Lockdown inconveniences in Samtse

Yeshey Lhadon

Residents of Samtse are worried. Essential goods and services, especially supply of vegetables and LPG gas has been difficult.

A resident of Norbugang gewog in Samtse, Yash Raj, has not been able to get vegetables. Neither has he been able to get his LPG cylinder refilled.

“I have now come to conclusion that the suppliers are only helping out those people they know. It’s difficult for everybody,” he said.

But then, another Samtse resident from Namgaycholing, said: “Hunger would kill poor people like us before the Covid-19 does.”

The gewog administrations have so far managed their own supply of essential items according to their lockdown plan.

Samtse dzongdag, Sonam Wangyel, said that the dzongkhag FCB had an abundant stock of rice, salt, and pulses and cooking oil too. He said, “However, Samtse is facing acute shortage of vegetables.”

The dzongkhag administration procured a truckload of potato, chilli, and beans and slippery gourd from Paro and Haa. The dzongkhag also received one truckload of LPG cylinders from on August 21. Sonam Wangyel said, “We have LPG shortage but it’s not as critical right now.”

The dzongkhag administration has learnt that the gewogs are facing vehicle shortages too. Each gewog is given Nu 10,000 to refill their vehicle’s fuel.

Gewog administrations led by gups, mangmis, tshogpas, gewog extension officers, and volunteers have been doing everything in their capacity to make sevice delivery less cumbersome to the people.

Norbugang gup, Kinga Wangdi, said that the gewog administration supplies essential items to 1,000 households in his village. “We are now supplying animal feed.”

The local leaders have gathered local vegetables such as bitter gourd, chayote squash, fiddlehead fern, elatostema lineolatum (Damroo) and rattan (Patsha) and livestock products such as cheese, butter, milk and chicken and distributed them among people.

However, LPG gas is in short supply in the dzongkhag. The people are using either electric cookers or firewood to cook.

Kuenga Wangdi, a villager, said, “Some people are behaving as though they were unawares s of the situation. If only they could be in our shoes, they would understand.”

Tashicholing gewog gup, Samir Giri, received the first load of beans and chillies on August 20. However, he said that most of them were rotten, as it was stranded on the way. He said that since Phuentsholing was declared Covid-19 red zone, vegetable supply became a major problem.

Phuentshopelri gewog received four sacks of potato so far. Gup Robat Lepcha said: “The farmers’ produce can barely feed 20 percent of the population here.”

Namgaycholing, Ratna Bdr Ghalley said that his team was yet to start supplying vegetables about 4,000 people in the gewog.  “We don’t have a supplier. Our local supplier doesn’t have a movement permit,” he said.

The people of Namgaycholing still practice barter system.

Tendruk gup, Nima Drukpa, said, “I don’t see Tendruk facing vegetable shortage problems.” The gewog administration distributed three metric tonnes of vegetables to more than 10,000 residents. The gewog is vegetable self-sufficient. And there are the poultry farms.

“But Tendruk gewog has been facing a critical shortage of LPG gas and petroleum for more than a month now,” he said.

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