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Kuensel Online - Mar, 27/09/2022 - 7:34am

Foreign Minister Dr Tandi Dorji addresses the general debate of the UN General Assembly’s seventy-seventh session yesterday

Categorie: Bhutan

JICA funds new Royal Centre for Infectious Disease

Kuensel Online - Mar, 27/09/2022 - 7:34am

Nima Wangdi  

The Gross National Happiness Commission (GNHC) and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Bhutan signed a 2.994 billion Yen grant agreement to construct the Royal Centre for Infectious Diseases (RCID) at Gidakom Hospital yesterday.

The project, including the procurement of medical equipment for the centre, is worth about Ngultrum 1.7 billion.

The note on the project was exchanged between the Royal Bhutanese Embassy and the Embassy of Japan in New Delhi and was signed between the two ambassadors on September 22.

The centre will be a Centre for Excellence for providing high-quality services focused on preventing and managing infectious diseases, emerging infectious diseases, and unforeseen pandemics like Covid-19. It is an initiative of Lyonpo Dechen Wangmo.

According to the joint press release from JICA Bhutan office and health ministry, the centre is named as Royal Centre for Infectious Diseases, a testament to blessings and commitment from the highest level to uphold the health and safety of every Bhutanese in the country.

The centre will have state-of-the-art facilities and comprehensive clinical and public health capabilities in infectious diseases prevention, control, and management. 

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“It is envisaged to play a lead role nationally and regionally in protecting the health of Bhutanese and beyond,” the press release stated.

Lyonpo Dechen Wangmo, during the signing, said that the Covid-19 pandemic claimed millions of lives, disrupted societies, devastated economies, and taught everyone a lesson. “The spread of infectious diseases from animals to humans is inevitable and building resilient and sustainable health systems that can withstand public health disasters of any magnitude in the future is our utmost responsibility,” lyonpo said.

Chief Representative JICA Bhutan, Tomoyuki Yamada, said that the centre’s strategic importance is not only establishing a centre for providing high-quality treatment services, but also serving as a human resource development base with knowledge of infectious disease control.

“Bhutan already has other capable key institutions such as RCDC and KGUMSB and establishment of this centre means Bhutan’s health system will become remarkably resilient against future pandemics,” he said.

Tomoyuki Yamada also said that JICA, and Japan are very proud of and pleased for having an opportunity to work with the health ministry on such a historic and flagship project in Bhutan.

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A team of Japanese experts visited Bhutan in November 2021 to conduct preparatory surveys for the construction. Several virtual meetings were conducted between the officials from the health ministry, JICA headquarters and Japanese experts.

Lyonpo Dechen Wangmo, in an earlier interview, said the centre would have outpatient and in-patient departments along with an infectious disease laboratory and research components with negative pressure rooms. “There will be three structures built at the present Gidakom hospital premises. Each will be three-storeyed.”

The Royal Centre for Infectious Disease (RCID) will be ready in the 13th Plan.

Categorie: Bhutan

Two-day medical education event held

Kuensel Online - Mar, 27/09/2022 - 7:33am

Yam Kumar Poudel 

To enhance medical knowledge, the Ministry of Health and Indian Military Training Team (IMTRAT) conducted a joint two-day Continuing Medical Education (CME) event at the Faculty of Traditional Medicine that ended on September 25.

Considering the existential menace of cancer in Bhutan, the theme for the event was ‘Technological advances in cancer with special reference to cervical cancer- a skill-based approach.’

Sowa Lyonpo highlighted the concerns on cervical cancer affecting the population of Bhutan and the remedies to control and eradicate it.

The event had been an important activity to share experiences and enhance knowledge between the medical fraternity of IMTRAT and MoH, Bhutan.

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Ambassador of India to Bhutan, Sudhakar Dalela said that Indo-Bhutan cooperation has been a great approach in all spheres. “Bhutan’s initiative in the eradication of cervical cancer is commendable.”

