The 10th and 11th plans share a common similarity of spending huge amounts on rural infrastructure with the aim of not only developing rural areas but also curbing rural-urban migration.
This huge expenditure is on account of a now outdated idea that people can be somehow convinced to stay back in the villages.
Rural-urban migration is here to stay and it will only increase in the coming years as Bhutan develops.
To expect educated youth brought up on the dreams of an office job to stay back in the village and do farm work is an unrealistic expectation. It is also uneconomical for our increasingly fragmented farms.
It is high time that more resources are concentrated in Bhutan’s rapidly growing urban areas with an ever growing need for even basics like drinking water and sanitation.
There is no point building big farm roads costing hundreds of millions in the middle of nowhere, with the road heading into empty villages abandoned by people who are actually in Thimphu and Phuentsholing.
However, this does not mean defunding our rural areas as important basics especially in the field of roads, water, power and agricultural inputs must be provided.
The 12th plan is an opportunity to give a major impetus to an inevitable future of a urban Bhutan. It may be too late if this is pushed to another future plan or if adequate priority is not given.
The absence of adequate plans and funds for urban development will not only lead to unplanned slum like developments but it will also negatively affect a growing majority of the country’s population increasingly residing in urban areas.
In urbanization, you think big because you are thinking decades ahead.
Kushal Pal Singh