Following directives from the Ministry of Work and Human Settlement (MoWHS),  all business entities and shopkeepers of Doksum in Trashiyangtse will have to move to the new town in Khetsang by September this year. 

Residents, who are not able to complete their constructions, were given one year to relocate to the new town, but with conditions that they can not operate the business in the old town. 

The new deadline was mutually agreed between the residents of Doskum town and Trashiyangtse dzongkhag officials following the directives to set timeline for relocation of Doksum township. 

This is the sixth deadline set since the new town development began in 2013 where 22 shopkeepers and residents signed stating that they will shift to the new town as per the agreement made between dzongkhag and residents.  

Residents who already shifted to the new town said their businesses are affected, as business in the old town still operates. 

“The government has extended the deadline almost five times after the business community approached the ministry and dzongkhag administration,” a resident said. “It is not fair for those who completed the construction and followed the deadline seriously.” 

A restaurateur, Dechen Zangmo, who have been operating business in the new town for the past six months, said that if the government keeps extending the deadline, it would affect their business. “I am already running into loss and worried about paying rent for a restaurant, snooker and karaoke.”

She claimed she has to pay a monthly rent of Nu 25,000. House rent in the new town ranges between Nu 10,000 and 25,000 a month. 

Doksum town tshogpa, Karma Lhamo, said they had to request for a deadline extension, as few residents were struggling to process construction materials. “Lockdowns impacted the construction progress.”

She said it’s difficult to buy materials and the price of hardware items increased. “Shortage of labour is another problem. Without paying Nu 1,000 per day, people are not willing to work.”

Some plot owners said they could not start construction due to budget constraints, as they have to construct the ground floor to avail loan from financial institutions.  

A plot owner said laying the foundation is expensive. “We need around Nu four  million to start the construction and then become eligible for loan,” he said.

Another shopkeeper, Pelden Sherub, said he is grateful to the dzongkhag for extending the time. “About 70 percent of my construction is complete. I could shift to the new place within the given time.”

He said others are, however, not taking the construction and the deadlines seriously.

The other reason for delay in construction, according to shopkeepers, is that most plot owners do not reside in Doksum. 

Shopkeepers said that these plot owners do not have plans to construct in the new town.  

“Out of 40 commercial plot owners, only 22 plot owners are in Doksum,” a shopkeeper said. 

Trashiyangtse Dzongdag, Thuji Tshering, said residents were given enough time to construct houses and relocate to the new town. “It has been 18 years since the dzongkhag received order to relocate the town. Residents were compensated. Timber was given kidu.”

As Khetsang Township is adjacent to the upcoming Kholongchu Hydro energy Limited (KHEL) colony, the dzongdag said residents have business opportunities in the new town.

“After not seeing any progress in the town, KHEL is asking permission to construct more houses at their colony,” the dzongdag said, adding people have to take the opportunity. 

Official said that out of 40 commercial plots, only nine completed the structure, which means only one structure was completed in a year. “In the 150 plots, only four had built structures.  Currently, constructions of four buildings are going on in the new township.”

Meanwhile, public offices like banks, Bhutan Post, Bhutan Power Corporation, Bhutan Telecom and Tashi InfoComm Limited have already relocated to the new town. Around five new shops and two restaurants also operate in the new town.  

It was learnt that about six units are empty in the new town, of which one restaurant space is empty.

By Neten Dorji | Trashiyangtse

Edited by Tashi Dema