wishes you a happy journey.’ The change, therefore, has been made on both sides of the signboard.
The Dzongkhag translation of the earlier sign which is in smaller print below will also be changed soon.
The Ministry of Works and Human Settlement Secretary had written to Dantak around a year ago on the signboard but Dantak had not responded.
The Paro Dzongkhag Tshogdu around the same time had also raised the inappropriate nature of the gate of a foreign agency welcoming people to Bhutan. The Paro DT had said it violated both local government and road laws in place.
Dantak’s Chief Engineer responded to the issue in the media recently saying that it had not responded to the MoWHS letter and that the signboard was not offensive. This further inflamed public opinion in Bhutan.
With strong public opinion on the issue the situation became untenable for the elected government.
It has been learnt the DoR made the changes on late Friday evening and finished by early Saturday morning. Though some Dantak officials came to observe they did not say anything.
An official said that the MoWHS and DoR has already informed Dantak about the signboard around a year ago through the letter and now the necessary change was being made.
The official said that DoR had already made it clear to Dantak earlier that signs have to be put up with prior information and permission from DoR. He also said Dantak had been provided adequate notice through the letter from the Ministry and also recently with the public controversy.
The change in the signboard also comes a few days before the state visit of the Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed.