NRDCL: For the past two years, residents of Dangchhu have waited for the Natural Resources Development Corporation Ltd (NRDCL) to construct a bridge over the Dangchhu river.

The hope is now turning to frustration for the people of Dangchhu.

Following the Wangduephodrang dzong fire in 2011, the gewog decided to give timber from a place called Chendeyna, which is about an hour and half walk away from the gewog centre.

Dangchhu gup Sonam Dorji said the people then issued a public clearance to NRDCL, which then extracted timber from the area.

While surveying the road to transport the timber, it was found that having a bridge over the Dangchhu river would benefit about 30 households, a school and also to transport the timber.

Hoping for a bridge, the locals rendered help.

While nothing in writing was issued, NRDCL agreed to construct a bridge during a meeting chaired by the former Wangdue dzongda at Dekiling hotel in Bajo in 2012, where the dzong’s project manager, NRDCL officials from Thimphu, and the gewog gup were present.

“We even submitted three application letters requesting for the bridge earlier, as they asked us,” said the gup.

Local leaders said that they have not yet received a clear response from NRDCL, let alone the bridge. NRDCL has extracted around 40,000 cft of timber from the area, which also will be used to construct a farm road for the village.

Gup Sonam Dorji said people were also not happy because the gewog spent Nu 500,000 to divert water from the river to help school students pass through during the summer season. But this diversion was damaged by NRDCL when it dragged timber through the river, locals claimed.

The issue was raised by locals at both the gewog and dzongkhag tshogdus, with  the home ministry, the works and human settlement ministry, other agencies, and NRDCL. However, no clear response has been received so far, said gewog officials.

Locals said that if NRDCL is concerned about the estimated cost of more than Nu 8M, then they should not be as the gewog has already purchased materials to construct the bridge and that the corporation would only have to pay for the labour.

The materials to construct the bridge have been scavenged from an older bridge near Chimmi Lhakhang that was initially given to Phobjikha. However, after receiving funding from Japan, the materials were given to Dangchhu.

Local leaders said it was also agreed that the bridge would be built before the farm road is constructed. But construction of the farm road is already being tendered with funding of Nu 8.8M from the Government of India’s small development program.

NRDCL’s chief executive officer said the construction of the bridge was a requisition from the people, and the understanding was that it would be constructed jointly. However, when the requisition was put to the company’s  board, it was not approved.

Following which the steering committee, which comprises of the home minister and Wangdue dzongda raised the matter with NRDCL on why it could not build the bridge.

NRDCL reasoned that it was due to the high cost of building the bridge and the company’s poor financial status.

“It is not that, NRDCL would sell the timber taken from Dangchhu, but it was for the dzong construction and also NRDCL is a corporate company, which is currently running under loss from every corner,” said an NRDCL official. “Chances are there that if the company’s financial status gets better, it might take up the construction.”

NRDCL officials also said that if there is a good volume of timber coming from that area then construction of the bridge would be supported, if not the company cannot as it is facing financial difficulties.

“We have already constructed a farm road for the gewog,” said an official.

However, the Dangchhu gup said the road was used to transport timber and it does not benefit the village.

Dawa Gyelmo | Wangdue