Thinley Namgay   

There is no immediate solution for the long-standing gungtong issue in rural communities, according to Home Minister Ugyen Dorji.

He said the government and relevant stakeholders should collaborate to formulate sustainable strategies and policies to resolve the issue.

Lyonpo Ugyen Dorji said this in response to a question from Mongar’s member of parliament (MP) Karma Lhamo on June 10 at the National Assembly (NA) on strategies developed by the government to address gungtong issue.

MP Karma Lhamo said gungtong resulted in fallow lands and is also causing labour shortage in the villages, which impacts food sufficiency.  “Main cause of gungtong is rural-urban migration.”

According to the minister, rural-urban migration would increase the population of urban areas. “As per the National Statistics Bureau (NSB), the population of Thimphu will increase to 250,000 in the next 25 years from the current 150,000.”

On a positive note, Lyonpo mentioned that the rural-urban migration rate has reduced to three to four percent today from more than seven percent in the past. “NSB report states rural-urban migration rate is more than seven percent before 2005.”

He said that the government is providing adequate budget to the local government to address gungtong.

Meanwhile, Maenbi-Tsaenkhar MP Choki Gyeltshen also questioned the home minister to update on chiwogs tshogpa offices that the government pledged to establish.

He said that after removing gaydrungs post by the government, there is more work pressure on gewog officials and tshogpas. “Tshogpa office has become paramount to provide convenient and timely services to the people.”

Lyonpo Ugyen Dorji said the primary duty of tshogpa is to provide information to the people and conduct meetings.  “Meeting hall is needed. Budget is provided by the government to the local government to build such facility.”

He said they have been discussing with gewog officials. “Tshogpas could use some space in the meeting hall as their office.”

The query on the new integrated check post also surfaced at the NA on June 10.

Bomdeling-Jamkhar MP Dupthob asked the home minister when the government would establish an integrated check post in Nganglam and Samdrupjongkhar like in Phuntsholing to foster imports and exports of goods.

Lyonpo Ugyen Dorji explained that there are many issues to build check post such as limited area owing to proximity to the border.

He said that facilities were established in  Nganglam check post in 2019 and there is not much issue. “Final design for Gelephu check post was completed and work is expected to commence soon.”

Lyonpo also said they are discussing Samdrupjongkhar check post and there was area issue.