Census issues are a major concern for people in the south, and the problem continues to be a cause for concern for the people who are unhappy to have to endure such a prolonged issue.
Many voters in the south said they are frustrated about the issue that they have had to face for years and continue to do so despite many political promises in the past.
A 37-year-old civil servant Manju from Gelephu said she voted during the National Council (NC) elections for the candidate whom she thought would be capable to solve census issues, but her vote went in vain because the candidate she voted didn’t make it through the NC race.
This time she is going to vote wisely, and for the party that can really solve the issue.
“Many people here are frustrated, and I feel sad for them to travel all the way to Thimphu, but only to come back home without getting it done and wasting a lot of money,” said Manju.
Aruna Rai, a 38-year-old housewife, has no census issues, but her husband from Tareythang under Sarpang does, and she is disappointed.
“At times we get so frustrated thinking about census. So far its fine, but the problem will be bigger when our kids complete class X, and face the need to produce the citizenship identity card to pursue higher studies. My kids will not be able to continue education or work in the future, and same is the case for others like me,” she added.
Some people said that because of the census issues, they are not able to get land kidus, furthermore, without a citizenship identity card (CID) they cannot even apply for loans. Traveling to the capital city Thimphu is not an easy option for them as they cannot afford the frequent travels. Moreover, the road pass made mandatory to them has to be updated every six months in absence of CID.
Basti Khatawara, 34, from Shompangkha, said her mother has a proper census, but she shares hers with her father which is not cleared due to errors that need to be corrected.
“Last year people from census department came here and listed names and details of everyone, and informed that they will let us know when they come back to take photographs. Till now, nobody came here,” Basti Khatiwara said. She waits in anticipation of the issue being solved someday and said, “We have waited for the day to come when we will be relieved of such tensions.”
While talking with couple of Gups under Sarpang Dzongkhag, Gup Nim Dorji Sherpa of Gakidling gewog said people from census division visited last year during which they listed people who had proof of census and updated documents. The census for these people was then upgraded.
For those who didn’t possess updated documents and proof, the situation didn’t change.
The Gakidling Gup said in some cases, the parents didn’t bother to list their children even when they reached adulthood. He added that it’s the negligence by the parents which has caused the problems.
As of last year, some 20% of people in the gewog have census problems. A recent survey shows Gakidling has over 604 households.
Gup Nim Dorji Sherpa said in the case of Gakidling, if the documents fulfilled all the criteria, he then did his best to upgrade the census record.
“People come to me with a hope and keep inquiring for the status, and it is obvious because it is a major concern for them. But all I can do is to send them back with same answers every time.”
Tareythang Gup Dorji Wangdi said so far in the gewog there are some 49 people in the case file regarding census problems.
He said, “Census officials came two years back and they studied the case and listed the names and all necessary information. It’s just that there is no outcome as of now, and we are waiting for the response.”
Balika Gazmer, 41, has been walking to-and-fro between offices and officials for a census since her child was two.
“Now my kid is studying in high school and still the problem couldn’t be solved,” she added.
“Census problem should be looked upon as soon as possible, it has to be made clear since we cannot live like this,” said a resident, Ran Bahadur Mongar.
Tashi Deki / Sarpang