Connectivity: For villagers of Jala in Wangdue, the Punatsangchu Hydropower Projects has come as a blessing.

At the inauguration of the 11-km farm road from Richukha to Jala yesterday, villagers said they no longer have to walk four hours up hill to reach the village and two and half hours down to reach the nearest road point.

The farm road was constructed with a support of Nu 15M from Punatsangchu hydropower projects. Of the total, Nu 14M was spent to construct Jala farm road and the remaining Nu 1M was kept for Ula farm road’s maintenance, Rubesa gup Gyeltshen said.

Work on Jala farm road started in 2013-2014 financial year and was completed a month ago. The farm road would benefit more than 37 households in Jala village.

Chimmi Dorji, 49, a Jala resident said few months ago, the PHPA completed constructing a bridge at Denthri. A feeder road from Denthri until Richukha was also constructed a couple of years ago. The two developments have already benefitted them.

“Jala used to be one of the remotest villages then. As a child I remember walking for days through hills crossing Dangchu zampa to reach Wangdue and Punakha,” the father of three said.

The farm road has connected the remote community to economic opportunities and helped them earn income through their local products. The villagers mostly grow paddy, maize, wheat and chilli.

Dzongkhag agriculture officer, Sonam Zangpo said the government has provided engineering and technical support for the farm road construction. A machine from the central machinery unit (CMU) was deployed for five months to assist in clearing the farm road.

Sonam Zangpo said the village has come up with a five-member road maintenance group to coordinate the maintenance work.

The group’s tshogpa, Phub Dorji said they have drawn the terms and conditions and the group will soon clear drainages along the farm road, he said.

“We have collected Nu 300 each from all 37 households and saved for maintenance work,” he said. “We decided to voluntarily clear landslides and conduct small maintenance works, and pay for labour charges only if major maintenance is required.”

The group will collect the maintenance fees twice a year. “The agriculture office would soon provide us with a three-lock system safe-box to save our groups’ money,” Phub Dorji said. The group also decided to contribute volunteer labour twice a year.

Health minister Tandin Wangchuk attended the opening that was attended by PHPA managing director and other officials and local leaders of Wangdue.

Dawa Gyelmo, Jala