…but old problems remain unsolved
Iron Female Ox Year-Zhemgang: Zhemgang saw improved connectivity in 2021 and, with it, a renewed hopes for the people of Khengrig Namsum.
The completion of bridges (Telangang Chu zam and Samkhara Zam) along the Gelephu-Trongsa highway that connects Zhemgang with central and southern dzongkhags was an important change for the dzongkhag.
Accessibility improved with the completion of road widening and blacktopping works at Ossey bypass road, which is about 27 kilometres away from Gelephu towards Zhemgang.
The frequent roadblocks at Ossey imposed natural lockdowns in Zhemgang. Farmers in the dzongkhag are yet to draw benefits from the improved infrastructure and accessibility.
While the rest of the dzongkhags in the south and central region struggled to conduct dzongkhag tshogdu last year, Zhemgang went ahead with minimum disruption and delay.
The tshogdu discussed at length the non-utilisation of the capital budget in August last year; local government officials raised concerns about having to discuss the issue frequently.
Despite using all budgets for the development activities, local government officials said it was confusing to learn that all gewogs reporting unutilised budgets during the tshogdu.
About Nu 65.5 million was unused in the fiscal year 2020-2021.
Earthquakes and windstorms damaged private and public infrastructures in all eight gewogs of Zhemgang.
The internal connectivity is still a big hurdle in times of disasters.
Officials from the dzongkhag, gewog, and desuup assessed the damage and provided relief efforts. The windstorm stuck the gewogs in Zhemgang twice in April.
The repeated damage from such catastrophes highlighted the need to invest in resilient private and public infrastructure. The communities were caught unprepared during both incidents on April 5 and 30.
Farmers in Zhemgang continued to face marketing problems in 2021. Farmers in the lower part of Zhemgang ventured into winter chilli production after the country faced an acute shortage of chillies.
However, lack of proper transportation and scattered farmlands were major challenges for the farmers. Finding a market for the local vegetables is a challenge for the dzongkhag; the pandemic has made it worse.
The year saw local government officials raise their concerns against pooling of engineers to dzongkhag.
The decision overlooked Local Government Act that entitled gewogs to have one engineer, accountant and an administrative officer.
The dzongkhag remained unhurt by the pandemic last year. Only a few cases related to breach of Covid-19 protocols were reported from the lower part of Zhemgang.