Phurpa Lhamo | Punakha

People of Tshachuphu chiwog in Toedwang gewog, Punakha, have asked the gewog and dzongkhag administration to reintroduce the rotational system to operate the popular Chubbu tshachu (hot spring).

The gewog decided to let an individual, Tshewang Nidup, operate the tshachu in partnership with the gewog since November last year.

Until then, the gewog administration drew an agreement with the farmers of Tshachuphu in 2014, allowing them to operate the tshachu. A rotational system was introduced by the villagers.

A villager, Phub Rinzin, said that every year a person was selected to run the tshachu through a lucky draw, which helped the community and people directly.

He said a minimum of Nu 45,000 was saved in a public account maintained for required works in the chiwog every year.

Phub Rinzin said that around four households had operated the tshachu, which benefited them immensely. “They could build houses and buy machinery.”

Today, with only one person running the tshachu, people complained that only an individual is benefitted from the community resource.

They also alleged they were not allowed to construct tents and sell their local goods near the tshachu.

Another farmer, Phuntsho, said that people from the chiwog had invested their time and labour in maintaining the tshachu in the past. “Until now, we have done woola there. If there were guests, we received them and dropped them. We also clear the paths to the tshachu.”

The gewog’s decision to change its operational system because of the change in tshachu thram.

Chubbu tshachu area was on government land until 2018 where the gewog received the ownership of Chubbu tshachu and the thram.

According to Toedwang gup Touchu, one of the terms in the thram was that the land should not be leased or mortgaged.

Gup Touchu said that Tshewang Nidup was selected to run the tshachu in partnership with the gewog as he had come forward with a proposal. “The other reason was because Tshewang Nidup, prior to the tshachu land falling under the gewog thram, had conducted research and surveys to construct accommodation structures near the tshachu.”

Tshewang Nidup said that he had measured the areas to construct structures on the land near the tshachu. “I saw the visitors suffering due to the lack of accommodation, cleanliness and hygiene.”

In a written agreement signed between the gewog administration and Tshewang Nidup, he is to pay Nu 70,000 every year to the gewog.

“Although I could only work for four months due to the pandemic since last year, I paid Nu 70,000 to the gewog.”

Today, the tshachu has only 11 rooms available in a concrete structure built in the mid-1970s. Tent service was also introduced recently.

Tshewang Nidup said he plans to build about 50 single-storied buildings for the visitors. “I also have community and environment clearance to build the accommodation spaces near the tshachu.”

He said he is waiting for loan to start the construction.

He added that the area was cleaned and he also introduced tent and LPG services for the visitors. “There was a lack of ownership when everyone focused on making an income, no one cared about the tshachu.”

Gup Touchu said that the gewog officials today review the condition of the tshachu every month. “We look at waste management, cleanliness, providing accommodation space (tents), preserving the environment and solving issues for the visitors.”

He said farmers require prior permission from the gewog to sell their products in tents.  “Farmers could sell local products such as betel leaves, dairy products and oranges near the tshachu without construction tent.”

Gup Touchu said that the gewog asked people to come to come for lucky draw to operate shops near the tshachu last year. “Only three people turned up.”

Today the gewog is waiting for dzongkhag administration to instruct them on how many shops should be allowed to run this year.

Meanwhile, farmers said they are willing to pay Nu 70,000 if they are allowed to run the tshachu.

A villager, Gyembo, said they have not heard from the gewog and dzongkhag officials as of today.