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Development activities over the years has transformed rural places and are not remote anymore 

Incentive: Civil servants entitled to difficulty allowance would have lost or gained with the finance ministry still reviewing the newly worked out dholam (walking distance from nearest motorable road) the home ministry submitted.

During the last pay revision, about a year ago, it decided that high altitude and difficulty allowances be paid after the home ministry determines high altitude and difficult areas.

The rationale, according to the second pay commission was that rural areas in the country have developed rapidly in recent years, and most places that were once considered remote now have access to basic facilities like telecommunication, electricity, roads, health and education.

Difficulty area allowance is usually paid taking the dholam as a yardstick. Dholam is the walking distance in remote areas including porter and pony charges.

Earlier, officials receive Nu 2,000 a month for the first dholam  from the nearest motorable road and Nu 500 for every additional dholam with a maximum ceiling of Nu 5,000 a month.

To attract and motivate civil servants posted to remote areas, the difficulty allowance was revised to Nu 2,000 for each dholam and a maximum ceiling of Nu 10,000 a month.

Until now the difficulty allowance has been paid as per the revised amount and existing dholam.

Home secretary, Dasho (Dr) Sonam Tenzin said the issue needs serious discussion because some places, which were earlier, considered remote now has road and basic amenities. But, he said there are also some places where road exists but no vehicle ply and roads get washed away quite often.

After compiling the dholams, finance ministry officials said the report would be presented to a high-level committee for the final decision. The new dholam has been identified based on pliable and nearest motorable road including farm roads. Officials would be entitled to mileage claims in places where new roads were built.

The financial implications, officials said would be known only after compilation of the reports.

Meanwhile, the pay commission recommended hardship allowances for places where civil servants face great difficulty even if they are not considered remote. This referred to civil servants working with the Royal Manas National Park.

In such specific situations, the commission recommended that the finance ministry be empowered to extend, on a case-by-case basis, hardship allowances, as it deems reasonable.

Meanwhile, civil servants working at places above 10,000 ft had been receiving Nu 1,000-2,000 a month. This again was revised to Nu 3,000 for places above 12,000ft and Nu 2,000 for places between 10,000ft and 12,000ft.

The commission has identified 16 villages in six dzongkhags of Gasa, Bumthang, Wangdiphodrang, Bumthang, Trashigang and Thimphu between altitude of 10,000 to 12,000ft and eight villages in Gasa and Thimphu above 12,000ft.

By Tshering Dorji

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