English | Dzongkha Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Shingkhar-Gorgan highway, still a story

Pema Tshewang/Sonam Pem, Thimphu
Jun 12, 2019

The plan for Shingkhar-Gorgan highway is twenty-two year old and counting. People of Lhuntse are still hoping for the road to materialize but the government is looking for an alternative.

Gangzur_Minjey MP Kinga Penjor said that the road is still in the paper because of the authenticity of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report. He questioned the Works and Human Settlement minister on the transparency on the preparation of EIA report for the Shingkhar-Gorgan road.

“My question is not about when construction works for Shingkhar-Gorgan road will begin? But my question is who prepared the EIA report? Is it by a private consultant or by the government? If it was given to a private consultant, who is accountable for it?” asked Kinga Penjor, MP for Gangzur_Minjey, Lhuentse.

The works and human settlement’s minister informed the house that, the EIA report is not prepared by a private consultant.

“Regarding false data in the EIA report, it is not true. Today, whatever studies we do, it is very difficult to get primary data. For example, we have to get rain and wind forecast and we have to do land feasibility studies. We do not have all experts in the ministry, so we have to depend on other offices and experts. It is not that MoWHS is preparing EIA report of Shingkhar-Gorgan for the first time,” clarified Dorji Tshering, the minister for MoWHS.

Regarding the construction of Shingkhar-Gorgan highway, the discussion dates back to 22 years ago. And similarly, there were also discussions during the previous two government’s tenure. The minister added the road would benefit about four eastern districts but there will be technical problems if the road construction works begin.

“When walking through the area, there is a pass called Shingmala which is 200 meters higher than the Thrumshinggla. It has to go from Shingmala since there is no way from any other direction. The commuters have to travel through about 7 km of distance which faces the north. So, road experts say, such area will not receive any sunshine during the winter and it will be very difficult to commute during the winter,” the minister said.

 The minister also added the surveyed area has around 9 km of a cliff area that will have financial impacts. Moreover, it will not benefit the commuters even after its construction.

Meanwhile, the minister shared about upcoming alternative route while plying to Lhuentse.

“Thinking that it is unfair for the people of Lhuentse, we are coming with an alternative. The construction of road from Yongkola via Tsamang and to Dorjilung has completed. The only thing left is, we are thinking of constructing a bridge at Dorjilung and that will shorten the route by about 40 km for the people of Lhuentse,” he added.

The highway from Shingkhar in Bumthang to Gorgan in Lhuentse will reduce the travel distance between the two dzongkhags by over 100 km if the dreams of Lhuntse people is realised.

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