The local leaders of Nubi gewog in Trongsa during the recent dzongkhag tshogdu (DT) expressed concerns over a group of men wandering the gewog forests collecting burl for Dhapa (traditional bowl) making.

Nubi mangmi, Pema Lhamo, said the men were in the mountains for about a month now.

“They are now in the forest of Jongthang village after the people of Kaba, a village about four hours away from Jongthang, did not allow them into their area,” she said.

Pema Lhamo said people of the gewog do not allow outsiders into their forest at this time of the year, as they fear it could defile the local deities causing natural disasters like hailstone that would damage their crops.

The people in the locality are harvesting wheat and barley as of today.

“In many villages, they are observing ridham, meaning restriction of entry into the mountains,” she said.

The mangmi said that although the group of men had permit to collect the burl, people are concerned that they might have to bear the wrath of their local deities.

DT Chairperson, Nubi gup Ugyen Tenzin said people complain that the weather around the mountains remained cloudy and rainy since the group got into the forest. He questioned how the permits were granted.

Forest ranger of Trongsa range office, Jigme Tshering, said the dzongkhag and regional offices do not have the authority to issue permits for burl collection.

He said the authority to issue such permit is with the ministry. The ministry also specifies the area from where to collect the burl.

The ranger also said people of the gewog did not raise any issue on ridham at the time when they interacted while the team was processing the permit.

Ugyen Tenzin said the ministry may issue permits but he feels it is important for the ministry to consult the local government.

He said people in the locality are also suspicious of the men after they found out that the men did not even have proper camps.

“I doubt if they are really collecting burls or doing something else,” the chairperson said.

Tangsibji gup, Gembo Dorji said the people have been collecting burls from his gewog for the past few years.” If the DT could write to the ministry requesting the ownership over natural resources for the respective gewog,” he said.

Ranger Jigme Tshering, however, said seeking the ownership over natural resources would not be possible as any natural resource of the country belongs to every citizen of the country.

Citing an example, he said people who are building houses in Trongsa are bringing timbers from Bumthang. “What if Bumthaps restrict the timber collection from there claiming ownership,” he said.

However, the DT resolved to write to the ministry requesting to consult local government while issuing permits.

Nima Wangdi | Trongsa