Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Bhutan : Secretariat set to start construction

18 August, 2008 - The plan for a government secretariat building, which many thought was shelved, is right on track, according to department of urban development and engineering services (DUDES) officials.

The building, sited behind the Tashichhodzong and slated to house the entire ten ministries, the Gyalpoi Zimpon’s office, the Prime Minister’s office and the Royal Civil Service Commission, will begin with the construction of the education ministry.

DUDES officials said that there was positive indication that the education ministry building would be funded by the World Bank, while the agriculture and foreign affairs ministry buildings will be funded by the Indian government.

“We had a meeting with the education secretariat and made presentations to the ministry, GNH commission and the cabinet. We were supposed to start tendering this month but have not been informed of it yet,” said DUDES director, Rinchen Dorji.

Rinchen Dorji said that the three ministries were given priority as they did not have proper buildings or were established in an inconvenient location.

The estimated cost of construction of the education, foreign affairs, and agriculture ministries was Nu 176 million, Nu 131 million and Nu 200 million respectively.

The works and human settlement ministry had signed CCBA Consultant for the design job with the condition that final payment would be three and half percent of the actual construction cost.

“Everything was ready,” said Rinchen Dorji. “When it came to implementation, the total amount projected by the consultant worked out to over Nu 2.0 billion. That was lot of money so the government thought we should review the amount.”

In the process, the department was asked to go ahead with the four ministries, including the finance ministry. However, the latest instruction from the GNH commission reflected budget allotment for three ministries only.

He said that the instruction of the present government was that it should be done within the Tenth Plan. “We’re ready but all we’re waiting for is money,” he said.

While the secretariat building was envisaged to be a massive infrastructure, that would occupy the green space behind Tashichodzong, concerns prevail that the structure might overshadow the dzong, which was a historical landmark.

Rinchen Dorji assured that everything was taken into consideration to make sure that the structure did not dominate the dzong.

“The reason why the buildings have space underground is just to be under subdue of Tashichodzong,” he said, adding that photomontage created from various directions indicated that it did not in any way diminish the dzong.

He said the proposed plan had parking space, water and sewer treatment underground, which would ease the space requirement.

Although some ministries have recently constructed massive buildings, Rinchen Dorji said that there were many organisations and agencies that did not have a proper building and, when the ministries moved out, it would create space for those organisations to move in.

By Kesang Dema


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