Friday, November 9, 2018

My thoughts upon Expanding Thimphu.

I am not an Urban Planner, and my thoughts are limited to the technicality of the project. However, I reckon, I am an ardent observer and it is out of this curiosity that I intend to write today about Thimphu. 

A couple of days back, I had visited Taba. It was my friend's site and I had just accompanied him. While he was busy with his client, I went around his site and suddenly my eyes got struck upon Dechencholing area. 

While I was a kid, the first time I realized I had seen Thimphu: I was on a back of a DCM, freezing and pointed towards our Capital. With shivering hands, I asked an uncle seated next to me: Is that Thimphu? He nodded his head vertically. It was at dusk, and Thimphu seemed smaller than Jaigoan and Phuentsholing combined - then! I could make comparisons, because we stayed at Kharbandi and thought everything below it was Phuentsholing.
When I was in third year, I did internship with Thimphu Thromde for some 56 days, and we were made to read Thimphu Structure Plan 2002 -2027 - credited to Christropher Charles Benninger. Whosoever, is old enough in our field, must have had heard about him, and well of course, the emerging papers like The Bhutanese ran stories about him. I am not concerned with the controversies, but the concept of Thimphu being developed then.

Few years later, we heard few of his projects were executed and few were not. Few were too ambitious like the Centenary Park, which was suppose to have island with a statue, but I don't know why it wasn't implemented : perhaps, our own construction industry was catching up - or perhaps, we underestimated ourselves and didn't construct it.

Anyhow, if one has read Mr. Charles' structure plan, one would know about the future expansion of Thimphu City.

My article today, is not to challenge any man's work nor is it to criticize - however, it is an expression of "WHAT IF".

So, it is there in our living room - the elephants have even grown bigger and we need to extend our living rooms. And it is being extended, and perhaps, few of our intellectuals even fear the housing bubble we might have - but the fact is here to stay - live it, breath it - Thimphu is expanding like it never had. We are running out of spaces and the value for land has sky rocketed compared to before. Perhaps, this might be the highest rates, Thimphu owners ever got so far. 

My concern however, runs with functionality and space constraints of Thimphu. I was thinking, in most of our precincts, we still have water shortage. Now, it isn't because we don't have water - we do. We just have failed to manage our water. Leave out what the politicians tell you time and again - we definitely are a blessed country. Because, we have resources in abundance, we just are not good at managing them. 

I was thinking, that we should now invest more on water and waste water treatment. Because, agree or disagree - these are major two reasons which hampers the functionality of any given civilization. We don't have adequate water supply network, we still are struggling with our drainage and we still are yet to see better sewage treatment plants.

In aghast of all these thoughts, I think we need better policies drafted for Water, Drainage and Sewage now. We are in this position to do so, we have reached this stage - we cannot compromise with water like we used to. 

Hence, I was thinking that from hereon, a team could work in order to make extra spaces for further development. A team consisting of Geologists, Metallurgical & Mining Engineers, Civil Engineers, Urban Planners and Architects. I think, maybe, there are rocks beneath the hills till Khasadrapchu. We could mine the hills in different levels, and export the rocks. Then we could stabilize the excavated areas, and then demarcate these plots before auction. It would be ambitious idea, but I think it is very much possible as well. I mean, we will be creating space, whereby afforestation along the civilization could as well be done. Like the Arabs are claiming land from sea, we need to flatten ours in stages. This platforms should be subdivided for residential areas, commercial areas and the ones which are on the hill tops, could be converted into High End Tourist resorts or destination. It is just a thought of mine, which I think is feasible. Because, we can earn from mining and later pave a better path for Urban Planners. The process however, will be criticized by many - but then again, one should go see Tala project today, some of the areas seem like an Excavator never came through - while in reality, during execution of Tala, it was just dust factory. Perhaps, excavation on this one should be made with sprinklers or water jets along them - in order to reduce dust. The planning should be done for water network, drainage (designed as per rainfall IDF Curve) & waste water. Volume capacity of entire precinct should be treated and treated water should be connected to river. 

I am too lazy and busy to have it done in 3d, so I made a hand sketch. I hope, you like the idea.

Please comment upon your thoughts on it. 


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