For the last six months, Karma Tshering and two of his colleagues have been living in a tiny apartment near project DANTAK campus in Kanglung.

The three corporate employees have made this their home for now.

Their apartment has two bedrooms and a living room with an attached kitchen. The toilet is a minute walk away from the apartment.

Karma Tshering said that it was not what he planned for when he got the job. “It is suffocating at times but there is not much we can do.”

He said that it is almost impossible to find a house in Kanglung. “We have been going around looking for an apartment.”

According to Karma Tshering, college students occupy most of the houses in the locality and houses available are located far away. “Without a vehicle, it’s difficult for us to stay in those places.”

There are about 12,000 residents in Kanglung today, of which half of the population are college students, corporate, private and government employees.

Kanglung gup, Kinzang Dorji, said that the gewog is facing a moderate housing shortage, which if not addressed could become an issue.

Sherubtse College has more than 1,700 students and about 167 staff including faculty members.

The college is constructing five new hostels, which would accommodate about 300 students once completed. The additional hostels will take the total number of hostels to 20. They are also constructing a 24-unit staff quarter in the college campus.

Sherubtse College president, Tshering Wangdi, said that the additional infrastructure would address the housing shortage in the gewog.

He said that although the current infrastructure are adequate to accommodate all the students in the campus, the number of students increased after the introduction of new programmes at the college and self-funding programme.

Last year about 200 Sherubtse students stayed as day-scholars. The numbers decreased to about a 100 this year.

Tshering Wangdi said that those students who stay outside the college campus as day-scholars are not because of the hostel shortage but because they are continuing education (CE) students who stay with their families.

A final year student has been staying as a day-scholar for the last two years.

Requesting anonymity, he said that it is more convenient to stay outside than at a hostel. “In a college level, we at least expect some liberty which is usually restricted in a hostel setup,” he said. “With CCTV cameras fitted in every hostel, it was uncomfortable being watched every time.”

Another day-scholar student said that she couldn’t adjust with her roommates in the hostel, which is why after consultation with her parents she decided to stay outside. “Staying as a day-scholar is more comfortable. My grades have also improved.”

Gup Kinzang Dorji said that with the number of educational institutes mushrooming in the gewog, the population would further increase. “Housing problem will grow unless we address it.”

He said that he has been requesting the locals to construct houses to lease it to college students and other government, corporate and private employees. “If the college could stop constructing their own buildings and allow the locals to build houses, this would address the housing shortage and also open up business opportunities for the local residents.”

Younten Tshedup | Kanglung