Going against a nationwide trend, the number of unoccupied village households (gungtongs) in Chali, Mongar, has actually been declining over the years.
Chali gewog has around 287 houses of which 22 are gungtongs. In the previous year there were 25 empty households. “I think the decrease in gungtong in my gewog is due to the basic facilities that are now available,” said gup Tashi Dendup. “We are provided with every convenience like electricity, roads, and hospitals that any villager would wish for.”
He said that with development people were now returning to their once abandoned houses. “I don’t think the reason for the 22 houses being unoccupied is due to lack of development in the gewog, I think it is because the children ask their old parents to live with them in the urban areas and babysit their children,” said Tashi Dendup. “The three houses that saw re-occupancy in the past year were because of road connectivity in the gewog.”
But the neighbouring gewogs of Tsakaling and Kengkhar are seeing increasing gungtongs. Kengkhar gewog has around 454 houses out of which 54 are gungtongs. Tsakaling gewog has around 353 houses of which 60 are unoccupied. In the previous year there were 49 gungtongs in the gewog. The Tsakaling gup Karma Sonam Wangchuk said that gungtong is increasing and it is hard to stop people from migrating to urban areas. “These days the children are well educated and no one wants to return to village after finding a secure job in the town, and after that they ask their old parents to come and stay with them in the town,” said the gup. “If every basic facility available in urban areas are in the gewog, I think people will ultimately return to their ancestral homes and live there.”
The National Land Commission Secretariat (NLCS) mapping gungtongs in the country to serve as a reference to future policies. NLCS reported that increasing cases of gungtongs are reported from almost all villages in the country.