From the deliberations in the National Assembly last week, renovation of Mongar Dzong will take a long time. Renovation of the 89-year-old Dzong will depend on two factors- budget and importance.

The Drametse-Ngatsang representative, Ugyen Wangdi, raised the issue during the question hour on Friday where he said that the dzong had to be renovated for the safety of the monks residing in the dzong.

He pointed out that plans to renovate the Dzong was not reflected in the 12th Plan and asked the Home Minister if the Dzong will be left without renovation in the current plan.

While acknowledging the importance of conserving and preserving the cultural heritage and especially dzongs in the country, Home Minister Sherub Gyeltshen said that the ministry will look into the renovation based on the availability of funds and prioritisation of activities. The minister clarified that the government’s plan on new construction was on government offices and not dzongs.

“Renovation of the dzong and extension of offices has been done in the 10th Plan and was forwarded to the 11th Plan. To be included in the 12th Plan, the issue was not brought about by the dzongkhag tshogdu,” said the minister.

The Home Minister added that the government had not received any proposal from the tshogdu.

However, he said that it didn’t mean that the government will not consider renovating the dzong. “If it is a priority, we will support it.”

MP Ugyen Wangdi said that the Lam Neten and dzongkhag officials had repeatedly requested for renovation whenever he visited Mongar.

The home minister suggested making use of the Nu 500 million dzongkhag development grant for necessary renovation. “If the renovation exceeds the grant, the dzongkhag could put up a proposal to the ministry,” he said.

Meanwhile, lyonpo Sherab Gyeltshen said that the government would explore budget to renovate the Zhemgang Dzong if it is in dire need of renovation.

The minister said this after the Bardo-Trong Member of Parliament (MP) Gyembo Tshering requested the government to include the renovation as a priority.

The minister said that since the 12th Plan is already drafted, the government might not be able to renovate it with government budget. “If we cannot renovate it with 12th Plan, we would surely include it in the next plan.”

The MP, however, said that the dzong’s dratshang, kuenrey and Guru lhakang needs renovation, as the 1997 earthquake damaged it. “The Dzong’s foundation, statues and relics would be damaged if it is not renovated on time.”

He said the Zhemgang dzongkhag officials have been requesting the home ministry to allocate some budget but it did not help them.

Lyonpo Sherub Gyaltshen said he would review the condition of the dzong and if it is in bad shape as the representative claims, the government would do something.

Meanwhile, Zhemgang Dzong was first built in 11th century by Lam Zhang Dorjee Drakpa and Desi Minjur Tempa rebuilt the dzong in the 16th century.

Kezang Choden and Karma Yuden