Prime Minister, Lyonchen Jigmi Y Thinley’s vision is finally taking shape.
The construction of Baeyul Dewaling or Gross National Happiness (GNH) Center at Bumthang’s sacred Chhoekhar valley will start by the end of the year and is scheduled to be completed by 2013.
However, the master plan for the GNH Center has been changed.
Before, the plan was to construct the colonnade center with community and meditation centers at one go but now the priority is to construct the community and meditation centers during the first phase of construction.
“The construction of the center is not as important at this stage as more priority will be given to the curriculum/community centers first which will be open to everybody to come and participate, contemplate and live GNH,” said the Project Director, Dr Saamdu Chetri.
In mid-November last year, around 12 national and international experts worked on developing the project master plan which has been finalized.
“The design is finally ready; the designer was selected globally among 100 applicants along with a Bhutanese architect,” said Dr Saamdu Chetri.
He added that the authorities approached a “great” architect and “hopefully he will come up with a design so that we can start working accordingly.”
The center is being constructed with the help of DANIDA; funds have also been donated by a participant at the GNH workshop via Druk Holdings and Investment (DHI).
The project will seek funds from Asia, the US, South Africa, and Europe, but mostly from Japan, Denmark, Switzerland and Australia.
“The budget was estimated to USD 20 mn looking at the colonnade construction but because of the new master plan, the budget has decreased to USD 7 mn,” said Dr Saamdu Chetri.
The purpose of the Center is to educate people on what really matters in self-sufficiency, empower them with knowledge, the ability to contemplate and come up with ideas and services to change themselves and others.
The construction is to be on a very limited area retaining a large part of the forest with five wellness gardens and community facilities.
Dr Saamdu Chetri also said that the money has been received to start the work and the most important construction to be developed first is the curriculum and meditation centers.
Around 50-60 meditation huts will be constructed along the mountain ranges and the river side for longer retreats.
“The entire community will be involved in this construction; the benefits of the GNH center must spill over to everyone who visits it and the visitor should feel rejuvenated,” said Dr Saamdu Chetri.
The construction will start by the end of the year in three to four phases.
Facilities in the GNH center will be provided free of cost to the Bhutanese.