Kelzang Wangchuk | Samdrupcholing

Shopkeepers of Tshangchhuthama in Samdrupcholing drungkhag, Samdrupjongkhar, have been given a year more to move to the new township.

Samdrupcholing drungkhag administration in July last year told them that they have to build their structures and relocate to the new town.

However, only a few shopkeepers are about to complete the houses while many have not even started.

The 31 shopkeepers who have been doing business for more than 10 years in Tshangchhuthama received the land kidu. The 21-acre township would have 63 plots.

A shopkeeper, Sherab Zangpo, 40, said that although it’s been about four years since they received land kidu in the new township, they could not start construction as they didn’t get loans earlier.

“We have visited all the financial institutions but didn’t give loans stating that we cannot mortgage a kidu land,” he said.

He said that they were allowed to construct any structure because there was no identified design given to them when they received the land kidu. “There was also no duration to shift to the new township.”

The drungkhag administration issued them the design of buildings and gave them a year to move to the new township last year.

Another shopkeeper, Kezang Phuentsho, said that since the shopkeepers approached all the financial institutions, they got the loan last year. They could not begin construction owing to Covid-19 restrictions that have hampered the import of workers.

He said that paying for quarantine services for the workers would be a burden. “It would be more challenging for us if the labourers test positive.”

“We tried to hire locals but they charged more than the foreign labourers. Since the dzongkhag is a high-risk area, they also refuse to come because of the quarantine and are afraid of getting infected,” another shopkeeper, Tshewang Chophel said.

Samdrupcholing Drungpa, Sangay Phunthso, said that the drungkhag administration received the design of the three-storey structure last year. After consultation with the shopkeepers, it was decided that they would move to the new township because the structures in the existing town are makeshift structures and vulnerable to fire.

“One of the shops caught fire a month ago, but it was contained before it could spread to other structures. The shopkeepers in the existing town are illegal settlements,” the drungpa said.

The works and human settlements ministry recently approved the drungkhag administration’s proposal of a one-storey building in the township. “We expect they’ll complete the construction within the deadline,” the drungpa said.

Edited by Tshering Palden