The farmers use Pasakha-Manitar bypass road currently
Villagers of Petshelnang chiwog under Samhelling gewog are still waiting for a farm road to connect their village.
The chiwog which has two villages with 65 households is almost 35km from Phuentsholing. But without a farm road, Pasakha-Manitar bypass road has become a vital travel route for the villagers.
However, the bypass which was built by the Department of Roads in the early 90s needs regular maintenance.
Villagers of Petshelnang say that a road has become necessary to transport their agro-based products to the market and also during emergencies.
Both the villages are located on sloppy hillsides and it has become difficult to carry heavy loads to reach the nearest road point. The villages extend up to the Indian border of West Bengal.
The villagers under the chiwog cultivate most of the trending cash crops like cardamom, ginger and oranges. “But without a farm road, the potential to sell our products is limted. We have to bear extra charge to reach our products to the market,” said Nidup, a farmer. The farmers pay Nu 300 per load of 40kg of cardamom to reach the road point.
Zhusingdingkha, a village near the border is more than two hours’ walk from the nearest bypass road. There are nine households in the village with a community temple.
While upper Dhungeyna received a farm road recently, lower Dhungeyna and Pakchina are yet to receive one. Mon Maya Gurung, 50, from Pakchina said that the road would help ease the lives of villagers. “More importantly, it would help us during emergencies,” she said.
The chiwog has a dairy cooperative and interested people to work on poultry and piggery farming. Chairman of Petshelnang-Dhungeyna Dairy Cooperative Nima Sherpa said that the road would help interested individuals to start farms. “Since a road plays an important role by facilitating market accessibility to products, the people waiting,” said Nima Sherpa.
Petshelnang chiwog has a primary school and an Extended Classroom (ECR) where the students from the villages come to school by foot. The Teacher In-charge of Pakchina ECR said that the students are exhausted by the time they reach the ECR. “If there was a farm road, the villagers could drop the students till the ECR and it would also promote safety for the students as they would not have to walk long distances,” said Nima Drukpa. Pakchina ECR has 36 students from class PP to class III.
However, Petshelnang Chiwog Tshogpa, Karna Bdr. Rai said that the road will come in the 12th plan. According to him, since the construction needs massive budget, the work has been diverted to provide to other villages with small budget roads.
He agreed that absence of a road has discouraged farmers to do commercial farming. Instead they opt to work in a nearby mine for easy income. “If a road was there, most farmers would continue with farm work,” he said.
Meanwhile, Sampheling Gup Mani Kumar Rai said that the gewog administration has already planned to build roads to the chiwog. Two different roads to both the villages will be built by the next plan. The gewog plans to prioritise for Zhusingdingkha village since it is the remotest. The gewog has also proposed an approximate budget of Nu 4.8mn. “Soon we will carry out a survey for the roads and start once the budget is approved,” he said.
Krishna Ghalley from Phuentsholing