‘Aussie Land’ Debsi despite high land prices still lacks the basics

Debsi under Chang gewog has been a hotspot for land price speculation and construction boom.

Its proximity to the capital city drew many people to invest in land and housing there, suitable to the needs and aspirations of an urbanized population but it has suffered from an unclear status as it is not under Thimphu Thromde and comes under the Dzongkhag.

The Local Area Plan (LAP) for Debsi covers an area of 186.54 acres including undevelopable slope and government land. Debsi is commonly known as ‘Aussie Land’ since most of the Bhutanese working in Australia have invested their money in buying land plots and houses in Debsi.  Over the past few years, Debsi has mushroomed as a large residential area for many people due to the affordable housing rental cost.

However, Debsi still lacks the proper fundamental needs for a residential area, like sufficient water supply, reliable electricity and proper waste management services.

An eight-member Tshogpa was formed in Debsi so power and water shortages and other issues can be addressed and resolved within their limits. The chairperson of Debsi Tshogpa, Tshering, said that the tshogpa has approached the Prime Minister and included the water issue in the flagship program, but nothing has been done about the matter till date.

He also said that households of lower Debsi contributed Nu 3,000 each to construct a water tank in November 2020, with very minimal help from the Dzongkhag.

“Till 2018, the water source was very unhygienic as the water was directly connected from the stream of the bridge towards Royal Thimphu College (RTC). The water was polluted with dog carcass, sanitary pads, diapers and other wastes, and people fell ill those days due to the polluted water source, said Tshering.

Tshering also said that in 2019, the tshogpa changed the water source and pushed the pipeline upto six kilometers towards RTC. They have had a clean water source since then, but the water is insufficient to meet the demands.

Another main issue in Debsi is the electricity supply. According to Tshering, the type of transformer used to transfer electrical energy in Debsi is very old, used decades back in towns.

“During the winters, we face lots of problem since most of the people in Debsi rely on electric heaters. As a result, the transformer fails to transfer the energy of the electricity, and it has even damaged a few of the electronic devices,” said Tshering.  

The committee has verbally complained to the Bhutan Power Corporation (BPC), with no action taken to remedy the situation, till date, by BPC.          

However, an official from BPC said that they would appreciate it if the complaint is put up in writing, officially, so that they can work on it. He also said that the oldest transformer used in Bhutan is twelve years old.

The problem of waste management is also persistent in Debsi, which the gewog and the dzongkhag are least concerned about, said a house owner in Debsi, Tshewang. He also said that there is no particular garbage truck to collect the waste in Debsi. The garbage truck comes to collect the waste just once a week or once in two weeks. There is no segregation of wastes, like in towns, as dry day and wet day.

The households in Debsi pay Nu 200 per month for waste collection. However, that does not ensure that they get the garbage disposable service on time. With no fixed days for garbage collection, the residents have to do guesswork to dispose off their garbage. 

“Just as I hear the garbage truck alarm ringing, I have to rush and collect every waste to dump in the truck. Sometimes while I am gone for shopping or for some other chores, the garbage truck has already left. I wish the garbage truck came on a particular day so that I can keep the waste ready and stay home on that day,” said Karma Dorji Pelden.

The streetlights in Debsi were installed in 2017, but it was functional for a brief time only, said the local residents in Debsi, and further added that the dzongkhag did not have the budget to pay the electricity bill to light up the streetlights.

Residents say they are scared to walk during the evening and night time in the dark streets, as they are not safe from the stray dogs. The senior citizens circumambulating the long chorten in Debsi have to be home before dark.

Despite the land pooling, the water pipes are left unorganized on the roads and it looks very pathetic, said the tshogpa chairman.

Chang Gup Ugyen said that if people came to an agreement and raised the issue officially, the Gup and the dzongkhag would definitely come up with some ideas and plan to resolve the issues.

But people in Debsi voiced that the management from the dzongkhag has been very poor as they are least bothered about the issues so far.

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