People feel the need for an internal road to the drungkhag

Kelzang Wangchuk | Samdrupjongkhar

Jomotshangkha drungkhag in Samdrupjongkhar remains cut off with the drungkhag connected only through Indian road. However, officials are confident that they will see through the Covid-19 pandemic if they are isolated.

The Food Corporation of Bhutan (FCB) is stocking up rations. The drungkhag administration had also carried out a household survey to see the availability of food items while the people are taking up vegetable cultivations.

Jomotshangkha drungpa, Lamdrak Wangdi, said that people need not worry about rations because the FCB is stocking up the rations to last three months according to government’s directives.

He said that retail shops identified by the FCB and trade and industry office were also receiving grocery items. The drungkhag administration is facilitating the transportation to those shops.

Drungpa said the house-level survey was to check food availability if the situation worsens. He said that they have deployed security personnel along the illegal routes in the drungkhag following the preparedness and response plan for Covid-19. “I would like to assure that Jomotshangkha is safe from the coronavirus pandemic as of now,” he said.

Serthi gup Pema Chophel said although the people in the gewog are safe, their main concern is rations and chili as the shops are running out of grocery items. “It would help if the government or the agencies concerned could supply chilies as people do not cultivate chilies because the climate is not suitable.”

He said the gewog administration had carried out the awareness programmes and informed people not to move out from the house unless it is necessary.

Langchenphu gewog mangmi, Wang Gyeltshen, said the gewog is monitoring the situation and have also sensitised people on Covid-19, adding that people do not go out after the closure of the border gates.

He said that they have also informed people in the gewog to carry out agricultural works like cultivation of vegetables among others should the situation worsen because Jomotshangkha could be isolated for long if India continues with the lockdown.

Mangmi said that the only worry was farmers not being able to sell their doma (arecanut). This is doma season. “It would help farmers, if the government could help sell their doma because it would get spoiled.”

Given the current situation, people are now feeling the need of an internal route to the drungkhag. The main concern for the gewog and people is the Jomotshangkha- Samrang highway. Wang Gyeltshen said a road would have been completed if it was given to the Department of Roads. The construction was awarded to Project Dantak who couldn’t start the work.

“We need an internal road connection because we are cut off totally during such situations. We could not even go to Samdrupjongkhar for shopping,” Wang Gyeltshen said.

Meanwhile, shops in Jomotshangkha town remain open even without customers while few hotels have closed after the closure of border gate. “My hotel is closed because Indians were our main customers. We are now worried about paying rents,” a hotelier, Choki, said.