Gasa Tshachu (hot spring) used attract more than 200 people commuting between Punakha and the tshachu. It also provided a good opportunity for the people of Khatoed and Khamead gewogs to earn some income by selling their local produce to the visitors.
Like the people in Laya and Lunana have cordyceps as their source of income, Gasa Tshachu was the income-generating source for the people Khatoed and Khamead.
The Tshachu was also completely washed away by a flashflood in 2009, this was the first major calamity noted in the tshachu area by the people. Gasa Tshachu was then re-constructed.
However, the flashflood in August 2021 completely buried the Tshachu, and a loss of income for the people in Khatoed and Khamead.
The incessant downpour on 26 August 2021 had substantially increased the volume of water in sub basin tributaries, which triggered a flashflood along the Mochu River that eroded the whole Tshachu area, including the permanent built structures amounting to Nu 16.80 million.
Gasa Dzongkhag Administration in November 2021 started the mitigation works at Tshachu area, and for now, they were able to identify the original source of the hot spring.
Currently, there is a temporary bathtub installed which fits only a few number of people. This arrangement will be stopped once the actual construction of the hot spring begins.
Gasa Dzongda, Tenzin Chophel, said that knowing the importance of Gasa Tshachu, they are working towards bringing everything in place. The drawing designs are ready, however, it is not a high-end design aimed at international tourists.
“We have put up the budget proposal, and we are hopeful of getting the budget soon. As soon as we get the budget, we will start the construction. It would be difficult to comment on the budget of the whole project because there are several aspects to the development in the Tshachu. For instance, the road network. And it is high time that the guest house needs major renovation,” he added.
He further said that before building the infrastructure in the main Tshachu, there are plans to bring development around the peripheral of Tshachu area, such as a construction of playground. Therefore, the Dzongda said the exact amount needed to make the entire Tshachu up and running depends on many factors.
“There are certain challenges we are facing at the moment. We are facing the difficulty in convincing the government on our entire plan because we do not have the aerial photography.”
According to the Gasa Dzongkhag Administration, the designs and plans would definitely prevent the Gasa Tshachu from future flashfloods.
There are lots of uncertainties, the Dzongda said, “Which is why we cannot promise on the completion date, where the Tshachu would be operational. Nevertheless, we are expecting to complete the construction fully by the winter next year, probably before the Royal Highland Festival.”
The local people will also given lands wherein they can construct temporary sheds to run their business. For now, there are a few shops in the area, but it is as good as being closed due to there being no customers.
For now, the local people of Khatoed and Khamead are hoping for the completion of the Tshachu and they can make a better living once the business resumes.