Thinley Namgay  

Hundreds of villagers and horses from Laya and Lunana are currently stuck in Punakha due to the lockdown.

The highlanders reached Punakha towards the end of December to buy essentials to address the food requirements for almost a year.

Lunana’s Dawa Gyeltshen said: “Before the lockdown, around 60 villagers of Lunana came to Punakha to buy essential items. We brought more horses to take essentials in bulk.”

Dawa Gyeltshen said most of the Lunaps are currently in Changyul, under Guma gewog, and Gumkarmo in Lingmukha gewog. “Most of us are staying in rentals. Some are with relatives.”

“Lockdown is incurring a huge expenditure. Moreover, it is also causing a labour shortage in the village,” Dawa Gyeltshen said.

Villagers took seven days to reach Punakha. There are around 300 horses along with them.

Dawa Gyeltshen said they were tested for Covid-19 and expected to return soon. “We expected to return after 10 days. But we are worried about the snow going back. In December, the snow was not thick on the way.”

He said there are also older people, children, and women. “We are planning to send them in the helicopter after the lockdown. It will be challenging for them to walk amid the snowfall.”

Damcho from Laya said that almost 100 villagers and 400 horses from Laya are stranded in Punakha.

Damcho said: “Some people brought 10 horses alone to meet the essential supply for a year. We are worried because pocket money is almost exhausted. We couldn’t visit the bank.”

She said almost 80 percent of the village population is stranded currently, and most are staying in tents in the terrace field.

According to Damcho, some villagers in Punakha provided hay for the horses. “We are grateful to them. We want to go back soon after the lockdown. But we are anxious about the snow, as we couldn’t go back at the right time.”

Meanwhile, the highlanders of Lingzhi, Soe, and Naro in Thimphu said they didn’t face any problems regarding essential supplies amid the lockdown.

Lingzhi’s Gup Wangdi said some villagers are stranded in the town. “Due to this, horses started roaming around, and some even reached the town areas. We are worried that thromde might impose fines after the lockdown.”