Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing

Almost a year after Chukha dzongkhag tshogdu (DT) decided the dzongkhag court construction site at Gedu, local leaders were taken by surprise when the location was recently changed to Tsimasham.

The construction work was also tendered out on the electronic government procurement (EGP).

With the local leaders and residents questioning the DT chairperson how the site changed without public consultation and notice, DT wrote to the Supreme Court (SC), attaching the DT resolution.

 Bongo gup, Tshering Nidup, who is the DT chairperson, said the letter was submitted to the SC on February 6 with a copy to the Prime Minister, Speaker, National Council (NC) Chairperson, education minister and Members of Parliament from Chukha.

 He said they haven’t received any response until yesterday.

An official from SC confirmed receiving the DT’s letter. “We will respond by next week,” the official said, adding that they cannot comment at the moment.

 According to gup Tshering Nidup, DT had to take the decision based on SC directives to identify a suitable location last year and the issue was discussed on March 18 and 19.

 He said that most local leaders had chosen Gedu as nine of the 11 gewogs in the dzongkhag were closer to Gedu, making it more convenient for the public. “Local leaders chose Gedu, as it is also on the highway and would have more advantage for people.”

 The DT chairperson said DT members then voted and of the total 22 votes, 15 had opted Gedu for construction, given its reach and coverage to more people. “Seven had voted ‘no’.”

 He said he abstained from voting, as he is the chairperson.

 Gup Tshering Nidup said local leaders and residents are asking why the SC changed the site without any notice and consultation. “Many felt the DT’s resolution was taken for granted.”

 Considering the location and population, Bjacho and Chapcha are the only two gewogs near Tshimasham and only about 5,300 people would be direct beneficiary of the site.

 Sources said that the court site in Gedu would directly benefit more than 15,000 people of Darla and Bongo gewogs. Other gewogs that are closer to Gedu are Getana, Dungna, Metadkha and Geling. Phuentsholing, Sampheling, and Logchhina gewogs are closer to Phuentsholing drungkhag court but as the dzongkhag court, residents would have to travel less if the site is in Gedu.

 Darla gup Mil Kumar Mongar said Gedu was identified and finalised during the DT. “Gedu would be a centre for all the 11 gewogs and more people would benefit by having a court there.”

 Meanwhile, the issue first surfaced in social media site Facebook after an anonymous user posted about the issue.

 Some people justified that construction of the court in Tsimasham might benefit the town residents, as it lost its economic viability after the opening of Chukha-Damchu highway. Others reasoned SC should look at the larger benefit to the people.