A verification team from Paro dzongkhag found all claims as untrue 

Update: The allegations of a private permanent campsite being set up at Bumdra, above Taktshang monastery are baseless, according to Paro dzongkhag administration officials.

Paro dzongdag Chencho Tshering said a verification team from the dzongkhag visited Bumdra on September 10. “The team found that the allegations of the campsite being a permanent one weren’t true,” he said.

He said the Paro dzongkhag tshogdu chairman who raised the issue was also asked to accompany the site team but he did not.

The team comprised officials from the dzongkhag environment, forestry and culture sectors and a monk from the dratshang also accompanied the team.

It was alleged that a permanent campsite was set up at Bumdra acquiring land on lease from the dratshang without following due processes.

This, some local leaders said, led to monopoly as the trekking company occupied an entire area. The company is also alleged to be charging exorbitant rates for the facilities at the campsite that is equipped with solar electricity and internet connectivity.

Some local leaders had said that this could also have an impact on community-based tourism with all facilities available there.

However, the verification team’s report pointed out that no permanent campsite has been set up at Bumdra nor was the land leased to the trekking company as alleged.

An official who was part of the verification team said that when they visited the campsite, the company had pitched three tents for guests leaving enough space for others to camp as well.

“Solar lighting was necessary as there is no other source of electricity at the campsite,” the official said. “The allegation on the company providing internet facilities wasn’t true as there was no fixed phone connection.”

After some local leaders raised the issue with the dzongkhag administration, a verification team was sent to Bumdra. Several letters were also exchanged between the local leaders, dzongkhag and the Bumdra lam. The issue was also discussed in the social media.

The dzongkhag tshogdu chairman, Lamgong gup Phub Tshering, who posted the issue on facebook, sought verification of the land ownership and whether the person concerned has approval. He also wrote to the dzongkhag that as a sacred lhakhang, many locals and tourists visit Bumdra for pilgrimage and trekking.

Establishment of a permanent campsite, he said, deprived other visitors of the space to pitch their own tents and that the campsite was also an important grazing land for cattle in winters.

The alleged company is Sonam Treking Services. Its proprietor Tshering Chuki in an earlier interview denied all allegations saying none of it was true. She said that as they provide trekking services to about 30 tour operators, they pitch tents as and when they have guests.

Kinga Dema