The Eastern Development Initiative (EDI) identified and prioritized Kanglung, Nganglam and Gyalpoizhing as the regional growth centers based on multi-criteria analysis which include poverty rate, rural-urban migration, land, spatial location, water, existing strategic infrastructure, economic base and potential for growth, environment, social impacts and impact on agriculture land.
The EDI is part (see main story) of the government’s larger and comprehensive development plan for Eastern Bhutan.
Nganglam has been identified for its strategic location within 1 day’s reach to the 6 eastern Dzongkhags and parts of central Bhutan and its proximity to India and Bangladesh, because of which there is high potential for setting up a dry-port for customs clearance.
It also has viability for agro and fruit business given its location. The existence of a large stretch of cultivable land and favorable sub-tropical climate to produce pineapple, passion fruit, mandarin, banana and sugarcane on large scale and its close proximity to India and Bangladesh demonstrate viability for commercial agro-business. Further, Nganglam can also source such agro¬based materials from Mongar, which produces them in large quantities.
The report also says that fresh perennial spring water available across Nganglam can be tapped, processed, branded and exported across the border. Nganglam is also endowed with natural resources such as limestone, gypsum and dolomite
Nganglam also has high prospects to produce pre-cast building components, hollow blocks, cement bonded particle and cement fiber board due to its easy access to cement, cheap electricity and availability of sand and availability of large water supplies.
One potential challenge is a biological corridor BC-5 between Royal Manas National Park and Khaling Wildlife Sanctuary which overlaps with parts of the area identified for Nganglam Township at Rinchenthang, for which there already is a plan. The report says the biological corridor will have to be modified.
The total cost estimated for the planning and development of Nganglam regional hub is Nu 438.70 million.
The EDI says that Kanglung is also located within a day’s reach to the six eastern Dzongkhags and furthermore it is connected by domestic air transport at Yongphula. It says that Kanglung has the potential to be an education hub with existing educational institutes, strategic location and favorable climate.
It says that existence of surface and air transport and its strategic location, overlooking communities, paddy terraces, valleys, rivers and distant hillside views provide good opportunity for tourism and hotel development in Kanglung.
The report says that Kanglung is also best suited to become an administrative hub for the eastern region and for housing regional offices. It says a challenge in Kanglung is drinking water with several streams drying up or becoming smaller.
The report recommends that development of regional hub in Kanglung should be pursued only after a careful study of tapping water from un-tapped sources, namely Nimshingdrang, Namshidrang, Tsokam and Bamridrang located east of Rongthung.
The total cost estimated for the planning and development of Kanglung regional hub is Nu. 570.30 million.
Gyalpoizhing is another town that has potential for its own growth and for spurring the growth of nearby Gewogs and towns in the eastern region.
With the opening of Nganglam – Gyalpoizhing highway, Gyalpoizhing will become a meeting point and entry and exit point for all eastern Dzongkhags with potential for trade and commerce with India and Bangladesh.
The Bongdema industrial estate nearby and the agro-business potential in Gyalpoizhing-Lingmithang area will also help Gyalpoizhing. There is also a plan to develop a resort town in Gyalpoizhing given its opportunity for water sports and other recreational activities.
Besides the regional growth centres, every Dzongkhag will have its own Dzongkhag Headquarter Towns and Dzongkhag level growth centres. All of the Dzongkhag Towns have development plans, which are at various levels of implementation.
The other towns commonly referred to as satellite towns, will also spur the growth of the neighbouring gewogs. While most of these Dzongkhag level towns are planned as commercial service centres, some of them have the potential to be developed as attractive in themselves, especially for tourism purposes.
Some of the major towns identified are Yadhi in Mongar, Autsho in Lhuentse, Duksum in Trashiyangtse, Rangjung and Wamrong in Trashigang, Denchi in Pemagatshel, Samdrupcholing and Jomotsangkha in Samdrupjongkhar.
Samdrupjongkhar township currently serves as an important port of entry or exit and is the main commercial hub for the eastern region. Until Nganglam grows up to a regional hub, Samdrupjongkhar shall continue to play its important role for the development of Eastern region according to the EDI.