Sunday, April 26th, 2015 - 7:13 AM
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Porter-pony charges revised

DSC07415All set: A span of mules is readied at Ramthangka in Tsento to ferry tourists to Taktshang, Paro

This despite the fact that the earlier contract period has not been completed

Tourism: Giving in to the demands of the horse contractors in Paro, porter pony charges for tourism activities and services were revised on March 5, even though the three-year contract they had signed with the Association of Bhutanese Tour Operators (ABTO) is yet to expire.

The demand for increase in rates came following several issues last trekking season, where most horse owners refused to cater to tourists, and instead chose to ferry sandalwood to Phari, Tibet given its lucrative returns.

Although illegal, sandalwood trade is rampant in Paro, which is close to the northern border of Phari, Tibet.  Without a road to Phari, horses are used to transport sandalwood across the border.

Despite signing a three-year contract in March 2013, horse contractors demanded a revision on the agreed rates of Nu 250 a day, besides a 10 percent commission and a 50 percent of the payment for their return journey.  The rates were last revised in 2011 from Nu 150 to Nu 250 a pony.


Shoddy pipework leaves Pam PS high and dry

DSC_0040It was found that water pipes were not laid under the ground by the contractor

The contractor has been accused of not properly preparing the groundwork

Water: Soon after a new water source was constructed for Pam primary school (PPS) last year, the water pipes started to break resulting in an acute water shortage for months.

The school blames it on the shoddy work carried out by a local contractor, M/S Chengla Construction, and accuses them of not properly laying the water pipes underground.

M/S Chengla Construction was awarded the Nu 2.59M (million) worth contract to carry out the construction of drainage, retaining walls, pavement, water supply and fencing works at PPS on July 6, 2013.

Since the contractor was already involved in constructing the school principal’s quarter, the additional work was also awarded to him.  The contract period was for two months.

Without proper trenching work carried out, teachers said that villagers and animals damaged the pipes frequently, while the school had to carry out frequent maintenance.


Misgivings over new Jaldaka Bailey bridge

DSC_0491The tilted abutment isn’t an issue according to CDCL

The authorities concerned, however, aver that such fears are unfounded and misplaced

CDCL: People in Bara are skeptical about a bridge that has been constructed over Jaldaka river that connects Sipsu’s two gewogs Tendu and Bara.

The 160-foot bailey bridge, which was completed in November 2014, Bara villagers claim, is not properly constructed.

One of the tshogpas in Bara, Gopal Rai, said there was something wrong with the bridge’s ‘layout’. “Even a layman is able to make the difference,” the tshogpa said.

The bridge’s base plate hasn’t been placed within the avertment wall.  The base plate is a bailey bridge’s main feature that neutralises the load with bearing system on it.

The base plate, in engineering specifics, has to rest within the right position of avertment wall (concrete), according to engineers.


World Cup qualifiers second round draw on April 14

Screen-Shot-2015-03-18-at-11.54.47-PMHead coach Chokey Nima (Photo courtesy: FIFA)

Head coach Chokey Nima could be replaced before the next match

Football: Who is waiting for Bhutan in the second round of the 2018 World Cup qualifiers will be known on April 14, when the fixtures for the second round will be drawn at the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) House in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Officials from the Bhutan Football Federation (BFF) will be representing the country during the draw.

A total of 40 teams from Asia, including the six teams who qualified from the first round, will be divided into eight groups of five each.  The probability of Bhutan facing the regional powers like Japan, South Korea and Iran is 1/40.

12 teams, including the winners from each group and four best group runners-up, will advance to the third round of FIFA World Cup qualification, as well as qualify for the AFC Asian Cup finals.


Picture story

Former world table tennis champion and a member of the Education, Culture, Sports and Tourism Committee, Republic of Korea, Elisa Lee, gifted sporting equipment worth USD 44,000 to the Bhutan Olympic Committee on March 18.The equipment comprise of tracksuits, taekwondo floor mats, boxing uniforms and gloves, arrows, bow handles and stands for the Bhutanese athletes. The shipment is currently in Kolkata and is expected to reach the country on March 24.

As a member of the National Assembly, Elisa Lee spearheaded the initiative to seek financial support for the equipment and is in the country to assess the status of sports development in Bhutan.


A long wait will soon be over


WHO-funded pump project will soon deliver the precious resource to Shumar and Zobel

Water: Water shortage in two gewogs of Shumar and Zobel in Pemagatshel is expected to be addressed soon, as the dzongkhag’s long awaited project to pump water from Khonmari stream nears completion.

Benefitting two gewogs with an estimated population of 7,430, the Nu 95M (million) project is expected to address the acute water shortage the villagers have been living with for decades.

Officials said the three water pumps have been installed to supply water to every household.  Two of the motor pumps will be used every day, with the third on standby.

Located in Zobel gewog, water would be pumped from the Khonmari stream, some three kilometres from the gewog.

Project engineer Karma Dorji said, based on the study, the stream is enough to cater water to all homes.  During summer, the pumps would be able to discharge 100 litres of water a second and 20 litres a second during winter.


The bamboo shoot pickle business

Women from two villages in Jigmeling formed a group that makes this best-selling preserve

Food-processing: Sarpang is blessed with fertile land.  Farmers grow both cash and food crops, and vegetables are fast becoming a good source of cash income.  If that is not enough, the dzongkhag is also rich in non-wood forest products.

One such product is bamboo shoot, which is much in demand when processed into pickles.  Realising the potential, 21 women from Chungshing and Chakpai villages in Jigmeling formed a group about two years ago.   The women are busy cultivating ginger these days, but once the work is over, they will head to the forest above their village to collect bamboo shoots.

Bamboo grows in abundance and a feasibility study found that farmers could harvest 1,800kg of its shoot annually from the approved area, according to the man behind the group, gewog extension officer, Jigme Tenzin.


10,737 people transfer census

ECB is looking into possibilities of allowing voters to vote from their place of residence 

Election: To enable themselves to vote from the place of their residence, 10,737 people transferred their census, mostly within gewogs of the same dzongkhag, and some between dzongkhags and thromdes, in six months, from July to December last year.

The Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) in July last year notified that December 31, 2014 would be the last day for the transfer of census, as the laws require a minimum of one year registration in a demkhong to vote or stand as a candidate in an election.  This is applicable particularly for the four thromdes whose elections are due in early 2016.

This means that the time to transfer census for the upcoming thromde elections has elapsed.  The last elections for thromdes were held in January 2011.


Picture story

Strong winds blew off the roof of a two-storied traditional house in Lobesa, Punakha yesterday evening. The gewog has provided plastic sheets to protect the house from rain.


Govt to solve critical aviation shortcomings

.. By allowing the recruitment of required personnel at the market rate

MoIC: In a major move that will settle a longstanding issue for the civil aviation sector, the Ministry of Information and Communications will be able to recruit an airworthiness officer and an air safety officer.

The decision for immediate recruitment of the two officers, according to MoIC officials, came after the ministry, Royal Civil Service Commission, and the finance ministry met at the prime minister’s office earlier this month.

The two officials will be on contract. The air safety officer is a pilot and an airworthiness officer is an engineer who periodically inspects and certifies that an aircraft is fit for operation.

MoIC secretary Dasho Kinley Dorji said, “What took more than 17 years to resolve was decided within half an hour and all of us returned with a huge sigh of relief.”