On the grounds of cost and social benefits

Neten Dorji  | Trashigang

Highlanders of Merak appealed against the recent dzongkhag tshogdu’s decision to blacktop the gewog centre (GC) road from Chaling.

Led by two chiwog tshogpas, 10 highlanders have come to Trashigang dzongkhag to question the DT decision yesterday. This is the second time the highlanders are opposing the DT decision.

In September this year, dzongkhag officials sent a team to Merak after Merak residents complained against the DT decision to blacktop the GC road from Chaling in Shongphu. Merak residents wanted the GC road to be blacktopped from Khardung in Radhi gewog.

Even during the consultation with people before the gewog tshogde, almost everyone in the gewog supported blacktopping from Khardung route. According to Merak mangmi Phurpa, 27 people supported to blacktop the riad from Karma Goenpa in Phongmey and there were no one who supported the blacktopping from Chaling route.  

  Residents alleged that the gup misused his power and forwarded an agenda, which was not the GT’s resolution. “Gewog Tshode members decided to blacktop Merak GC road from Khardung route. But the gup has summited a different one,” a tshogpa, Tenzin Dorji, said.

He said that after they saw the agenda, mangmi and the tshogpas wrote to the gup to correct the agenda before submitting to DT. “But it appears the gup might have sent as it is.”

Another tshogpa, Rinchen Wangdi, said they wrote to the gup that they would not be responsible if people questioned the GT members.

Rinchen Wangdi said that the DT chairperson and members could have decided based on the “mistaken agenda.” “We do not understand how DT decided since tshogpas are not DT members.”

People have alleged that the gup of having vested interest, as he would benefit from the Chaling route.

The 12 Merak residents submitted their grievances to the dzongkhag administration yesterday, requesting to stop the blacktopping works until the dispute is settled.

According to the submission, people cited three reasons why they want Merak GC road to be blacktopped from Khardung route.

It stated that the Khardung route was decided as a GC road by an investigation team from dzongkhag, gewog and people in  2010. “Officials from the Department of Roads also estimated the budget from the Khardung side,” the appeal letter stated.

People also submitted that the estimated budget for GC road blacktopping would be insufficient if it is done from Chaling route.

A highlander, Jurmi, 57, said all Merak residents use the route from Khardung because the road was stable and wide. “We are the immediate beneficiaries and we know which road will benefit us more.”

He said it is convenient for highlander to use Khardung route to go to Dungtse Central School, Radhi, Phongmey and even to Sakteng drungkhag.

Another highlander, Rinchen Dorji, said blacktopping the road from Chaling would be  wastage of government resources.

He said that local people would be happy if concerned authorities could understand what would  benefit people more. “How can local leaders decide against people’s will?”

Meanwhile, Merak gup Lam Rinchen clarified that once the DT decides, there is no way GT members could change it. “However, I requested DT chairperson to consider the people’s choice and discuss in DT.”

He said that most DT members decided not to discuss the same issue that was already decided in 7th DT. “We didn’t get the opportunity to discuss it.”

Lam Rinchen also clarified there was no mistakes in the agenda that was forwarded to the DT. “Dasho Dzongda and DT chairperson knows that I didn’t submit the wrong agenda.”