The only link remaining to the town is from Dadgari in Assam, which is also flooded
Disaster: Continuous rain in Gelephu yesterday caused more damage threatening settlements between Setikharey and Dhawlakhola.
Twelve more houses from Pelrithang were evacuated to safer ground yesterday.
The relief team, consisting of Royal Bhutan Army, Royal Bhutan Police, Desuups, government officials and other volunteers, assisted in the evacuation and to set up temporary accomodation, while some families went to live with their relatives.
As of yesterday evening, some villagers were still salvaging belongings from their homes.
Consisting of 16 households, the villages of Dhaurali and Katel in Perlithang of Gelephu gewog, remain partially submerged by the swollen Setikharey stream. The swollen stream had changed its course and flooded the villages.
One of the evacuees, Pushpa Lal Katel, said they had been living in their house for decades and having to evacuate all their belongings in a few hours was a difficult experience.
“It is continuing to rain and the little damage that the flood has done to our houses will now worsen overnight. It might be completely washed away,” he said. “We’ve made temporary arrangements elsewhere for now,” Pushpa Lal Katel added.
The villagers were struggling to evacuate their livestock.
Traffic came to a halt after the culvert on the Gelephu-Perlithang highway, above the flooded village was completely washed away yesterday morning. The road connected Zhemgang with Gelephu.
Just few metres away, a swollen Dhawla stream also has made it difficult for vehicles to cross.
About two kilometres further, the Perlithang river was flowing over the Passang bridge near the Radha-Krishna temple.
Six families living in the Department of Road’s labour camp below the road, had to be evacuated to a guesthouse belonging to the Deparmtent of Geology and Mines. Three more families living in the camp went to live with their relatives.
The swollen Taklai river in Umling also submerged more than 60 acres of cultivated paddy fields belonging to at least 30 households of Gaden chiwog. The paddy fields were located adjacent to the Taklai river, about 3km from the gewog centre.
Large walls protected the fields but the swollen river broke 500 metres of the wall inundating the paddy fields.
But Umling Gup Ugyen Norbu said that there was no damage to human settlements located further from the field at a higher ground. “These damaged paddy fields consisted of more than 50 percent of the cultivable land for Gaden chiwog villagers,” he said.
Gewog officials were still accessing other damages as of yesterday evening.
In Jigmechholing gewog several villagers reported damage to their crops. At least two acres of cardamom fields were reportedly eroded in Gongdegang village.
More than 100 metres of the Gelephu-Zhemgang highway near Chisopani bridge were washed away. Further up towards Jigmechholing, the Department of Roads has not been able to clear the roadblock at box cutting.
At least 250 metres of the highway was washed away on July 23 at box cutting. Assistant engineer Kishore Chhetri said that it would take another week before all the blocks along the Gelephu-Zhemgang highway would be cleared, that is, if it does not keep raining.
“The damage is severe. It is difficult for machinery to work as it continues to rain here,” Kishore Chhetri said.
Another massive roadblock occurred three kilometres before Jigmechholing. More than 100 metres of the road’s foundation was eroded. DoR site engineer, Wangchuk, said that to clear the road machinery will have to be mobilised from Gelephu, which is impossible at the moment.
The block here will be cleared only after the box cutting block is removed.
Several farm roads in Sarpang remain closed to traffic following heavy landslides. It has been almost a week since there was no vehicle movement on the 43km Gelephu-Dovan road.
Gelephu, meanwhile, remains cut off from rest of the dzongkhags. The only entry into the town is from the Dadgiri market in Assam, which currently is also flooded.
Nirmala Pokhrel | Gelephu