The two days event was facilitated by 19 specialists and speakers from India, with around 130 participants.

The event was categorized into sub-sections such as childhood cancer, cervical cancer, lung cancer and oral cancer.

The CME was launched in Thimphu in  2016.

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Categorie: Bhutan

Bridge collapse cuts off Thrimshing villages

Kuensel Online - Mar, 27/09/2022 - 7:33am

Neten Dorji | Trashigang

People of more than 200 households in Berdungma, Thungkhar, Ramchongma, and Yamkhar villages of Thimshing have been affected after Nyera Ama Chhu washed away their only link with the gewog more than three months ago in June.  The vehicle movement on the farm road stopped after the bridge collapsed.

The residents of Berdungma, Thungkhar, Yamkhar, and Ramchongma have to walk at least an hour along Nyera Ama Chhu on a temporary bridge to get to the other side of the road.

A villager of Bedungma, Pema said that the area was still witnessing continuous landslides since Sunday night. “Many of us are suffering after the Bailey bridge collapse in June this year of continuous rainfall. We are anxiously waiting for the bridge to be fixed soon,” he said.

Elderly citizens and those sick have been hit hard by the bridge collapse. In case of an emergency, they have to trans-shift to reach the nearest hospital.

Villagers said that their lives have become difficult. “We are worried about when we will get a new bridge since we have to trans-shift everything and it is difficult,” said a villager Namgay Dorji. “The bridge makes our life easy to travel to both gewog and Wamrong town.”

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The bridge connects the two chiwogs with the rest of the gewog.

“Access to the market, transporting construction materials, and other things is a big challenge,” said a villager, Dorji from Berdungma.  He said the two chiwogs are in dire need of a bridge, the gewog administration has no budget in the current fiscal year to reconstruct the bridge. “Constructing a bridge requires a huge budget.”

Local residents see the construction of a bridge over the stream as the only solution. “Without the bridge over the stream, several vehicles remained stranded on either side of the stream every time,” said a resident Pema Wangchuk. “People trans-shift every time. It is inconvenient for elderly people.”

He said that they are hopeful to fix the bridge before the current government ends its term.

Thungkhar-Berdungma Chiwog tshogpa, Langa Dorji said the bridge used to benefit villagers on the other side of the river.

“After the bridge collapsed, it became difficult for villagers to seek services from the gewog centre,” he said. “Villagers drive for around five hours via Samdrupjongkhar-Trashigang highway to get there. But, due to the long distance and poor road conditions, not many prefer travelling along that route.”

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He said sometimes the road remains blocked during the monsoon.

Villagers said that they requested the gewog to build a bailey bridge to connect the gewog.

“The river has been narrowed at the site of the bridge and because of high-pressure build-up, the bridge might have collapsed,” said a villager.

The need for a new bridge in place of the one that was washed away was also discussed in a recent dzongkhag tshogdu (DT).

Thrimshing Gup Yegay Dorji said that the gewog administration has written letters to the Ministry of Agriculture and  Ministry of Works and Human Settlement on the need for a bridge.

“Officials from the Department of Roads visited the site. They are working on cost estimation and other related work,” said the gup.

The collapsed bridge was constructed six years ago with a budget of more than Nu. 7.3 million.

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Categorie: Bhutan

New Clock Tower rising 

Kuensel Online - Mar, 27/09/2022 - 7:32am

Lekey Zangmo  

The makeover of Thimphu’s iconic clock tower nears completion amid varying public views.  Not less than Nu 3 million has been spent on the project so far.

The tower has been repainted, and stone slabs and stormwater drains are being replaced. The clogged drains were cleared.

The damaged sitting galleries, including steps that run through, have been renovated. The sitting galleries have been repainted bright rainbow.

The tower is much simpler in design now but it has lost none of its aesthetic grandeur which lent it a solemn presence in the heart of the city.

The broken fountain pool that posed threat to people has been removed. Also, the broken benches and Mani Dangrim are gone.

