Phurpa Lhamo | Gasa

More than 100 residents of Laya are today engaged in construction of classrooms in Laya Central School and staff quarter at the Basic Health Unit (BHU).

Locals, both men and women, have replaced the workforce that was comprised mostly of people from eastern and southern Bhutan.

“In the past, even getting one person to work at construction site was really difficult. No one would come forward,” said Passang Dorji, a carpenter from Laya. 

Passang Dorji said that today, when required, 10 individuals would easily come forward.  

Construction of around 11 structures has been approved and are in progress. Works began in the 2019-2020 fiscal year and are expected to complete within two years.

According to Gasa dzongkhag engineer Choki, relocation of the Basic Health Unit (BHU) and construction of various structures at Laya Central School were in progress.

He said that compared to the previous year there were more construction activities this year.

Since many are unskilled workers, the contractors are training those interested at site. Skilled workers are still hired from across the country.  

Passang Dorji said that when required, there were around 50 women at site. “Women carry stones and help in other tasks.”

Earlier, when work began in the gewog, local government (LG) leaders also consulted the villagers to help with labour.  

“We have been provided with the budget and work had begun. We asked the people to not let the work be stalled for lack of workers,” Laya mangmi Tshewang said. 

Skilled workers are paid more than Nu 1,000 a day without meals. Unskilled workers earn more than Nu 700 a day.

The income is much less compared to what they used to earn from selling cordyceps, incense herbs and porter and pony income. 

Laya Gup Lhakpa Tshering said that today business has slowed in the gewog. 

Although people from Laya continue to ferry essential items to Lunana, due to decrease in sale of cordyceps, business has dropped.  

Mangmi Tshewang said that in October, people from Laya usually go to collect incense herbs. “These herbs are usually sold in Punakha. But this time, no one really expects to generate good income.” 

People in Laya don’t expect much income from the herbs due to the travel restrictions and the Covid-19 situation. 

Laya gewog has more than 900 people.