The roads department attributes shortage of excavators

Connectivity: The villagers of Choekhorling gewog are irked with the Department of Roads (DoR) for not repairing their gewog connectivity road which has been severed at two locations.

The road has been severed for more than a month.

Villagers pointed out that road blocks and damage to roads in other gewogs had been cleared or fixed a long time back but that their gewog is still cut off in two areas. The two areas disintegrated following landslides that occurred on July 18, when heavy rains hit the southern parts of the country.

The two major affected areas are between Yarjung chiwog and the gewog centre.

The issue was raised with the gewog office and concerned authorities several times but villagers said their concerns went unheeded.

Villagers are questioning why their gewog’s road blocks are being ignored.

A farmer, Zangpo, said patience is giving way to frustration among the villagers.

“When the road blocks first occurred on July 18, we understood their problem since it continued to rain until July 25,” she said. “But we expected they would clear the road after the weather improved yet they’ve not although they did clear blocks in other areas.” 

Another farmer, Jigme, said the gewog office has also written to the concerned road official but nothing has been done yet despite promises that the road will be fixed soon.

He said such problems have emerged since the roads were handed over to DoR. Earlier the road was under the gewog. He said DoR attributes either unavailability of machines, oil, or machine breakdowns, and delays occur.

“Four Bolero pick-up vehicles are stuck in the gewog and it has become difficult to find vehicles to go to Nganglam to get rations and visit the hospital,” another farmer Khorjay Chozang said. He added that shops are running out of stock and villagers are left with limited rations. Patients are carried to the Nganglam BHU.

Choekhorling is 23km from Nganglam dungkhag.

Villagers said they have raised the issue with several officials but the road has remained as it is.

Choekhorling gewog administrative officer Yeshey Wangmo acknowledged that they have written to the concerned road official repeatedly to clear the blocks but to no avail.

She said they have tried to clear the road manually whereever possible. With the help of RBA soldiers who patrol the area, a few areas were cleared. Some more areas were cleared with the help of a machine dispatched by DoR on August 17.

“But the two main major blocks have remained and a DoR official said the construction of a wall is required to clear these blocks,” said Yeshey Wangmo. “But it’s been more than 12 days since they said they will start the work.”

The road blocks worsened with a recent windstorm and incessant rain and a few more blocks occurred along the farm road, which are yet to be cleared.

The gewog administrative office has also written to the Pemagatshel administration, which has assured the gewog that it will follow up on the issue soon.

However, DoR Samdrupjongkhar regional chief engineer, Jigme Choidup, said the road cannot be repaired soon because they are short of excavator machines. Those available have either broken down or are deployed to other important sites.

However he added DoR is looking for machines to hire.

“These blocks require major renovation since it’s completely washed away,” he said. “It requires a new wall and heavy boulders to repair the road permanently. There is no space to repair the road on a temporary basis so we couldn’t clear the blocks.”

He added that as soon as a machine is found they will start the repair work and until then the people of Choekhorling will have to bear with the blocks.

Yangchen C Rinzin | Samdrupjongkhar