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Among the new additions are the electrical lights that exude calming aura at night.

Shopkeepers say that they have been keen to see the changes and were surprised by the changes. To them, it is the same old tower yet so very different.

For Pema, though, the change is a huge disappointment. “It is nowhere near like the design that I saw circulating on facebook.”

But for a young boy who has been following the development closely, the change is exciting. The wise spaces will be ideal for a quick bike ride in the evening.

The clock tower has been used as an entertainment platform for a long time. It is Thimphu’s town hall center, an open theatre, and the great arena.

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Here is the meeting place, the true landmark of the fast-changing city. It is here Bhutan’s young talents are discovered in the many spheres that make up the country’s national life. Music, art, campaigns, and entertainment find their home here at the foot of the steadfast sentinel that is the Clock Tower.

Categorie: Bhutan

Watching our waste

Kuensel Online - Mar, 27/09/2022 - 7:31am

As picnickers returned home on the Blessed Rainy Day last week, a large number of plastics, PET bottles, wrappers, and other non-biodegradable rubbish were left lying around in many of the popular picnic spots in the capital. 

In some areas, volunteers have only cleaned the areas several days ago. Despite the efforts to manage waste better, there seems to be little impact.

Bhutan did not receive any tourists for more than two years during the pandemic. But we know that during this period waste along trekking trails did not get any lesser. In fact, in some places, it got worse. 

The situation could get worse in Thimphu with more holidays and festivals ahead. Every year, many stalls selling all kinds of food, goods and clothes line up along the streets, most of them spewing out a large amount of waste every day. 

Do we need them? The answer is that the people want it. Many of us are more interested in these stalls than the tshechu. Interestingly we are finding it difficult – in fact, it has been impossible – to find a compromise between the contrasting imagery of the sacred dances and the bazaar. 

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The issue seems to be the changing concept of entertainment and the way it is organised. And, if the public initiative is not having a positive impact – or even ruining – the atmosphere of our traditional festivals, it seems to call for a healthier initiative from the government.  

The idea is not to kill the fun but to introduce the concept of healthy fun and a sense of hygiene in crowd entertainment. Every public gathering need not be accompanied by great volumes of unattended garbage. All we need, at this stage, are facilities as simple as waste disposal and toilets. 

It means that thromde, dzongkhag and drungkhag authorities and the licensing authorities have to provide the space, infrastructure, rules, and discipline. 

Societies around the world organise a diverse range of outdoor entertainment that is attended by millions of people. They do that without uncontrolled garbage, with toilet and water facilities, and with safety ensured for families with children. Why can’t we do that?

The problem seems to be worsening in our rural communities as well. Even as the villagers in Khandrothang in Samtse gewog try to keep livestock away from their landfill, we hear of Punakha farmers losing cattle to toxic waste at their landfill. With the landfills left open, farmers report their cattle often scavenge on toxic materials and die. 

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The gewogs say they don’t have either the money or the expertise to deal with something like this. But something needs to be done. In some cases, a decent barbed wire fence could help. Reducing waste and recycling at home could be effective to reduce the burden on landfills. 

We cannot let the waste problem get out of hand. We have pledged our guests a high-end experience in Bhutan. With waste sprawling in our rural communities and across our popular sites, the experience would be anything but high-end. 

Categorie: Bhutan

Chhiya shrinks, worries locals

Kuensel Online - Mar, 27/09/2022 - 7:30am

Neten Dorji | Kanglung

Nestled below the Udzorong GC road, the mystical lake of Chhiya village in Trashigang is shrinking. It has picked pace recently.

Located around 7km south of Khenthongmani and north of Udzorong gewog centre, it is serene around the lake.

Locals say it used to be a huge water body and they took more than 15 minutes to do a round. They say that it used to be full round the year. Today, it has come far below the level it used to be in winter.

The deep green lake becomes smaller by the year, worrying the residents of Chhiya who believe that the lake is a neighbour of Meme Dangling, a powerful deity of the region.

