Nima | Gelephu

While Gelephu is seen as the future city of the country with better planning and its potential for expansions on the vast plains, residents say that the town is facing problems no different from other thromdes.

Considered as the country’s commercial hub, the thromde will elect a new thrompon in week’s time.

One of the residents, Ugyen Rabten, said that the ongoing campaign for the thrompon election was no different from the past.

“Pledges focused on basic services such as water, drainage, and making the town beautiful. Many things need to be considered,” he said.

He added that the changes that have taken place in the town were because of the people’s pressure. “The town faces water problem both in winter and summer. Sewerage lines are leaked and there is no proper drainage and footpath in the core town.”

The residents say that the development works from different agencies in the town are carried in different times, digging the same trench lines repeatedly.

Ugyen Rabten said there were changes in the town, but not healthy changes. “The town can be developed significantly. It is not saturated like other towns. Thromde should be determined and bring required changes in line with the policy in place,” said Ugyen Rabten.

Facilitating cross-border trade, uniform implementation of regulation, promoting Gelephu as a visitor-friendly town, are some of the expectations from the residents.

Gelephu thromde’s chief urban planner, Jigme Tshering, said that the thromde could implement the plan, which is a challenge in other town developments.

“There are not many problems when it comes to land pooling because of its convenient topography. Heavy expenditure is not required for the basic infrastructure development,” he said, adding that the main advantage of the town is its strategic location. The town is close to border towns and centrally located.

However, city officials said that the monsoon put pressure on the infrastructure.

The door-to-door campaign for two Thrompon candidates is underway.

Thrompon candidate from Jampeling demkhong, Tikaram Kafely, said that the Gelephu’s structural plan was unique. “The land being plain means we have so much to look ahead. We can take advantage of it.”

He added that the infrastructure development such as up-gradation of the domestic airport, railway connectivity, and multi-mode transit hub would benefit other dzongkhags too.

“It’s not a one-day journey, though,” said Tikaram Kafley.

He said that it was important for the thromde to facilitate coordinated cooperation with the agencies involved.

Thrompon candidate from Trashiling demkhong, Tshering Norbu, said that Gelephu would become the nearest town in the country with access to waterways with a port coming up in Jogigopha, India.

Gelephu, he said would play a crucial role and “we have the biggest industrial park under construction. There is high tourism potential. We need to develop tourist-based infrastructure. But we might have the same problem as with other thromdes if we do not carry out the structural plan diligently. There should be a plan to decongest the town.”

The transformation of the core town is one of the main priorities, he added. “That means improving footpath and drainage systems.”