Choki Wangmo | Sarpang

Chuborshong village in Umling gewog has 25 households with 85 acres of arable land, which they couldn’t cultivate for the past three decades.

According to the local government leaders of Umling, the village that is remotely located between Chuzanggang and Umling gewogs does not have electricity and other basic amenities.

“Chuborshong has 80 acres of wetlands which are mostly fallow. There is irrigation water shortage and the area is prone to human-wildlife conflicts and landslides,” said Umling Gup Sanjay Tenzin.

The irrigation canal was washed away in 2017.

The local government leaders at the recent Sarpang dzongkhag tshogdu requested the relevant agencies to allow conversion of wetland to dryland or provide a transformer for electric fencing to keep away the wild animals.

For electric fencing, they also requested permission from the agencies to build temporary sheds in and around the fields for farmers to temporarily live in and guard their crops.

“Residents are interested in cultivating their land; we need electric fencing but without transformers it is difficult,” Umling Mangmi Thinley Wangchuk said.

The condition in the village, mangmi said worsens during monsoon. “It is challenging for people to guard what little they grow in their fields. The risks from wildlife are numerous.”

However, the dzongkhag’s senior land record supervisor Wangdi, said that for one to two years, land conversion is on hold according to the directives from the National Land Commission Secretariat.

Bhutan Power Corporation’s (BPC) engineer Phuntsho Choden said that it was doubtful how her office would be able to provide a transformer as there have to be settlements around wetlands.

“Policies forbid people from building temporary sheds in and around wetland. It would be expensive for BPC and there will be audit issues,” she said.

She said that excluding transportation and labour costs, it costs Nu 900,000 to build infrastructure alone.

“If the dzongkhag gives us the surety that there will be settlements, we are willing to work on it,” she added.

Farmers depend on areca nut and ginger for income. Villagers said that due to the location, conflicts with elephants are common.