Wangdue Dzong reconstruction may cost up to Nu 1bn and take till 2016

This is according to the initial estimates made by the Department of Culture which is the main government agency on Dzong construction and renovation 

Even before the smoke of Wangdue Phodrang Dzong fire was subdued there were calls for rebuilding from the citizenry and leadership alike.

The reconstruction of the Wangdue Dzong will be an expensive affair with the estimated reconstruction cost to be between Nu 700 mn to Nu 1bn according to Director General, Dorji Tshering of the Department of Culture (DoC) under the Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs (MoHCA). The construction time period according to him may be up to 2016 if not before that.

With the cost being a hurdle, the ministry will be seeking funds from international donors.

“The cost is going to be huge but we have goodwill wishes from many. We will be banking on support from outside sources and from the Government of India,” said the Home Minister, Lyonpo Minjur Dorji.

Director General, Dorji Tshering said that as of now that remaining 40% of the Nu 200mn Wangdue Dzong conservation project would be used for reconstruction. The amount he, however, stressed will in no way sufficient for the rebuilding of the Dzong.

The department sees hope as inquiries have already started pouring in and they expect more to follow in the coming days. Some UN offices have promised 50,000 USD or Nu 2.8mn as initial donation for the reconstruction and they have already started processing it.

At the same time the government is also making enquires. Although the department has not received any confirmations of support from the government, it expects them to come in the next few days.

According to Director General Dorji Tshering, the traditional architecture of the Dzong will be the same and the designing and structural works will be solely carried out by the department.  He said that the department does not want to take any chances, it will be working on the precise detailing and improvements will be done like the ones done at Taktsang Monastery and the Punakha Dzong.

Dorji Tshering said, “The improvised plans will be of an advanced stage of five to 10 years here on. We will not leave any stones unturned.”

He said works was already under way and that they had already deployed about 300 laborers at the site for clearing the debris to pave way for the reconstruction.

The department will also be doing the damage assessment and the documentation of the Dzong and its assets.

Dorji Tshering said they were planning to finish as soon as possible and hope to rebuild the Wangdue Dzong by 2016, and if things go as planned then maybe before that.

The Vice President of the Bhutan Institute of Architect, Rebecca Gurung said at the moment it will be difficult to come up with the exact cost estimation because an assessment will have to be carried out first.

“In my personal opinion, to restore the Dzong to its original form, I think the cost estimation might increase, owing to the scarcity of traditional materials, the prices of these materials have increased in recent times,” said Rebecca Gurung.

Lyonpo Minjur Dorji said administrative works and religious affairs will resume as normal, as the Dzongkhag office will be relocated and the monks will continue with the routine religious rituals at the Dzong’s courtyard.

The Works and Human Settlement minister who was the acting Prime Minister, Lyonpo Yeshey Zimba in his interview to the media said, “We will repair and bring it to its former glory. This is the one of the country’s biggest tragedies.”

The Prime Minister, Lyonchhen Jigmi Y Thinley affirmed the commitment of his government to rebuilding the Wangdue Dzong.

He said, “We the people of Bhutan have not lost but gained another opportunity to renew and further enrich our proud heritage. The people of ‘Shar Dhar Gye’ will have their Dzong again. So, like the indomitable will of the Bhutanese people and the fame of Palden Drukpa, Wangdue Dzong will rise again with greater glory and magnificence,” said the Prime Minister in his message to the people of Bhutan.”

Given the fact that in all the past major Dzong renovation works the Government of India was the main contributor the GoI’s contribution will be vital.

The Indian Ambassador Pavan K. Varma said, “No proposal has come but when it comes we take it up and see what is possible.” He said that the GoI had earlier given Nu 200mn under the 10th plan for the renovation of the Dzong. “I felt the loss of the Dzong personally and emotionally and that is why I went to Wangdue Phodrang to personally pay my condolences to His Majesty the King who was there.”

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  1. I hear Benninger is already in talks with the PM’s office.

  2. I am encouraged by Ambassador Pawan’s remarks. He seems to be a man who appreciates the value of our heritage and culture. GOI is our best donor partners. Wangduedzong should be given first priority over even the new pemagatshel dzong. Why not transfer the budget, time, efforsts and also man power of pemagatshel dzong which is not really an urgent necessity to the urgent need of the wangduephodrang dzong? Lets see which place is given more value and weightage by our government.

  3. I hear Benninger is long out of the country…

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