Locals say that over the decades the water level has been dropping. They believe that maybe the lake is leaving for some other place for good.

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An elderly resident, Tshering Namgay from Chhiya said that the lake was sacred to the community.

“This whole area used to be filled with water then,” he recalled, pointing to a large bowl-like depression etched to the gentle slope that descends to the main Udzorong village and drops to the Drangmechhu. “There were migratory birds visiting annually.”

He said that considering the significance of the lake, most people clean the lake every year.

Villagers said that the lake began drying soon after the locals fenced the lake to protect it from being polluted.

“We are worried if it is an indication of ill fortune in the community,” a villager, Dendup. “There was nothing much we could do to revive it rather than keeping clean.”

He said that no one knew what caused the lake to dry up. Some residents attribute it to the rising temperature and impact of climate change in the locality.

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Residents of Chhiya seek blessing from the lake and the deity grants them bountiful harvest and healthy livestock. “We had been conducting a ritual to appease the tshomen to bring timely rain and also a bountiful harvest,” said a farmer, Jigme Wangchuk.

He said a few years ago, forest officials and residents of Chhiya planted trees around the lake to revive it. “Migratory birds used to come. I do not see them anymore.”

Locals say tourists also visit the lake and the place is a popular picnic spot for students and locals. There were three lakes in the area. However, two dried up. People are worried that the current lake might dry up like them.

According to Udzorong Gup Dorji Tshering the gewog administration and forest officials have attempted to revive the lake.

“I proposed a budget and got about Nu 1.2 million from the European Union funding agency to reclaim the lake around 2018. But the community has rejected the proposal to fence and make a recreation centre,” said the gup.

He said the lake could be drying like any water source due to climate change.

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Categorie: Bhutan

Picture story

Kuensel Online - Mar, 27/09/2022 - 7:29am

The Bhutan national under-19 cricket team lost to host Oman yesterday in the friendly pre-tournament match. The team will play the World Cup Qualifiers (Asia) that will start on September 29.  

Oman made 340 runs with the fall of eight wickets in 50 overs. Bhutan was all out with 61 runs in 28.2 overs. 

Categorie: Bhutan

Picture story

Kuensel Online - Mar, 27/09/2022 - 7:28am

Ugyen Academy in Punakha will receive new astro turf in the next five months. The groundbreaking ceremony of the new Bhutan Football Federation (BFF) astro turf  was held at  Ugyen Academy yesterday. It is funded by the FIFA Forward Development Programme. The programme’s Manager Francis Molasoko attended the event along with staff and students of Ugyen Academy and officials from BFF. 

Categorie: Bhutan

BoB imposed Nu 6.2M for system failure 

Kuensel Online - Mar, 27/09/2022 - 7:28am

Thukten Zangpo 

The Royal Monetary Authority (RMA) has imposed Nu 6.2 million (M) on Bank of Bhutan (BoB) for the system failure for about three days earlier this month.

An official from the bank said that the bank is still negotiating the penalty amount with the authority.

The bank’s both offline and online banking services could not be accessed because of the system failure.

Many frustrated users poured their complaints on social media after they were unable to withdraw money from the ATMs, or transfer money through the bank’s most used application mBoB.

Unlike in the past, many people after the pandemic do not carry cash in hand now and rely on online banking services. The system failure reportedly ceased all business activities.

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It was learned that the bank’s system failed because one of the bank’s servers was burnt out because of power fluctuation.

The bank on its official Facebook page on September 6 notified its clients that due to technical problems the bank was unable to provide service to customers at the branches. “We are working towards restoring the service as soon as possible and will notify you once we are ready for service.”

It added that the bank was trying its best to restore mBoB and other delivery channels at the earliest.

The bank also shared it on its official Facebook page apologising for the inconvenience.

While the system is in place, the mini statement and statement generation through MBoB is still down.

As of yesterday, the bank has more than 400,000 clients.

