DHI Infra: Next week DHI (Druk Holding and Investments) Infra will begin building an access road and a bridge worth Nu 133M marking the start of actual construction of the Nu 15B -20B education city project.
The road will be built near Chunzom towards the education city site between Thimphu and Paro.
“The project has so far been engaged in attracting institutions, signing memoranda of understandings and carrying out student exchange programs with regional and global institutions,” the chief executive of DHI Infra, Kinga Tshering, said. “Now actual construction for it will take place.”
The access road and bridge construction is expected to take 18 months. “After that we will work on water and power supply to the site,” Kinga Tshering said.
The ancillary activities, which include roads, bridges, water and electricity supply is altogether expected to cost around Nu 479M, which will be awarded to local contractors.
Foreign investors will do the main construction in phase one and two of the project. The investors would be asked to construct the actual campus, academic blocks and staff quarters within a four-year time frame. Phase I of the project is expected to cost around Nu 1B and Phase II is estimated to cost around Nu 15B during which bigger infrastructure works will be carried out.
The foreign investors are a joint venture of the Kolkata based Infinity group and ILFS (Infrastructure leasing and financial services ltd.), a government of India owned company. Infinity and ILFS were the only consortium bidder last year. This was owing to the global economic melt down as well as worsening of the Indian economy. Infinity and ILFS will each have a 50 percent stake in the education city.
Initially, when the market was good, around 17 Indian companies expressed interest to invest and visited the project site last year. They included Hindustan Construction Company, Mahindra, Infinity, Tata and Ambuja among others.
The investors will also be responsible for attracting international institutions. “Of course we will help them with the marketing,” Kinga Tshering said.
The government does not have any equity on the project besides the 1,000-acre land that has been provided on lease for a thirty-year period.
The land according to Kinga Tshering cannot be considered equity since the land act does not allow land to be placed as equity. If land were considered equity, then the ownership of the land will legally pass on to the entity that is developing and managing the project Kinga Tshering said. “Therefore, it has been changed from an equity to a lease model,” he said.
By 2030 at least 15,000 international, regional and local students are expected to be studying in the education city campus under 10 international institutions.
By Nidup Gyeltshen