Kelzang Wangchuk | Samdrupcholing

Residents of Phuntshothang, Khamaedthang and Dungkarling chiwogs in Phuntshothang gewog, Samdrupjongkhar had been living in community lhakhangs and other vacant structures, every night every summer.

They were not attending to a ritual but moving to safety from the dangers of the swollen Diklai and Nyera Ama rivers. Residents had been following this routine since 2004.

Recently, the swollen Diklai river washed away a few decimals of paddy fields belonging to a household in Dungkarling chiwog.

A resident, Pema Dendup said that many residents left the village when the swollen  Nyera Ama river washed away the lands in 2004.

He said that the villagers constructed a river protection wall which was washed away after a few years. “It’d help us if the concerned authorities could build the river protection walls at three places along the river bank.”

“We have reported the matter to the concerned authorities but nothing happened until now. Who will build the wall?”

Another resident, Pema Yewong, said it is risky to stay home even during the day time as the river swells even on sunny days because of the heavy rain upstream. “It is challenging for us to move away from homes with our old parents and children.”

“We sometimes stay home and send men to guard the river at night because it becomes overcrowded at the lhakhang, and we’re also concerned about our homes and fields.”

Yedu Maya Sarki, from Phuntshothang chiwog, said they had abandoned their homes and fields because the swollen Nyera Ama river in 2004 washed away acres of paddy fields belonging to about five households.

“There were no casualties then, but if the situation continues, we can’t be sure.”

She said that the river had also washed away paddy fields recently.

“We could not apply for compensation before as we did not have a lag thram. We now have lag thram and applied either for compensation or replacement,” Yedu Maya Sarki said.

Phuntshothang gup, Jamyang Gyeltshen, said the gewog had allocated about Nu 1.5M to build walls along the Diklai river as the swollen river wash away paddy fields every year in Dungkarling chiwog. The gewog has also deployed excavators at the site to divert the river.

However, he said they have no budget to build the protection walls along the Nyera Ama river as it requires a huge amount.

“But we’re going to write to the department of disaster management for support.”