From being almost wrecked by a flash flood to curfews at night, residents of Trashigang town had to brave numerous challenges in the year of the dog.

A flash flood from Rangshikhar on the evening of July 22 caused the Mithimdrang stream to swell and wash away a wooden cantilever bridge near the archery range.

The bridge over the flood protection wall was covered in muck choking traffic in town. Some 30 residents of the lower market area were also evacuated to one of the resorts following the event.

Although no major damages were reported, few structures and four vehicles were completely covered in muck.

The flash flood also washed away drinking water pipelines in three different locations at the source near Rangshikhar, affecting about 5,000 residents.

The dzongkhag administration is yet to carry out the restoration works in the affected areas.

Another highlight in the dzongkhag was the rumour of presence of headhunters (Khekpa) in the nearby area. During the initial days of the rumour, shops in the town closed early and children and adults locked themselves home.

Police later ruled out the presence of headhunters in the area. In connection to the rumour, Trashiyangtse dzongkhag court sentenced Serpang-Shali tshogpa, Dorji Wangdi, of Khamdang gewog to two months imprisonment for spreading false alarm on the presence of headhunters in the gewog.

The year of the dog also saw a common leopard attack three vehicles near the Bhutan Oil Distributor (BOD) station. While no casualties were reported from the attack, a van was damaged with multiple scratches and a large dent in the front.

The attack, according to residents of Pam and Kheri areas was the first in the locality. While they claimed to have seen sights of the animal in the past, there were no incidences of the animal attacking human and properties.

A major forest fire razed more than 100 acres of chirpine forest in Bartsham. The fire was one of the biggest in the last three years in the dzongkhag. The fire was contained after a week.

Trashigang dzongkhag administration forwarded a case involving two sister companies for failing to complete three different projects in Merak, Phongmay and Bidung gewogs.

The dzongkhag court sentenced an 83-year-old man from Melphey in Trashigang to three years and one month in prison for child molestation.

The defendant, Rinchen, is the paternal great-grandfather of the two 13-year-old girls.

The year of the dog also brought in some good news for the dzongkhag as the renovation and conservation works on the 359-year-old dzong were completed in October.

Last year dzongkhag’s annual tshechu was performed at the dzong after four years since the renovation works began in February 2014. Renovation work at the dzong began after the dzong’s eastern and southwestern sides suffered major cracks from the 2009 and 2011 earthquakes.

While the monastic body has moved into the renovated dzong, the dzongkhag administration is yet to be shifted.

The 2018 National Council election saw the former Member of Parliament, Lhatu, return as the dzongkhag’s councillor.

During National Assembly elections, Trashigang saw its two former ministers get eliminated in the primary rounds. However, the dzongkhag received two new ministers from Thrimshing and Sakteng gewogs.

With construction works for a new water distribution network underway, residents in the town are expected to get uninterrupted, clean and safe drinking water towards the end of this year.

In Trashiyangtse, Kholongchu project grabbed headlines.

With no signs of any major civil works going on, Kholongchu Hydro Energy Limited (KHEL) in Trashiyangtse began scaling down of some of its operations.

Three years after the commencement of the project, KHEL had returned one rented office in Samdrupjongkhar and downsized a guesthouse, which had doubled as an office in Thimphu. The company has also cut down its manpower and hiring of equipment and vehicles.

The project management had started to scale down some of its operations to save cost.

However, towards the end of the year, the project began works at their first phase KHEL colony in Doksum, Trashiyangtse.

The phase I of the colony would comprise 40 residential buildings (113 units) with five non-residential buildings for office, guesthouse, multipurpose hall and two clubs. The structures are expected to complete towards the end of 2020.

Besides the delay in construction works, the dzongkhag administration in one of their letters to the National Housing Development Corporation Ltd stated that with the commencement of the Kholongchu project, the civil servants in the dzongkhag have continued to face acute housing shortage since 2016.

The then Institute of Zorig Chusum in Trashiyangtse also made it to the news with confusion surrounding over the former government’s step to establish three colleges in the east.

The institute was converted into a college and renamed as College of Rigney. However, five months after the College of Rigney was established, the college received directives from the labour ministry to close it for good.

Following directives from the government, the College of Rigney was renamed as the College of Zorig Chusum.

It was learnt that the labour ministry in a letter to the institute had stated that the ministry in the 12th Plan would work towards establishing a College of Zorig Chusum in Trashiyangtse. However, the institute was renamed immediately following media reports on the closure of the then College of Rigney.

Trashiyangtse College of Zorig Chusum (TCZC) introduced a national diploma programme in Jimzo (sculpture) in August last year, signaling the first major change at the institute since it was renamed into a college earlier that year.

Meanwhile, residents of Trashiyangtse town, who were unhappy with the revised collection fee on solid waste the municipality imposed on them, had asked the dzongkhag tshogdue (DT) to remove their thuemi.

Younten Tshedup