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According to the RMA’s payment system report 2021, the total volume of domestic digital payment transactions in 2021 grew by 111 percent from 76.79M in 2020 to 161.73M with equivalent growth in the value by 60 percent from Nu 447.84 billion (B) to Nu 717.88B.

Categorie: Bhutan

Poor landfill management leaves residents of Umtoedkha fuming- Punakha 

The Bhutanese Expression - Lun, 26/09/2022 - 3:34pm

Residents of Umtoedkha in Lingmukha Gewog of Punakha have long been bothered by the landfill site in their village, which is poorly managed. According to them, the garbage heaps attract cattle to consume toxic wastes that result in their deaths. The chiwog is now requesting the concerned agencies to address the matter at the earliest.

It is a common sight to see cattle feeding upon the trash from dawn to dusk every day. The animals easily enter the waste disposal site since it does not have a proper fencing system. The barbed wire fences have been erected around the landfill site. However, it is not much of a help.

Add to this, without a caretaker, the main entrance to the dump yard is open all the time. Recently, some employees from a waste segregating company were at the site. But they were troubled by the cattle scavenging on the wastes.

Residents recount losing 16 cattle to the harmful wastes and 14 others slaughtered at the landfill by miscreants since 2015.

“Eleven cattle were found slaughtered and stolen from the landfill sites in 2015. We even got the flesh of three cattle, but could not arrest the perpetrators. Our cattle are directly going to the landfill site right after being released from the village. But when they return, they bring along all waste items, polluting the village,” narrated the Tshogpa, Kinley Dorji.

The Tshogpa further went on to say that on behalf of the chiwog, he has made several requests to the gewog and the municipal to well maintain the landfill.

“In other places, we see the landfills are well managed with good fencing system and a caretaker. But here, we don’t have a caretaker and a good fencing system. Earlier, the landfill had a caretaker but citing water shortage, he left. We have requested the Dzongkhag Tshogdu to recruit a caretaker and build proper fences around the landfill.”

A resident from Umtoedkha, Zeko told BBS that his three cattle died due to the consumption of toxic wastes like plastic and glass pieces.

“The landfill is located in the midst of the forest where we let loose our cattle. So, the cattle directly go there and end up eating all kinds of waste. Just a month ago, three cattle of mine died after eating waste.”

Since the dump yard is located two kilometres from the settlements alongside the Lingmukha Gewog Centre Road, villagers have also voiced health concerns and the growing dog menace, fed by the garbage.

“All the waste items including rotten meats are dumped there. So, dogs bring them nearby our homes. Dogs also bring diapers. Likewise, there are countless dogs at the landfill, causing safety issues,” said another resident in Umtoedkha, Cheki Dorji.

Some residents also shared the struggle under the stench of toxic landfill.

“Wild boars are entering the landfill and bring along the wastes in our surroundings. Also, we have to travel via the landfill area to town and since houseflies are omnipresent there, I worry about my health,” added Nima Wangmo, also a resident in Umtoekha.

Some others sought relocation of the landfill.

“We have given the No-Objection-Letter to construct the dump yard. But according to that letter, they should maintain it properly. However, since they didn’t follow that letter, we are faced with problems. Animals of Guma Gewog and Martalungchhu under Thedtsho Gewog in Wangdue are affected too. We would be grateful if the landfill is either relocated or improved,” pointed out Tshering Penjor.

The matter was at the heart of the Dzongkhag Tshogdu meeting recently. The house resolved to construct a landfill each in every gewog of Punakha.

Regarding the landfill site at Umtoekha, the Khuruthang Municipal Office has no plans to relocate it.

But plans are in place for the landfill to receive a thorough makeover, which includes the construction of retention walls. It will be prioritised in the next Five-Year Plan.

About five truckloads of wastes from Barp, Guma and Lingmukha gewogs, and Khuruthang throm end up in the landfill every day.

Changa Dorji, Punakha

Edited by Pema Lhaden

The post Poor landfill management leaves residents of Umtoedkha fuming- Punakha  appeared first on BBSCL.

