Tshering Namgyal | Lhuentse
The last two shopkeepers in the old Lhuentse town who were operating from makeshift huts along the town road will shift to the new town above, Phaling, completing the shifting of the town to a new location.
Although their buildings are yet to be completed, the plot owners said they were moving to the new location in due compliance with the extended deadline. After failing to relocate by the August 2019 deadline, 11 shopkeepers who were on government land on lease were given additional six months, until April 15 this year.
A shopkeeper, Sonam Kiba, has already moved her belongings into her nearly complete new building recently. She started dismantling her old hut since Wednesday.
She said although her new building has plywood in place of glasses and water and electricity are temporarily connected, they are moving to comply with the dzongkhag’s rule. “The administration has given us enough time. Moreover, it was also causing inconvenience to the contractor who is doing widening and wall construction works,” she said.
Another shopkeeper, Karma, who runs a restaurant, said she is grateful to the dzongkhag for giving enough time and it was time to move although his three-storied building is not connected with water or electricity.
“It’s difficult to get the materials easily and the price of hardware items in Mongar town has increased by manifold. So, I’m moving with temporary light and water connection,” Karma said.
While rest have already relocated to their own buildings and some putting up in a temporary shelters, two shopkeepers asked additional time of two months, but the dzongkhag allowed only one month as their building constructions were underway.
At present, only 14 of the 28 plots in the town have come up with their constructions so far. The plots were allotted in 2008.
More construction coming up would mean addressing the housing issue in the town. The National Housing Development Corporation Ltd (NHDCL) has also allotted apartment to more than 54 civil servants in its two locations.
There are still some civil servants putting in makeshift huts on government land with no proper toilets, no running water, and kitchen. The risk of fire, given that the huts are attached to each other was also very high. A few civil servants are also staying in the village above the town area and in Gangzur village.
House rent in the private residential buildings range between Nu 5,500 and 6,000 a month.
However, some plot owners said they could not come up with construction due to budget constraints to the construct ground floor of the building to avail loan from the financial institutions.
“Banks give loan from the second floor only. But laying the foundation is expensive. I think I will need some more time to start my construction,” a plot owner said.
Some plot owners also raised issues like lack of connecting road along the plots to ferry materials and footpath.