Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing

Three villages of Chongaykha, Dophulakha and Kungkha in Chukha were categorised as low risk areas in October last year but the villagers are facing problems.

This is because their gewog centre is in Pachu, which is above Chamkuna along the Toorsa bank and to go to the gewog office, they have to travel via Phuentsholing, which is a high-risk town starting right from Sorchen.

Villagers cannot visit their gewog office, as they want to, because of the quarantine rule.

A village tshogpa, Bishnu Lal Bahadur, said important works related to the gewog office are pending.

“Childbirth and census registration, insurance, loan services, and approvals of all other gewog office related works are pending.”

He said almost 50 percent of the infrastructure development works have been cancelled and contractors were not willing to work in such a situation.

“Agriculture investments have increased with farmers harvesting more produce but the delivery has been also affected.”

A villager from Chongaykha, Pema Tamang, 44, said switching of drivers and finding vehicles from Sorchen while taking vegetables costs more to farmers.

“It is an additional cost of about Nu 1,500 to Nu 2,000.”

He said life has become difficult.

Pema Tamang said that people initially thought the low risk initiative was good.

“It has now become difficult to manage daily lives in the current situation.” 

Another villager, Lal Bahadur Chhetri, 36, had come to Phuentsholing to avail a loan to start a dairy farm before the complete lockdown on December 23, 2020.

He is still waiting to return to Chongaykha.

“My wife is expecting and the delivery is within a week’s time.”

He said he called the 5555 to register his return but has not yet received a confirmation.

“I have been switching homes among my friends for more than a month now.”

Lal Bahadur said the demarcation is a big problem for the people.

Phuentsholing gup Birkha Bahadur Rai said that due to the demarcation and quarantine problem, the construction of the BHU has been stalled.

“Its first phase must be completed by March this year but the work has not yet started.”

Renovation work of the ORC has also been cancelled. Two irrigation channel projects have also been cancelled. A contractor has withdrawn from construction of a farm road. Even the second lowest bidder didn’t take up the job.

Currently, the gewog is negotiating with the third lowest bidder and it is uncertain if the contractor will take the job.

Gup Birkha Bahadur Rai also said that child census registration and dropout was another problem.

“People usually come here to the office because there are not many facilities in the villages. Sending the scanned documents doesn’t work. Some parents are yet to process court marriages, while they have children now.”

The gup also said that small daily office services such as royalty, loan, insurance are also affected.

Meanwhile, there are more than 270 households in these villages with an estimated population of 2,500.