Safety: Mongar town residents have requested dzongkhag officials to shift the Bhutan Oil Distributor (BOD) fuel depot out of the town.

In a written application signed by 30 town residents, it was stated that having the BOD depot near the town is unsafe for the residents.

The thromde tshogpa, Tawchung, said they learnt that having the BOD near the town is not safe during the August 16 fire in the town. “When the fire broke out, people could not help to contain the fire but had to escape to a safer place fearing the BOD depot would explode,” he said. “If the depot catches fire, it could blow up the entire town.”

People have requested the dzongkhag officials to shift the BOD depot to an area five kilometres away from the town.

Manager of Namgyel Jorphel hotel, Namgay, said although it is beneficial for the town residents to have the BOD depot in the town, it is not safe.

A taxi driver, Dechen Tshering, said if the BOD depot is not in the town, people would come forward to contain fire if there  is any such mishaps in future.

The Mongar BOD depot manager, Tshewang Dorji, said no one complained of the issue until now. “If the dzongkhag orders us, we will discuss the issue with officials in the headquarters,” he said.

He said that the BOD depot has been operating in Mongar for more than 30 years and no such incidents have occurred so far. “Even if fire broke out, we have fire safety equipment.”

As of today, the depot has 15,000kl of petrol and 40,000kl of diesel in their underground tanks. On a daily basis, 700 to 2,000kl of petrol and 1,000 to 10,000kl of diesel are sold. They also sell about 100 gas cylinders every day.

Meanwhile, a local leader, Karma Sonam Wangchuk, said the depot does not pose any risk to the town. “BOD depots in Thimphu, Phuentsholing, Samdrupjongkhar and other towns are also near town,” he said.

Some drivers also said it is more important to implement fire prevention measures and create awareness rather than shift the depot. “It will be expensive to drive 10km to and fro to get cars refueled,” a driver said.

Tashi Phuntsho | Mongar