Kelzang Wangchuk | Samdrupjongkhar

Dewathang town in Samdrupjongkhar is one of the oldest towns in the dzongkhag and residents say it is in dire need of a major facelift.

The town was established in the 1960s during the construction of the Samdrupjongkhar-Trashigang highway. It has mostly old single and two storey structures.

Landowners could not construct the buildings in the town earlier because they were not allowed without a lagthram (land ownership certificate).

The thromde administration finalised the local area plan (LAP) and started approving the construction after the landowners got lagthrams in 2017. Only two individuals have constructed four-storey buildings in the town so far.

Most of the landowners in the town could not start the construction work. Some blamed the Covid-19 pandemic for delaying construction. They could not afford to buy the materials due to the hike in the prices of raw materials.

A landowner, Sonam, said their parents have been in the town doing business for about 50 years without a lagthram, adding that they got a lagthram a few years ago.

He said that they could not start the construction work as it was challenging for them to get loans from the banks without guarantors and mortgages. “And we could not mortgage our land without a lagthram.”

Residents said they still could not start the construction work in the town even after getting the lagthram because Covid-19 restricted the import of construction materials and labourers.

They said since the restrictions related to Covid-19 were relaxed, they would start the construction soon. “We have a good business opportunity as we have hospitals, colleges and schools.”

Meanwhile, Samdrupjongkhar thrompon, Thinley Namgay, said the thromde office would soon organise a meeting with the landowners in the town and financial institutions.

He said that the meeting is expected to educate the people on the financial services from the banks because most of them are illiterate. “It is high time for the landowners to start the construction.”

Dewathang town became part of the Samdrupjongkhar thromde in 2011.