Almost five months after the works and human settlement minister, Dorji Choden, agreed to look into the maintenance of Babithang-Tsangkha road in Dagana, local residents say nothing is being done on the ground.

Residents claimed that they appealed to lyonpo Dorji Choden to improve the road when she visited the gewog in December last year.

They say they learnt that the Department of Roads (DoR) worked out a budget estimation to improve the road and in a letter issued in February, it was reflected that Nu 2 million was approved for the work.

DoR had also written to the dzongkhag administration stating that the ministry had instructed the DoR subdivision to initiate improvement works on the 10-kilometre stretch.

According to the letter, the improvement works include widening and base course works on critical stretches to complete within the financial year 2017-2018.

Tsangkha gup Tawla said it has been two months since the dzongkhag administration received the instruction but works on improving the road have not begun yet.

He said the gewog office has been inquiring DoR but there has been no response. “With the onset of monsoon, there will be disturbance in carrying out the works.”

There are two roads connecting Tsangkha gewog centre from the dzongkhag highway.

One is a blacktopped road via Drujeygang and another is the rough road from Babithang. While the blacktopped road via Drujeygang is 38km long, the road from Babithang is just 15km.

Gup Tawla said the shorter route is most plied with at least 50 vehicles using the road every day. “Most vehicles travelling to Drujeygang, Tseza and Tsangkha prefer this short route.”

He said in the previous local government tenure the road via Drujeygang was blacktopped instead of the road from Babithang.

DoR’s executive engineer in Sarpang, CB Mongar, said that the Babithang-Tsangkha road isn’t a GC road but a farm road.

He explained that although the minister agreed to improve the road, the budget has not been sanctioned yet.

CB Monger said that even if the budget were released, the department would not be able to carry out and complete works given the limited time. “Instead the improvement work proposal can be put in the next financial year.”

He said at least six months is required to widen and lay the base course on a 10km stretch.

Gup Tawla however, insists that improving and blacktopping the 10km stretch is necessary. “Otherwise, the gewog will have to continue spending huge money in maintaining the road every year.”

He said the gewog has been spending at least Nu 200,000 every year to maintain the road.

Nirmala Pokhrel | Dagana