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Kholongchu project causes house rents to shoot up; ramps up local business

The Kholongchhu Hydroelectric Project in Trashiyangtse has caused sea changes in the otherwise sleepy, little eastern town where nothing much seemed to be happening.

Inundation of project employees has caused a shortage of accommodation causing house owners to increase rents drastically.

Some tenants have even been forced to vacate apartments and houses with rents rising. A number of civil servants were compelled to vacate houses as they could not pay as much as the project employees.

Tshering Dorji, 55, a retired civil servant said that his Nu 1,500 per month rent suddenly doubled to Nu 3,000 per month. “Such increase in the house rents and housing shortage has left low-income families in a difficult situation.”

However, Jigme Dorji a teacher said that this is the first time the town is seeing such a high rate of development since he arrived in Trashiyangtse nine years ago.

When he first came to Yangtse there were very few people, buildings and vehicles.

“Now, this has changed,” he added, “the Kholongchhu project has also helped boost the local economy.”

According to Jigme Dorji, projects such as this help to control rural-urban migration as they provide job opportunities to the youth and residents of Yangtse.

Meanwhile, he said that infrastructure development due to the project will benefit the dzongkhag.

A farmer from Yangtse said that the Kholongchhu project is helping local businessmen and farmers like him through steady income generation and rise in commodity prices.

“Earlier, a bunch of sag would cost around Nu 5 but now with the increase in the number of residents, we sell sag at Nu 10-Nu 15 per bunch and sometimes for even more.”

He said that this has encouraged farmers to work harder and increase agricultural production.

A shopkeeper from Yangtse said the Kholongchhu project has increased his customer base.

“The number of shops is increasing.”

Dzongkhag Planning Officer SonamThinley said the dzongkhag has submitted a detailed proposal to the National Housing Development Corporation Ltd (NHDCL) for the construction of quarters for dzongkhag officials very soon.

Of the three Local Area Plans (LAP) in the Thromde, LAP-one and LAP-two has been approved.  Sonam Thinley said that such measures are expected to solve the housing crunch in the dzongkhag.

He agreed that house rents sky rocketing over the years has forced civil servants to live in far away villages.

The Kholongchhu Hydroelectric Project kicked off in September 2015.

Jigme Wangchen from Trashiyangtse