A resident of Merak in Trashigang alleged that local leaders of the gewog are abusing power for personal gains and are being partial while distributing potatoes government provided to the people.

The 38-year-old resident, who did not wish to be named, claimed that the gup, mangmi, and three tshogpas kept a sack full of potato seeds each for themselves before distributing 150 sacks to the people on November 8.

He alleged that the leaders also gave a sack each to members of the cultural group and three messengers of the gewog. “Four households had to share a sackful of potato.”

He alleged that some members of the cultural groups were from the same family, which means they received two sacksful of potatoes each for a household. “No one was informed about how the potatoes would be divided. This is unfair.”

He said that the local leaders are the representatives of the people and they should consider the interest of the people first.

The man also alleged that the gewog received materials to construct some 17 new greenhouses last year, but the mangmi and three tshogpas were among the first to receive the materials.

“There was no criteria as to who would be eligible for the materials,” he said. “The local leaders got the first share and then they decided to conduct lucky dip.”

Merak gup, Lama Rinchen, said the government provided the potato seeds to see if the gewog could produce potatoes on a large scale. “Those interested and people with land were given the seeds.”

The gup said that the mangmi and three tshogpas were given a sackful of potato each because they had a large greenhouse where they could grow more potatoes.  “I didn’t take any seed. Anyone wishing to do so can verify it.”

He also said that the seeds were not distributed randomly and the potatoes were not for consumption. “I’ve informed the public that the seeds will be reviewed. If they have taken a sackful of seeds, they have to accordingly produce the yield.”

He said that the cultural group members and the messengers were given a sackful of potato each in order to encourage them to work for the gewog. “They are not paid by the gewog or the government. In order to retain them and also to encourage them, we gave them a sackful of potato each.”

Lama Rinchen said that the gewog’s farthest chiwogs of Khelephu and Khashateng would also receive the 20 sacks of potato seeds each.

He said that the Tarayana group would initiate the plantation of the potato and see if the growth is feasible in the gewog. “For this, we have saved a few sackful of seeds.”

On the distribution of the greenhouse, the gup said that since the tshogpas and mangmi had to be in the gewog throughout the year, it was not possible for them to grow vegetables. “We can only grow vegetables for four months here. Considering this factor, we decided to give them a greenhouse each so that they could grow vegetable even in the winter.”

Younten Tshedup |  Trashigang