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Amochu Riverfront Development,
Land Reclamation and Township Project

Phuentsholing, Bhutan

The overall objective of this project is to provide high quality river training and flood protection infrastructure along with good town and infrastructure planning. Carefully conceived river training will provide a proper and defined flow path for the floodwater and will eliminate the ever-changing course of the river, thereby providing usable riverfront land, flood control and resultant safety to the city infrastructure and properties. These measures will result in the creation of reclaimed land estimated over 865 acres which can be used for township development and expansion of Phuentsholing City.

Site Area : 1157 Acres
Services : Visioning and Master Planning, Urban Design, Waterfront Development

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River Front & Tourism Development and Training of the Amo-Chhu

The Amo-Chhu is a river system originating from the Himalayas in Tibet that flows into Western Bhutan, widening at the Indo-Bhutan border in the Phuentsholing district before entering India. Phuentsholing, the second most populous district of Bhutan, shares a seamless connection across the border with the buzzing town of Jaigaon on the Indian side, stimulating large scale cross-border trade. Due to geographically constrained physical expansion, Phuentsholing’s growth is impeded by shortage of land and the threat of sedimentation & erosion caused by the Amo-Chhu’s uncontrolled flow as well as threat to life and property resulting from its flooding.

To address these issues, this project aims to train an 8 km stretch of the Amo-Chhu River in order to restrain its flow to a designed channel that wouldn’t alter its natural path during flooding and consequently prevent the resulting erosion of its banks. The design also results in reclaimed land of over 1000 acres which is made available for well-planned expansion of the existing town, offering sustainable growth along the river banks. Thus, the Amo-chhu Land Development and Township Project (ALDTP) master plan addresses both of the above problems and proposes a resilient riverfront with a mitigated threat of flooding and erosion.

Various aspects of the entire project were studied and addressed by the team which included the hydro-physiology, geography, topography and vegetation of the riverside, the socio-cultural, economic, demographic aspects, demographic impact, economic feasibility, and existing infrastructure issues of Phuentsholing town and its surrounding region. The development focus was on creating an apt river training plan, designing the development of an attractive tourist hub with pertinent infrastructure, planning the development of reclaimed land and coming up with a phased plan for the implementation of this mega project. Also, the said stretch between Phuentsholing and Bhutan’s capital city Thimphu being in a seismically active region meant that a thorough disaster risk assessment and management plan had to be undertaken. The Master Plan also integrates relevant aligned projects and proposed developments by the Phuentsholing Thromde, such as Amo-chhu LAP and PCR highway and considers both upstream and downstream impacts, ensuring that Jaigoan and its adjoining areas along the river are not adversely impacted, as the Amochhu flows across the Indo-Bhutan border.

Phuentsholing Expansion on Reclaimed Land Along River Front

Land to the tune of 1331 acres could be reclaimed from the river basin in the process of training its stream, which was marked in three pockets. The land reclaimed was reserved for future expansion of Phuentsholing town with planned social housing for a growing population and strengthened infrastructure in terms of transport network, water and waste management and a sustainable, green community in a smart city.

The master plan is designed to serve as a guiding document for planned expansion for the next 25 years. A set of Development Control Regulations have been drawn up to ensure a harmonious, culturally and environmentally sensitive and planned urban development. ALDTP will promote livability, inclusivity and sustainability while providing new growth opportunities for the region, thus resulting in transformation of Phuentsholing into a national economic, cultural and tourist hub without compromising its environmental goals, & region’s social and cultural values.

Tourism to Flourish at Creeks and Bay Sides

The development plan is based on strategies of maximizing the water-front, creating green mobility and sustainable infrastructure, creating a smart city with ample public spaces and unique urban districts. The analysis of several alternative strategies to train the river led to decision to create a bay area downstream with tourism infrastructure developed around it and along the riverbanks. The town center is also planned around the bay with proposed public amenities to promote the development. The network of creeks along both sides of the river were enhanced as scenic outdoor spaces to be enjoyed by the locals and tourists alike.

Bhutan being a country where its leader believes in measuring its Gross Domestic Happiness – GDH instead of GDP – was a philosophy that guided the entire project in the direction of ensuring a holistic development that accounted for social, economic, cultural, philosophical, spiritual and emotional well-being of the region’s population.

"Crafting Holistic Regional Development Based on the Awareness of an Interconnected Ecosystem."

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