The Department of Industry under the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MoEA) has asked for those interested to start applying for plots in the four upcoming industrial estates in Bhutan.
The Industrial Estates are Jigmeling (733 acres) in Sarpang, Dhamdum (349.06 acres) in Samtse, Bondeyma (110.34 acres) in Mongar and the Motanga (145.52 acres) project in Samdrup Jongkhar.
The completion date for the four estates is targeted around 2017 but the plan is allow interested industries and companies to start building from now so that they can benefit from the 720 MW Mangdechu Hydroelectric Power which is expected to be complete by then.
Currently the biggest obstacle for Bhutan’s power intensive industries is the limited amount of power available especially in the winter months.
MoEA Minister Lyonpo Norbu Wangchuk said, “The budget has been secured for all the four estates and works are in various stages for progress. He said in some the Environmental Impact was being done while in others the boundary walls and river protection works are in progress.”
The total cost of developing basic infrastructure in the first three estates is around Nu 1.6 bn of which the government is getting from the Government of India (GoI). The fourth estate of Motanga will be developed by the government on its own.
Highly polluting and toxic industries would not be allowed but the offer will be open a wide array of manufacturing and even service industries as long as they can provide jobs and lead to revenue generation.
Currently Bhutan’s only Industrial Estate is the 267 acre Pasakha Industrial Estate of which only 50% is useable due to the steep terrain.
Among Industrialists there is maximum interest in the Dhamdhum industrial estate in Samtse given its proximity to Phuentsholing and the fact that it shares a boundary with the more stable West Bengal.
There is a cooler attitude towards Jigmeling and Motanga since they share their borders with the restive Bodo areas of Assam which would make regular transportation and trade tricky due to frequent strikes and other law and order disruptions in Assam.
One major challenge that remains before the estates is that originally the project had also expected Punatsangchu I to come in line by 2017 along with Mangdechu but the P 1 project’s completion date has been pushed to 2019 due a series of geological factors.