Tshering Namgyal | Lhuentse

Three years ago, the Gangzur gewog administration constructed a crematorium at the confluence of Kurichhu and Kilungchhu above the old crematorium that had been used for ages.

The gewog spent around Nu 1.4 million from the gewog budget to construct a canopy, two-roomed guesthouse, and a temple for ritual, kitchen and toilet.

However, not a single body has been cremated at the new crematorium. People prefer cremating at the Khoma crematorium, believed to be sacred and not far away from the gewog with the road to Dungkar easing transportation. Locals also said the new crematorium lacks basic facility like road and electricity.

Kinzang Jamtsho, 45, from Kilung said at least three to five bodies used to be cremated in a year at the crematorium area before the new crematorium was built. Another Kilung resident, Tashi Dorji, 59, said locals from Kilung, Somshing, Lingabi, Rodpa, Magar, Samling and Nimshong villages preferred the Khoma crematorium because the Dungkar gewog road made it easier for the locals.

He added the road from the Kilung bridge was not pliable for small vehicles even in winter besides people having to cross the Kilungchhu thrice. “Unless the road is maintained, I don’t think the locals would use the new facility,” he said.

With no users, the new facility is abandoned and vandalised. Water taps went missing and replaced while glasses on the windows are also broken.

Gangzur Mangmi, Tshewang Thinley said a road, painting of the structures and electrification work could not be accomplished due to budget constraints. However, he said, he had personally requested a contractor to build the road that would be around 400 metres from the Lhuentse-Dungkhar road. “The contractor agreed and the road would be constructed soon,” he said.

The gewog has written to Bhutan Power Corporation to connect the facility with electricity. “I think the road is the main issue and people will use it as they requested the dzongkhag tshogdu for the crematorium,” Tshewang Thinley said.

He said although it’s much convenient for locals to take their dead relatives to Khoma because of facilities available, transportation cost ranges from Nu 6,000 to 10,000 to carry a body and the family of the deceased to Khoma.

“The crematorium would help them save the charges and could be used for other purpose. Moreover, it would be closer for their relatives and neighbours to help the bereaved family,” he said.

The Mangmi said equipment like kitchen sets and choecha (religious items) were already in place contributed by a charity group, Thimyul Phendey tshogpa.

He also added that the old crematorium was one of the oldest existed during the time of the then Kilung’s local chieftain, Wangchen Dharma, which was blessed by the great lama after subduing the negative forces in the valley that posed threat to the local communities.