Home affairs ministry reviewing relevance of Drungkhags

Dechen Dolkar

Could the non-appointment of Drungpas in three of the 15 drungkhags (sub district) indicate a shift in the local governance structure?

For over two years, the Sombaykha Dungkhag Administration in Haa has been operating without a dungpa. The former dungpa was transferred to the home ministry. Weringla  and Thrimshing dungkhag in Trashigang are also without drungpas for more than two years.

While local leaders have raised concerns of service delivery in the gewogs without drungpas, the home affairs ministry is reviewing the relevance of dungkhag administration. The Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC)  has also recommended the closure of drungkhag in several organisational development teams in the past.  The RCSC has assured that the relevance of the drungkhags will be reviewed during the local government restructuring exercise as part of the civil service transformation.

According to an official from the Ministry of Home Affairs, the ministry is in the process of studying the relevance of three drungkhags – Sombaykha, Weringla and Thrimshing given the outreach of good road networks, telecommunication services and digitalisation of public services.

The official said that a comprehensive review of the established institutions and structures of the drungkhags is bound to take some time considering their multidimensional advantages and disadvantages in order to secure long-term national interests.

However, the official said that for the time being, a capable officer has been deployed from the dzongkhag to officiate and look after the dungkhag to ensure continued public service delivery.

The Haa dzongdag, Melam Zangpo said that the dzongkhag has requested the ministry to appoint a dungpa as the shortage of human resources in the dzongkhag administration is becoming apparent. “To ensure efficient services in the dungkhag, the dzongkhag has provided engineers, land record officials, and administration officers,” he said.

Currently, the dungkhag has eight staff; an officiating dungpa, an engineer, a land record officer, an administration officer, two drivers, a gardener and a dispatcher.

Gakiling gup Wang Tshering said that the lack of a dungpa is affecting timely service delivery in the gewogs. He said that although there is an officiating dungpa, they lack the authority to make decisions.

The gup said people in Gakiling and Sombaykha gewogs have to travel to Haa Dzongkhag for any official work, which takes about two to three days. Sombaykha Dungkhag is about a four-hour drive from Haa town.

The gup said that the most availed services in the dungkhag are engineering and land-related services. The engineer has also looked after two gewogs.

However, Sombaykha Gup, Tobgay disagrees. He said that the absence of a dungpa doesn’t significantly impact the gewog as the dungkhag has no authority over budget allocation. “Even when we had a dungpa, all the decisions were made at the dzongkhag and we had to travel to the dzongkhag for any official related work,” the gup said.

The gup also said that dungkhag should have enough population to provide services. The gup claimed that people in his gewog also didn’t want a dungkhag. Gakling gewog has around 2,200 and Sombaykha has 2,100 people.

Meanwhile, Samdrupjongkhar, Phuentsholing and Gelephu  with thromde administrations also have dungkhag offices which someday could be a duplication.

On this, the home ministry official clarified that their administrative jurisdictions and functional areas are different. “The Thromde Administration is responsible for enhancing the social, economic and environmental well-being of the people within the Thromdes. Dungkhag Administrations are responsible for strengthening cross-border relations, extending technical support to gewogs and coordinating public service delivery,” he said.