Governance over political party, says villagers 

The Wangphu community in Martshala, Samdrupjongkhar, wants a government that can find solutions to their immediate needs like a local school, proper road connectivity and irrigation channels. 

The people of the remote gewog are not bothered about who wins.  They want a government that could solve their problems.

Highlighting the plight faced by parents, a 79-year-old resident, Singye Norbu emphasised the difficulty of sending children to schools in Martshala or the central school in the gewog center. “The journey, either a four-hour walk or a two-hour vehicle ride, imposes a significant burden on families, particularly during monsoon,” he said.

Wangphu chiwog  consists of around 50 households and a population of 400 people. Residents stress the urgent need for a local school to alleviate the struggles faced by parents and children.

Chiwog Tshogoa Pema Lekden said that about 35 children in the chiwog are ready for enrollment in school and people feel that a direct road connection between Wangphu and Martshala, would reduce the travel distance to about 12 kilometers.

Another critical concern villagers raised is the lack of a direct farm road from Nanital (Yeulsar) under Pemathang gewog to Wangphu, spanning more than 8 kilometers. Farmer Karma Jamtsho, 52, said that there is a need for a road to facilitate access to cultivated fields. He urged the new government to prioritize constructing access roads to farmlands and improving irrigation channels.

“The procurement of power tillers with interest-free loans is futile without access roads to the farmlands,” Karma Jamtsho said.

Known for cultivating cash crops like ginger, cardamom, and mandarin, the Wangphu community seeks assurance from political parties to address these challenges. During a recent common forum on December 29, both Bhutan Tendrel Party (BTP) and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) candidates for Jomotsangkha-Martshala promised to tackle these issues if selected to represent the constituency in the National Assembly.

PDP’s candidate, Younten Phuntsho, assured the establishment of a chiwog school with lunch provisions and outlined plans to improve farm roads, construct new ones, support terracing and leveling of farmlands, and provide interest-free loans for farm machinery.

“If the mandate of governance is given to PDP, we will support terracing and levelling of farmlands besides providing interest-free loans to buy farm machinery and tools,” Younten Phuntsho said.

Based on primary round election results, Younten Phuntsho, assured the people that PDP will secure at least 24 constituency seats in the general elections to form the government.

BTP’s candidate, Jigme Wangchuk, pledged to prioritise improving and blacktopping chiwog and gewog roads, constructing bypass roads and establishing boarding schools in villages. Challenging PDP’s commitment to providing one doctor for every gewog, Jigme Wangchuk proposed periodic visits, every three to six months, by medical specialists through mobile clinics. “How can the government provide one doctor in each gewog when even national referral hospital (JDWNRH) in Thimphu is facing acute shortage of doctors and nurses,” he said.

Confident in their ability to form the government based on past election results, BTP highlighted that while Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) secured victories in primary rounds, governments were eventually formed by PDT and Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT) during the general elections in 2013 and 2018, respectively.

Both parties promised to expedite the commissioning of the Nyera Amari hydropower projects I & II in Martshala and the Jomori hydropower project in Jomotsangkha. Despite Druk Green Power Corporation’s initiation of work, these projects hold significance for socio-economic development and addressing electricity supply issues.

The detailed project report (DPR) of 404MW Nyera Amari hydropower has been completed, while construction of the 90MW Jomori small hydropower project began with a groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of access roads at Zamtari in Serthi gewog on November 11, 2023.

The managing director of DGPC, Dasho Chewang Rinzin, explained that the Nyera Amari-I & II integrated hydropower project would construct two dams and powerhouses, generating 1,599 million units annually. Additionally, the Jomori project is seen as a crucial step in resolving irregular electricity supply issues in Jomotsangkha drungkhag, fostering local economic development and employment opportunities.

The Wangphu community anticipates that the new government will prioritise their needs and fulfill the pledges made by political parties during the election campaigns, bringing about positive change and sustainable development for the region.

Contributed by 

Rinzin Wangchuk