Refuelling the car, according to Doksum residents, was different in Doksum town in Trashiyangtse.

Drivers would stop their car near a shop, where the shopkeeper would come out with a black jerry can and pour the fuel into the vehicle.

Although illegal, this was a common sight observed in the town a few years ago.

Without a fuel depot in the area, some businessmen started to sell fuel from shops. Today the practice, however, has been stopped with concerns over the health and risk involved in handling petroleum products without proper precautions.

The lone fuel depot in the dzongkhag is located near Chorten Kora town, some 30km from Doksum. The location of the depot has benefitted only two of the eight gewogs in the dzongkhag.

Much to the relief of the residents of the other six gewogs, an area has been identified in Doksum town. The depot is expected to be functional from December this year.

A resident from Khamdang gewog, Ugyen Wangdi, said the fuel depot would benefit people from six gewogs, who have to travel some 33kms just to refuel the vehicle. “We had to either travel up to Yangtse or towards Trashigang to refuel, which was time-consuming and costly.”

Khamdang gup, Norbu, said that since Doksum is centrally located for all the six gewogs, it would be ideal for residents and commuters plying the Yangtse highway.

“It is a big problem especially during summer when the roads are frequently blocked,” he said. “Refilling LPG cylinders will also become easier with the fuel depot in Doksum.”

The dzongkhag has identified a 50 decimal land at some 150 metres from the existing Doksum town towards the new location of the town when the economic affairs minister’s visited the dzongkhag in August.

Dzongkhag officials are currently working on leasing the land to Druk Petroleum Corporation Ltd for construction.

Bhutan Oil Corporation regional manager, Dendup Tshering, said that once they receive the lease certificate (thram), they could begin the talk with the Indian counterparts – Indian Oil Corporation or Bharat Petroleum and begin the work.

He said that the company had attempted to come up with a fuel depot at Doksum about eight years ago. “Because of the issues of land in the area, we could not establish the depot,” he said. “If the lease certificate is processed on time, the depot should be operational by December this year.”

He said that two underground tanks, 50,000-litre diesel and 20,000-litre petrol tanks would be installed at the depot.

Dendup Tshering said that the quantity of the fuel would depend on the demand from the residents.

As of 2016, there are 751 vehicles in Trashiyangtse of which 515 are light vehicles.

With the Kholongchhu project gearing towards its main phase, the number of vehicles is expected to increase in the dzongkhag.

The dzongkhag land officer couldn’t be reached for the progress and details on land acquisition.

Younten Tshedup |  Trashiyangtse