Tshering Namgyal | Lhuentse

Gorgan was once a bustling town. The town on the Mongar-Lhuentse highway was a business centre for the people from three gewogs of Tsenkhar, Jarey, and Maedtsho a decade ago.

Hundreds of villagers from these gewogs would come to Gorgan with horses and mules laden with goods to trade. Many came to collect school ration for schools in their gewogs, the world food programme (WFP) supplies from the FCB godown just below the mini-town.

Shopkeepers said the town is almost dead. Of the eight shops a decade ago, bad business has compelled to shut down at least five.

Except for a few passersby, shops and restaurants have run out of customers. Most of the shops remain mostly closed while some have explored alternatives to survive.

A shopkeeper, Norbu, said the business is down by almost 90 percent because of new gewog center and farm roads. Today, there are shops in almost every village.

“We’re forced to look for alternatives,” Norbu said.

“It’s pretty difficult to survive with the business alone, otherwise and I also have hazelnut plantation in my village as an alternative source of income.”

He grows maize and paddy cultivation and moves around to religious functions and public gatherings to sell goods.

The town tshogpa and a grocery shopkeeper, Kelzang Tobgay, said with no customers and further worsened by stiff competition from the FCB store in the locality, business had deteriorated over the years.

“Only a few old customers and some travellers turn up to buy. It’s no longer sustainable now.”

Kelzang Tobgay added that since 2009 after the farm road construction began, they began to lose business.

Norbu Rinchen who has been running a restaurant for the past six years is planning to quit. “Sometimes even paying the monthly house rent of Nu 3,000 is difficult,” Norbu Rinchen said.

Works and Human Settlement ministry allotted eight plots to the business license holders in 1984, following which they came up with two-storeyed traditional Bhutanese houses with a similar design in 2007 after the town was approved as a satellite town. Gorgan town is 35km from Lhuentse towards Mongar.