Trongsaps question their DT decision to improve bacho for Nu 2.8 million

Planning: In what is a case of misplaced priority, villagers in Trongsa are disapproving their dzongkhag tshogdu’s decision to invest Nu 2.8 million in improving the dzongkhag’s archery range.

The fund is from the Nu 200 million the Mangdechu Hydropower Project (MHPA) committed from its environment management plan (EMP). The dzongkhag’s overall allocation of Nu 200 million to 27 activities, allegedly without even informing the grassroots is also heavily criticised.

MHPA left the usage of the budget to the discretion of the dzongkhag. The allocation of fund came to limelight in March after Trongsa National Council member Tharchen raised the issue in a hydropower review meeting at MHPA.

During the meeting Tharchen said the dzongkhag failed in identifying priorities and needs of the people.

“A large chunk of the fund was invested in non-economic activities such as archery range and building infrastructures,” Tharchen said, adding the funds instead of being divested to affected gewogs like Drakteng and Langthel has gone to northern gewogs.

The NC member was pointing out to dzongkhag’s initial proposal of Nu 5.4 million to improve the archery range, which was later reduced to Nu 2.8 million upon MHPA’s objection.

Fund allocated to develop the archery range was higher than the share the agricultural sector received, except the livestock sector. For instance, the highest fund allocated for agricultural activities was Nu 1 million against Nu 2.8 million for the archery range.

However, most of the fund, Nu 184.37 million was allocated developing infrastructure like landfills, water treatment plant for Trongsa town, construction of Basic Health Unit, dzong renovation, academic blocks in schools in Langthel and Drakteng and purchase of cesspool vehicle among others. But people said such infrastructure could actually be met from the plan budget.

Of the 27 plans identified to be met from the fund, only five focus on improving rural livelihood. These activities include expansion of green tea schemes, promotion of compost organic farming, livestock initiatives, vegetable production and cash crop.

“Let alone people, even I came to know when the money was already divided,” Endocholing tshogpa, Tshering said, adding while plans were normally deliberated in gewog tshogde (GT), nothing about the Nu 200 million or its activities were discussed.

“Everything was decided by Dzongkhag Tshogdu (DT),” Tshering said.

Easa Tshogpa, Karma also said he had no idea about the fund.

“The fund was needed badly in the villages like for buying electric fence since human wildlife conflict is a serious problem,” Karma said. They said the funds could also be used for developing the substitute land in Langthel, which people are struggling to turn into arable land.

DT Chairperson, Tashi Pendhey however said due procedure was followed while allocating the fund.

“These activities were endorsed only upon deliberations among the local leaders and dzongkhag,” Tashi Pendhey said. The chairperson also refuted that the dzongkhag endorsed the activities without informing or consulting the villagers.

“Only few activities pertaining to improving rural livelihood are included because those were the only handful of activities people proposed,” Tashi Pendhey said, adding it is not dzongkhag’s fault if people failed to propose.

Langthel gup, Lham Dorji also said that these activities were proposed from GT.

“Although it is impossible to go to each village, chiwog tshogpas who brought us the proposals were informed about the fund,” Lham Dorji said.

“Most of the activities are pertaining to waste like construction of landfill each in Drakteng and Langthel because of its mounting problem,” Lham Dorji said.

Moreover, huge sums of money would be needed to improve rural income.

“Nu 200 million, which has to be divided among the five gewogs isn’t sufficient,” Lham Dorji said.

By Tempa Wangdi, Trongsa