It’s just 6am but for a group of youth, mostly class 10 and 12 dropouts from Sangseri village in Phangkhar, Zhemgang, it’s time to discuss the day’s work.

Few had even undergone vocational training and are now back in the locality. They gather near the village’s eco-lodge, the only place that has network coverage to browse the Internet.

About 10 youth usually work in a group as manual labourers. Sometimes they exchange labour and other times contribute free labour to the needy in the village.

Talking to Kuensel, the youth said they are not going to urban places to look for a job but waiting for the new government to start the Chamkharchu hydropower project.

They say the project has been discussed since 2008 but nothing has happened on the ground except for the construction of a permanent bridge over Rindigang.

A dropout, Sangay Dorji, said he is hoping for the new government to do something with the project. “I think it is high time for the project to start now,” he said. “It will not only bring development in the locality but also create employment opportunities.”

It is not only the youth who are waiting for the Chamkharchu project.

A businesswoman in Pantang, Tshering Lhamo, said they depend on truckers, who ferry loads from Nanglam to Trongsa and other nearby towns.

She said if Chamkharchu project begins, it would be of huge benefit to them.

She sells fast food whenever she gets orders from customers.

Both Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT) and Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) have pledged to start the project.

Besides the project, most voters in the locality are not bothered on the other pledges the parties have in their manifestos.

A farmer from Budashi, who was in Pantang for some personal work, said he is not convinced by the pledges the parties made.

He said Chamkharchu project was there in the 2013 election pledge and it is again in this year’s pledge. “It’s become a talking point during the election and disappears after the election.”

Meanwhile, the youth group gathered to help roof a village elder’s temporary shed in a nearby field on October 14. They do not talk much about politics but say they will vote. “We hope the party that wins would start the project.”

Tashi Tenzin | Pantang