Tunnel Proposal: Technical and possible financial help from Norway
|Department of geology and mines (DGM) identified tunnel sites
Travel time within the country could be reduced from days to hours and even minutes if a government plan to build tunnels through mountains connecting major valleys is implemented.
The department of geology and mines (DGM) has already identified three potential sites for tunnels. The first and most probable is a tunnel from Thimphu to either Punakha or Wangduephodrang.
The second is a 12 km tunnel between Bumthang and Mongar bypassing the Thrimshingla pass, which is expected to cut 30 km of travelling distance on the East-West highway. The third is from Khasadrapchu in Thimphu to Shaba in Paro, with a tunnel length of nine kilometers, reducing travel time from 45 to 20 minutes.
Pre-feasibility studies have already been done by DGM, indicating that they can be done. “The Wangdue/Punakha tunnels can decongest Thimphu and allow people to settle in these two valleys and also reduce the travel distance and time by around 40 km,” said DGM chief geologist, Ugyen Wangda. Continue reading Decongesting Thimphu
Though severely indebted, Bhutan is at a moderate risk of distress
13 December, 2009 – Bhutan is paying Nu 3.8 billion annually to service an outstanding debt of Nu 35b as of October this year, which is five billion less than the cost of the 1020 MW Tala project.
The debt, as a percentage of GDP, is 53 percent with hydropower debt at Nu 21.5b and non-hydropower debt at Nu 13.5b.
The debt figures do not take into account the Rs 5b borrowed this year from India to meet domestic rupee requirements, said Tshewang Norbu of the finance ministry. who made a presentation of the debt situation at a national workshop on strengthening responses to the global financial crisis. Continue reading Is Bhutan’s debt sustainable?
13 December, 2009 – The government of Denmark and UNDP, Thimphu, are supporting the Bhutanese government to maximise people’s participation in developing and managing their own social, economic and environmental well being, and to minimise the negative impacts of a changing environment.
The Danish government committed DKK 70 million (approximately Nu 600m) on November 20 and the UNDP has committed USD 860,000 (Nu 38.7m approx). Continue reading Denmark & UNDP grant for Local Governance
Child workers work far beyond the time and day limits set by the [Bhutan’s] Labour and Employment Act, according to a study conducted by National Commission for Women and Children (NCWC).
The child labour study, which was conducted by sampling 650 child labourers between 6 and 14 years of age from six dzongkhags – two each from three regions – in the country, found that 37 percent of the children worked between eight and a half hours to 12 hours, and 20 percent worked for more than 12 hours a day. Eighty-nine percent of them started work before 8 am. Continue reading Children overworked
But what is the cost-benefit of a sound environmental policy?
12 December, 2009 – As Bhutan showcased its environmental friendly projects at the sidelines of the Copenhagen climate change conference yesterday, it also made a pledge in Thimphu, by signing a declaration, to follow and be guided by a strong sense of conservation ethics and remain a carbon neutral country.
The declaration calls for global attention to Bhutan’s commitment to preserving its rich eco system and in return is asking for support for its mitigation and adaptation measures to adapt to climate change.
“In spite of our status as a small, mountainous developing country, with so many other pressing social and economic development needs and priorities, we feel that there’s no need greater or more important than keeping the planet safe for life to continue,” states the declaration. “Therefore, we commit ourselves to keep absorbing more carbon than we emit and to maintain our country’s status as a net sink for greenhouse gases (GHG).” Continue reading Bhutan pledged to carbon neutrality
December 9, 2009
Today, the Royal Government of Bhutan makes a pledge – to significantly improve gross national happiness of its population by delivering to its citizens social and economic growth over the 10th plan period. This initiative is specifically aimed at generating respectful employment for 75,000 people, transforming delivery of public services like education and healthcare while institutionalizing a culture of good governance. Continue reading Performance Compact signing by Ministries
5 December, 2009 – A class XI student in Thimphu, Dorji Tshomo Tshering, has been through this week reading up on gross national happiness (GNH) and the Bhutanese education system.
The 16-year-old science student is among the 28 Bhutanese participants and 25 international educators, who will take part in the six-day “Educating for GNH workshop” in Thimphu starting December 7.
Bhutanese and international participants will sit together to discuss very practically how GNH values can be brought into science, math, history, language and extra-curricular activities from pre-primary through post secondary education, according to education officials. Continue reading Bringing GNH to schools
Finding life difficult in Khalatsho, once famed for paddy, villagers abandon their homes
|Villagers have to take a treacherous path to Dewathang in the winter months
28 November, 2009 – Once famous for paddy, the remote village of Khalatsho in Nganglam, Pemagatshel, is on the verge of being submerged by thickets and reverting into jungle once more.
Of its twelve households, only five remain. It has 15 residents, mostly in their forties, including two children, who will be joining school next year.
Thick overgrown bushes covering fallow paddy land, uncultivated for years, are drawing ever closer to the settlements.
Tigers get as close as to their animal sheds and have eaten up seven of their cattle this year alone. Elephants make loud noises at night and devour their maize, the village staple, which is grown twice a year. Continue reading Village returns to jungle
Although not on schedule, Bhutan will have two operational domestic airports in Bumthang and Trashigang by 2010, according to the department of civil aviation (DCA).
The aviation department will present to the cabinet, some time this week, an identified site for the construction of an airport in Bumthang.
DCA director general, Phala Dorji, said that Bathpalathang has been identified on the basis of its low operating costs and high safety characteristics. Nine sites in Bumthang were studied. DCA expects a decision from the cabinet by next week. Continue reading Bhutan to have 2 domestic airports by 2010
|Rural credit is crucial in improving lives in the farm
Bhutan needs to adopt a national policy on micro finance. This was the message at a seminar on creating a suitable environment and regulatory framework for micro financing yesterday.
“There is no national policy at the moment,” said Dr Pema Choephyel, a BDFCL agriculture specialist who spoke at the seminar. With a national policy, Dr Pema told Kuensel, rural poverty alleviation would become more effective and faster. “We’ll be able to focus and target groups critically in need of credits,” he said, “It would also steer us in the right direction on how micro financing actually should be instituted according to international standards.”
More than 20 percent of Bhutan’s population live on less than US$ 1 a day, the threshold considered necessary to maintain an adequate standard of living. The government plans to reduce this poverty rate to less than 15 percent by 2013. Continue reading Microfinance policy crucial to alleviate poverty