Almost a year after Lhuentse dzongkhag administration issued a notification to 11 shop owners, asking them to move their shops to the new buildings by the end of this month, shop owners are still not ready to shift.

The shop owners, who have been operating from makeshift huts until now, said that shifting to the new building would affect business, as there is no basic infrastructure in place.

A shopkeeper, Dechen Wangmo, 50, said the new town area, where they constructed the buildings does not have a proper road.

She said she has a loan to repay and the grocery shop is her only source of income. “If I shift to the new location, the business will not do good.”

Another shopowner, Dechen Zangmo, 60, said she will shift to the new building if the dzongkhag administration provides a proper road.

She also said that it is unfair for the dzongkhag administration to ask them to shift when other plot owners could operate from the existing area.

The notification states that the other 17 shopkeepers, who could not construct new buildings, could operate in the same location for another two years.

Residents say that the dzongkhag administration should first construct an internal road network, proper drainage, adequate water supply and street lighting. “They should also ask all other plot owners to construct houses,” a shopkeeper said.

But there are also others who are going to shift to the new building.

Tshewang Darjay, 66, said that he is ready to vacate the hut and shift since the dzongkhag administration has sent two letters asking them to shift. “We also have written an agreement stating that we would move by end of this month.”

The father to two children said that he completed constructing three-storey building last year.

A shop owner, who is constructing his home, Kunzangla, 45, said that although they received the plot as kidu from His Majesty, he could not construct a concrete house, as his business is not thriving like others who completed the construction. “But I will complete it in the next two years.”

Meanwhile, the notification states that if owners disobey the notification, their electricity and water supply will be disconnected.

Of the 28 plots His Majesty The King granted as kidu, only 11 plot owners completed the constructing buildings.

Lhuentse dzongdag Jambay Wangchuk said the dzongkhag is not forcing them to move but it is the business community’s proposal.

He said the town proposal was there since 2007 and in 2009, His Majesty The King granted kidu. “When the National Land Commission (NLC) issued the lagthram, the shopkeepers will construct the buildings in two years starting 2009.

However, the dzongdag said that due to the restriction of loan, they couldn’t start the construction. “They requested the government and government extended it until 2014, which was again extended upto July 2016.”

According to the town master plan, there is no internal road designed to cater to the town. There are only two wheeler tracks between the shops. “We are discussing to construct a four wheeler access road,” the dzongdag said.

He said that the dzongkhag had written to the ministry to review and come up with a practical plan to construct the road. “We are waiting for further notice.”

The dzongdag said the dzongkhag administration could not impose the same rule on all shop owners since shop owners are of different economic status.

He said that the dzongkhag administration is serious about the shopkeepers who constructed the building. “We will cut off the water and electricity supply if they don’t adhere to the notification.”

The dzongdag also said that the present town area is prone to flood in summers and fire in winter.

Tashi Phuntsho | Lhuentse