Neten Dorji

Kanglung: Eerie silence now dominates the atmosphere around the abandoned school in Yonphula, Trashigang where the wind almost seems to screech through broken windowpanes.

Once a vibrant centre of education, the corridors and classrooms now stand still and silent. Amid towering trees, the encroaching overgrowth imparts an unsettling ambiance to the deserted structure.

In 2019, this building housed Kelki High School. Unfortunately, due to environmental concerns, the school was shut down. Subsequently, during the pandemic, the premises were repurposed into a 150-bed Covid-19 hospital.

Following the hospital’s closure, locals report a palpable sense of haunting in the area. A resident, Sonam, expresses concern about the lack of updates since the government’s takeover.

“The deserted school is now a place we’re afraid to approach, especially after dusk,” he said.

Tashi Wangchuk, another resident, suggested appointing a caretaker to safeguard the infrastructure.

“After significant investments, neither the government nor the dzongkhag is maintaining it,” he said. “Without proper care, these structures will deteriorate quickly.”

Tashi Wangchuk said the government could explore alternative uses for the facility.

Tshering Zangmo, a mother, said that the location has turned into a grazing ground for livestock and a habitat for wild animals.

“Monkeys are often spotted inside, and we have to chase them away. We hope to see life here again,” she said.

Residents express disillusionment with political promises made during elections.

“Candidates pledge to convert schools into institutes, promising economic improvements, but these assurances are quickly forgotten after the election,” a local noted.

The fate of Kelki School has become entwined with political rhetoric, with no concrete plans from the government’s side to utilise the infrastructure effectively.

The government acquired Kelki School for nearly Nu 160 million and repurposed it into a Covid hospital. Subsequently, the Ministry of Health invested nearly Nu 8 million in constructing an approach road, maintaining toilets, installing electrical fittings, and ensuring water supply when the site was designated a Covid hospital in the east.