In highlighting a perennial problem, residents of Samdrupjongkhar thromde, or a section of them, are reminding their elected leader of the pledges and promises he made four years ago.

The problem of water in Samdrupjongkhar is as old as the town when it was called Gudama. Back then there were not many people and the problem was manageable. The town grew, more people came and like many other towns, basic amenities couldn’t keep up with growth.

Samdrupjongkhar is now called the business hub for the six eastern dzongkhag; it is the gateway to eastern Bhutan. The town is bustling with life. But the water problem has not gone away. There are genuine reasons for not being able to fix the problem.

Like someone said, it never rains in Samdrupjongkhar, it pours. Monsoon is bad and it wrecks havoc to water sources and facilities that reach the water to the town. They have dug wells, bore holes and done everything, but the problem still remains.

The problem had long been recognised. A good solution is still lacking. The residents, perhaps in frustrations, are getting at the thrompon with his tenure soon coming to an end. But it is a good reminder and a good trend. Not only for the Samdrupjongkhar tromping, but to all elected leaders.

The local government election is around the corner. Some would be considering contesting again. Those who voted them in would be assessing them. If not they should start doing it. A lot is promised when aspiring leaders go campaigning. An average Bhutanese voter still do not question the basis of promises and pledges. Some get thoroughly convinced when they hear what they wan to hear.

Assessing the tenure of the elected leaders would mean involving seriously in the political process. It is an important responsibility. They can then influence change by voting in the next election. This is crucial as we prepare to elect 16 more thrompons and hundreds of gups next year.

Not long ago, the thrompon was a civil servant whose main task was to deal with problems, particularly land problems. As the executive head appointed by the government, the thrompon was not answerable to the public.

This has changed. With the declaration of thromdes and headed by an elected thrompon, the position has been given the full recognition with critical responsibility. He has to deliver and live up to the expectation of the voters. Voters would look for better candidates if the thrompon is found unsuitable. That is the essence of democracy.