To the gewog of Samrang, which awaits approval on a name change, its very identity is at stake

Identity: The Department of Local Government (DLG) is yet to respond to the Samrang gup’s request to change the name of the gewog to Doserling.

The Samdrupjongkhar dzongkhag tshogdu (DT) had unanimously agreed to the request made by the Samrang gup.

The request was made during the eight DT, last year, on grounds that the none of its villagers knew what their gewog’s name meant as it is derived from Sanskrit.

The gup had informed the DT that villagers wanted a Dzongkha name. This, they said, would give the gewog an identity.

The villagers want to name their village, Doserling, which means “coal deposits”. The village has abundant coal resources.

The villagers proposed the new name during a gewog tshogde. They came up with the new name after they could not translate Samrang into a dzongkha term and Doserling was easy to understand.

Another reason for the proposed name change is because an Indian town that borders Bhutan also is named Samrang.

Samrang gup Man Bahadhur Gurung said there are two villages known as Samrang one and Samrang two and after crossing the border the town is referred to as Bhutan Samrang. The border town is sparsely populated and has a Sashastra Seema Bal outpost.

“Although no major problem has occurred so far this usually created confusion. Whenever something happened in Samrang, people couldn’t figure out which Samrang it was since some people especially Indian-Nepalese share similar features.”

The elderly people believe the gewog was known as Samrang because of the border town. The gewog, many said, is made up of resettled people from Gomtu who were given land substitution when the Penden cement factory was established.

Man Bahadhur Gurung said they are yet to get any response from the DLG. “We were informed during the last DT that it has already been put up to the DLG and that it would be reviewed,” he said.

Located about four hours by foot from Samdrupcholing dungkhag, Samrang gewog has 27 households in five chiwogs with a population of around 400. However, only 100 reside in the village.

Samrang was clubbed with Pemathang gewog for the last 21 years but in 2011, during the first local government election, a separate gewog was formed for which a gup and mangmi were elected and a gewog administrative officer appointed.

“We’re still waiting and we don’t know where the tshogdu’s resolution has reached or if the DT members’ resolutions were accepted,” the gup said. “Otherwise, villagers are waiting eagerly to have their own gewog name in Dzongkha.”

Meanwhile, the DT secretary, Karma, said they have already submitted the resolution to the DLG but there has been no reply or action taken. They are also unsure if the issue should be routed through the parliament as it would have to endorse the name change.

“Even we’re also waiting for the response,” he said, adding the last time they followed up on the proposal, they were informed there are many other DT resolutions that have come from the 205 gewogs so some of the proposals may have been missed.

But he said they would definitely do a follow up on the issue to be able to decide in next DT, scheduled to take place in August.

Yangchen C Rinzin,  Samdrupcholing