Gol build­ing to be dis­man­tled

Bhutan Times - - Home - Thin­ley Choda/Pling

The Gol (round) build­ing con­structed some­time in the 50s stands as Phuentshol­ing’s land­mark. Lit­tle chil­dren study­ing in In­dia used to be hys­ter­i­cal when they see a glimpse of the build­ing while re­turn­ing for va­ca­tion be­cause then they know they were home.

Gol build­ing was con­structed in 1968 as a three- sto­ried build­ing. It was ver­ti­cally ex­tended to the ex­ist­ing height later. Ini­tially, it had 65 res­i­den­tial and 20 com­mer­cial units but to­day it houses 53 ten­ants and the build­ing does not have sci­en­tific or seis­mic el­e­ments in­cor­po­rated in its de­sign.

More­over, wa­ter is al­ready seep­ing into its walls and cracks have de­vel­oped. Also plants have started grow­ing on it.

Pre­vi­ously in 2012 ,the Na­tional Hous­ing De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion Lim­ited (NHDCL) was in the process of as­sess­ing the build­ing but a visit by its en­gi­neers re­port­edly re­vealed that the build­ing seems to be stand­ing strong but not for long now.

Ear­lier, the build­ing was un­der the care of the Phuentshol­ing Dungkhag, how­ever, the build­ing was handed over to the NHDCL in 2012.

Some were gov­ern­ment-owned quar­ters but most were pri­vate in­di­vid­u­als. .

An of­fi­cial at NHDCL said that to de­sign struc­tures to make them earthquake-re­sis­tant was a costly af­fair.

One ex­am­ple he cited was the United Na­tions De­vel­op­ment Pro­gramme (UNDP) build­ing in Thim­phu, which af­ter as­sess­ment was to be seis­mi­cally de­signed; how­ever, the costs ex­ceeded 80 per­cent of the orig­i­nal amount al­lot­ted.

There­fore the plan was dis­missed and UNDP is said to be go­ing in for a new con­struc­tion for its of­fice.

He added that in Thim­phu alone, there were about 300 build­ings that were not seis­mi­cally pro­tected and safe.

The Gol build­ing will soon be a mem­ory. It will be dis­man­tled.

Un­der the ini­tia­tive of the NHDCL, by the end of this year the de­mo­li­tion work of the build­ing will be com­pleted.

NHDCL’s man­ag­ing direc­tor (MD), Thin­ley Dorji said, “It do not hold the seis­mic codes in Bhutan and it do not meet the cri­te­ria for the pre­vail­ing safety re­quire­ments.”

The newly con­structed build­ings near Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­tral Store will be al­lo­cated to the ten­ants who will be re­lo­cated from Gol build­ing.

There are six build­ings ready for al­lot­ment and this state­ment is con­firmed by the NHDCL.

The con­struc­tion of these six build­ings started be­fore the af­ford­able hous­ing project com­menced.

As per the pre­vail­ing al­lot­ment rules and reg­u­la­tions, for those 20 com­mer­cial ten­ants, the man­age­ment would serve the va­ca­tion no­tice.

The rent ranges up to Nu.3, 520 and the ten­ants are mostly gov­ern­ment em­ploy­ees and pri­vate cor­po­rate em­ploy­ees.

A ten­ant Yeshi Sam­drup, 48 from Pu­nakha re­sid­ing at Gol build­ing said, “I have live here for al­most 8 years now. My chil­dren’s has grown big­ger play­ing here, so it’s lit­tle emo­tional for us to know that the build­ing will be soon de­mol­ished.”

He added that although it’s dis­heart­en­ing to hear about de­mol­ish­ing but it’s also bet­ter for the ten­ants to va­cate as soon as pos­si­ble as the con­di­tion of the build­ing is not so well. “So it’s bet­ter to va­cate be­fore some dis­as­trous thing hap­pens.”

In April 2015, when tremors were felt in Bhutan fol­low­ing the Nepal earthquake, many Gol build­ing res­i­dents stayed out­side in the open through­out the nights.

The man­age­ment of Gol build­ing has changed sev­eral times from Dungkhag ad­min­is­tra­tion to cus­toms and NHDCL. NHDCL took it over from the Dungkhag in 2012. The build­ing gen­er­ates Nu.1.91M from res­i­den­tial rents a year and Nu.6.33M from com­mer­cial units.

NHDCL has al­ready planned and pre­pared a conceptual de­sign for the new build­ing in the same area.

Thin­ley Dorji said the de­mo­li­tion work would be ten­dered out and the work shall be awarded to the com­pe­tent firm.

NHDCL of­fice has also stated that the form, pro­file and plinth area are not yet fi­nalised and the plan­ning and de­sign are still in a conceptual stage.

Mean­while, the ac­tual cost of the new build­ing has also not been es­ti­mated. How­ever, the in­dica­tive cost worked out based on the conceptual de­sign is Nu.140M.

The Gol build­ing will soon be a mem­ory. It will be dis­man­tled

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