Male Iron Rat Year
From following strict health protocols to preparing for the sixth Royal Bhutan Flower Exhibition, the year of the rat was an eventful year for the residents of Haa.
Remote and almost medieval Haa could not prevent the Covid-19 from entering the dzongkhag.
With its proximity to the capital and Paro, the international gateway, Haa reported Covid-19 positive cases during second nationwide lockdown in December last year.
If not for the pandemic, Haa would have become an attractive tourist destination. From decorating the sacred Lhakhang Karpo to the longest mural painting, establishing a giant herbal garden and surreal container gardens at Sinchupang, all corners around Haa were decked up.
Two days before the flower exhibition, the government declared the first nation-wide lockdown and the exhibition was cancelled.
However, the dzongkhag carried out the virtual exhibition through BBs and other social media sites.
Although the virtual show provided a detailed look at the exhibition site, it would have been different if one was present at the site to witness and feel the performance.
However, visitors could visit and see Haa during the annual flower show.
Besides, all of the major annual events in Haa, including tshechu and other religious activities were conducted behind closed-doors. Haa IMTRAT Mela was cancelled.
With dzongkhag’s focus on post-pandemic and promoting Haa as a tourist destination, the year of the rat saw the development of tourist sites.
Presenting Haa as a safe travel destination, 93 percent of the dog population in Haa or 1,109 dogs were sterilised, and 615 dogs were adopted.
Work began in Rangtse Nye to develop infrastructure around the site such as campsites, hot stone bath, electrification of nye, construction of footsteps, walking trails, signages and other tourism infrastructures under the tourism flagship programme.
The two remote gewogs of Haa, Gakiling and Sombaykha, were finally connected with Haa-Samtse secondary national highway.
Owing to the pandemic the natives embarked on diversifying their income sources beyond cardamom and oranges.
Haa targeted year-round vegetable self-sufficiency by tapping its altitudinal variation. The two lower gewogs supplied winter vegetables to upper gewogs during the second nationwide lockdown.
The dzongkhag built a collection and distribution point at Haa Throm and Sombaykha drungkhag and a sales counter of vegetable and highland products.
Except for three Covid-19 cases from IMTRAT cluster, and a student, it was a safe year for Haa without local transmission.