Staff Reporter 

A group of villagers in Toewang gewog in Punakha have asked the gewog administration to temporarily cease operation of Chhubu tshachu due to Covid-19 risks.

Residents claimed they had made numerous requests, both verbal and written, to the gewog administration regarding the issue since the first confirmed Covid-19 case appeared in the country.

The request was in keeping with the government’s advisory to avoid large public gatherings.

“We felt the need to close the hot spring in order to prevent people from outside entering our locality,” a resident said.

Despite requests, the tshachu still remains open and visitors keep coming.

The resident said that the gewog officials have advised locals to remain indoors when visitors visit the hot spring.

As they depend on farming, remaining indoors most of the time would be difficult, he said.

Another resident said that the villagers have approached other authorities as well in an effort to close the tshachu until the situation improves. “But nothing has been done so far,” she said. “We are worried about our health.”

Meanwhile, Toewang gup Touchu said that following verbal requests from the people, he has raised the issue twice during meetings with the dzongkhag officials.

“But the dzongdag has insisted that stopping visitors immediately could cause inconvenience,” he said.

The gup said that the written request was submitted to the dzongkhag and the dzongdag instructed him to take note of the number of visitors.

He said that there were three groups with 12 persons.

According to the gup, six of them were from nearby Chhubu gewog while another six were from Shengana in Punakha.

“While consulting with the dzongdag regarding the visitors, I was told to advise the visitors to avoid mass gathering,” the gup said.

He also said that he has instructed the tshogpa and caretaker of the tshachu to discourage visitors if they come to know anybody planning to visit.

At the tshachu, he said that the caretaker has been advising and monitoring visitors on maintaining a distance of one meter. “There are about five pools,” he said.