… to improve the education sector

Infrastructure: A difference in what route a farm road should take to reach Pheluma chiwog in Orong gewog, has left residents of the area worried that they may never get a road.

Villagers of Pheluma are worried that if they don’t reach a general consensus on whether their farm road should be constructed from the point where they have suggested or from where the dzongkhag administration and gewog have suggested, the road may never materialise.

Located almost a five-hour walk from the gewog centre, Pheluma is the only chiwog in the gewog that still doesn’t have road connectivity.

The road for the chiwog never made it to gewog’s developmental planning or Gewog Development Grant (GDG) according to the few villagers Kuensel spoke with.

And now that the dzongkhag administration and gewog office are trying to build a road, the differences have emerged, villagers said.

Pheluma Tshogpa, Rinzin, said it is not clear if the gewog has allocated budget because the road is not included in the 11th Plan. He is also not sure if budget for the road is being arranged from other sources.

Rinzin said that villagers want the road to connect via a village called Tershari.

He said if the road is constructed from Tershari the distance to reach the chiwog would be a short one. The same route is used to walk to the chiwog today.

However, he said gewog officials suggested it would be better if the road is constructed from Jangchubling village in Wooling chiwog.

“But having a road from Jangchubling is as equal as not having a road because the distance would be longer,” Rinzin said. “It would be almost 70km from Samdrupjongkhar and the taxi charge would be higher,” he added. “Whether the road comes from Jangchubling or Tershari, both the roads need a bridge to connect with the village but going by the distance, Tershari is more convenient.”

The chiwog today grows vegetables and maize as cash crops. Once a road is built to the chiwog, a shorter road would enable exploration and would make it easier, a resident said. It was also pointed out that the chances of vegetables spoiling would be higher if it has to be carried for a longer distance.

“We will soon be writing a petition to the gewog office and provide our suggestion requesting a reconsideration of their decision so that it is not delayed,” the tshogpa added. “We also hope we can form a cooperative, that is if the road can be built without any obstacles.”

A few said that while they may not have the technical or geographical knowledge, going by their experience, Tershari is the shortest route to the chiwog.

“For decades, different gups have filled the post but our request for road reached nowhere including the past five years,” Cheku, a farmer said. “And now when we finally see some hope, it’s not benefitting the people directly,” he said.

Meanwhile, Gup Khawjey said it was just a suggestion that the road be constructed via Jangchubling as it would be easier and more convenient to survey the feasibility of the road from that area.

“But right now it’s just a plan and no budget has been allocated or approved for the farm road. We’re just trying to mobilise the fund if possible through different projects because we cannot use the GDG budget as it’s already allocated for other activity.”

The gup said if they fail to arrange budget they cannot make a proposal and if this happens, they plan to propose for a road in the next Plan.

“We’ll have to depend on experts to comment on which area would be better but we cannot have a survey unless villagers come up with a concrete decision,” said the gup. “They’ll have to understand we are just trying to plan a proposal and not guaranteeing the road would come this year.”

If the plan is successful, the road will benefit 52 households.

Yangchen C Rinzin |  Samdrupjongkhar