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Urbanization: The only district without a township, Gasa, will finally have one before the end of this year.

The move comes more than two decades after Gasa was separated from Punakha. Plot distribution will shortly take place. The district has the largest area but the smallest population. Nomadic highlanders make up the majority of the population.

Preliminary works for the town started in 2012, after the former Prime Minister approved it during the mid-term review. Around 73 acres of land from an area called Kolikha, not far from Gasa dzong has been recognized for the town. The land survey and ground-leveling works were completed very recently.

Gasa dzongdag Dorji Dhradhul said the works and human settlement ministry’s urban planners, who developed the township plan, presented the final draft review of the development plan to the dzongkhag on October 28.

But the final draft-review was not finalized, as the existing temporary town area was not incorporated in the draft review plan, said the dzongdag. The existing town was supposed to be planed as an institutional area.

The dzongkhag engineer Penjore Drukpa said the dzongkhag requested the urban planners to incorporate the existing town in the township planning, as it is supposed to be developed as an institutional area.

While the new town at Kolikha would have shops and become a commercial area, the existing town will be developed as an institutional area. Institutional structures like the Bank of Bhutan, Bhutan Development Bank, Royal Insurance Corporation of Bhutan and also any private and corporate offices are likely to come up in the district.

“We are expecting to receive the the final review soon with institutional areas incorporated in the plan, so that we could proceed with implementation works,” Dzongdag Dorji Dhradhul said.

As of now, the district’s temporary town consists of a few shops operating from makeshift huts. Only around 20-30 of about 100 business license holders run shops and restaurants. The district does not have a single hotel or proper restaurant, said the residents. Owing to its remoteness and population size, the township was never felt necessary.

Following the enactment  of constitution and the local government Act, establishment of the township in all districts came up, said the district officials. The new town at Kolikha is expected to start with some 20-30 shops and would have two-storied traditional buildings.

Thinley Dorji, a shop owner in the existing town said for the last three decades they have been running shop from the makeshift-hut. With new town they would not only get to build proper shops but also get to elect a thuemi for the thromde.

Since Gasa town does not have registered voters in the town the district could not elect a thromde thuemi during the last local government election. With the township finalization, the lands would be distributed to shop owners, who could then transfer their census to thromde, said officials.

Dawa Gyelmo, Gasa

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