Tshering Namgyal | Lhuentse

From the hamlet of makeshift huts a few years ago to a town with two to three-storied concrete structures today, Phaling town in Lhuentse is mushrooming into a beautiful township after a decade of planning.

After plots were allotted in 2008, owners started constructing the buildings and 18 of the 28 plot owners have rented out their newly constructed houses. One building is still under construction.

The construction boom has now addressed the acute housing shortage Lhuentse residents grappled with until now.

Most of the ongoing town road widening works and infrastructure development activities are now completed.

The Nu 90M town development work that includes widening of 2.5km double lane road and flood protection wall along the Lekpagangchhu near dzong area including other urban infrastructures like footpath, streetlight, and storm water drainage, is in progress. Buildings in the new township are electrified and connected with water.

The contractor will have to complete the works by January 2022.

However, building owners, particularly those whose plot falls in the upper part of the new Phaling township have their last demand, an internal road network connecting their buildings to the highway approaching towards the dzong, besides streetlight and internal footpath.

The length of the road is estimated to be just over 200m to connect to the main highway towards the dzong and plot owners said it was previously promised by dzongkhag as a main infrastructure in the new town but did not get through.

Building owners said lack of the infrastructure and service has affected them as they were not able to rent out their shop spaces attached to the buildings.

“There are no shopkeepers keen to operate due to lack of customers because there is no proper road,” a building owner, Kunzangla, said.

All the shop spaces in eight buildings, especially those that fall in the middle line of the town, are vacant. Each building has a provision of two shop spaces required by the town’s design.

Building owners said everyone prefers a comfortable service like a bag of rice loaded into their car parked in front of the shop and drive through a comfortable road. “Since there is no provision, people don’t visit our shops,” Kuenzangla said.

They said there is an approach road from one side above connecting the road to Ngar village, but need to be improved and connecting it to the highway would be much beneficial.

Residents say the road will also help municipal waste collection reach individual buildings and solve waste issues in the town.

“It’s quite a burden to go all the way to the road point near vegetable market to catch the waste truck all the time,and collecting it from the doorstep would be beneficial,” a building owner, Chedup, said.

He said some residents even throw away their waste along the street.

Another building owner, Dechen Wangmo, said streetlights and footpaths in the new township would also attract customers and tenants.

Building owners said most of them have constructed their houses on loan and almost all the building owners will have repayment difficulty.

Edited by Tashi Dema