Phub Dem 

Dissatisfied with Trashigang dzongkhag tshogdu’s (DT) decision to black top the gewog centre road from Chaling, a group of villagers from Merak met the Prime Minister yesterday.

Merak gewog is connected with three farm roads: one from Phongmey, another from Khardung in Phongmey, and the third one from Chaling.

Trashigang DT resolved to blacktop the gewog centre (GC) road from Chaling last month.

The villagers decided to appeal to the government after the dzongkhag said that the administration had no say on the DT’s decision.

The residents submitted their grievances both to Minister of Work and Human Settlement and the Prime Minister’s Office requesting them to intervene.

The villagers submitted six reasons on why Merak GC road has to be black-topped from Khardung.

Unsatisfied by the seventh DT decision—to blacktop the GC road from Chaling, chiwog tshogpa and residents of Merak appealed to Trashigang dzongkhag administration.

Dzongkhag officials sent a team to Merak after the residents complained against the DT decision taken in September last year.

The villagers said that consultation with people before the gewog tshogde showed that almost everyone in the gewog supported blacktopping the Khardung route.

Tashigang Dzongrab also visited the gewog. It was then decided that the decision to blacktop the GC road should route through chiwog and then gewog tshogde (GT) and choose between Chaling and Khardung routes. Accordingly, the eighth GT passed the resolution to blacktop the GC road from Khardung.

However, withholding the GT’s decision, Merak Khamey tshogpa Tenzin Dorji said that Merak gup submitted a different resolution to the DT chairperson.

The villagers alleged the gup of having a vested interest, as he would personally benefit from blacktopping the Chaling route.

According to tshogpa Tenzin Dorji, blacktopping GC road from Chaling would waste government resources because it has to invest in laying base course, build drains and widen the road.

He said that GC road from Khardung was all set for the black-topping with base course, and drains.

“The base course was already laid from Khardung during the former government’s tenure. But the black-topping of the GC road was held because the road was not stable then.”

According to the petition to Lyonchhem, the residents of the gewog said they mostly use the Khardung road.

It also stated that the officials from the Department of Roads had even drawn out the budget to blacktop the Khardung road. “The budget was already approved in the Plan,” a villager said.

Tenzin Dorji said: “The estimated budget for GC road black-topping would be insufficient if it is done from Chaling.”

Of the 15 gewogs in Trashigang, 13 gewogs have black-topped GC roads. The petition questioned if the decisions to blacktop the 13 GC roads were routed through DT.

Meanwhile, Work and Human Settlement Minister Dorji Tshering said that he told the residents to make their choice carefully. Other than that, Lyonpo did not want to comment.

It took five days for the highlanders to reach Thimphu with the high passes blocked with snow. After changing their route towards Nganglam, their vehicle was stranded in Chukha delaying their arrival by a few more days.

Chiwog Tshogpa, Tenzin Dorji said, he was in Thimphu for the past four days. “I stay with my relatives, but some of my friends are staying in hotels. It is a struggle.”

“I took leave to come here and resolve this issue. The gup wants me to report back to the office.”