Friday, October 7, 2011

Deliberate Misinformation II

The recent declaration by the government that Lhuentse is the most poorly served Dzongkhag in the country is nothing short of rubbing salt to the wound of the people of Khengri Namsum. If the government feels that the people of Lhuentse are more deserving than the stoically tolerating Khengpas, they should have the courage to go ahead and do whatever they want to do - without resorting to falsehood.

As a Khengpa, I feel insulted that the government not only continues to ignore Zhemgang Dzongkhag but goes as far as to deny that it is the most poorly served Dzongkhag in the country. Such a deliberate distortion of facts has serious ramifications on the people of Kheng. By denying that Zhemgang Dzongkhag is the most poorly served Dzongkhag in the country, it becomes convenient for the government to divert funds else where. But in a sense I think I can understand why our government is so poorly educated about Khengpas and their continuing plight. I want to know: how many of the members of the Cabinet - both present and past - have visited inner Kheng? It may come as a shock that majority of them, even after being Ministers for decades, have not visited Kheng even once.

Today, when there are natural calamities in the East and the West, everybody is scrambling to outdo each other to deliver relief and reconstruction material. If such calamities were to happen in the Kheng region, the government would be soooooo terribly out of luck - because no way they would be able to be so quick with their kidu! There are no roads to deliver anything! That is when the government will truly understand the calamity of their neglect.

This post is still about the Gorgan-Shingkhar road. This stretch of road that will run through the TNP wilderness serves no purpose, its construction breaks laws, it will cause irreparable damage to the environment and in all provability it will remain unused for most part of the year, if at all. If the government has the will and the financial resources to do such a meaningless and destructive road, surely it has money enough to do some useful road in the severely deprived Zhemgang Dzongkhag. Let me show you how pathetic the road network in Zhemgang is.

In all of Zhemgang, there are currently three roads:

     Tingtingbi- Gongphu road
     Dakphai - Buli road
     Tingtingbi - Wangdigang road

The construction of the Tingtingbi-Gongphu road was started in 1988. Amazingly, the entire stretch of this road runs through total wilderness - it does not touch any of the villages in the vicinity such as Tsanglajong, Subrang, Zurphey and Gongphu. The road is called Tingtingbu-Gongphu road but it stops short of Gongphu village by 8 KMs - in the middle of nowhere called Praleng! When it was finally completed in 2005 (including the 8KMs farm road that finally connected Gongphu village) this road measuring a total of 46 KMs took 17 (seventeen) years to build - an astounding construction rate of less than 3 KMs per year!

The second road in the Kheng area is the Dakphai-Buli road. This road is supposed to serve the upper Kheng areas. Its construction was started in 1996 but as of January 2010, it hasn’t yet reached Nimshong village. I cannot decide whether this is a farm road or a regular road. But the less than 40 KMs road so far has taken all of 14 years to construct - a construction rate of 2.85 KMs per year!

The Tingtingbi-Wangdigang road is actually a by-pass road that is not intended to benefit the Kheng people. This road is strictly to reduce the overall road length between Gaylegphug and Trogsa. It starts at Tingtingbi, goes through complete wilderness without touching a single village and would reconnect at Wangdigang on the existing highway, when finally done. For the Khengpas, this road is as good as not being there - like the Gorgan-Shingkhar road would be to the Lhuentsips - if ever it gets constructed.


  1. Business Bhutan should now get a hold of the letter that was sent this week from the World Bank to the Prime Minister's office indicating that they do not support a road that goes through the core area of a national park.

    Politicians should analyze what they promise to their constituents. Just be honest and act with conviction - not just sway every which way the wind blows. I am almost convinced that for our politicians, conservation is not really one pillar of GNH. Stop bullshitting like they care. Our Kings are true conservationists from heart, however, and that is comforting.

  2. Yeshey, you have hit the nail. We need to prioritize development activities. Priority should be to alleviate the poverty level of the majority of the population by providing the basic needs - potable drinking water, electricity, road, school, basic health facilities and of course, satellite market /shopping place. And such facilities should be usable, unlike the feeder / farm roads, most of which is non-functional.

    Remember, only about 20% of the cost has been spent in constructing the farm roads. Making them pliable on all weather conditions will suck-in billions of Ngultrums. Check!

  3. You pseudo environmentalists, stop preaching so-called moral principles because Shingkhar-Gorgan road is going to benefit people who are not related to you or you guys are not from that part of the country.

    I'm sure if you guys were from that part of the country, you wont make any noise about this project.

    What a pity!

  4. Building a road that is going to be unusable for their best part of eight months in a single year is the heights of stubborness on the part of the RGOB. At the same time it seems that the road is not going to connect any villages on the route. So I am wondering why the RGOB still believes that this farm road is going to benefit the country and especially the people of Lhuntshe. By the looks of it, this farm road is only going to be a big headache for everyone connected with it.

    On the other hand I just don't buy this protection of our pristine environment crap, if the road was going to benefit the country as a whole, I would have been all for it, unfortunately in this case, it just does not seem that the road is going to benefit even one single individual.

    I hope the RGOB comes to their senses before it is too late and scraps their plans of building this farm road, if they go ahead and ignore the warning signs, they will be responsible for wasting millions of ngultrums on this crazy scheme.

  5. if you tend to see every problem as a nail than the only solution you find is hammer