Categorie: Bhutan

Need for a youth centre in Tsirang

The Bhutanese Expression - Lun, 26/09/2022 - 3:33pm

Youth are considered the driving force for change. And for them to bring about that change, they need platforms to come together and spend their time productively. As such, youth in Tsirang, during Bhutan Centre for Media and Democracy’s youth summit, raised the need for a youth centre in the district.

More than 30 students from three central schools of Mendrelgang, Damphu and Tsirang Toed attended the youth summit.

“Youth are seen roaming around during vacation and weekends. If the District Administration can construct a youth centre, it will keep them engaged in reading, they will get more exposure to the outside world. It will also allow them to browse the internet and enrich their knowledge,” said Kusal Gajmer, a student from Damphu Central School taking part in the youth summit.

The district and gewog officials present during the youth summit also supported the proposal.

“For the interest of our youth, we will put up the discussion regarding a need for a youth centre in the district in the upcoming Gewog Tshogde. And for further deliberation and endorsement, the gewog will forward the agenda in the next Dzongkhag Tshogdu for endorsement,” said Tsirang Toed Gup Nanda Lal Kharel.

The Tsirang District Administration’s Planning Officer Karma Wangmo said the district will first carry out a study of the need for the centre. “It is the responsibility of the district administration to seek funds to construct the youth centre or to include it in the 13th Five Year Plan. For that, firstly, the district administration has to carry out a need analysis of the centre because the centre may become useless if they do not use it later. If we find it necessary, the district administration will plan accordingly.”

Today there are 13 youth centres including four youth-friendly integrated service centres across the country.

A youth centre usually has facilities such as libraries, internet services and indoor games facilities. And an integrated youth-friendly service centre provides health and counselling services as well.

Unlike in the past, this time the BCMD’s youth summit saw participants from stakeholders such as Tsirang district administration, local leaders, gewog administrative officers and teachers. This according to the CSO is to promote youth-friendly local governance through youth engagement.

“They can contribute in terms of ideas or feedback or in community services. So, it is for them to recognize that they have a role in their community. We want our young people to be active and engaged in the community and not to be passive recipients of services from the government,” said BCMD’s Executive Director Chencho Lhamu (PhD).

The BCMD has been initiating the youth summit since 2015 to engage youth during the summer vacation to nurture and bring about positive change in society.

Pema Tshewang, Tsirang

Edited by Phub Gyem

The post Need for a youth centre in Tsirang appeared first on BBSCL.

Categorie: Bhutan

Cultivation of dragon fruit gaining popularity- P/Gatshel

The Bhutanese Expression - Lun, 26/09/2022 - 3:21pm

Growing Dragon fruit which began as a relatively new practice for farmers is gradually becoming more popular in some parts of the country. In Pema Gatshel, a trained farmer is now planning to grow the fruit on a larger scale after realizing there is a good business prospect in cultivating the fruit. Dragon fruit is regarded as a healthy food with high vitamin C, fibres and antioxidants.

Thirty-three-year-old Ugyen Chophel from Nangkor village in Shumar Gewog is among the first few farmers in Pema Gatshel to try their hands at growing dragon fruit two years ago, on a pilot basis.

Although Ugyen cultivates other crops including vegetables, the focus has now shifted more towards growing dragon fruit. And rightly so. Unlike other fruits, dragon fruit has a long harvest period, from August to October. The fruit has a good shelf life. And each plant, on average, gives about 20 kilograms of fruit.

With only five households growing the fruit in the district today, there is no dearth of customers for Ugyen.

“There are a lot of plus points in growing this fruit. We can harvest the fruit up to five times every season. Moreover, I didn’t face any problems in selling the fruit. Instead, I am unable to meet the demand currently,” he said.

Considering the economic potential, the agriculture ministry started providing saplings to trained farmers in 2017. The pink type is the only variety released in the country for now.

As a member of the cactus family, Dragon fruit has a high tolerance to drought and is known to thrive well in poor soil.

