Mr. Karma

Bhutanese who shifted from Jaigaon face housing and livelihood issues

It has been 3 months since some of the Bhutanese that were living in Jaigoan are putting up in accommodations provided by family or friends in Bhutan.

Temporary housing arrangement for many Bhutanese residing in Jaigaon have been made under His Majesty’s command providing relief to many of them.

However, since many have not moved to their villages, as advised, there is a rush for the units built at the site due to a major shortage of housing in Phuentsholing.

The Phuentsholing Thromde had been getting calls for the houses and the Thrompon Uttam Kumar Rai said that although it is not a direct mandate for the Thromde to operate beyond the dzongkhag vicinity they had been providing temporary assistance.

He said that there were about 2,000 people and only about 1,000 houses which could be allotted. He stated that the people should take some responsibility and empathize with the government during these hard times as well.

He said, “I think it is advisable from the context of the government and the country for people to return to their villages, at least till the COVID problem is deferred. We can provide the service and all, but accommodation is another thing.”

Some of them stated that they were lucky enough to find rental apartments in a time when there is a huge housing scarcity in Phuentsholing.

Some people are having a tough time finding accommodation. Reportedly, even those who have managed to find shelters within Bhutan said that they are paying double rent as their belongings are still with the Jaigoan landlords.

Recently people are being allowed to bring in their belongings from Jaigoan with proper SOPs and guidance followed with the help of the taskforce and also the Thromde going out of its way to settle some of these emergent issues.

Many other Bhutanese claim that they are having the same problem with the landlords calling in on them and have been stretched to extreme financial solutions to sustain in their current situation.

Karma used to live in Jaigoan before the pandemic. He has a child studying in class 10. He said that the times have been really hard on him. He said prior to COVID-19, he used to earn a little profit by selling commodities from online shipments like those from Flipkart and Amazon but now due to the situation he is jobless. Additionally, he is a recovering alcoholic who had a cruel accident a year ago and is crippled currently.

He said, “I have been helping other suffering youths throughout last year and by god’s grace, at least we have some shelter over us, and we received a Kidu of about Nu 8,000 last month.”

He said that he had an unexpected call one day and had no time to even pack any belongings and till date, his family is surviving in one of the construction stores but they have been asked to vacate it soon.

With no job at hand he has recently started making cemented and bamboo flowerpots at home to make meets end. He is worried as to how he will manage all the money to bring his belongings from Jaigoan as well, as it costs a huge sum of money for him to bring the stuff from there currently.

Chokhor Nyeema had sent his child and wife to their hometown. As for himself, he had been living inside his truck for almost 3 months, with a kerosene stove waiting to get confirmation of a house at Toorsa through allotment which he got recently.

He thanked His Majesty The King for the Kidu, the Phuentsholing Dungkhag, Thromde, RIGSS, RBA and other volunteers for finally making it possible for him to get the house.

In some posts on the social media, some people had even estimated a moving amount of Nu 16,000 from Jaigoan which included 3 to 4 procedures to be followed while others claimed that it was comparatively lower but not cheap anyhow.

Devi who had moved before the lockdown had left her belongings in Jaigoan and is currently staying with her sister in one of the restaurants. She said that even if she brought her belongings after paying about Nu 16,000 from Jaigoan, she has no place to store her belongings in. She said she was among the many who had been hoping for the housing allotment but she did not get it yet.

Geeta and some of her friends who had recently brought her belongings had to compromise on a lot of her belongings as she reported that the Indian people who had loaded the belongings did not take heed of the breakable stuff despite having told them. She said, on reaching the customs office while loading the stuff, they told them that they are not allowed to keep the things in the front side due to safety measures in places and while loading their things were thrown onto the back very inconsiderately.

She said on reaching home they had many broken plates and other belongings like their television sets but she said.

The taskforce is currently handling the safe transportation aspect and the services are available to the people who have registered their names with the Thromde office. The people are sent in small groups and the Thromde makes the call upon looking at a proper window and time frame.

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