Neighbourly help: India is assisting Bhutan in 11 new projects under a US$167.6 million project-tied grant assistance programme between the two countries. This was decided in the recently held "Bhutan-India Plan Talks". The newly approved projects are estimated to cost US$29.68 million. Many of them have agriculture as their focus.
"Due to the late start, it was envisaged that all projects under India's project-tied assistance would not be completed in the Ninth Plan. But we submitted several new projects for consideration and the government of India has agreed in principle to all of them," said Nima Wangdi, director general of Bhutan's Department of Debt and Aid Management. India will also provide assistance in various projects in the sectors of health, road transport, information technology, e-governance, education, media and aviation. Major among them are grant support to the Bhutan Broadcasting Service, aid for acquiring CT scan, MRI and other modern medical equipment at the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital in Thimphu and renovation of the Semtokha Dzong, Bhutan's oldest fortress.
Flames of neglect: More than 500 families have been affected and massive damage caused in a major fire in Tengratila gas field in Bangladesh's Sunamganj district. The gas field was developed in a joint venture by the Bangladesh Petroleum Exploration and Production Company and the Canadian company Niko Resources Limited. It was abandoned in 1982 but exploration was resumed in 2004. Experts believe faulty drilling to be the cause of the fire that broke out on January 7, 2005.
As the fire raged even four days after breaking out, a 'red alert' was issued in the district on January 11, 2005, and the movement of people was restricted in an area of one kilometre around the field. Most people staying in the vicinity initially left their homes for safety but they have started returning now, despite warnings about possible landslides. Niko has promised to give a paltry amount of US $81.8 to each affected family for a month.
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