Every year, when the monsoon hits, Chuzagang is cut off from rest of the world. The rains, outrageous in nature and size, always soak and wash away temporary bridges that the villagers build over the infamous Mao River. Subsequent floods destroy the lone feeder road that connects the village with Gelephu town.
Every summer, Chuzagang, a plain gewog under Sarpang dzongkhag, faces a dreadful problem of power blackout – sometimes up to two weeks. Either downpours, or floods, or lightning, or wild elephants destroy the power supply.
Every rainy season, soil erosion causes a huge loss of fertile farmlands. Excessive rains, sometimes, delay transplantation of rice; thereby, affecting the rice yields. And worse, wild elephants, in large numbers, rampage crops and plants.
Well, this year’s monsoon is no different. Like many other places in southern Bhutan, one of the worst flood disasters also hit hard Chuzagang. Over 485 households of the gewog staggered and suffered a huge damage and losses.
For days, again it was cut off after the bridges and feeder road were damaged. The power was affected, farmland damaged, and rice transplantation delayed.
Surprisingly yet, Chuzagang, in understandable worry and frailty aside, has remained absolutely composed and resolute. The villagers didn’t succumb to alarm and cry out for external help. But why? This is exactly what I want to share here today.
Chuzagang is the place where I was born and grew up. Since the time can I remember about my village, the monsoon rains and Mao River have been a constant problem for us, affecting our agricultural and economic activities and even taking away many human lives.
However, after years of difficulties, losses and sufferings, and living in a constant worry and uncertainty, the villagers have learnt to ensure their own well-being. Most importantly, they have developed a culture of preparedness and resilience.
The farmers still collect and store firewood for summer consumption even when there is electricity supply. Before every summer, they buy and store kerosene, petrol and diesel for summer consumption for vehicles and machines (tractors, power tillers and rice mills). They store grains (rice, wheat and millet), refined oil, salt, pickles and other necessities.
Many households or chiwogs still own and maintain a water well or spring water nearby. It ensures clean drinking water when tap water supply is affected or muddied.
Come winter, with renewed hope and optimism, the industrious villagers again build wooden bridges over Moa River and repair and maintain the feeder road. That’s the spirit of the people of Chuzagang. That’s the endurance of my village.
Special note: I am so enormously grateful to our beloved King, Prime Minister and Ministers who during the heavy monsoon visited the affected sites of flood disasters in Gelephu, Phuentsholing and Samtse and consoled the worried and unsettled people. In fact, the country suffered one of the biggest losses but, at the same time, we’ve have also been inspired by the leadership shown.
By riku dhan subba
The writer is from Chuzagang, Gelephu and lives at Motithang in Thimphu. He works in the Department of Information and Media.