Pemagatshel could miss thromde election

LG: The second phase of local government election is scheduled to take place in June, but election commission officials are not sure if they can call thromde election for Pemagatshel thromde.

This is because there are no registered voters in six demkhongs (constituencies) in Pemagatshel thromde that was demarcated in Denchi.

Denchi, about one hour drive from present Pemagatshel dzong was endorsed as the Dzongkhag thromde both by the Dzongkhag Tshogdu and the Parliament on November 26, last year.

The delimitation commission recently drafted the delimitation plan of six demkhongs, Marung, Denchi Toed, Denchi Baar, Denchi Shar, Denchi Woong and Denchi Maed covering 113.53 acres of land.

Officiating director of electoral registration and delimitation department, Sonam Tobgay during the public hearing for the draft delimitation plan yesterday in Pemagatshel, said even if the commission calls for an election, there will be no voters, no candidates for thrompon, tshogpa and theumi to the Dzongkhag Tshogdu.

“It is too early to comment whether the commission can conduct thromde election. We might have to review,” he said.

The chances are it might even take years to conduct thromde election if the thromde remains without registered voters unless people transfer their census in the thromde.

“Although the delimitation commission will still issue the final delimitation order, we cannot decide whether or when to conduct the election,” he said.

The six demkhongs were demarcated as per the Election Act provision with the registered population of at least 5,000 expected to come up in future. The demkhongs were demarcated as prepared by the works and human settlement ministry.

Pointing to the map, Sonam Tobgay said there are no settlements, institutions or any buildings, which is why there is not a single voter, registered in the thromde or falls in the thromde boundary.

Registration of voters could happen only if people especially shopkeepers from the present Pemagatshel bazaar or those interested decide to buy land in the thromde and transfer their census.

Voters alone are not enough. If there are no thrompon candidates, election could be deferred.

Sonam Tobgay said although certain thromde boundary falls in two chiwogs, Yalang and Khothakpa, the area did not have settlements.  “The area with settlements are located just above the boundary, which is why they are still under the gewog and remain as chiwogs,” he said. “We cannot have voters from the gewog unless they decide to buy a plot in Denchi.”

Meanwhile, during the public hearing that was chaired by the Chief Election Commissioner, Chogyal Dago Rigdzin, apart from suggesting to change some demkhongs’ names, the business people and the local government leaders agreed to the delimitation plan.

Sonam Tobgay, who presented the delimitation plan, said there was no other name in the area other than Denchi and Marung. That is why toed (upper), maed (lower), and baar (middle) are added to the name. Marung was also not the name of the area but a river’s name.

The public hearing was conducted to give an opportunity for interested voters to express their views.

Meanwhile, although, 49 plots are already allocated to shopkeepers by the dzongkhag, the town’s representative, Jigyel Phuntsho Dhargay said those who are eligible will have to buy plots as there are plans to shift Pemagatshel town to Denchi.

But he said the concern is filling demkhongs because the town will still fall in Denchi Toed, while as per the Election Act, there should be at least 5,000 people in the thromde.

Many also agreed that not many people would be interested to buy land in Denchi that has no potential for business.

Yangchen C Rinzin,  Pemagatshel

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