Residents of Doksum in Trashiyangtse will have to relocate to the new Doksum township by the end of next year.

The dzongkhag municipal office sent the final deadline to the residents following requests for an extension from the public.

According to the municipal officials, the residents were supposed to move by July 25 earlier this year. However, with no signs of construction progress at the site, the time extension was considered.

This is the second time the dzongkhag administration considered the time extension with the initial deadline in 2016.

However, it was learnt that the dzongkhag extended the deadline three times since the development works for the new township began in 2013.

One of the main reasons for the delay, according to municipal officials, is due to the non-availability of timber for construction works.

Of the 40 plot owners, only about five owners have started the construction works so far since the construction works began some two years ago.

“Initially it was the water issue at the new location which is why we couldn’t shift,” said a resident, Phuntsho Dorji. “Then it was the non-availability of timber. Recently NRDCL officials have assured that we’ll get timber on subsidised rate.”

Another resident, Karma Lhamo, said that difficulty in availing loan has stopped all works at her new house construction. “I’ve already spent about Nu 10.8 million for the house. I would still need one million to complete,” she said. “Many of us are not able to complete our houses and shift because we have no money.”

Municipal engineer, Rinchen Leyda, however, said that for the construction of the residential structures, Bank of Bhutan (BoB) has agreed to provide loans at an interest rate of nine percent.

“The rate was finalised last year. However, the bank has it on hold for now,” he said. “For the commercial structures, the loans are given as per the housing loan and everyone can easily avail that loan. The only problem is that people are not willing to take the loan and begin construction.”

Spread over an area of about 76 acres, the new township will be adjacent to the upcoming Kholongchu Hydro Energy Limited (KHEL) colony in Doksum.

Rinchen Leyda said that a total of 40 commercial buildings of four units each and 130 residential buildings (four units each) and 20 residential buildings with two units each would be constructed in the new township.

He said that as an integrated town, KHEL would lease 200 units of residential buildings during the project’s construction period. “Once the project construction completes, it would then take in 120 units for the next 20 to 30 years during its operations and maintenance period.”

The engineer said that a tri-party memorandum of understanding (MoU) has been signed between the dzongkhag, KHEL and Bank of Bhutan for the construction of the 120 unit buildings that the project would lease.

Meanwhile, the dzongkhag municipality office has decided to start collecting rents from those plot owners who have been compensated for their land and structure in the existing Doksum town from November this year.

One of the residents, Dendup, said that the collection of rent was not reasonable, as he had almost completed his house at the new site. “I’ve done my part and finished my construction. I could shift to the new place anytime but since other residents have not completed theirs, why should I bear the punishment equally.”

Rinchen Leyda said that only one individual has completed the construction. “We would be collecting the rent from all those who have already been compensated until they move to the new township by the end of 2019.”

Residents would be charged Nu 3.661 per sq.ft as rent as per the finance ministry’s directives that were effective from October 2018 for category C towns.

Younten Tshedup | Trashiyangtse