Chencho Dema | Gasa

The anticipated completion date of the new settlement at Kolikha, Gasa, located approximately 1km away from Gasa Dzong, has been delayed due to sewer network works and challenges in procuring materials.

Initially slated for completion in April, the revised timeline now aims for the town to be ready by the end of this year. Despite the setback, 29 business owners are expected to relocate to the new town.

The allocated budget for the project currently stands at Nu 23 million. Presently, Gasa town consists of a small collection of grocery stores, vegetable vendors, and a handful of restaurants that close early due to limited customer footfall.

The existing town supports no more than 15 businesses.

The new town at Kolikha aims to provide modern amenities, featuring 29 traditional two-storey commercial buildings, resorts, a bus terminal, and a workshop. The design for the bus terminal is currently in progress, while the workshop space has been leased out and is already operational. The resort development falls under Phase II and will follow the completion of Phase I works.

The new town covers a planning area of 212 acres, with the residential and commercial area spanning 74 acres.

Site engineer, Jigmi Choden, outlined the basic amenities planned for the new town, including roads, electricity, sewer network, water supply, and storm drains. Except for the water supply, which will soon commence under the ACREWAS Project, the other infrastructural elements are either complete or expected to be completed within the year.

The decision to choose a new location for the town was driven by the lack of space for expansion in the current area.

However, despite the ongoing development, shop owners in the present town are hesitant to move to the new location.

Kuenzang Rinchen, a 66-year-old business owner who has been operating in Gasa town since 1982, expressed reservations about the move. He mentioned that although business has improved compared to the past, there are concerns about whether the new location will attract the same number of customers. He recalled that the town had only three shops in 1982, and the number gradually increased with the establishment of more shops in 1986.

Currently, the business owners are awaiting the dzongkhag administration’s approval to proceed with the relocation; they have not yet received permission to construct houses in the new town.

Another restaurant owner voiced similar sentiments, highlighting the reluctance of shop owners to relocate due to the perceived distance from the new town and fears of a potential decrease in customers.

While the present town lacks lodging options, aside from a guesthouse and a few homestays, the relocation of Gasa town has been part of the larger Gasa development plan initiated in 2015.

All works outlined in the development plan are expected to be completed by 2030. Once the new township is completed, the old town area will be designated as an institutional zone.