Dzongkhags neglected?

From feedback, mostly on social media platforms, people in the dzongkhags are feeling neglected. The complaint, although informal, is that all the attention is on the capital city and Phuentsholing.

The feelings arise from the fact that initiatives to ease the inconveniences during the lockdown is more organised in the urban areas. From zonation of the city to distribution of movement cards and delivery of essentials, residents of the capital city saw huge improvements by the second week. Today, we hardly hear people complaining.

Those in the dzongkhags have the right to feel neglected. There were shortfalls. People were stranded in the dzongkhags when the lockdown came without warning, shops were running out of essentials including feed for the commercial farms and they didn’t have tobacco outlets.

However, as we enter the third week of the lockdown, a lot of things have improved. Notwithstanding the restrictions and with the mini dry port in Phuentsholing where tonnes and tonnes of goods are transhipped under scrutiny, movement of goods and essentials are ensured. In our case, essentials also include doma pani, junk food and all the items that we find on shelves during normal times.

The situation has improved in the dzongkhags too. The images we see now are trucks ferrying feed for animals, vegetables and other essentials. In some, even tobacco products are delivered from home to home. There had been glitches. If the lockdown prolongs or should there be another round, we are all prepared. We have learnt lessons from this lockdown.

Dzongkhags are not neglected. The attention is on where the risk of a community transmission was higher. The capital city with about 130,000 people is the nerve centre. Should there be a case of community transmission in Thimphu, it would mean several cases in the other dzongkhags. Within 10 days, about 1,500 vehicles had left Phuentsholing when the lockdown was announced on August 11.

As the capital city and a commercial hub, the number leaving the capital could be 10 times or even higher. Most of our dzongkhags are sparsely populated. It means it is easier to manage or contain a transmission should there be a case. Most dzongkhags have small towns with a few hundred people. Beyond the towns, most villagers grow their own food that could see them through for a few weeks. Essentials for them are salt, cooking oil and rice.

However, there are places that need immediate attention. Highlanders in Lunana are running out of food. Their income is affected because they couldn’t sell their Cordyceps and it is a nine-day journey to the nearest town. Places like Lunana or Sakteng and Merak, even if secluded, are affected by the lockdown.

The concern from the highest authority is to not leave anyone behind during the pandemic. For instance, as Phuentsholing is a Red Zone, 10 elderly people were moved to the newly established Elderly Care facility in Gaedu yesterday.

The weak and the old, the poor and the voiceless cannot complain even on social media. Those knowing the genuine plight should let authorities know. Social media is popular, but not very effective especially if the concern is from a fake account.

Nobody should be neglected.

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