Expectations are high since the initiation of Kholongchu project in Trashiyangtse. But with no signs of any major civil works commencing, people are growing impatient.

The once quiescent settlement was stirred when a controlled blasting of a hillock was performed as the project’s ground – breaking ceremony in September 2015. Since then, nothing much has materialised in terms of infrastructure development and activities.

However, the dzongkhag has been experiencing a new phenomenon of housing shortage since the beginning of 2016. According to residents, the housing crunch is attributed to the project’s arrival.

“House rents in Yangtse have skyrocketed after project people started to settle here,” Norbu Wangmo, a resident said. “When we first came here, no matter how big the rooms were, the rent was never above Nu 4,000. Now I pay Nu 8,000 a month for this basic structure I live in.”

Norbu Wangmo lives in a 2BHK flat.

Dzongkhag planning officer, Sonam Thinley, said that some of the house owners who are targeting the project officials have started charging exorbitant rents, which a regular civil servant cannot afford.

He said that since there are no government housing in the dzongkhag, most civil servants have settled in nearby villages. “There are no housing facilities for officers which is why almost all dzongkhag officers live in far-flung villages.”

The existing National Housing Development Corporation Ltd (NHDCL) colony in the town is built for supporting staff. “We have requested NHDCL to consider constructing quarters for officer-level employees of the dzongkhag,” said the planning officer. “They have asked us to submit a detailed proposal so that they can conduct a feasibility study.”

Sonam Thinley said that around 40 units would be required in the new housing colony to accommodate all the civil servants who are today living outside the town.

“The issue needs to be resolved at the earliest because housing crunch also hampers the movement of civil servants,” he said. “It is difficult to get replacements for outgoing staff. People from other places are reluctant to come here because they cannot find a house in the vicinity of the dzongkhag headquarters.”

Of the three Local Area Plan (LAP) in thromde, LAP-I has been approved. However, Sonam Thinley said it would take time for the people to immediately start constructing houses even if the land has been demarcated and allotted.

During the 2014-15 Dzongkhag Tshogdu, local leaders turned down the proposal to construct government quarters in the interest of those house owners who had availed loans to construct houses. “There was an excess of houses then but today it is the opposite,” said Sonam Thinley.

The housing crunch is expected to worsen once the main phase of the project begins and more people start moving into the dzongkhag.

Meanwhile, villagers living nearby the project location sites are anxiously waiting for the main phase of the project to begin. Many have constructed houses in the hope that project officials would rent it.

“Like many of us here, I have spent my hard earned money to construct this house but it has been vacant for almost two years now,” said a resident in Koncholing.

The housing crunch in Yangtse forces civil servants to live in far-flung villages

Younten Tshedup |  Trashiyangtse