Expediting the internal highway in the South

The issue of kidnapping and abduction in the southern areas in Bhutan, in the recent past, has raised many concerns and worries among the people.

However, the Gelephu MP, Gopal Gurung, said His Majesty the King’s visit to Sarpang, in September this year, has eased the stressful situation and brought much relief to the people.

He said that on the command of His Majesty, two additional security outposts have been established, which has helped in keeping an extra vigilance over the border areas. This has resulted in creating more confidence and psychological relief of the people in Sarpang.

MP Gopal Gurung said that the Bhutanese motorists, truckers, and passengers plying through the Indian roads are still plagued by the constant fear of being of attacked, harassed, kidnapped and taken as hostages by the miscreants from across the border.

Therefore, to safeguard commuter safety, he asked the Minister, Ministry of Works and Human Settlement (MoWHS), to expedite the internal highway construction between Lhamoizingkha and Sarpang.

Following the question, MoWHS Minister, Dorji Choden, said that the inconveniences caused to the people living near the border areas, and those people plying through the Indian roads, is a national concern. Lyonpo said that the Indian government has been providing their best assistance when Bhutanese people face inconveniences.

Lyonpo said that an internal highway will allow people to travel safely, but for now, a huge budget is required for the extensive road construction between Lhamoizingkha and Sarpang.

Lyonpo Dorji Choden said that the budget allotted by the government is insufficient, and therefore, the government will need to seek for a loan from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), upon estimating the budget requirement to clear the highway.

Lyonpo further said that clearing of highway between Lhamoizingkha and Sarpang was deemed vital by the Cabinet. She said there are currently experts from ADB who are conducting an ecological survey, as the highway passes through Phipsoo Wildlife Sanctuary, which occupies an important position bio geographically.

Lyonpo said that going by the national interest, the government did not hesitate to seek the loan, and the project is under preliminary survey.

She said after the survey is complete, the government will then seek the loan.

She said the preliminary surveys have already been completed while some other surveys are still going on in the region. The report on the research carried out by the experts will be presented to the government by June 2015.

Lyonpo said that clearing of about 88 kilometers long highway will commence by 2016. Similarly, the clearing of highway between Nganglam and Doethang, according to Lyonpo, would be starting as soon as the resources and labour force are positioned in the area.

Responding to the question of Jhomotsangkha- Martshala MP, Pelzang Wangchuk, on the status of the Samrang – Jhomotsangkha highway, Lyonpo Dorji Choden said that the road would be similar in specification of a gewog road, without having to invest a huge budget.

Lyonpo said that the road would be cleared with the grant received as of now, but a loan would not be taken for the Samrang- Jhomotsankha highway. This, according to Lyonpo, is because the standard of the road would be suitable in Samrang and Jhomotsangkha, being a remote place.

The Labour and Human Resources Minister, Ngeema Sangay Tshempo, supplemented that once the road is operational, the people can travel safely and at anytime during emergencies.

Lyonpo added that once all the internal highways are operational, the eastern and southern dzongkhags would be connected, which will directly help in enhancing tourism, economy and business opportunity of the eastern and southern people.

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