Samtse dzongkhag tshogdu (DT) has rejected Norgaygang gup’s resignation.

The DT thrizin (chairperson), Nima Dukpa, said the reasons cited by the gup in his resignation letter were not ‘substantial’.

Norgaygang Gup Rinchen Dorji tendered his resignation to the DT chairman on the evening of May 30.

In the resignation letter, Gup Rinchen Dorji stated that he wanted to resign although the country was in a bad situation and needed his service the most, as he was demotivated after the dzongkhag administration accused him of misconduct.

He alleged that the dzongkhag administration did this based on grudge and to create conflict.

“Not only did this demotivate me but it also caused mental stress to my family. This was also harassment for the gewog officials.”

Similarly, the gewog mangmi, Goley and Joenpang-Lingarnang chiwog tshogpa, Karchung, have also submitted their resignation to the Gewog Tshogde (GT). Tshogde is yet to decide on their resignation.


What triggered the resignation?

The gup’s resignation is connected to Chugu farm road in Joenpang-Lingarnang chiwog.

Norgaygang gewog constructed the farm road despite not having dzongkhag’s approval. The construction was not approved based on security reasons, as the road was close to the border area.

Although the dzongkhag had written to the gewog several times seeking justifications why the road was constructed without approval, there was no response.

On June 15 last year, the Samtse dzongkhag administration wrote to the gewog seeking justification. On December 8, the dzongkhag imposed Norgaygang gewog a penalty of Nu 33,000, which was not paid. Then on January 8, 2021, dzongkhag administration again sent an email reminder to the gewog.

Without any response, the gewog administration was asked to furnish justification by January 28, 2021, without fail.

However, on January 26, 2021, the Norgaygang gewog administration had written to the dzongkhag highlighting the approval of Joenpang farm road that was accorded by the dzongkhag.

The gewog failed to mention the Chugu farm road construction, according to the dzongkhag administration.

Subsequently, in March 2021, the dzongkhag administration submitted a detailed report of the issue to the Department of Law and Order (DLO) asking to review the matter and undertake necessary action.

Following this, the trio had recently received calls from the police on May 26, asking for personal details, which further triggered them to submit resignation.


Samtse dzongkhag’s stand

In the report submitted to the DLO, Samtse dzongkhag administration highlighted that it wrote to the gewog on November 4, 2019 and mentioned deferment of the construction of 1.53kms Chugu farm road based on ‘security ground’ and its proximity to the border.

Later, upon the receipt of an appeal letter from the Norgaygang gewog administration seeking approval for the construction of Satsangma to Joenpang and Joenpang to Chugu farm roads, the dzongkhag administration had written to the DLO seeking approval for construction of Satsangma to Joenpang and Chague farm roads on December 18, 2019.

However, the dzongkhag didn’t receive any response from the DLO and subsequently, a team led by former dzongdag, gup, mangmi, gewog administrative officer (GAO) and tshogpa visited the site and the public was informed on the security-related issues concerning the Chugu farm road.

The report stated that the visiting committee and public agreed on a new road alignment, wherein Chugu road was excluded.

The technical site visit was carried out on February 7, 2020 by a team from the dzongkhag and gewog administrations. On February 18, 2020, a public consultation was conducted and the mangmi, GAO, chiwog tshogpa and the public agreed to the new alignment. They also agreed Chugu farm road will not be constructed for security reasons.

Then, Environment Clearance (EC) for Joenpang branch road measuring 6.420kms was issued on March 24, 2020, without taking the farm road towards Chugu village. But the Chugu farm road was constructed and the dzongkhag administration sent its first letter seeking justification from the gewog on June 15, 2020.


Gup’s version

Norgaygang gup Rinchen Dorji claimed the gewog got approval for Chugu farm road construction verbally from the planning officer.

“The road benefits the villagers. Roads closer to border areas were constructed prior to this one but there were no border issues then.”

He alleged the Chugu farm road was made into an issue by the dzongkhag administration due to his fallout with the dzongkhag administration in 2019.

“It all started with a tshogpa training conducted in Phuentsholing in May 2019,” he said.

He said three Norgaygang tshogpas had reached Phuentsholing for the training only to find it was postponed. The tshogpas then questioned the gup about the postponement, following which the gup had to ask for explanation with the dzongkhag officials in an online group forum, as no one informed about the change.

“The dzongkhag administration gave us a warning letter to that inquiry,” the gup said. “I wrote to the home ministry pointing out the issues.”

The home ministry had written to the Samtse DT chairman to solve the case as per the LG Act or study the case and write back.

Gup Rinchen Dorji said the then dzongdag kept a grudge against him and made this road a big issue.

“Otherwise, this road was not a big problem.”

On the resignation, the gup said he decided it after he received a call from the police recently.


Mangmi’s views

Mangmi Goley pointed two reasons for his decision to tender resignation and one of them was the “2019 tshogpa meeting.”

“I was not involved in that tshogpa training but I also got the warning,” he said, adding it had saddened him. “I wanted to resign that time only but gup stopped me.”

Goley said they were not informed about postponing the tshogpa meeting.

“Dzongkhag officials told us the change on the dates was announced during another meeting in April 2019 but it was not made and there are people as witnesses.”

He claimed he put up the resignation, because he did not get a response to why he was warned in 2019.

Goley said that although it was not the right time to resign given the Covid-19 situation, Chugu farm road issue was the final trigger for his decision.

“It is so sad that the dzongkhag had to pursue this case at this moment,” he said, adding the issue could have also been settled in another time.

“They have a grudge against us.”

Goley said he submitted his resignation because he didn’t want to get arrested as a mangmi.

“If I am arrested while on the job it will hamper the work,” he said. “Resigning as a layman was better. Even if I am arrested, somebody will replace me and continue to work in the gewog.”

Goley also said the dzongkhag administration had given verbal approval for Chugu farm road construction to both gup and tshogpa.


Joenpang-Lingarnang tshogpa’s views

Joenpang-Lingarnang tshogpa Karchung said he was worried and disheartened after the police called him for his details recently.

“I put my resignation because I didn’t want to get arrested by the police when I am still a tshogpa,” Karchung said.

On the Chugu farm road, Karchung said he remembers the dzongkhag planning officer had given a verbal approval during one of the visits.

“He verbally told me the road can be constructed until one tree point, which he pointed to me,” the tshogpa said, adding there was a woman as witness.

However, later the dzongkhag asked to stop the work, the tshogpa said, when the work had already begun.


Case status

While none of their resignations has been accepted at present, an investigation has already begun on the matter, according to the sources.

Both the former Samtse dzongdag, who is the current home secretary and the Samtse planning officer didn’t comment on the issue.

Although the gup and mangmi claimed they have the approval, they haven’t given justification to the dzongkhag administration other than the Joenpang farm road approval.

Kuensel was provided an EC dated October 24, 2019, which was approved by the dzongkhag. However, it is an EC for 6.325kms Satsangma to Satsangma-B farm road. EC for 6.420kms Joenpang farm road was also approved.

By Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing

Edited by Tashi Dema