Phumzur – The village that time (almost) forgot

Developmental activities have by and large passed this remote Langthel settlement by

Monpa: No road leads to the village.  No electricity powers their homes.  Even leaders and officials do not walk up to the village.  The home of the Monpa community in Phumzur, the remote village in Langthel, Trongsa has fallen on a blind spot of development for years.

Until recently, most of its 22 households lived in wooden shingle huts.  With help from Tarayana Foundation, they have now started building stonemason homes.

For power, they rely on solar panels and for cash, on tshazho (bamboo craft).  They eat what they grow or manage to cultivate.

The absence of a road is proving to be a challenge for the community to fetch construction materials to build houses, which has to be completed by May.

“Without road, all construction materials, like stones, timber and corrugated galvanised sheets, are carried to the village,” Ngenthi from Phumzur said.

Those, who rely on shops for ration and grocery, including vegetables, are also struggling financially to even host meals for the workers engaged in construction.

“It’s proving expensive when we have to buy everything from the shop and hire porter and pony to reach these things to the village,” another villager Narting said.

Some are also worried if they will be able to repay the loans they availed to construct their houses. “None of them have a reliable source of cash income,” a carpenter from Jangbi, Nakri said.

Nakri said, even if the farmers tried to sell their cane products or farm produces, what they earn would be spent in paying the porter and pony charges. “Where do we sell by growing so much vegetables and fruits without a road to transport it to the nearest market?” Narting said.

But, more than marketing of farm produce, it is getting the sick to the nearest basic health unit (BHU) in Jangbi that is a problem for the villagers.

“Once it took almost nine hours to reach the sick from Kupdra to Jangbi BHU,” Phurpa from Jangbi said.  He said, if at least Phumzur were connected with a road, it would also reduce the walking distance for Kupdra people.

Kupdra is a further six-hour walk from Phumzur.  The village also neither has access to road nor electricity.  Both Phumzur and Kupdra lack an out-reach clinic (ORC), after the villagers turned their ORC into a lhakhang.

Trongsa dzongda, Tshewang Rinzin, said that a road to Phumzur could not be constructed because the village is located in a protected area, a national park.  The dzongkhag has also already proposed for electricity connectivity to Phumzur.

“The mandate of benefiting 10 households from every kilometer also affected the road probability to Phumzur,” Tshewang Rinzin said.

In taking the road to Phumzur, the need of a bridge over Rimdhichu river was another aspect that hindered the possibilities of a farm road.

“The road might not really reach Phumzur, but dzongkhag has plans to take the road head to Rimdhichu by this fiscal year,” the dzongda said. “As and when the budget is approved, as per the proposed plan, the road will be constructed further to Phumzur.”

By Tempa Wangdi, Trongsa

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