Infrastructure: On-going highway widening works is reportedly damaging houses in Tangsibji.

Pema Om, 50, from Tangsibji is worried that her house might collapse with the onset of monsoon.

“There are already cracks and rain water seeping in,” she said.

Her double-storeyed traditional house bears multiple cracks. “We can see inside through these cracks,” she said.

The ground in front of her house is also sinking. The prayer wheel in front of her house is tilted due to the sinking ground. It does not rotate anymore. The slope between the highway and the house is also fractured at different levels and water seeping through these cracks could aggravate the situation.

Pema Om said she hopes the authorities concerned could at least seal these cracks with concrete so that the water seepage is reduced or prevented. “Otherwise, come monsoon I won’t be able to live in this house,” she said.

The Department of Roads (DoR) provided her with four bags of cement last monsoon with which she sealed some cracks on the foundation and drains of her house. “I reported to DoR, the dzongkhag administration and officials working in the field but nothing has happened,” she said.

Since the road widening works started below her house two years ago, Pema Om’s house became more vulnerable. A retention wall constructed against her house was demolished. “The new retention wall is lower in height compared to the previous one,” she said.

Tandin Dorji’s house is also sustaining cracks and other damage. His house is located even closer to the highway. The sinking of the land below his house has damaged his water supply. An electric pole right in front of the 81-year-old’s house is also sinking.

He said that the case has been reported to the authorities but to no avail. “I have pulled a pipe for drinking water to a different place to avoid water seepage, as instructed by DoR,” he said.

A tenant living in Tandin’s house said they fear the electric pole will fall. Authorities were also asked to shift the pole but nothing has been done yet.

When excavators began unearthing the road below Tashiling last year, 60-year-old Karma’s house sustained some cracks.  “We could feel the tremor as the machine worked on the road,” she said.  She, however, did not report the case to any authorities. “I had once planned to fix it by myself but could not do it so far,” she said.

DoR’s Chief Engineer in Trongsa, Taugay Choedup said the department has constructed walls to protect these houses since the old walls failed to do so. “We have not received any complaints regarding the risk of the monsoon,” he said.

Nima Wangdi | Tangsibji