No problem if ATMs installed within the buildings: Thimphu Thromde

The Thromde is currently under the process of removing illegal and temporary structures, made out of CGI sheets, plywood, and bamboo

Thimphu Thromde’s recent notification to the banks to start installing Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) inside the buildings and remove some existing structures from the setbacks within a year was issued after ATMs were found mostly constructed in the building setbacks, thus interrupting public thoroughfare.

“The setbacks must be kept open and free of any structures as it would be important for laying public utilities and also in case of emergencies/disaster,” a Thromde official said.

According to the official, while the proposals for ATMs have been approved in every part of the Thromde based on the grounds of public convenience and accessibility, there are many issues associated with the locations where they are being set up.

He added that the reason for issuing the recent notification was that most ATMs are located in the setbacks, which are in deviation to the building coverage rule of the Thromde’s Development Control Regulation (DCR).

The temporary sheds/structures within setbacks compromise the circulation spaces required around the building in case of emergencies and provisions for any essential services, according to the Thromde official.

“As such, Thimphu Thromde has started monitoring and penalizing any structures within the setback areas. Such temporary ATM structures/shed type disrupts the building line and are aesthetically unpleasant and rarely well maintained,” the official said. 

He added that the ATM structures, which are often made of timber, boards and glasses, are susceptible to the risk of burglary/vandalism and therefore could create social issues within the neighborhood. 

Meanwhile, some people are questioning Thromde’s decision given the convenience some of the ATMs provide today in case of an emergency.

“Wouldn’t it be inconvenient for a person in an emergency to withdraw cash between the hours of 9pm and 12am if the ATM is within a building and the main gate to that building is closed after midnight?” asked a resident of Thimphu.

However, the official responded that there are plenty of ATMs that have been installed within the plinth area of buildings without being barred by a gate.

“Such examples would be the ATMs below the PNB, below Hotel Thimphu Tower and below San Maru Restaurant. Such ATMs have been installed within the buildings, but are also easily accessible by the public at all hours,” he said.

The official also added that the Thromde is currently under the process of removing illegal and temporary structures, made out of CGI sheets, plywood, bamboo and etc. that are vulnerable to disasters and aesthetically unpleasing in the town and core areas.

“Many individuals have been notified, fined and some structures have already been removed,” he explained.

Meanwhile, the Thromde has given a deadline of one year to all the financial institutes to remove the ATMs located in the building setbacks.

Tshering Pelden from Thimphu