But residents claim they have nowhere to go
Housing: The settlers at Bangay bazaar along the Amochhu embankments in Phuentsholing, who were asked to vacate immediately may not leave the place anytime soon.
Following the recent flood in Phuentsholing, the thromde had also asked Bangay settlers to vacate the government land immediately.
However, most residents said they do not have other options to look for, should they vacate. While a majority of Bangay residents said they have school-going children, they also cited high rent in Phuentsholing, and business opportunity for settling there illegally.
Seven shops near the workshop area along the embankments were washed away in the recent flood. But there are still six bars and shops operational at Bangay Bazaar and Chamkuna. Some establishments do not have bar licenses.
It’s been five years since Nita Mongar and her retired husband has been living at Bangay area. The couple has four children, out of which three attend schools in town.
“My husband is also sick and jobless these days,” she said, adding that vacating the house could give them a difficult time.
Although Nita Mongar’s husband, who worked as a security guard in Gomtu is from Phuentsholing gewog’s Darjaygaon village, which is near to Bangay area, the couple do not own a land, she said.
“We will not be able to afford high rents in the town,” she said. “We would like to stay here until our children complete their schooling.”
Another resident, Mon Maya has also been living at Bangay for almost three years. As her husband, a driver, works with a project at the embankments, the couple and their child had to shift from Pasakha to cut expenses.
Meanwhile, it’s been about five weeks since Phub Zam from Darjaygaon and her husband came to live with other illegal settlers.
“Our house was damaged in the windstorm early this year,” she said.
Some residents have also been living at Bangay bazaar for most of their lives. A shopkeeper, Tshering, 55, said she was at Bangay for more than 30 years.
“I used to run a shop at Chamkuna,” she said. “It was washed away in a flood in 2000.”
Tshering said she has no idea where she would settle if thromde asked her to vacate. “ I have nowhere to go,” she said.
Another shopkeeper, Rinchen Dema also claimed of her family running a business at Bangay for more than 22 years.
“My father is from Trashigang but he does not have land there,” she said, adding her uncle seized their land.
Kuensel learnt that there are more than 12 households settled illegally in Bangay and Chamkuna. They also rear pigs and chicken for a livelihood.
Most residents were however, not aware of the thromde’s notice to vacate.
By Rajesh Rai, Phuentsholing