Lhakpa Quendren 

With the completion of the structural design and plans for Panbang town, the Zhemgang Dzongkhag Administration is ready to propose the implementation of the plan and design in the next Plan.

Zhemgang’s officiating dzongdag, Ugyen Lhendup, said as desired by the people, the plan would be implemented in the upcoming 13th Five-Year Plan should everything go as expected.

“We will propose for the development of infrastructure facilities such as satellite installations, pedestrian paths, bicycle lanes, drainage, and sewage systems,” he said.

He said that the road construction has been completed, and it would be blacktopped in the next Plan. “Some of the residents have already started their construction work.”

Ugyen Lhendup added that the infrastructure development plans would be also implemented for Toongkudenba town and Thinleygang-Sonamthang peri-urban town.

“We had several consultation meetings with the public. Some residents in Toongkudenba even agreed to give their land that comes under land pooling,” he said.

He said that the dzongkhag also completed the plotting of Tugudemba town.

Unlike in the past where the government took over the private land for town planning, he said that the landowners could sell their plots once the dzongkhag completes the design and plans of the town.

Some residents have started constructing houses without waiting for the government’s directive despite construction remaining suspended for a decade.

A shopkeeper from Panbang, Sangay Wangdi, 61, is nearly completing his two-storey building construction. He said that waiting for the government’s directive would put the town’s residents on the back foot in terms of readiness.

“I have lived in this temporary shelter for over 33 years. I need a more secure place to live,” he said.

Another shopkeeper said that some residents do not have enough land to start developmental activities. “Some of us own small plots between 1.19 and seven decimals which is not enough for a building construction.”

The developmental activity such as the installation of satellites in Thinleygang-Sonamthang had begun to worry the Panbang residents.

“We really don’t know why developmental activities have been initiated at Sonamthang despite Parliament declaring Panbang as yenlag throm. It might be because of the elected leaders in the gewogs,” said a resident.

The Panbang town has been in the plan since the first elected government.

“We raised this issue several times to the dzongkhag and our elected leaders. They said they would look into the matter but nothing is being done so far,” a resident said.

Following the decision to extend Panbang town till Toongkudenba in 2013, the locals bought construction materials. Today, about 40 households still live in temporary sheds on the Kidu land.