Cracks, slides force Kuengarabten nuns to shift

Tashi Tenzin | Trongsa

With several cracks located at Kuengarabten nunnery area, the nunnery with 110 nuns will now have to shift to a temporary location at a nearby shedra.

The nunnery, established in 1968, has eight two three-storied semi-permanent structures with one main temple. The structures are just a few metres below a cliff.

crack

Cracks above the nunnery

The nunnery principal, Yeshi Choden said it’s not safe to keep the nuns in the dratsang area, as the cliff above is about to slide down anytime. “There are wide gaps between the boulder and soil. We are concerned about our safety.”

Few nuns have already vacated their rooms and are sharing rooms with others.

The decision to shift comes after the nunnery has spent more than Nu 1.8 million (M) to repair the cracks in the area.  Mangdechhu Hydro Project Authority (MHPA) funded Nu 1.5M, as the project was blamed for the cracks in the locality. MHPA has approved Nu 2 million for damage and rectification projects in the area.

It was learnt that repair works at the Kuengarabten nunnery began on January 29 and MHPA deputed officials to monitor the works.

Yeshi Choden said they have now stopped doing repair works, as it lasts only for a few weeks. “It’s just a waste of money and labour,” she said. “We have used gravels mixed with cement to fill the cracks on the road leading to dratsang but the cracks keep appearing.”

Nuns are blaming MHPA for the cracks.

A senior nun, who stays below the cliff where a huge crack has appeared, said she used to feel the vibrations caused by blasts at the time of tunneling.”

She said that even at night they would feel the vibration when labourers are working. “We have complained verbally at the time, but were told that nothing would happen. We don’t feel safe any more to stay in this place although we are very much attached to the site.”

Meanwhile, the nunnery’s administration is looking for land in the locality to relocate.

They said they have even requested a few local leaders to help them find land in their gewogs. “We don’t have money but we need to shift at any cost,” Yeshi Choden said. The principal said they would have to convert the shedra’s multipurpose hall to shelter the nuns.

The shedra, which has 70 nuns, was not affected by the slides and cracks as of now.

After cracks and slides were reported last year, a taskforce formed to monitor it has placed inclinometers to monitor the cracks and the situation in the area and is periodically checked. The nuns, however, claimed the members never shared the reading despite their request.

The nunnery had asked the project and the dzongkhag to check the current situation once again. They are waiting for a good day to shift.

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