Tshering Palden

Soil cutting work for the construction of structures that will serve as temporary homes and shops for victims of the October 8 Wamrong town fire has been completed.

The building of the structures begins today.

The fire victims will stay and run their business from temporary structures for two years. “Within that time we can rebuild our homes on the plots we occupied earlier,” said Kencho Dorji, the former Wamrong town tshogpa.

The structures are single-storeyed (dag char zhi kom) traditional units, with three rooms excluding the kitchen and toilet, according to officials supervising the work. It is to be completed in the next two months. The gyalpoi zimpon office is supplying all the construction material. Five engineers and 109 army personnel are at the site, along with six masons and six carpenters from Khaling and Lumang gewogs under Wamrong dungkhag.

At present, the affected shopkeepers are staying in tarpaulin sheds and some have rented rooms.

Of the 18 victims, three opted to make their own temporary arrangements.

“His Majesty has already done a lot for us,” said Kencho Dorji. “I’ve opted to build a shed myself and run an eatery near Riserboo.”

Kencho would, however, join the others to construct his house when the plots in the main town are allotted. “I’d like to receive the timber and stone kidu later to build my house,” he said.

Like Kencho, a few shopkeepers are also trying to earn their living by selling the little they saved from the fire. “We used to earn good profits but now we de- pend on the semso and the kidu money,” said Chezom.

Her friends from nearby villages bring kharang, vegetables, and dairy produce to help her out. She does not have any other means of livelihood except for the shop.

Shopkeepers said that the temporary houses would help them make enough money to build new homes. Karma, who used to run a gas agent, is now weaving for others. Of her six children, two are studying in a private high school. “The temporary houses will help me earn and save enough to build a home,” she said.

Rinzin Wangchuk, who also lost his home in the fire, is temporarily living with his family in the detention cell of the Wamrong police station.

In December, His Majesty granted a soelra of Nu 30,000 each to the 18 victims of the fire. Earlier they were granted Nu 10,000 each as semso.

Soelra recipients said that the soelra was given to support them through winter and to spend on their children’s schooling next year.