Aware of all these facts, Ugyen started raising saplings to expand his orchard.

“There is no problem in marketing the fruit. So, I started raising these saplings to expand my orchard. It doesn’t require any extra effort. All that the plant need is a post to climb.”

Ugyen harvested more than 50 kilograms of fruit so far, this season, from 50 plants. He sells the fruit within the village and to the staff of Nangkor Central School. A kilogram of the fruit earns him Nu 300.

Thinley Dorji, Pema Gatshel

Edited by Phub Gyem

The post Cultivation of dragon fruit gaining popularity- P/Gatshel appeared first on BBSCL.

Categorie: Bhutan

Without a reliable drinking water for about two years and counting- P/Gatshel

The Bhutanese Expression - Lun, 26/09/2022 - 2:42pm

It has been about two years of living without a reliable supply of drinking water. The problem faced by the residents of Dechhenling-Gonpawong chiwog in Dechhenling Gewog of Pema Gatshel started after their water pump broke down. They are now asking the gewog to either repair the pump or replace it.

A shopkeeper in Bapta village, 45-year-old Pema Tshewang drives to Shingchongri for water two to three times every week.

“Water is the main problem here. We must carry it in the vehicle whether it is winter or summer. I use to transport water twice a week.”

It is Pema today and a few weeks from now, his village mates will also do the same. Their seasonal source will dry up soon after the rainy season is gone.

“We are facing difficulty without drinking water. We have to fill our containers when it is available from our nearby sources. We use to get rainwater for washing and all,” said Sonam Choden, in Bapta.

“The water problem is not the same as in the past. During the winter, when all the sources dry up, we face a shortage every time. Many people fetch water in their vehicles,” added Thukten Sherab, the Dechhenling-Gonpawoong Tshogpa.

This was not the case some two years ago. They had a water reservoir and pump constructed in 2018 by spending more than Nu 9 M. The longstanding water problem in the village was finally solved bringing respite to the 200 families. But it did not last very long. The pump broke down in 2020 leaving the chiwog dry again.

“I think that the water flagship project would also help us. But moreover, it would benefit us immediately if the wiring of the pump is changed instead of having just maintenance,” the Tshogpa added.

“When there was a water pump it benefited us in the past. We had to fetch water in our vehicle after the pump got damaged. If this gets maintained, it would benefit all the villagers here,” said Pema Tshewang, in Bapta.

According to the gewog administration, they have tried maintaining the damaged pump by bringing electricians from DCCL but couldn’t restore it. The gewog says other agencies were also approached in the last two years. The gewog is now looking for other alternatives.

“And another solution is, we have submitted a proposal for the water flagship project. We have a plan to have a budget allocation from the government and we are hopeful we can start it by next year,” said Jimba Phuntsho, the Dechhenling Gup.

With the dry season around the corner and their problem without a definite solution, villagers have to rely on barrels and jerrycans to store the water. The containers take up every available space in the house while the waterless taps lay broken and covered in bushes. They can only hope that the pump gets repaired before the water flagship programme gets through.

Thinley Dorji, Pema Gatshel

Edited by Sonam

The post Without a reliable drinking water for about two years and counting- P/Gatshel appeared first on BBSCL.

Categorie: Bhutan

Blacktopping Kilikhar-Drepung farm road to start by next month- Monggar MP

The Bhutanese Expression - Lun, 26/09/2022 - 2:22pm

Farm roads are considered a lifeline for the villagers. However, some farm roads are a nightmare for the users. One such road is the Kilikhar-Phujurlaptsa farm road in Monggar. Waiting for the promised blacktopping works, the condition of the road has deteriorated over time. Residents now want their member of parliament to fulfil her pledge. 

The summer is gone but the danger has not yet left. The farm road connecting Kilikhar and Phujurlaptsa has not been maintained for a long time. This is because the Monggar MP pledged to blacktop the 12-kilometre-long Kilikhar-Drepung farm road during the bye-election last year.

