Gasa may miss January’s thromde elections

The yenlag thromde has no registered voter while voters for dzongkhag thromde are yet to transfer their census

LG: Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) is gearing up to conduct dzongkhag and yenlag thromde elections across the country in January next year, but could miss Gasa.

The recently declared and approved by the Parliament in principle, Damji yenlag thromde is vacant with not even a single registered voter as per the draft delimitation report of ECB.

“We may not be able to conduct elections for both thromdes in January,” Gasa’s electoral officer S Narayan said.

Even if everything goes well, the elections could only happen in December next year. Otherwise, it would be in 2017 or the next year, he said.

Of some 100-business licenses holders, some have shops at the existing temporary Gasa town below the dzong. The license holders and other residents said that if the government or dzongkhag could allocate them with plots in Kolikha, where a town development is underway, they would be able to transfer census from the gewog to the thromde.

Following the mid-term review of the tenth Plan in 2012, the site for a new town measuring 86 acres was identified at Kolikha, a few kilometres from the dzong. Both the cadastral and topographical surveys of the new town were completed in 2013, and land leveling works were done last year.

Based on these surveys, the Ministry of Works and Human Settlement  (MoWHS) officials would come up with a structural and local area plan and presented to the dzongkhag in June.  Only after this, the town planning and land allotment would begin, officials said.

“Unless they get plot or permission to construct houses, people do not want to transfer census to the thromde,” an official said.  “As per Constitution, one has to wait for a year to become an eligible voter after transferring census to thromde or a new constituency.”

Delay in transferring census from gewog to thromde would delay in conducting the thromde elections, S Narayan said. The census transfer could depend on how fast the MoWHS and Gasa dzongkhag who were working on the new town development at Kolikha area, allot plots to business license holders.

If Gasa thromde election happens with the 23 registered voters of Phulakha, then both the thrompon and thromde thuemi would be from the three households.

Khamey gup Karma Tshering said the yenlag thromde in Damji has existed as a temporary town with nine shops in temporary structures constructed on government land.

The approved yenlag thromde includes all institutional buildings including schools, RNR, forest offices, and two private plots from Bjishong, among others. However, there is no registered voter or anyone having census under the yenlag thromde.

Gup Karma Tshering said the two residents of Bjishong whose plots fall under the newly approved Damji yenlag throm do not want to be included under the yenlag thromde. They raised the issue in the dzongkhag tshogdue through local leaders.

However, as their plots were in the middle of the thromde, there was no other way.

The gup said since the decision to convert Damji as yenlag thromde was taken in a hurry, the gewog could not get time to consult people or discuss about transferring their census. However, he said, they were not asked by any officials to do so to date.

He said with developmental activities in the yenlag thromde, things could change for better.

“However, it is unclear whether the yenlag throm would be put under dzongkhag or gewog, for which the ECB has written to the prime minister,” he said.

Election officer S Narayan said currently the yenlag thromde was just approved, but no engineering or development works were done.

Meanwhile, in Wangdue the Chief Election Commissioner and election officer conducted the public hearing on delimitation of dzongkhag thromde, thromde tshogpa and thromde demkhongs.

There are 702 registered voters in Wangdue dzongkhag thromde, and six dzongkhag thromde tshogpa demkhongs.

The feedback from people about the changes within the thromde boundary and demkhongs would be discussed on July 13 and presented to public by July 15, the election officials said.

Dawa Gyelmo, Wangdue

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