Preparations for SAARC summit in full swing

Published on Mar 15 2010 // Main News

March 15, 2010: Preparations for the upcoming 16th SAARC summit in Thimphu are in full swing since last few weeks with ministries, corporations, private companies and individuals joining hands with the government.

The government targets to complete most of the works by end this month. The Thimphu City Corporation launched massive cleaning campaigning in the capital where over 3000 locals joined. The clean up campaign will continue every Saturday until April 17. The mission was to turn the city clean and green — fit to welcomes guest from the sub-continent. The band of Royal Bhutan Army has already begun practice on national anthems of the seven member countries to be played during the summit.

According to the government preparedness, about 450 delegates are expected to attend the summit, besides some 150 journalists. They will arrive either through Par airport or through Phuentsholing.

In addition, 86 editors and journalists from South Asia have already confirmed their participation in the South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA) function held in the host country parallel to the SAARC summit.

As per the plan, pre-summit meetings will commence from the third week of April at the Royal Banquet Hall. The summit scheduled for April 28-29 will be held in National Assembly hall.

The most contentious issue plaguing this month is the accommodation for the guests. Some 70 delegates from seven countries would be put up in the ministers’ enclave. And the government officials are looking rooms for another 450 to 500 delegation members from nine observer countries. According to officials, they have so far managed 235 rooms and still needs at least 534 more.

The government is talking with Druk Air and tour operators either to delay the schedules of tourists visiting country during this period or shift these tourists from capital to Punakha and Paro. Association of Bhutanese Tour Operators (ABTO) said at least 350 tourists would be affected by this plan. And the ABTO asking government for compensation for the loss they incur while canceling the rooms booked in Thimphu’s hotels. Journalists are also likely to be accommodated in Paro.

The retreat for the SAARC leaders will be hosted at Hotel Terma Linka in Babesa.

Thimphu will receive a major facelift with gates, flags and banners planted all over the places. Works for improving the road between Paro and Thimphu has already begun for safety, where hundreds of school children and other residents waving the flags of SAARC and SAARC countries will receive the dignitaries.

Entertainment troupes are also preparing their show and elaborate security arrangement has been put in place. Preparations are on for food, traffic movements, control rooms, media centers, gifts and helicopters for emergency medical requirements and docking space at Paro airport for aircrafts that the leaders will fly in.

Besides the seven countries, representatives form China, Japan, European Union, Republic of Korea, USA, Australia, Mauritius and Iran will attend the summit as observers.