Armed with spades and crowbars, 10 men are busy constructing a drain along the Pasaphu-Pedung chiwog farm road in Kangpara, Trashigang.

They are members of the recently formed farm road user group in the chiwog. This, according to the group, is their third voluntary labour since the group was formed about four months ago.

There are around 112 households in the chiwog and a representative from each household is mandated to participate during such campaigns.

The chairperson of the group, Tshering Phuntsho, said that villagers have been supportive and have volunteered whenever required.

“Since we are the ultimate beneficiaries of the road, it is our responsibility to maintain it properly,” he said. “We do all kinds of minor maintenance from filling up the potholes to removing boulders after landslides.”

Gewog officials said that a group to look after the maintenance of the farm road was mandated by the farm road user group guidelines, 2013. “It was easier for us to form the groups since all villagers agreed that it was their responsibility to carry out minor maintenance whenever required,” a gewog official said.

Another group in Zordung recently completed a five-day cleaning campaign along the 5km Zordung-Sekhar Goenpa farm road. “Because we know the challenges of not having a road, we must do everything possible to keep the roads pliable and minimal labour should not be difficult for the people,” the tshogpa, Tshewang Tenzin, said.

The tshogpa added that without a road connection, it took them days to reach their produce like chillies and potatoes to the market in Wamrong. “During summer, most of the vegetables were spoilt and we could hardly get the price for all the hard work,” he said.

Tshering Wangmo of Merda village said that life has become much easier with the coming of the gewog  farm roads. “We don’t have to carry vegetables on our back and walk for days now. The vegetables also fetch good price because they remain fresh.”

Kangpara mangmi, Sangay Tenzin, said that with the completion of almost 90 percent of the farm roads, the gewog has witnessed drastic development.

He said that because the roads are recently constructed, it is not yet stable. “We formed the farm road user groups to conduct small maintenance works. If there are major maintenance required, the gewog will discuss it with the dzongkhag.”

Currently, there are three such groups in the gewog.

There are seven farm roads in the gewog of which five are completed. The 19km Thrimshing-Bedengphu farm road was completed in the 10th Plan.

Gewog officials said that the remaining works on the 8km Kangpara-Drupkhang Goenpa would be completed by June next year and the 8km Bedengphu to gewog centre road is expected to complete by the end of this month.

Meanwhile, works along the 39.3km Kharungla-Kangpara gewog centre (GC) road began in 2009 and completed in 2012. The blacktopping of the GC road was completed in the last financial year.

Younten Tshedup | Kangpara