Phuentsholing to get enough houses for accommodation  during 12th Plan

If things go as planned, the border town of Phuentsholing, which has been witnessing housing crunch for more than a decade now, would have enough houses for tenants during the 12th Plan.

This is because of the overwhelming number of proposals for construction in the completed Local Area Plans (LAPs) that the Thromde is now receiving after it lifted construction-freezing in the new LAPs. The number of proposals has almost tripled last year.

The Phuentsholing Thromde has completed preparation of seven LAPs of the total 12, including one in the Pasakha Industrial Estate. This means that plot owners can now start construction of private buildings.

Thromde’s Chief Development Control Officer, Teshewang Jeapo, said looking at the number of proposals, the housing problem is expected to subside.

“It has tripled over a year,” he said. “Now all the completed LAPs are ready for construction with all the necessary facilities like road, electricity and water supply.”

Most proposals, according to the Thromde, are coming from areas like Kabreytar, Rinchending and Pekarzhing towards Pasakha, and also from Toorsa Tar, tough people are bit skeptical over the development of Amochhu Land Development and Township Project.

Around five proposals a month these days are put up to the Thromde office and it allows construction of up to five storied building in a plot looking at the land stability. “There should not be a problem for housing in Phuentsholing,” he said.

Meanwhile, more than 5,000 Bhutanese people today reside in Jaigaon, India because of the housing problem in and around the town. Phuentsholing, as a commercial hub and proximity to the country’s biggest Industrial estate, has a population of over 28,000 and housing crunch has been a prime issue for more than a decade now.

According to Thromde’s Officiating Urban Planner, Gobinda Sharma, 3 percent annual growth rate within the next 12th Plan, the population is expected to rise to over 36,000. The increasing housing proposals would cater to those populations without any housing shortage. Of the 12 LAPs, seven are particularly designed for private space without identified precincts like industrial estate or any other business purposes.

However, Gobinda Sharma said they cannot guarantee that the plot owners can only construct houses. “It’s the owner’s choice,” he added.

Meanwhile, the National Housing Development Corporation Limited (NHDCL) has also started constructing low income housing project in Phuentsholing to address the housing shortage issues in the town since last year. More than 500 units constructed at 10 different locations in Phuentsholing core area, Amochhu river bank and Pekarzhing are expected to benefit the people currently residing in Jaigaon. The project is expected to be complete this year after which they would begin allotment. The project worth Nu 890mn is funded by the government. Seven private contractors are working on 296 units, while the remaining 210 units are looked after by the Departmental Executives of NHDCL. Around Nu 1.8mn is spent per unit including site development works.

Phuentsholing Thromde’s Excecutive Secretary, Wangchuk Thayey, said it would be advisable for the construction companies to construct two-roomed units with attached toilet and kitchen.

“Looking at the current scenario of the class of people, most being factory workers, they won’t afford 3BHK flat to rent with their monthly income. Most of the employees prefer affordable apartments. They even go to the extent of sharing rooms. So if all the plot owners construct expensive flats there is risk that they would find difficulties in finding tenants. They should target the class of people if they are to earn,” he said.

Phuentsholing Thrompon, Uttar Kumar Rai, said once all the LAPs get approved and people start construction, the town won’t have housing crunch. Still the Thromde invests in providing facilities in the LAPS before plot allotments.

“Once within the 12th Plan, once all the owners complete their constructions, housing problems will be wiped off,” he said.

Krishna Ghalley from Phuentsholing