Lhakpa Quendren

Being one of the most remote dzongkhags in the country, Zhemgang has been stymied from development activities for years, prompting a call for development strategies from political leaders.

The upcoming elections have seen a surge in candidates pledging to prioritise Zhemgang’s development on their political agendas, and making voters eager to see the long-awaited development finally reach their dzongkhag.

The common forum for Bardo-Trong in Zhemgang ended last month

The Bardo-Trong candidates of the Bhutan Tendrel Party (BTP) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) talk about their capabilities to raise people’s living standards, without leaving any person or parts of their constituency behind.

BTP’s Pema Dakpa pledged to blacktop the roads of all four gewogs and 20 chiwogs to improve connectivity. He also pledged to establish a Public Service Center in every gewog to ensure effective public service delivery.

To increase household income, he said he would commercialize avocado production, establish oil processing plants, and the production of processed cheese and butter with improved dairy processing.

If BTP comes to power, Pema Dakpa said they would initiate onion production in wetlands after paddy harvest, facilitated by proper curing and storage infrastructure.

“I have gained people’s trust for having served and lived up to people’s expectations as an elected representative in the National Council for two consecutive terms,” he said. “People know that my pledges are genuine, doable, and directly benefit them by improving their livelihoods.”

Pema Dakpa claims that his constituents have seen and witnessed his strength in agricultural expertise, poised to transform agricultural development in his constituency.

Besides, he pledged to provide interest-free loans to buy power tillers and jersey cows and subsidised loans for first-time house construction and utility vehicle purchases.

PDP’s Lekey Dorji pledged to construct roads connecting Shingkhar to Bumthang, Bardo to Mongar and a double-lane road from Gelephu to Trongsa via Zhemgang.

He promised to build roads from Tshaidang Zampa to Tshaidang School and Dunmang to Digala. He also said he would improve road conditions from Dakpai to Buli, Nimshong, Therang, and Tingtibe to Rindebe. He also plans to blacktop all chiwogs roads and lay a base course for all farm roads.

If elected to power, Lekey Dorji said PDP will establish Sanam Tshongkhang, a health center with a doctor, Agro/forestry/livestock product processing plant, and fuel dispensing depots in every gewog.

He said that PDP will provide door-to-door medical services for elderly citizens and people with disabilities, a monthly cash incentive of Nu 10,000 for every third child until the child reaches three years old. Lekey Dorji also pledged to conduct feasibility studies for airports to improve tourism, besides facilitating wetlands conversion, enhancing irrigation channels, and providing safe drinking water for every household. “Data recharges would be slashed by 50 percent and rural households would not need to get approvals to fell trees on their land,” he said.

Other pledges include ensuring reliable electricity, fencing, reviewing and establishing central schools, establishing a Vocational Training Institute (VTI) at Tama, and promoting youth-run Mechanical Workshops and spare parts shops for gewog clusters.

Lekey Dorji has promised to implement a home ownership scheme for civil servants, corporate employees, and private sector employees besides regularising all contract employees with benefits, including provident funds and allowances.

Meanwhile, Zhemgang Dzongkhag Election Officer Tashi Choden refused to share the turnouts of the common forums, citing instructions not to disclose any information to the media.