Connectivity: Starting next year, the people of Athang gewog will not have to worry about being cut off during monsoon, thanks to a bridge being built over the Dechu (river) at Dogayphu, 36km from Bajo town.

The bridge, according to Athang gup, Khandu Dorji, will benefit some 800 people from 90 households living beyond the gewog centre opposite Kamichu on the Tsirang-Wangdue highway

The Grass Root Project with Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is funding the project.

In March 2014, the gup and gewog administrative officer had approached JICA for funds, stating that the people were affected, particularly during monsoons.  According to the gup, people had to wait for weeks for the water level to drop to cross across.  Transportation of goods and other basic necessities was also a challenge.

Gewog officials said they did list the need for a bridge in the gewog development plans, but the cost estimation crossed the gewog’s budget ceiling.

Gup Khandu Dorji said the bridge would cost Nu 6.6M (million) and the gewog has received about Nu 6.7M from JICA, which was handed to them through the Gross National Happiness Commission on March 18.

Agreement for the project was signed on March 18 at the Delhi embassy.

Construction to build the 22m long girder bridge began earlier this month and is expected to complete by April, next year.

Villagers said in 2011, a man drowned along with his ox, when a traditional temporary bridge over the Zarachu collapsed.  The body and the carcass were never found.

Following this incident, a suspension bridge was constructed in 2012.  The gup said that the bridge would be removed and reused in another place in the gewog.

By Dawa Gyelmo, Wangdue