DPT’s Nyisho-Sephu candidate says he is ‘ashamed’

For not fulfilling the biggest promise to the people of Phangyul Gewog

The Druk Phunsum Tshogpa (DPT) candidate for Nyisho-Sephu constituency under Wangduephodrang, Gem Dorji expressed regret for not being able to deliver his biggest promise to the people of four villages in Phangyul gewog- of solving the irrigation problem.

The villagers still face acute shortage of water for irrigation and livestock. In some parts of the village, there is a shortage of drinking water as well. Many rice fields have remained fallow over the years while majority of crops suffer from the lack of water.

The DPT government’s plan to construct a channel of about 33 kilometers for the gewog failed badly. While some cited disputes between villages, some farmers blamed the DPT for not taking adequate responsibility in addressing the issue.

In June 2010, the dzongkhag engineer had informed the former agriculture minister that the proposed irrigation channel would have a command area of 650 acres and would benefit 305 households. The minister during a visit to the gewog had said that he was fully aware of the magnitude of the problem, and its effect on the livelihood of the people and informed that the ministry would make all the necessary interventions to solve the water shortage problem.

Gem Dorji said, “It was one of my top priorities and a budget of Nu 84mn was also allocated, but works couldn’t be completed because of communal disputes.” He said the sanctioned budget has also been withdrawn and the project has stopped completely.

He said if re-elected by the people, he shall accord top priority to the issue.

Many farmers told The Bhutanese that plans to construct the Phangyul irrigation channel didn’t go down well with the neighboring villages, especially Komathrang village. “The people of other gewogs were concerned of the effects of the new channel on their gewog as the channel would be passing through their gewog affecting farm roads and rice fields, especially on the Chuzhings in Komathrang village,” a 68-year-old farmer of Phangyul, Singye Dorji said.

However, Tshering of Kumshi village said, “The main hindrance of constructing a channel is not the internal village dispute, but lack of decision and responsibility from the government’s side. There shouldn’t be any problem if the authorities could consult all the people and be transparent in terms of information and budget allocations. Many villagers aren’t aware of the status of the project. It is only today, at the common forum that we learnt the money for the channel has been returned back.”

Singye Pem, a farmer said, “We are sad and it brings tears to our eyes to hear from our MP that the channel construction budget has gone back because my land will remain barren without water.”

Phangyul Gup Ugyen said, “Except for the serious water problem, there are no other issues as we are closer to the dzongkhag office compared to other far flung villages. The issue has been taken to the highest level of appellate authority, and yet we are hopeful for a solution.”

“The rain hardly comes on time and when it finally rains, its past cultivation season resulting in a very poor yield,” Nepko of Goenpa village said. He said 70% of rice cultivation in a year has to be skipped if there is no rain. “More than the gewog centre infrastructures or farm roads, we need to prioritize on the water shortage issue first,” he added.

PDP candidate Kuenga said “If it is an issue of dispute between villages and gewogs, it’s the responsibility of the MP to settle the dispute. They didn’t get themselves involved in the dispute settlement even once. They should have come and talked with the people.”

Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT) candidate Phuntsho Wangdi said the water shortage issue is not just because of the lack of an irrigation channel but also due to limited water at source.

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