Project: The quiet village of Samrang has lately been waking up to dust and groans of heavy machines. Forests are being cleared and grounds levelled for the mega farm on some 800-acre land in the village. At least 20 massive ponds have been dug where farm will be.

The mega farm will have fishery, piggery, heifer farm, buffalo farm, broiler farm and goat farm, among others. It will have feed plant and a meat-processing unit.

Although the villagers are excited about new developments in the village, they look at the change taking shape from afar with mixed feelings. But at least the clearings will stop the marauding elephants from entering the village fields. Already the raiding behemoths have stopped coming.

Dawa, a villager, has only a scant idea of whole activity taking place in the village but he is happy that at least something is coming up to give life to the village that is almost abandoned.

“We only have about 27 households in whole of the gewog. With the coming of the farm, may be villagers who left gewog in 1990s will return,” he said. “It is going to be a very big farm, we are told.”

The benefits of the farm have already started trickling down to the villagers. Many villagers now have jobs that give them about Nu 250 to 300 a day. Soon the approach road that goes through the villages will be renovated and blacktopped.

As with any big project, however, rumour mill is running rife with the news that the mega farm is actually going to be a giant slaughterhouse in the future. There is even a video that has gone viral wherein a person describes the farm area where thousands of fish, cows and pigs would be killed.

Tara Biru Bista said that when the villagers attended the consultation meeting, they were just told that a mega farm will be constructed. There was no talk about a slaughterhouse now or in the future.

“We were only told that buffalo milk would be distributed in India commercially and that fish would be supplied to the farmers within Bhutan,” he said. “We keep hearing rumours about slaughterhouse, but we hope they die like all rumours do. We are happy that a mega farm is coming to our village.”

Samrang Gup MB Gurung said villagers were told that the farm was planned to help Bhutan achieve self-sufficiency in terms of meat and dairy products, and that in the future farms could be handed over to the communities.

“And now we are hearing about slaughterhouse instead of farm. It is important to clear this,” said MB Gurung.

Officials at the agriculture ministry could not be contacted for clarification.

By Yangchen C Rinzin,  Samdrupcholing