A total of 725 Bhutanese living across the border would participate in a lucky draw this weekend for the 506 housing units the National Housing Development Corporation Limited (NHDCL) constructed in Phuentsholing.

NHDCL chief executive officer Thinley Dorji said all 506 units would be allotted but some tenants would move at a later stage.

“We will have a meeting with the allotment committee in the morning and allot the flats in the afternoon of December 22 and 23.”

Thinley Dorji said a majority of people would be moving into the new houses by January 1, 2019. About 100 units, which are not completed would be ready by February 2019 and allotted for occupancy.

The rent will range from Nu 4,500 to Nu 6,500 depending on the floor area.

The affordable housing project started in July 2016 as envisaged by His Majesty The King to address the acute shortage of affordable houses in Phuentsholing.

There are 62 buildings with 506 units at 10 different locations. The government provided Nu 890 million (M) for the project.

In July this year, the project was inaugurated at one of the housing sites at Amochhu embankment. It was announced that the houses would be allotted in August this year, which did not happen.

In Jaigaon, those who have applied are eagerly waiting for the allotment.

A civil servant Kuensel talked to said, she is anxious to go out when she is at home across the border.    

“My work involves meeting people from across the border on a daily basis,” she said, adding it would be risky.

She said she pays Nu 5,000 a month in rent for a one-bedroom apartment. She lives with her husband and parents. She said she pays Nu 12 a unit for electricity. Her monthly electricity bill ranges from Nu 1,600 to Nu 1,800.

A housewife, Yeshey Choden, who lives in Gumba road, said her family has not had any safety issues. They have been living across the border for nine years now.

Yeshey Choden is expecting to get an affordable house soon. Today, they pay Nu 3,500 as house rent and Nu 1,300 to Nu 1,400 as electricity bills.

The housing crisis is one of the biggest challenges Bhutanese in Phuentsholing face today. Due to lack of space for expansion, Phuentsholing thromde do not have houses. Those available are unaffordable to many, especially, those that fall under the low-income bracket. Living across the border in various places in Jaigaon is the only option.

Rajesh Rai  | Phuentsholing