Some nine years ago, two people in Phongmey gewog, Trashigang, lost their lives when the stream they were trying to cross suddenly swelled, washing away the duo and the vehicle they were travelling in.
The infamous Yudiri stream in Phonemey has claimed seven lives so far, according to gup Pelden Dorji.
Local residents said that during monsoon, the stream swells unpredictably, even during a bright sunny day.
The stream has remained a menace to the residents disrupting travels and causing inconveniences. However, the construction of a bailey bridge over the stream recently, has put an end to the resident’s perennial plight.
Gup Pelden Dorji said that without a proper bridge over the stream, several vehicles remained stranded on either side of the stream. “Sometimes vehicles got stuck in the middle of the stream,” he said. “The gewog administration received frequent calls from stranded passersby, sometimes even during night.”
It was learnt that after a flood washed away the foundation of the previous bailey bridge, construction of a new bridge could not be initiated given the unstable landscape on one side of the stream.
“For years people suffered especially during monsoon. We were cut off from the rest of the dzongkhag when the water swelled,” said a resident, Norbu. “As night fell, we could not travel back home and had to find a place in Trashigang to spend the night.”
Another resident, Koshay, said: “I’ve seen people being washed away and properties being damaged by the stream. I’m glad that bridge is finally here.”
The construction works that began towards the end of last year and is expected to be complete midway next year. However, with the laying of the bridge parts, the bridge has been open to traffic and pedestrians some three months ago.
“The bridge would be completed soon which will bring relief to Phongmey residents,” said the gup. “People used to trans-shift when the stream swelled during monsoon. It was inconvenient especially for students and office goers.”
He said that in the past, the stream was relatively smaller and the residents experienced fewer floods at the stream. However, with overgrazing and deforestation activities at the source between Shetaymey and Chebling in Merak, flood frequency increased over the time.
Meanwhile, another stream, Dungjur-ri, located a few metres from Yudiri also swells during monsoon. However, the gup said that the stream has not caused any major damage so far. “Dungjur-ri also becomes a concern during summer which is why we have proposed for a bridge over the stream in the 12th Plan.”
Younten Tshedup | Phongmey