The progress of the works of the past five years is very disappointing, concluded Member of the Parliament (MP) from Dewathang-Gomdar constituency Ugyen Dorji upon the completion of his three-week visit to his constituency.
After travelling the length and breadth of his constituency, and spending hours with the local people, where he patiently listened and noted down their problems, while keenly observing the work done by the last government, he felt the people had the right to complain as there were shortcomings everywhere.
“Despite having a whooping Nu 45bn for the implementation of the 11th Five Year Plan, much more than the previous plan budget, the last government failed to extend its benefit to many remote areas in the country, including my constituency, where a few gewogs have fallen into regression in the last five years,” he said.
The MP’s tour started on March 28 from SamdrupJongkhar town, where he met with the members of the business community, who openly shared their ongoing economic predicament, while also raising issues related to labor shortage, integrated check post, tax exemption for low budget hotels, harassment from public officials, restriction on exporting private timber, and compensation on the land used for electrical transmission.
“The government only compensates for the area covered by the electrical pole but prohibits any activity underneath the transmission line, thereby, hindering landowner’s development plan,” a resident pointed out.
Likewise, in the afternoon meeting with the Thromde Administration, officials raised a host of issues like the acute shortage of human resource, lack of integration between the Thromde and the regional offices, ownership of SamdrupJongkhar-Dewathang highway, housing crunch, among many others.
“The road widening project between SamdrupJongkhar –Trashigang highway, which began in 2008 is still incomplete and needs to be expedited,” an official voiced out, “It started before the Trashigang-Thimphu Highway, which is already completed.”
The next day the MP met with the Dzongkhag Administration officials, where many policy reforms were suggested, like paying more attention to the quality of primary education, attaining self-sufficiency in terms of construction workers and protecting the quality of infrastructures, often compromised when given to the lowest bidders. Most importantly they asked what plan the government had for the private sector growth in SamdrupJongkhar.
On the same evening, he met with the civil servants and corporate employees of SamdrupcholingDrungkhag, where an official raised the issue of quality of electrical machineries and infrastructures, which often breakdowns during severe weather, forcing the power technicians to work in difficult and precarious situations. In the same vein, another official asked for the construction of a new power sub-station at Selmothang.
“They also highlighted the deteriorating road quality between Deothang and Bangtar, and pointed out the need to reopen the Govabari route to SamdrupJongkhar,” the MP said.
At Phuntshothanggewog the next day, the local people informed him that the 1000cft of timber, along with five trucks of sand and stone, which is approved by the government for construction of a house, is inadequate and should be revised. And for the students coming from the far flung villages, a mid-day meal or a bus should be provided.
Meanwhile, at the Phuntshothang Middle Secondary School, the students told him about how the transfer of teachers in the middle of the school session is affecting their academic performance. Other than the mid-day meals, the students also requested for additional funds for games and sports, which has been deducted from this year.
On the afternoon of March 31, MP Ugyen Dorji met with the people of DeothangThrom, who talked about their stagnant economy, high taxes, acute water shortage and the need to revive Deothang-Nganglam highway.
But none had a more urgent problem than the students of Garpawoong Middle Secondary School, where the contractor, entrusted with the construction of the 120-bedded hostel, has taken the government to the court and the injunction that followed has halted the work completely. The same contractor is embroiled in another legal battle over the incomplete construction of the multipurpose hall in Deothang Primary School.
One of the teachers there asked him about the status of the free laptops, which the previous government had committed to them, besides asking for improving the 3.8km access road to the school.
At the JigmeNamgyel Engineering College, the students were very precise, when they asked what plans the government had for the future of the technical graduates, whose unemployment problems have been alarming. In addition, they asked when will the government provide free wifi and launch the Sungjoen application, besides reminding about the increase in their stipend to Nu 2,500, as committed by the government.
They also asked why Thromde Administration is not carrying out any repair work around their campus, despite the institute falling within its jurisdiction.
At Dungsam Academy, on the evening of the April 2, students expressed their concern over the government’s ‘no cut-off policy’, which they feel may reflect poorly during job interviews, where class 10 and 12 cut-off marks are assessed.
“What if the students who have been promoted from class 10 through the new policy are sidelined in the job market,” asked a student.
Meanwhile, the people of Oronggeog wanted a motor road from Suzung to Neylang in Deothang, which would reduce the travel distance by 35km. Similarly, the people of Narphungchiwog are plagued by severe drinking water shortage, with the whole town strip totally dependent on DANTAK tankers; they want the government to include their crisis in the flagship program.
The people of Gomdargewog asked the government for a fuel depot, which as per the dzongkhags official will come through, and complained about the department of road not taking proper care of the gewog road. At the community school, the management requisitioned for additional staff quarters, and informed about the recent windstorm, which blew away the roofs of two staff quarters.
Likewise, Barzoorchiwog asked for a BHU, and drew attention to the rundown state of the lower secondary school, which is desperately in need of renovation. The four chiwogs of Wangphugewog also raised a host of issues, which needed government interventions like absence of site engineer to monitor the road construction work, construction of grid electricity for the villages of Benporong, Singsiborang, Chongapa and Sachillo, and maintenance of gewog roads.
Meanwhile, Shokshichiwog is waiting for the machineries and other equipments for the milk processing booth, which has been completed since 2016, and unless it is operated, the outer infrastructure would slowly fall apart. Further, Wangphu Primary School also asked to be upgraded with a boarding facility, as they have the highest number of students when compared with other lower secondary schools, 164 in total.
On the way back to the capital, MP Ugyen Dorji had an exit meeting with the Dzongkhag Administration of SamdrupJongkhar, where he drew everyone’s attention toward the problems faced by the people of his constituency. Many of these issues, he said, needed to be discussed at the higher level, but there are some which can be resolved at the district level.
In the meeting, the officials requested the MP to raise all the policy issues, along with their recommendations, at the central government level and make the necessary changes to further strengthen the trust between the public and the administration.
“I will try my best to convince the government to address these problems at the earliest,” MP Ugyen Dorji said.
Karma Tenzin from S/Jongkhar