Samtse Distillery / Army Welfare Project
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Galephu Distillery / Army Walfare Project|
Gaylegphug Distillery / Army Welfare Project
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Since the 1970s, one of the army's goals has been selfsufficiency. The Army Welfare Committee was established in 1978 to oversee the Army Welfare Project, which provided housing, food, and income for the Royal Bhutan Army and the Royal Body Guards. It was charged with taking care of individual army personnel problems and providing pensions to retirees. Although some labor for the Army Welfare Project was provided by army personnel, the project was administered by civil service employees and contractors. By 1979 a pilot project, the Lapchekha Agriculture Farm in Wangdiphodrang District, had been established to provide food for army units in western Bhutan. The farm comprised 525 hectares with a potential for an additional 113 hectares of arable land. Army personnel constructed a twenty-one-kilometer-long canal to irrigate the farm and worked there for three months each year. Revenues from the farm and other welfare projects helped provide benefits to retired and disabled personnel in the form of pensions and loans and, in the case of landless retirees, agricultural land grants. Army careerists could retire, depending on their rank, between the ages of thirty-seven and forty-five years of age. Preretirement training in farming was provided to army personnel. All retirees received pensions, and those disabled during service received both a pension and free medical care. In 1985 the Army Welfare Project generated Nu40 million in sales of farm services and products, which ranged from such practical civil activities as fence electrification to protect sugarcane farms from wild elephants in Geylegphug District to entrepreneurial endeavors, such as the manufacture and sale of rum to the Indian Army and Indian Air Force.