…𝒄𝒐𝒍𝒍𝒂𝒃𝒐𝒓𝒂𝒕𝒊𝒗𝒆 𝒆𝒇𝒇𝒐𝒓𝒕 𝒂𝒊𝒎𝒔 𝒕𝒐 𝒆𝒍𝒆𝒗𝒂𝒕𝒆 𝒕𝒘𝒊𝒏 𝒘𝒂𝒕𝒆𝒓𝒇𝒂𝒍𝒍 𝒊𝒏𝒕𝒐 𝒂 𝒔𝒖𝒔𝒕𝒂𝒊𝒏𝒂𝒃𝒍𝒆 𝒆𝒄𝒐𝒕𝒐𝒖𝒓𝒊𝒔𝒎 𝒈𝒆𝒎, 𝒇𝒐𝒔𝒕𝒆𝒓𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒄𝒐𝒎𝒎𝒖𝒏𝒊𝒕𝒚 𝒈𝒓𝒐𝒘𝒕𝒉 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒄𝒐𝒏𝒔𝒆𝒓𝒗𝒂𝒕𝒊𝒐𝒏
Taking a step towards enriching the area’s inherent natural allure and its potential as a tourist destination, authorities representing the Dzongkhag, Dungkhag, and Gewog administrations jointly carried out an initial land assessment for the enhancement initiative of Panbang’s Twin Waterfall. The undertaking, with the goal of converting the Twin Waterfall into a prominent ecotourism draw, embodies a cooperative endeavor to advance sustainable tourism prospects and foster community growth.
Zhemgang is one of the demonstration landscapes of the Global Environment Facility (GEF). The Dzongkhag receives technical and financial support from the Department of Trade, Ministry of Industry, Commerce, and Employment to develop eco-tourism infrastructure and products. Several projects are planned through the Annual Work Plan.
However, the funding for the project was obtained through an open grant competition among the landscape Dzongkhags. The grant invitation was issued in April by the Project Management Unit. Consequently, Zhemgang Dzongkhag and Ngangla Gewog collaborated on writing the proposal, which was reviewed by the Dzongda and then submitted for assessment. The total funds secured for the Twin Waterfall Beautification phase amount to Nu. 2.1 million, with Nu. 0.5 million co-financed by Ngangla Gewog.
Since no documented survey data exists for the land area surrounding Twin Waterfall, collecting land coverage data was essential for the preparation of the master plan for the location. The survey data will assist engineers and architects in designing eco-friendly infrastructure that aligns with the landscape and meets the necessary requirements. Developing a master plan will not only provide a well-defined project outline for the area but also facilitate future planning, implementation, and resource mobilization.
Various levels of administrative bodies are involved in the execution of this project. Firstly, as the project falls under the purview of GEF, the Department of Tourism is providing technical guidance and funding support. Several rounds of bilateral consultations were initiated between the Dzongkhag and Ngangla Gewog Administration a few months ago to thoroughly assess the potential of Twin Waterfall and subsequently begin planning the project accordingly.
The Gup elaborated, stating, “Zhemgang holds significant potential for community-based tourism, which could yield both economic and social benefits for the community while fostering the development of eco-tourism in the region. Recognizing Zhemgang’s capacity to emerge as a premier ecotourism destination, the Department of Tourism (DOT) has rightfully designated it as the ‘Eco-Tourism Capital of Bhutan’, effective from May 2023. Aligned with this vision, the Dzongkhag has numerous eco-tourism projects in the pipeline, with many more outlined in the Dzongkhag’s long-term plans (13th Five-Year Plan & 13th Five-Year Plan)”.
“Our plans encompass the establishment of charming cafeteria shops and small-scale installations to showcase locally sourced products. This harmonious blend of eco-tourism and community enterprise signifies our commitment to holistic progress,” he said.
“This project has the potential to draw a greater number of international tourists, particularly nature enthusiasts and birdwatchers, to visit the Dzongkhag. The vicinity of Twin Waterfall is home to various species of birds. In the later stages of the project, the Dzongkhag and Gewog Administration plan to establish a cafeteria and sales outlets, allowing local farmers to vend their produce in the waterfall area,” he added.
He further stated, “The infrastructure development and beautification work of Twin Waterfall will utilize locally-sourced and environmentally friendly resources, ensuring harmonious integration with the landscape. The preservation of upstream biodiversity is a priority and will not be disrupted. The projected timeline for the completion of the project is one year. Nevertheless, the Dzongkhag is dedicated to finishing the project within a shorter span of six to seven months.”
The Dzongkhag Planning Unit has initiated community contracts and has already commenced work on the project’s softer components. The execution of the work is scheduled to be completed by October 2023.