Lhakpa Quendren

As everyone excitedly awaits the opportunities of the upcoming Gelephu Mindfulness City, both Panbang candidates of Bhutan Tendrel Party (BTP) and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) promise to construct the national highway from Panbang to Tareythang in Sarpang.

Regardless of which party may form the government, for the farmers of Lower Kheng—Nangla, Phangkhar, Bjoka, and Goshing—taking their produce to Gelephu is close to reality. 

BTP’s Dorji Cheten pledged to initiate large-scale and high-value agriculture farming, including agarwood commercial exports, for the Gelephu Special Administrative Region to alleviate poverty and significantly increase household income.

He pledges to upgrade and improve all gewog and chiwog roads with blacktopping, including constructing access roads to the villages and farms.

The establishment of Panbang Throm as a Tourism Village with modern tourism infrastructures, the construction of a power substation, and conducting a pre-feasibility study of inland waterways transport over Drangmechhu and the river Manas is what Dorji Cheten offers to his constituents.

If BTP comes to power, he said, “I will explore the construction of a Sports Academy and an artificial turf football ground, and initiate the Panbang Nazhoen Lamtoen programme.”

He pledges to facilitate Panbang Hospital with adequate medical professionals and equipment, provide schools with state-of-the-art facilities, ensure clean water and sanitation, establish computer labs, provide digital books, and ensure reliable mobile networks and internet connectivity.

Zhemgang, as an eco-tourism capital, Dorji Cheten plans to initiate and promote nature-based tourism festivals featuring wildlife safari, golden langur, butterflies, birds, water sports, hot air balloons, paragliding, and ancient trails.

“I will respect the collective decision and wisdom of the people of my constituency. I have passion and unwavering commitment. This is my third appearance in the Parliamentary election,” said Dorji Cheten.

Lungten Dorji of PDP pledged to establish Nu 20 million projects on agriculture and livestock, provide rationalised chain-link fencing support for farmlands, support the terracing and leveling of farmlands, and establish and support collective farms for youths.

He pledges to provide low-interest-rate loans for businesses and tourism developments, including hotel and resort constructions, interest-free loans to buy power tillers and Jersey, 80 percent loan equity for the purchase of one utility vehicle or farm machinery per family, and support house construction by reducing housing loan interest rates to four percent.

His pledges include several farm road constructions and blacktopping, including connecting Gelephu with a bypass road via Edi and Zangbi under Phangkhar gewog, and road improvement and construction of Barpong Chabdemba under Bjoka in Zhemgang to Yangbari in Mongar.

In addition, he also pledges to open Panbang to tourism, develop historical and cultural monuments, eco-trails, and campsites, support homestays, and promote processing and manufacturing units.

To support research programmes for agar tree value addition, initiate an agar processing factory, develop Panbang, Tungkudemba, and Pantang Township, and rural electrifications including a substation for stable electricity, are among his pledges for Panbang

Lungten Dorji also pledged to ensure that all 10-bedded hospitals in gewogs are furnished with the necessary equipment and facilities, provide a health specialist at Panbang Hospital, a doctor for every gewog, and build cold storage.

“We will ensure that no one is left behind and provide health services, including medical examinations and blood tests, at the patient’s homes for the elderly and those with disabilities,” he said.

The Lower Kheng is suitable for agricultural farming, but the lack of marketing opportunities and the arduous task of transporting their produce, traveling over 163 kilometers to the nearest commercial spot in Gelephu, have remained challenges for the farmers.