More than four months after the Gelephu drungkhag administration office was relocated to Umling gewog, public and drungkhag officials continue to face problems.

Except for the drungpa, there is no housing facility for the rest of the drungkhag staff. Seventeen staff are temporarily living in groups (male and female) in two rented apartments in the nearby village of Thongjazor in Umling.

Electricity and internet at the newly constructed office are provided on a provisional connection. The 4kms access road towards the drungkhag from Umling gewog centre road is narrow and often gets damaged during rainfall.

Drungpa Karma Wangdi said a three-phase power supply and stable internet connection would be available within this week.

He said there is budget to construct an eight-unit staff quarter and works would begin from this month. “The 4kms access road would also be blacktopped in the 2019-2020 fiscal year.”

Karma Wangdi said that there were some challenges in the beginning, which he said, are bound to happen when relocation takes place “We are working on it and hopefully it would be resolved soon.”

The decision to relocate the drungkhag office was made during a special dzongkhag tshogdu session in 2013. Of the 23 local leaders who voted during the session, 14 voted for Umling and nine for Chuzergang.

The new drungkhag administration will cater to the services of five gewogs – Chuzergang, Jigmechholing, Shershong, Tareythang and Umling.

Many people are however, unhappy with the relocation of the drungkhag office.

Residents of Jigmechholing gewog said it was more convenient for them when the drungkhag office was in Gelephu.

“First, there are hardly any vehicles travelling towards the new drungkhag office given the poor road conditions,” a resident said.

A farmer, Sangay, of Jigmechholing gewog said that recently he had applied for a loan to construct a cowshed at his place.

“I had to go to Gelephu and hired a taxi to visit the drungkhag. After I got the documents, I had to return to Gelephu to further process the documents with the bank,” he said. “It took me more than a week to get it all done. I had to pay more than Nu 7,000 for the travels.”

He said that relocating the drungkhag court alone has not served the purpose. “Facilities like banks and legal services should also be made available near the drungkhag,” he said. “Otherwise, the move is just in favour of one gewog while the rest of us continue to suffer.”

However, Umling gup, Ugyen Norbu, said that the move was long overdue, as people on the other side of the Mao Khola had to undergo several challenges to visit the drungkhag when it was in Gelephu.

He said that the former government pledged to relocate the drungkhag office to the other side of Mao Khola considering the difficulties faced by the people. “The move was also to address the security concerns the gewog faced from the neighbouring villages in Assam,” he said.

The gup claimed that with the officials including the drungpa himself stationed in the gewog, they would know the real concerns of the public and help them better.

Ugyen Norbu said that developmental activities have also begun in the community with the arrival of the drungkhag. “Bridges are being built and new roads are paved. While the community in Umling would be largely benefited by these activities, people of all five gewogs would reap equal benefits.”

The drungkhag office was constructed at a cost of Nu 30 million (M). The office began its operations since February 13, after almost six months of the building’s inauguration.  It is located 35kms from Gelephu.

Younten Tshedup | Umling