Neten Dorji | Trashigang

Trashigang town is unsafe from all kinds of natural disasters according to an assessment by experts from Trashigang dzongkhag administration.

Of the 52 buildings, 44 are made of stone masonry with mud mortar while 10 are in critical condition. The inspection team from the administration found that half of them did not have earthing.

The team also discovered that the majority of the buildings have additional structures, but structural stability cannot be guaranteed because of shoddy and illegal construction.

According to the dzongkhag officials, the exterior and interior walls of many homes were visibly deteriorated, leaving them vulnerable to calamities.

“The owners of those houses are advised to reconstruct the house or renovate the structure to be fit for occupancy,” said an official. “We will provide them with technical and policy support to address these issues.”

Thromde Representative, Sonam Dorji said, “We have asked 12 house owners to re-electrify their homes. Other house owners are also encouraged to do the same.

“We have given them one month to re-electrify and one year for the traditional building owners to reconstruct and renovate their homes.”

The assessment report states that the frequency of maintenance carried out by the building owner is very low. According to the report, none of the buildings has earthquake-resilient components incorporated as they were built before the implementation of the earthquake-resilient Stone Masonry Construction Guidelines 2014.

The public was asked to provide a proper distribution board for the electricity metre box and miniature circuit breaker (MCB).

The decision was well-received by the building owners. Residents are seeking support to implement safety measures in the town.

A resident, Dawa Tshering, said they need fire-preventive measures which could help save life and property. “Should there be a fire incident, the town would be razed to the ground.”

Another resident said some structures in the town are more than 60 years old and vulnerable to any disasters. “Residents are cautious about fires but are worried.”

A restauranter in the town, Tshering Dorji, said the old structures in the town make it more vulnerable. “We cannot predict disaster but prevention is needed,” he said. “Some electrical fittings are as old as the houses and are in bad condition.” 

He said tenants are to live all the time in fear of disasters.

Dzongdag Ugyen Dorji said that most of the buildings have poor wiring and exposed electricity metre boxes which could be prone to fire hazards.

“During unexpected incidents of fire, the neighbouring houses are likely to catch fire and it would be difficult to contain it,” said the dzongdag. “We have alerted all house owners and tenants about the situation.”

This was done to prevent potential disasters as the buildings are built close to each other.

“We have planned to build a water tank in the town to contain fire outbreaks,” Ugyen Dorji said.

The dzongdag also said the tenants and business owners are encouraged to install fire hydrants in strategic locations for immediate response to fire outbreaks.

Of the 46 traditional houses inspected in Rangjung town, many were found with minor cracks and old wiring systems. They did not have proper distribution boards for the MCB and electricity metre box.