Roads: The long awaited project of connecting Tsakaling village in Tsirang with a farm road has begun but funds are still being arranged.

Tsakaling village is the furthest and one of the remotest under Patsaling gewog, surrounded by dense forest and is wildlife infested. There are at least 35 households in the village, 22 of which are resettled (zhisar).

The village’s soil is fertile and a variety of vegetables and fruits can be grown. But until now villagers have been growing just enough crops, vegetables and fruits for self consumption.

The long distance between the village and the town has discouraged commercial farming. Villagers fear being attacked by the wildlife as it would require them to walk for long distances.

The Patsaling gewog centre is more than a five-hour walk away and involves trekking through treacherous terrain that includes cliffs. The village has neither a school nor a Basic Health Unit. It does however have an Out Reach Clinic.

When the current Five-Year-Plan was drawn up, the gewog administration made sure that they included a proposal for farm road construction to the village from Patsaling maed. It was proposed but was not approved. Although the plan was not approved, the need for a farm road was recognised, so the gewog decided to divert the financial year 2015-16 Gewog Development Grant (GDG) towards constructing the road.

Patsaling Gup Changa Tshering said when survey was completed budget estimation worked out by dzongkhag engineers was enormous and way beyond the gewog’s ability to fund it through GDG. It was estimated that at least Nu 10M would be required. The gewog has only Nu 1.47M allocated from the GDG.

That the gewog requires additional funds from the government was pointed out to Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay when he visited the gewog last year.

Following Lyonchoen’s response that the government will mobilise additional funds, a survey and estimation was carried out. Partially to save money, instead of contracting the project out, the gewog decided to carry out the work on its own.

Around two weeks ago, the government deployed an excavator to the site. “We’ve begun the work and hope additional funds from the government arrives before the GDG money is over,” Gup Changa Tshering said.

In the recent mid-term review, the issue was again raised. Lyonchoen directed the dzongkhag to discuss with the Gross National Happiness Commission for arrangement of additional budget.

“Should everything go well, we plan to finish first cutting within a month,” the gup added.

Patsaling has another two remote chiwogs: Sadhubang and Malbase, in need of farm road connectivity. While Sadhubang has only about six households cut off from road connection, Malbase has about 22 households.

According to preliminary estimates, at least Nu 19.8M will be required to connect the chiwogs (about five kilometres), which has mostly rocky terrain, Gup Changa Tshering said. “We’ve kept it aside for now and have plans to propose for SDP funding later,” he said.

Nirmala Pokhrel | Tsirang