Phub Dem | Paro

Lunchuna, right next to the Rinpung Dzong, was once the most privileged hamlet in Paro.

Today, however, Lunchuna is perhaps the only village in Paro that lacks basic amenities such as a motorable road and drainage system. The locals still carry essentials on their backs from the dzong’s parking area.

According to a resident, Sangay Penjor, the dzongkhag administration’s sewage tank above the village has damaged properties such as flooring.

He said that there were no property damage cases until toilets were built for the tsechu grounds. “I have changed the flooring twice.”

Villagers say that they have raised their concerns since the time of the first elected government, but there has been no progress.

Some even asked the government to relocate the village if there was no plan for a road connection. Others claim that the residents refuse to relocate.

A resident said that people incur double expenditures for house repairs and construction of new structures without a road connection.  

Pem Lham, a resident, said that the drains needed maintenance, adding that if the dzongkhag administration’s sewage is connected to the drain, the overflow affects the whole surrounding. “If there were a maintenance plan, it would benefit both the dzongkhag administration and the village.”

Nim Dem, who is currently constructing a house next to the dzong’s tsechu ground, had to build a retaining wall after the area experienced a landslide. She blames the sliding on the soak pit.

Paro Dzongdag Karma Thinley said that there are two available take-offs—from Hungrelkha village road and from Paro College of Education (PCE). He said that the possible alignment towards Lunchuna from the Hungrelkha road is above the Tsechuthang (Tsechu ground). However, he said that the area falls close to cultural heritage infrastructures.

The road alignment from PCE has to be below Zuri Lhakhang, which is regarded as one of the most important cultural heritage sites in Paro. The site below Zuri is also identified as a holy site known as Namthong Karpo. “The road construction will disturb the sanctity of the site and affect the cultural sentiments of the community.”

As per the Paro Valley Development Control Regulations 2016 and Development Control Regulations, areas around the dzong fall under dzong and religious precincts where development activities are restricted to preserve and enhance the sanctity of the place.

Karma Thinley said that protecting historic-cultural monuments (Rinpung Dzong, Ta Dzong, Zuri Lhakhang and Goensakha Lhakhang) receive priority over the infrastructure development required by Lungchunu.

He said that there were no significant development activities in the village due to its proximity to various religious sites. However, he said that the gewog was carrying out maintenance in the area.

Karma Thinley said that seepage could be because of the damage caused to the soak pit from recent earth-cutting work carried out during the construction of a residential building by a private individual. 

“The dzongkhag administration has already completed the construction of drainage to drain water from kitchens and toilets,” he said.

Edited by Jigme  Wangchuk