Township: Residents of Panbang in Zhemgang, most of who live on the government land in temporary shelters, are urging the government to expedite town planning as construction still remains suspended.

Construction in Panbang has been frozen for over six years because it was being planned for the town. Land transactions and passing of land through inheritance also remains restricted.

People have been given no permission to either construct new houses or even to repair the existing temporary structures, said Panbang town’s tshogpa, Sangay Dorji.

Constructions even on private land for those 7-8 households owning land under individual thram have been barred. Today, over 33 households live in temporary sheds built on the government land.

All the occupants of temporary shelters have signed an agreement to vacate and dismantle the structures as and when instructed without any compensation.

“Even those handful of houses built illegally have to be brought down without compensation if their construction contradicts with the one approved by the government,” Sangay Dorji said.

As the wait stretches, residents feel the town planning is getting dragged on even as parliament declared Panbang as yenlag throm in June. Except for mapping 1,694 acres of land in Galabi, Bramang, Undala and Panbang, nothing has happened yet.

A meeting is scheduled today headed by works and human settlement ministry officials.

The residents and shopkeepers are urging the government to expedite the town plan works. Shopkeeper from Panbang, Sangay Wangdi, said yenlag throm progress is getting dragged on.

“I have lived in this temporary shelter for over 25 years in a hope to get a plot to build safer home,” Sangay Wangdi said, adding that living in temporary shed has also been obstruction to business expansion since it cannot accommodate more goods.

“There is also constant danger to lives and goods from the fire while living in such insecure shelters made from wood,” Sangay Wangdi said.

Panbang has no fire hydrant or fire brigade should there be a fire from these combustible shanty bamboo and wooden huts.

“There is great risk to lives, property and town from fire, particularly in winters,” Rinchen Wangdi said.

Barring of land transaction has also hindered real estate business with those individuals in need of finance to start business and construction of houses.

“Even those people who want to sell land to start new business or to construct better and bigger houses have also been affected because land transaction is frozen,” Tenzin Wangdi from Panbang said.

Increasing amount of waste, sanitation and drinking water shortage are some of the problems faced by the residents with rise in the population. Lack of waste disposal site is creating mounting waste problem.

“People, especially those with vehicles, are dumping waste to Manas park areas in absence of proper dump yard,” Kinley Dorji from Panbang said, adding that most backyards are now filled with waste.

The residents also fear vector-borne disease shooting up from poor sanitation since Panbang is malaria prone area.

In absence of municipal, the residents are also grappling with shortage of drinking water supply.

Diversion of developmental activities to Sonamthang is also worrying the Panbang residents. For instance, the vegetable shed has already been taken to Sonamthang because the construction is barred in Panbang.

Many constructions are also cropping up in Sonamthang since there is no obstruction to construction as it is under rural area.

As business picks up in Panbang, the residents are also looking forward to ATM, 3G services and upgraded basic health unit. Currently, there are only extension offices of BoB and BDBL.

By Tempa Wangdi