Seven years on, GC road yet to be completed in Naro

PM assures the people that the road would be completed next year

The first question that the people of Naro gewog raised with the Prime Minister during his gewog visit on July 22 was when the gewog would be connected with a motorable road.

Naro is one of the remote gewogs in Thimphu dzongkhag. There is no shop or a farm road. The highlanders claim that the road’s construction was approved seven years ago.

Tenzin from Barshong, where the gewog centre is, said that the absence of a road affected the gewog’s development activities. Barshong is about a day’s walk from the nearest road end.

He said that everything becomes expensive by the time goods reach there.

A resident requests the government to expedite progress on the GC road’s construction

Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay, while addressing the gathering of about 70 people, some of whom have travelled for three days from their pastureland to attend the meeting, said the government is aware of the concerns of the highlanders in Naro and Lingzhi gewogs. “We’re making all attempts to complete the road within the plan,” he said.

He also admitted that there has been delay because the gewog falls in the Jigme Dorji National Park (JDNP), and the park didn’t approve the environment clearance.

Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay said that the benefit of the road would go beyond Naro gewog, as highlanders and officials in Lingzhi drungkhag will also enjoy shorter walking time, and faster and cheaper transportation of goods.

He assured them that the road would reach the gewog centre by next year.

However, continuing the discussion outside the meeting hall, some highlanders remained skeptic given the steep terrain and poor geology plagued with frequent landslides.

“The road completion is going to be a huge challenge,” a villager said.

Of the 29km road from Dodeyna to the gewog centre, 17km formation cutting has been completed as of now.

The completion of the road would mean cheaper goods mainly groceries and rice for the communities and the dratshang in Barshong.

The Lingzhi drungkhag dratshang shifted to Barshong three years ago. Dratshang’s lam, Chencho, said, that the dratshang needs to transport food supplies including vegetables for the 30 monks. He said it has been a challenge. “The dratshang has limited space to store grains and vegetables.”

He said that like everyone there, they’re waiting for the road to complete. “It could save us the stipend we spend on transportation and improve the diet.”

Naro Gup Wangchuk said the main problem with the road is that it remains blocked frequently with landslides. “Even our horses cannot pass through the road,” he said.

The Department of Roads (DoR) is constructing the road with a budget of Nu 40 million (M). The department has deployed a machine to clear the roadblocks for now.

The gup said that he hopes the road would become stable with time.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister also inaugurated the RNR meeting hall, the traditional medicine-drying house, and the dratshang lam’s residence built with gewog development grant.

Naro was the 163rd gewog the Prime Minister visited as part of his gewog visit programme.

Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay said it is important for people to know what the government should do and what their responsibilities are.

He said that the government had allocated Nu 18M for the gewog in the past four years of the 11th Plan. “This is about Nu 73,000 for each household annually.”

Naro gewog has a grade II basic health unit with a lone health worker. It has an extended classroom and classes from pre-primary to grade IV with seven students and two teachers, a power tiller, and is connected to Bhutan Telecom mobile network. The Internet connection is, however, limited to a few spots.

His Majesty The King granted 50 decimal land each to the gewog’s 49 households in 2011. Today, there are 69 households.

The Prime Minister said that while many have built homes, those who build in future must ensure quality and safety in fitting electric lines.

“Don’t compromise on the safety of your homes because you can save a little amount on the costs,” he said. He also asked if the residents want the government to show it in a pilot project for the rest to follow.

Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay also encouraged the highlanders to establish home stays for tourists and shops in the gewog once the road reaches the gewog centre.

Naro is one of the three gewogs in Lingzhi drungkhag. The residents are nomadic herders and sustain on livestock and collection of herbs.

The Prime Minister was accompanied by the minister in-charge of Thimphu dzongkhag and economic affairs minister Lekey Dorji, the north Thimphu Member of Parliament Tshering, Thimphu Dzongdag and dzongkhag tshogdu thrizin.

Tshering Palden, Naro

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