Tshering Palden

For the people of Barp and Toep gewogs, Dochula Pass is literally what they call a doorstep. The people from the two gewogs drive about 63 kilometres to their dzongkhag ad- ministration centre in Thimphu for a simple reason, but the distance does not deter them.

Last week, about 250 people from the gewogs appealed to the prime minister, Lyonpo Kinzang Dorji, to retain their gewogs in Thimphu after the 85th session of the National Assembly re- solved to club the two gewogs in Punakha and Wangdue Phodrang dzongkhags.

The representatives of the people, who came to Thimphu, raised concerns that the proposed changes would beget unnecessary hassle and inconvenience for the people of the two gewogs.

The people appealed to the prime minister on the grounds that the change would disturb their grazing rights, traditional values, and demographic status.

According to Sangay Dorji, a former chimi from Toepisa, the people in the two gewogs would face great difficulties be- cause they have grazing lands as far as Hongtsho and Yusipang in Thimphu. “If we are clubbed under Punakha or Wangdue Phodrang, we will not enjoy rights over the pastures,” he said.

Villagers do not consider it a hassle to come to Thimphu for administrative work but said that there was an advantage. “Most of the villagers sell their farm produce in Thimphu during weekends and get their work done during working days,” said a farmer.

According to the former Barp chimi, Thinley, Barps and Toebs fall under the Wang Tshochen Gyep (The eight regions of Wang valley). “Traditionally, we are concerned that we will not be a part of the region,” said Thinley.

The gewogs transfer issue arose in 1984 and 1994 but was dropped subsequently due to appeals from the people. Finally, the National Assembly, with an executive order from the prime minister, endorsed the changes in gewog and dzongkhag boundary demarcation across the country at the 85th session.

An official from the home ministry said that they received orders to demarcate the dzongkhags and gewogs appropriately for the upcoming elections. “The matter was dealt with thoroughly by a committee from home ministry, works and human settlement and the agriculture ministry,” he said.

However, representatives ar- gue that the decisions should have been routed through the DYT and GYT in line with the decentralization policy. The Toep Gup said, “We were not given any concrete reason in writing for the transfer.”

There are about 900 households and 4,741 eligible voters in the two gewogs. Asked if they wanted to remain in Thimphu for political reasons, a representative said that the political transition did not matter as much as the geography and convenience of the two gewogs.

Meanwhile, there is no concrete result from the appeal to the prime minister last week. “The prime minister said that he would look into the matter,” said a village representative.