Phurpa Lhamo | Wangdue

By next monsoon, the ride to the famous Baelangdra, home to sacred Guru Rinpoche neys, would be smoother as another six kilometres would be black-topped.

The Department of Roads (DoR) is working on tendering out the work and expects the work to start within two months. “Once the work begins, it will take four months to complete,” said the Chief Engineer with the DoR regional office in Lobesa, Karma Tenzin.

Today, 6km of the 22km stretch has been blacktopped. The blacktopping was done in two phases—3km stretch blacktopping was completed in the 2018-2019 financial year and another 3km in the last financial year.

The Baelangdra road was initially an industrial road for a slate quarry near Baelangdra village.

The road was constructed in the 1980s.

Karma Tenzin said that the road from Chuzomsa to Baelangdra was a dzongkhag road.

He added that the DoR was blacktopping the road as route to Phangyul, Kazhi and Nyisho gewogs were through the Baelangdra road. “The gewog centre (GC) roads are blacktopped. But the roads connecting the gewogs aren’t. So we planned to blacktop the Baelangdra road.”

Earlier when the GC roads were blacktopped, the Baelangdra road wasn’t.

Kazhi Mangmi Gyem Thinley said that in the past, the gewog received budget to blacktop around 8km of GC road.

He added that blacktopping from Langjeyjalo (place along the Baelangdra road) to Kazhi gewog wasn’t possible due to long distance. “So around 7km of road to Kazhi gewog was blacktopped.”

Later, because the road wasn’t recognised as farm road, it didn’t receive budget for maintenance or blacktopping from gewog budget.

Frustrated with the progress, a Kazhi villager earlier told Kuensel that it would take four elected governments to blacktop the entire 22km road. “Each government promises blacktopping the road and does only a portion when they come to power,” he said. “At this rate we will have the entire stretch road in the 13th Plan.”

Today, it takes more than two hours to reach Baelangdra from Wandgue.

Mangmi Gyem Thinley said that if the roads were blacktopped, travel time would also be shortened. “Because of the condition of the road, it takes that much time.”

Kazhi tshogpa Dawa said that there were times when devotees had to return due to the bad condition of the road. He added that during summer, the road condition worsened. “At certain areas, except for boleros, light vehicles cannot ply through the road. The road is in a really bad condition.”

The blacktopping of the 22km stretch would also make it easy for farmers in Kazhi, Nyisho and Phangyul gewogs to bring their products to the market. It would also help the thousands of people who visit the sacred Guru Rinpoche Nye.

Mangmi Gyem Thinley said that despite the bad road condition, people continue to manage bringing their produce to the market.