Constructing check dams could be a viable solution to flooding along highways if the ones constructed at Aieslip along the Gelephu-Zhemgang Highway are anything to go by. Check dams are structures built across water bodies to reduce erosion by lowering water speed. At Aieslip, the structures which were built around two months ago have proved to be a success so far. This has come as a huge relief to commuters along the stretch, which has been experiencing landslides every summer, for over a decade.
This is the Aieslip stretch along the highway. It is almost eight kilometres away from Gelephu town. Travellers, especially from Zhemgang, Trongsa, Bumthang and Sarpang use the road. However, every summer they dread roadblocks on the road as soon as the monsoon season starts. The erstwhile Department of Roads used to spend millions of ngultrum annually just to keep the road open to traffic.
However, the situation has improved this year, thanks to these newly constructed check dams. No roadblock has been reported so far.
“It has become convenient this year compared to last year after the construction of the dams. We don’t get stuck on the road anymore,” said Kinzang, a taxi driver.
“It has become much safer to travel on this road now. In the past, they used to keep an excavator on either side of the stretch to clear the road. It used to be very risky driving through this point because of shooting boulders,” said Madhan Kumar Rai, a resident.
“We had a tough time commuting through this road till last year. This year we have not faced any problem,” said Narayan Bandhari, another resident.
The Department of Surface Transport’s regional office in Sarpang constructed four such structures out of reinforced concrete, which are 10 meters tall. These structures control the flow of debris and slow down runoff. Construction began in October last year and was completed in April this year. The construction was done with a budget of around Nu 3 M.