One of the oldest towns in the country, Golabaazar in Samtse, is slowly degrading while the fate of its survival is being decided.
The residents say the town which was booming in the early 40s started to degrade when the government stopped collecting taxes in 1992. Since then, numerous problems have crept into the lives of the locals.
“Because tax collection stopped, thram could not be allocated. We have no clue as to why and who stopped collecting taxes,” said a 73-year old resident, Laxmi Prasad.
The houses in the area are ancient and on the verge of collapse but the residents can do little to revive the town.
“If any natural disaster like fire occurs in the town, we would have nowhere to go,” said a businessman adding that the community has therefore built a small shed where fire extinguishers are kept.
“We cannot repair the buildings without thram,” said another resident.
Meanwhile in the center of the town, an undergoing construction has been stopped.
As the roof started leaking, the owner of the house, D.P Ghalley got permission from the Dzongda to get new roofing. However, the construction was stopped on the pretext that the height of the attic was increased.
And this is just the beginning of their problems.
As there is no thram, the residents cannot get security clearance.
“Children have to be sent to private schools and we cannot afford that,” said a business woman adding that the drop-out rate among the children living in Golabaazar is very high.
“Even if we get an economic opportunity we cannot grab it as we do not have identity cards. New licenses are not allowed so the town cannot be expanded,” she said.
After Bhutan Broadcasting Service ran an article on the town, the works and human settlement secretary, Dasho Dr Sonam Tenzin sat down with the people and discussed the issues.
The Samtse Dzongda, Karma Weezir, said, “The government needs to review and streamline the issue and if the residents are entitled, then their problems should be considered. It is high time to take a decision.”
However, a local administrator said that by location it does not deserve to called a town and that only by virtue of the fact that it has been there since a long time, a review is necessary. He also said that most probably during the National Cadastral Re-survey Program the issue would be reviewed.
The works and human settlement minister, Yeshey Zimba, said it is an old standing issue. “We have to find out what went wrong and sort out what needs to be,” he said.
“The two issues with Golabaazar are – the land is not registered on the residents’ thram and the government has decided to shift the town to Belbotey.