The 25km road started in 2012 may finally be completed next year

Connectivity: After walking for three days, Mani, 68, from Lopokha-Phaktakha chiwog, Athang gewog finally reached the gewog center in Dogayphu.

He came with two horses to receive his nephew and family and also to collect necessities for the winter Lochoe.

The family will take two days to reach their village. For the first night they will hold in a small cave in Hokona.

This is the routine for villagers of the two chiwogs of Athang gewog: Lopokha phaktakha and Kagolamtshokha.

Villagers said it is difficult during winter Lochoe especially when they have to visit the hospital.

The gewog centre at Dogayphu is about seven kilometres from Jarogang on the Wangdue-Tsirang highway.

“Few local people also cover the distance in between nine-12 hours of walking  during emergencies but it is exhausting and difficult,” a local said.

However, with a farm road to the chiwogs planned, Mani is hopeful that soon he will not have to spend hours walking.

Athang gup Khandu Dorji said that the two chiwogs are the least developed in Wangdue and were connected to electricity only in 2012. There are 57 households in the two chiwogs.

The chiwogs had one primary school between them, but it has now been  downsized to an extended classroom. Access to better facilities and better telecommunications network was another problem  villagers pointed out.

Although work to construct a 25km farm road started in 2012, slow progress has been made given lack of funding.

Khandu Dorji said the gewog has constructed only seven kilometres of the 25km farm road. Four kilometres was completed during the 10th Plan with government funding of Nu 4M in 2012-2013. This was followed by three kilometres in 2013-2014 with a gewog development grant of Nu 1.6M.

He said more than 12 km is expected to be completed by mid-2016 through the small development programme which the Indian government is funding. The work is expected to start by March. “We are also hopeful to cover the remaining six kilometres within 2016, if we could get some additional funding,” said Khandu Dorji.

A villager, Sangay said that despite having fertile land and good water sources, the villagers can’t make use of their agriculture produce and vegetables. The villagers therefore grow paddy, vegetables and fruits only for self-consumption.

“As of now we don’t have any income source but now we are hopeful to reach our agriculture produce to the market,” said Sangay.

The gewog’s gup, Khandu Dorji also said with the help of the tourism industry, people have started to earn a minimal income through hosting tourists as home-stay.

By Dawa Gyelmo, Wangdue