Amochhu business community in quandary over relocation

Amochhu Land Development and Township Project (ALDTP) is supposed to kick-start soon this year following which more than 40 business establishments along the river bank will have to vacate the area.

Some of the businessmen have already submitted applications asking for designated areas for relocation, but the Phuentsholing Thromde is yet to respond leaving them in a quandary.

“We have approached the Thromde but the authorities said only establishments which the project will hamper are going to be relocated. We are hoping for the best,” said proprietor of JB Engineering Workshop, Karma Wangdi Tamang.

Currently, the business community along the left bank of the Amochhu River is willing to vacate the stretch of land where they stand but hopes that the government will relocate them so that they can continue business uninterrupted. Without intervention from the Thromde, the businesses are expected to die.

The Amochhu business community is more than decade old. Businesses along the river comprise automobile workshops, godowns, warehouses and manufacturing plants plus shops.

Some of them harbor plans to relocate themselves while others have their fingers crossed since the Thromde does not seem to be very forthcoming about relocating them.

Meanwhile, workshop owners are hopeful they will be relocated to areas where the operation environment is conducive. Further, the present site does not favor workshops due to bad road conditions. The unpaved road leading up to the workshops is riddled with potholes that stagnate with water during monsoon.

“Not many motorists visit the location due to the road condition. We would be glad to receive a new location if the project comes through; we can also provide better services,” said Karma Wangdi Tamang.

The businessmen have already signed an agreement expressing that they will vacate the location for the new township project. Because of the agreement, the business establishments have been unable to upgrade their structures and services as of now. Owing to this, the automobile workshops are also provided environment clearance for a year although it used to hold for two years earlier.

Karma Feeds is planning to shift its manufacturing plant to Pasakha. “We have agreed with the Thromde to vacate so it is wise to pre-plan. The project will start any time,” said the Director of Karma Feeds, Koinchok Wangdi.

Meanwhile, Bhutan Concrete Bricks, a bricks manufacturing plant does not have plans to shift anywhere anytime soon. The proprietor, Tenzin Dorji, said that unless the river is trained properly, the project cannot start. “By that time, I may recover the amount I have invested and will look for other areas,” said Tenzin Dorji.

Some automobile workshops feel that the Thromde might allot a time frame for the establishments to vacate the area. “Accordingly, we will look for suitable locations. But it would be more convenient and organized if the Thromde could allocate a designated area,” said TDS Workshop’s proprietor, Tashi Wangdi.

Businesses along Amochhu are in full swing. Last year’s flash flood had affected some of the establishments but they are now continuing as usual especially after river diversion works.

However, Phuentsholing Thromde Executive Secretary Wangchuk Thayey, said that the Thromde is not mandated to relocate or allocate land for the businesses though it can identify land and negotiate with land owners for the same.

“The establishments which fall under the Thromde’s Local Area Plan would be developed into residential space,” he said adding that once the ALDPT starts, the businesses will have to vacate the land as per agreement.

“The Thromde has already notified establishments located along the road alignment to vacate,” said Wangchuk Thayey.

The Thromde has also identified locations for the automobile workshops at private lands at Allay on the way to Pasakha and has already negotiated with land owners for relocation.

Krishna Ghalley from Phuentsholing