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Funds being sought for Amochhu land reclamation

Land issues, especially for relocated private plots, also need to be sorted out

Project: After the Amochhu hydropower project (AHP) was shelved, the Amochhu land reclamation and township project is now getting the priority. The Druk Holding and Investments (DHI) is currently working on the project’s finances.

DHI chairman Dasho Sangay Khandu said the investments company is looking for various options to get funds for the reclamation and township project.

“DHI will develop the project,” the chairman said. “However, we are not sure how long it would take to get the funding.”

Dasho Sangay Khandu also said the funding will be an equity-based. DHI will invest 70 percent of the total investments, while its subsidiary company, DHI-Infra, will explore for the remaining 30 percent.

An equity based funding came after DHI cancelled the Public Private Partnership (PPP) model, which was initially chosen for the project.

“In the earlier model, the land would have been given to the private investors,” Dasho Sangay Khando said, pointing that it was not allowed according to the Land Act.

Citing the case of how the education city was dropped midway because of the PPP model, the chairperson explained that the land couldn’t be given to developers from outside.

He said there are lots of tasks to be completed on the reclamation project, which made it difficult to say when the project would start.

The Amochhu land reclamation and township project was identified in 2007. It’s feasibility studies started in December 2011 and was supposed to be completed within a year.

However, study works were held from April 2012 when work for the detailed project report for AHP started. A re-study was initiated to find if there would be any impact.

In 2013, the hydrological study and environment impact assessment were completed. The project was waiting for government directives to resume its work.

Today, the funding of the project has shifted to DHI. A river training work has to be carried out before the land reclamation, after which township development will begin.

Meanwhile, the Amochhu land reclamation project still has land issues to be solved. DHI chairman said private plots that fell under the reclamation project were relocated without proper approval from the right authority.

With an estimated budget of Nu 9B, the project will reclaim about 865 acres of land along Amochhu banks starting from Purbey until the international border downstream, and beyond.

The reclaimed area will be divided into three zones. Zone A will be for residential, institutional and commercial, zone B for residential and river front development and zone C for low-rise commercial and residential apartments.

The Kaleshwar hill, which falls on the right bank of Amochhu in Samtse side, is also identified as one of the areas that would be developed into a tourist spot to attract visitors from neighbouring Indian states.

By Rajesh Rai, Phuentsholing

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