India makes second release of funds
Aid to Bhutan’s 10th plan is addressed at rural poverty through direct impact
Small Development Projects 28 September, 2010 – Farmers in Serthi, a small village in Kanglung, Trashigang, are eagerly waiting for November to arrive. The community of 40 households will have their first road then.
Their gup, Ugyen Dorji, said the 6-km farm road was almost complete. The alignment was drawn, cuttings done and support walls built. All that’s left was to give the strip a final leveling.
“I’ll soon draw up a budget estimate for the remaining work and submit a report to the authorities,” he said, through a phone interview.
Back in Thimphu, in the decorous setting of the finance minister Lyonpo Wangdi Norbu’s office, Indian ambassador to Bhutan, Pavan K Varma, handed over a cheque of Nu 857.366M yesterday.
The endowment will finance projects mostly in rural communities, including Serthi’s almost-complete farm road.
The assistance was being provided under the small development projects (SDP), which was a part of India’s assistance to Bhutan in the 10th plan.
The projects, targeted at addressing rural poverty through direct impact on the livelihoods of the people and communities, included construction of farms roads, irrigation channels, rural water supply, and health outreach clinics, among others.
The cheque was a second release to finance about 440 projects, the first batch of the 1,250 projects identified so far.
The amount translated to 60 percent of the allocated cost. The first release, Nu 393M, accounting to 30 percent of the allocated expense, was handed over in February this year.
“The final 10 percent of the first batch will be received after we forward the final progress report to the government of India,” said Lyonpo Wangdi Norbu.
He said the second batch of the project was ready and consisted of 849 projects, estimated to cost about Nu 2.5B.
“The same procedures will be followed,” said the minister, adding that the project proposals were being collected for the third batch, which was the final batch. The deadline was December 2010.
A total of Nu 7B was committed for the small development projects.
Lyonpo Wangdi Norbu said the third batch of the project would be the most challenging, since it was large and more work had to be done.
“We’re in the middle of the 10th plan and have a lot of catching up to do,” he said, adding that a little time was lost in the beginning, in working out details like negotiating the mode of implementation, finalising the channeling of funds and report submissions.
“However we’ve gathered momentum and so far, whatever we planned to do, within the time period, has been successful,” he said. “We should try hard, otherwise we won’t have the benefit of the seven billion.”
Ambassador Pavan K Varma said that they were entirely conscious these were small but significant grassroots projects, which affected the quality of lives of people across the country. He assured the fund support for the remaining 800 projects were also being processed expeditiously.