Two Merak residents have filed a complaint against the local leaders for abuse of power and nepotism to the dzongkhag administration in Trashigang earlier this month.

The two men, both from Merak Toed chiwog, have accused the local leaders of not consulting the pubic while taking important decisions for the gewog.

Wangdi, 33, accused the local leaders of awarding community contract works to the amtsu (women) tshogpa and dancers’ group of the gewog to construct water drainage at Merak Toed and Moed chiwogs worth Nu 800,000 from the gewog development grant (GDG).

He said that since it was the GDG budget, everyone in the gewog should have been given an opportunity to compete for the contract. “By the time we knew about it, the project was already completed.”

He alleged that the groups have not done a good job where quality was compromised. “The gewog and people are at loss because of such practices.”

The gewog engineer, however, said that there were no technical faults in the completed drainages during the handing-taking. “We would be able to comment on the quality only when water starts to flow through the drainage and that will be during summer,” he said. “Physically, the work done is satisfactory.”

Merak mangmi, Phurpa, claimed that the contract works were given to the two groups after consulting with the public.

He said that because the groups were not paid for their contribution to the gewog, the works were awarded to them to retain and encourage them. “But we consulted the public.”

The mangmi said that the amtsu tshogpa was formed because there was a need to have women volunteers for women-related issues emerging in the gewog. “The tshogpa was formed to assist the health workers during times of delivery and other emergencies related to women.”

He said that on July 26 a meeting was held to discuss the issue with the public. “It was a unanimous decision and the leaders have not acted on our own and we have all the evidence to prove this.”

But Wangdi alleged that local leaders have misused the thumbprints of the public. “They are using our thumbprints that was taken during a different meeting,” he said. “The dancer groups already enjoy certain privileges. They are exempted from labour contribution and we don’t see a reason that they should be given special treatment.”

Another resident, Pema Wangdi, who filed the complaint, said that earlier this year, the local leaders deducted Nu 60,000 from two community contracts. “We were told that the money is being saved as a contribution for the moenlam chenmo in Trashigang.”

He said that, when audit officials from dzongkhag came to inspect, the local leaders said that the money was kept as gewog fund and to use it when the gewog received guests. “We later learned that Nu 60,000 was distributed to the labours involved in contract works.”

He questioned if the local leaders could provide such inconsistent reasons.

The two men accused the local leaders of abusing power when it comes to distributing resources. “The gup, mangmi and the tshogpas are the first one to receive any resources that comes to the gewog,” Wangdi said. “They were elected as leaders to address the needs of the public but they don’t think of public interest.”

Pema Wangdi said that this was not the first time the local leaders made such decisions.

He said that the potato-seedling distribution on November 8 saw the mangmi, three tshogpas, the cultural and dance group and amtsu tshogpa receiving a sack full of potatoes each. “They did the same during distributing greenhouse materials.”

He also said that on December 3, the gup had called on the amtsu tshogpa and the cultural group to inform that they would receive assistance from the dzongkhag if they wished to practice agriculture in the village. “We don’t see a reason as to why the gup had to call only these group on Sunday.”

Mangmi Phurpa said that the gewog made all decisions in consultation with the public and never misused power. “We have all the required evidence and it will be produced when required.”

Meanwhile, Trashigang dzongdag Chekey Gyeltshen said that the letter of complaint has been received and the dzongkhag would look into the matter.

Younten Tshedup |  Trashigang