More than 200 Bhutanese living across the border who were allotted affordable housing units in December last year, are still waiting to move into their new flats.

Officials from National Housing Development Corporation Limited (NHDCL) had said the flats would be ready for occupancy by February this year.

However, the apartments are not ready yet.

Near the FCBL auction yard in Phuentsholing, at one of the primary locations of the ongoing construction of the remaining buildings, buildings still had the bamboo scaffoldings on. Sand and stones lay on the unfinished parking lot. There were no labourers at the site.

The tenants who are waiting for affordable units at this site said it would take time before they get to see their rooms. And they are worried and tired of waiting.

A civil servant, Choden, who lives at the Chinese Lane across the border said this is harassment.

“We were allotted long time ago and we haven’t yet got into the apartments,” she said. “Our house owner here knows that we will shift to the affordable unit and they increased our house rents.”

Electricity bills were also increased to Nu 12 a unit, Choden said. She said she followed up once and knew she would get the occupancy only by June or July this year.

Choden said she visited the construction site and found there was no electricity and water connection.

Buddha Tamang, a taxi driver said it was difficult to send his children to school for several days this month as the border gates were closed because of the elections across the border.

“They were not allowed from the Chinese Lane gate and had to walk to the main gate,” he said, adding it has been some time since he waited for the apartment he was allotted in December 2018.

The taxi driver said NHDCL officials had visited his house in Jaigaon once for inspection but didn’t give any information.

In December 2018, NHDCL allotted 506 affordable flats in Phuentsholing to Bhutanese living across the border. The allotments were done through a lucky draw.

About 725 applicants had applied.

There are two categories of apartments—III and IV—and the rent depends as per the size of the floor. The monthly rent ranges from Nu 3,957 to Nu 6,760.

As per the conditions of allotment, the tenancy agreement would be valid for two years and renewed every two years, up to a maximum of four times, after which the tenant would have to vacate the flat.

A total of 62 buildings in 10 different locations were constructed.

Dorji Wangdi, another Bhutanese who stays in Chinese Lane said he is worried.

“First the house allotted to me is not yet ready,” he said. “And now I am also worried about the rent.”

Dorji Wangdi said today he pays Nu 3,700 on rent and electricity in Jaigaon. If he took the house he was allotted in Phuentsholing, it would cost him more than Nu 6,300 a month. “My basic salary is Nu 7,400,” he said.

Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing