…lack of income opportunities are the main reasons behind the high migration rate

Neten Dorji | Lumang

The last few years have seen a significant exodus of people from rural Lumang in Trashigang.

In the past three years, more than 30 families of Lumang have left their villages.

With goongtong (empty house) cases increasing in the gewog, the gewog administration has adopted a system of collecting Nu 3,000 annually from the land owners.

Local leaders, however, say that even this measure has not been very effective to curb the rural-urban migration.

The gewog decided to collect Nu 3,000 annually from goongtong owners during the gewog meeting in 2017 to encourage people to return to their village. However, until now, representatives have been paying taxes on their behalf.

Lumang gup, Sangay Gyeltshen, said the number of goongtong has been rising yearly.

“People are leaving villages,even though they have basic facilities like drinking water and road connectivity. The authorities had started some development projects in the villages but this has not stopped outward migration,” said the gup.

Lumang Gewog has six chiwogs with 950 households, of which 134 are empty.

Gup said that the goongtong issue in the gewog was mainly due to human-wildlife conflict, less income opportunities, lack of farmhands.

“There are not many young people in the villages. Most of them are either studying or working outside the village,”said the Gup. “It is difficult to undertake any developmental activities when we have fewer households in the gewog.”