High rents send devotees packing

Accommodation: High rents are causing devotees who are in Takila, Lhuentse to receive empowerment of Rinchen Terzoed Wang Lung Thri to leave earlier than expected.

While some devotees stay in the dratshang or have found other kinds of accomodation, many have to opt for temporary sheds.

Rents range from between Nu 4,000 to Nu 10,000 a month for sheds built within the Druk Odiyana area. A shed with an attached kitchen that can accomodate four people costs Nu 4,000 a month while Nu 7,000 is for a shed with kitchen and an attached toilet for seven people.

But occupants are not happy with the facilities and rates. Wind and foul smells emanating from the toilets are some of the  other compliants.

“I have travelled to Bodhgaya in India and other places in Bhutan to receive empowerment of Wang Lung but this is the highest rent I have ever came across,” said Nidrup Gyeltshen, 70, from Wamrong, Trashigang.

Ugyen Wangda, 30, said rooms in the town with better facilities cost between Nu 4,000 to Nu 5,000. He said occupants are often disturbed when trying to get sleep as a result of too many people wanting to use the attached toilets.

“The cost of living is very high and I have to go back home earlier without receiving the proper empowerment blessings,” said Tshering Yangzom, 40.

Ugyen Wangda, a tenant of one of the temporary sheds said he paid a two-month Nu 8,000 advance. However, at the end of the month, the owner asked for another two-month advance. “We didn’t understand why,” he said.

With accommodation for more than 300 people in 52 rooms, the owner, Tsheltrim, said he had spent more than Nu 0.8 million (M) to construct the temporary shed in the Druk Odiyana area.

The sheds are constructed using CGI sheets and plywood planks for the floors. There are 52 rooms that cost Nu 5,000 per month to rent, 14 rooms that cost Nu 7,000 and three rooms that come at a cost of Nu 10,000 each. He collects Nu 0.298M a month from the 52 rooms.

In five months, the rent collection will be Nu 1.49M. However, with people leaving earlier, only 50 rooms are currently occupied.

Meanwhile, the owner of Drukzom, Sonam Gyeltshen, who has constructed 20 rooms charges Nu 8,000 per room. He spent Nu 0.2M to construct the 20 rooms. Currenlty, only 11 are occupied.

Sonam Gyeltshen said he is worried of incurring losses with nine rooms remaining vacant.

Druk Odiyana foundation member Kinzang Tobgay said that to help devotees who come from long distances, they were provided some land to construct the temporary sheds  for free of cost.

In an earlier interview Lhuentse Dzongdag Sonam Wangyel said that he had asked the owner of a temporary shed constructed on government land to lower the rent. But could not intervene when it comes to sheds constructed on private land.

The five-month long Rinchen Terzoed empowerment and teachings are being conducted by the Druk Odiyana foundation beginning February 10.

Tashi Phuntsho, Mongar

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