While the govt. plans to cut down the number of gewogs, the Council has the opposite in mind

Gewogs: The government’s plan to cut the number of gewogs by 57 has left the National Council (NC) in a dilemma, as to whether it should discuss the gewog bifurcation issue in the upcoming Parliament session.

Following a discussion on gewog bifurcation in the last session, the council’s natural resources and environment committee was asked to prepare a report on the potential of new gewogs.  However, the committee was taken aback, when the home ministry announced that a draft report has been completed to significantly reduce the number of gewogs.

On the Council’s request, the department of local government (DLG) made a presentation of the home ministry’s plans on gewog rationalisation on March 20.  The director general of DLG, Dorji Norbu, made the presentation.

“We’re not sure if the issue will be dropped or taken up in the House,” Nima Gyaltshen, one of the committee members, said. “We were told that the government plans to reduce the number of gewogs by a large number.” He said the decision on whether the house will discuss this issue would be taken by April 10.

Nima Gyaltshen said the Council’s stand was to bifurcate larger gewogs for economic benefits of the people.  The issue, however, is most likely to be discussed, since it’s already listed in the NC’s tentative agenda.

The Council resolved in 2012 that the establishment of new gewogs would contribute in accelerating socio-economic development and elevate poverty.  The House had called on the government to bifurcate and establish new gewogs before the budget for the 11th Plan was finalised.

Although the Council then had proposed for bifurcation of 11 gewogs based on the size and population, Punakha’s representative and committee member, Rinzin Dorji, said the committee is still in the process of identifying the number of potential gewogs.

Some of the gewogs the Council had proposed for bifurcation include Lumang gewog in Trashigang and Lauri gewog in Samdrup Jongkhar.

He said the potential number of gewogs would be worked out only after the committee decides to put up the gewog bifurcation plan in the upcoming session.

Deputy chairperson and spokesperson, Tshering Dorji, said the gewog rationalisation issue merits deliberation in Parliament. “Dzongkhags and gewogs strongly feel that larger gewogs have to be bifurcated,” he said, adding that villages are geographically near to a neighbouring gewog, but have to travel a long distance to reach their own gewog offices.

Tshering Dorji said that there are also gewogs and dzongkhags, whose boundaries need to be realigned for the people’s convenience.  For instance, he said, the people of Gakiling gewog in Haa could take less time to reach Samtse than come to Haa.  The gewog was previously under Samtse.

Meanwhile, local leaders say bifurcation of gewogs would benefit the people.  Lauri gup Pema Dhendup said his gewog has about 4,400 people and 500 households. “We ‘ve raised the issue again and again in dzongkhag tshogdus and gewog tshogdes, but nothing has materialised,” he said.

Jigmechholing gup, Sherab Tenzin in Sarpang said the gewog has about 700 households and six chiwogs.  The gewog had earlier proposed to carve out a new gewog consisting of two chiwogs – Gangtekha and Gongdugang.

“But we haven’t heard anything from the government,” he said, adding that the people of these two chiwogs today take about three days to reach the gewog centre.

By MB Subba