Residents have been lobbying for a fuel depot for years 

Neten Dorji | Kanglung

Come October and residents of Kanglung will no longer have to pay exorbitant fuel prices or travel to Trashigang to refuel their cars.

Huge underground tanks have been installed at the fuel station which is located at Mertsham, about 4km from Kanglung towards Yonphula.

Senior salesman of Druk Petroleum Corporation Limited (DPCL), Phurpa Gyeltshen who is monitoring the project, said that more than 40 percent of the work was completed and the service would start by mid-October.

“Almost all the materials are at the construction site. We are expecting to complete it within one and a half months,” he said. “The only problem is the budget problem as it takes time to release the fund on time as the budget comes from Indian Oil Corporation.”

He said that as per the government’s directives they are planning to keep Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG) cylinders separately. “It should be about two kilometres away from the fuel depot. We are waiting for the land allocation.”

The area has regional offices, a hospital, institutions, colleges and schools, and both the population and the number of vehicles has been rising. The depot is also expected to benefit residents of Khaling and Udzorong gewogs.

DPCL will be distributing about 20,000 litres of petrol and 20,000 litres of diesel and 300 to 400 LPG cylinders in the gewog.

In the absence of a fuel depot at Kanglung, motorists drive to the fuel depots in Trashigang, which is 25 away from Kanglung town and 32 kilometres away from Yonphula. Residents have been requesting for a fuel depot for over five years.

Residents said that a fuel station has become a necessity in the gewog as the number of vehicles has been growing. “It has been more than two years since without any work progress. Now we can see labourers have been deployed at construction sites,” a  resident said.

Travelling to Trashigang was expensive as the journey consume at least three litres of fuel. It becomes more difficult in summer when roads remain blocked.

The delay in the fuel depot construction has enabled some shopkeepers along the Kanglung-Khaling highway to illegally sell fuel.

“We have to sell because the residents who own vehicles request us to sell,” said a shopkeeper. “Because we travel to Trashigang for business, people come and ask us if we can buy and store them here.”

Another shopkeeper who requested anonymity said, “I hope the fuel station is completed sooner. It is a huge risk to store petrol.”

As more villagers switch to LPG cylinders from firewood and also buy more vehicles, residents from Kanglung said that they don’t always get refilled LPG cylinders on the same day in Trashigang.

“For those without a vehicle, it becomes inconvenient and expensive,” he said.

There are more than 300 vehicles in Kanglung gewog.