Taphel and Shingphel at far

For the want of a cable car transport: ‘Patients died on the way to hospital due to late treatment’ – Toetsho Gup

The harsh mountainous topography hinders a viable transport infrastructure, including roads, making trails and mule tracks are the only available options in most of the dzongkhags.

The means of transportation in Jangphoogtse, Manam Chemkhar chiwogs in Toetsho Gewog and Shingphel and Pemaling chiwogs in Boomdeling Gewog are still horses and mules and most do not have farms roads.

With no farm roads, this has isolated communities and compels them to face an exhausting, time consuming and often dangerous journey. The villagers have to walk for hours and days to reach the nearest road.

However, strong links to markets for rural producers are essential to increase agricultural production, which will generate economic growth in rural areas.

In Trashiyangtse, Jangphoogtse and Manam Chhemkhar chiwogs has been requesting for cable car, connecting the gewog center. And Boomdeling gewog wishes to have one as well, as the cable car will ease the people living in far-flung villages.

Toetsho gup Dechen Wangdi said in Jangphoogtse and Manam Chhemkhar, the possibility to have farm road is difficult because these chiwogs shares border with Arunachal Pradesh (Tawang). And having roads can bring in unforeseen circumstances in the future.

“I don’t support the construction of roads in these places. There will be more disadvantages than advantages,” said Toetsho gup.

He said the only option is to have cable car in these chiwogs, adding that not having farm roads has caused a lot of inconvenience.

He said there were cases where the patients died on the way to hospital due to late treatment and pregnant women were brought in stretchers for deliveries, among other cases.

The people takes three hours to reach gewog center, said Gup.

The cable car facilities will not only solve farm roads issue but also the villagers will be able to earn some good money. The cable car facility will open doors to the farmers and highlanders to sell their agricultural products.

A few years ago, a study was done for the potential of gravity goods ropeways, but it was learnt gravity was not possible and after that, nothing was heard from the government.

When the plan for installation of gravity did not work, they held the discussion between the dzongkhag and gewog administrations in Trashiyangtse that cable car would be the best transport solution for these isolated communities and increase their participation in the local economy.

The gup said government has removed cable car from the flagship program and they have no idea and the reasons behind removing the cable car was not explained to them. He said not even a single relevant authority tried to look for the possibility of cable car.

“We cannot let our people suffer by not doing anything. In order to bring in more economic development and to get agricultural products to the nearest markets, we have been exploring but due to lack of budget, we cannot install, even if we want” said Toetsho gup.

He said the allocated budget is insufficient. The budget they received is only sufficient for just one chiwog like Jangphoogtse.

However, the need for cable car has gone up to Gross National Happiness Commission (GNHC), said the Gup.

The government has release Nu 2.6 mn to have a mule track and the work is ongoing. He said this could partially solve the problem in Jangphoogtse.

“Cable car facility can really bring development in those places. There will not be any cases of goontongs, and people can actually survive,” he added.

Jangphoogtse has more than 75 households and Manam Chemkhar has 25 households.  The primary occupation of the villagers is agriculture.

Khamdang-Ramjar MP Kuenga Loday said they have discussed the need for cable car with the government.

The MP said it has become a necessity to have cable car for them because when their children grows up and reaches higher secondary level of education, it will be difficult for them to walk for hours to reach school and it is the same with the sick people to reach hospitals.

He said installing a cable car will not have much implications except for cost which is expensive, the MP added.

Cable car can be connected from Teotsho gewog to Jangphoogtse and drop to Manam Chemkhar.

Similarly, Boomdeling people shared if they can also have cable car facilities in their places it will benefit the highlanders. Although a part of villages have less number of households, they wish for cable car facilities.

Taphel Tshogpa Tshering Dorji said the villagers have been requesting the government to construct roads but there has been no responses till date. There is only a mule track and it takes them three to four days to reach their destination from their place.

However the main challenge is they share an international border which is why they cannot have road access.

He said if the government can install cable car connecting chiwogs and gewog center, it will bring the communities closer and benefit the highlanders.

Boomdeling Mangmi Tshering Wangchuk said almost 90 percent of farm road construction are done but there are few chiwogs where there are no access to road at all and there is also no possibility to construct them.

“Villagers are requesting to at least have farm roads for them,” said the Mangmi.

He said if there is cable car connecting from Tarphel to Shingphel and Pemaling, the highlanders and the villagers will benefit. Often the sick people are brought in stretches carryid by four to five people. The cable car will not only open doors to sell their agricultural products but it will also help them during emergency cases.

Another issue is they do not have phone network and it has always been one of the challenges to communicate with the people living far off.

He said gewog administration is planning to propose a cable car for highlanders or looking at any other possible measures to ease the lives of people living in the highlands.

However, Boomdeling-Jamkhar MP Dupthop said the entire charm of the village will go away the moment you try to bring in cable car. He said now there are few number of tourist visiting the places because it is different from other.

If you connect these places with cable car for the benefit of few households, the consequences in the long run will be not good, adding, “We cannot afford to install cable car, it is a huge investment,” said Boomdeling MP.

The MP explained the construction of farm roads in Shingphel and Pemaling will be difficult because the policy of construction of road does not allow roads in these places, as the village has very few households.

Taphel chiwog in Bomdeling gewog has a total of 93 households and there are five to seven households in Shingphel and Pemaling chiwogs where there is no farm road. Neither of these chiwogs have electricity or phone connectivity.

This story is published under the Content Grant Scheme of the Department of Information and Media, MoIC.

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