In the plains of Tugudemba in Panbang, an old hut, supported by multiple poles, stands perilously about a metre above the ground.

Through the holes in the old bamboo mats that make  up the hut’s wall, people can be seen within.

CGI sheets have also been used as walls to protect the hut’s residents from rain. But on one side of the hut the CGI sheet has moved out of place and the interior of the hut is exposed to the elements.

Leki Dorji, 69, and his wife live in the hut. He explained that strong winds destroyed his hut a few years back.

But since then he has not been able to either repair his hut or construct a new house.

This is because Tugudemba has been identified as the site for the new Panbang town.

As a result, the dungkhag has frozen all construction activities in the area.

“Otherwise I have all the materials at the site,” Leki Dorji said. He claimed that he had collected construction materials: three truckloads of stones and timber and a truckload of sand, three years ago.

The materials are still in place a few metres away from his house, now, covered in grass.

His neighbour, Pema, 45, runs a shop in a bamboo hut. She too has been waiting to be allowed to construct a new house.

There is timber stacked behind her house. “I bought this timber to build a house,” she said. “I could not use it since the dungkhag did not allow.”

The timber has rotted despite being covered by plastic sheets.

The mother of six said she would have constructed a small house by now if she had been allowed. “Rain seeps in through the roof during the monsoon,” she said.

It is not only the residents of Tugudemba that are affected by the delay in implementation of the town plan.

Shopkeepers in Panbang town, located a few kilometres away from Tugudemba, are also waiting as construction activities have been frozen here as well.

They run businesses in huts and single storeyed houses.

Nado, 60, who runs a shop in Panbang said no one is sure if they will have to move to Tugudemba once the town plan comes through.

He said he is also worried business might not be as good if they shift to Tugudemba since all the government offices, including the dungkhang office is located  near Panbang town.

Panbang dungpa, Mani Sangye, said the dungkhag wants to implement the town plan immediately as desired by the people. “But the Ministry of Works and Human Settlement is still planning,” he said. “It is expected to come through soon.”
Nima Wangdi | Panbang