Riding on this pledge, the gewog administration did not maintain the road. But the pledge took its own time and the residents have been suffering.

“We have included in the gewog plan to maintain the farm road during the time of second local government. However, since the party candidate promised to blacktop the farm road we have dropped the plan of maintenance,” said Tshering Dorji, the Kilikhar Tshogpa.

“As the MP has promised to blacktop the farm road we have cast our votes for her. The term of the government is about to finish but we haven’t seen the blacktopping of the farm road. We are still hopeful that the MP would soon blacktop the farm road before her term ends,” said Sangay Thinley, in Bumpazor in Drepung Gewog.

The Zunglen chiwog Tshogpa, Rinchen Zangmo says the blacktopping will benefit the farmers in marketing their products. Today, most of the farm produce are rotting in the fields due to the bad road. “The MP said the blacktopping work will begin soon but we are yet to see it done,” she said.

However, it’s not all bad news for the residents. Come next summer, the danger of using the farm road will be history. MP Karma Lhamo says the pledged blacktopping work will start by the end of next month.

MP Karma Lhamo

“The central government has prioritized to blacktop the farm road as it will benefit many chiwogs. We have approved more than Nu 47 M in this financial year for the blacktopping work. The Regional DOR Office based at Lingmethang has also awarded the contract work and we are planning to start the work the next month,” said the MP.

Snaking around villages, the road will benefit parts of Drepung, Monggar, Thangrong and Kengkhar Gewogs. And for the residents of Drepung Gewog, they will no longer have to travel via Gyalpoizhing to reach Monggar.

Sonam Tshering, Monggar     

Edited by Sonam     

The post Blacktopping Kilikhar-Drepung farm road to start by next month- Monggar MP appeared first on BBSCL.

Categorie: Bhutan

Picture story

Kuensel Online - Lun, 26/09/2022 - 7:28am

  As a gesture of gratitude for opening the border gate, Jaigaon business community hosted a cultural event for Bhutanese officials on September 24. Representatives from Jaigaon Merchant’s Association, Jaigaon Hardware & Electrical Merchant’s Welfare Association, Jaigaon Transporters Welfare Association and Bengal Chemists & Druggists Association-Jaigaon Zone organised the programme. Bhutanese officials also thanked them for their continuous support and friendship.        

Categorie: Bhutan

New labs for quality mushrooms, orchids

Kuensel Online - Lun, 26/09/2022 - 7:27am

Jigmi Wangdi

A mushroom spawn lab, and orchid micro-propagation lab were inaugurated at Serbithang, Thimphu on September 24.  Agriculture Minister Yeshey Penjor and Minister Counsellor, Head of Cooperation, European Union  Daniel Hachez inaugurated the facilities.

The new lab will develop pure cultures, develop mother culture, produce and supply mother spawn-to-spawn production unit at the National Mushroom Centre (NMC), regional units, and private spawn producers, produce and supply cultivation spawn with a focus on sawdust spawn for shiitake mushroom cultivation and conduct research and trials; and variety release, among others.

NMC Program Director Dawa Penjor said that the facility will go a long way in improving services to mushroom growers and encouraging new mushroom growers to make Bhutan self-sufficient in mushroom production.

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“With the organic brand, we are hopeful to find niche markets in countries like India and Thailand,” he said.

Dawa Penjor said that NMC has a variety of seeds but most farmers are more familiar with two kinds, which are normally planted on wood or in soil. “Farmers are more accustomed to planting these seeds as they know more about its production process and it is mostly what people buy,” he said.

The program Director added that farmers do not use new seeds as they are not familiar with how to produce them and even if they can produce the mushroom, most people do not buy them.

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According to Dawa Penjor, the structure will also serve as a centre to train numerous staff. “We train staff from other regional agriculture centres, extension officers and mushroom growers. We have recently started training for De-Suung Skilling Program and Skill4Life program.”

The construction of the lab, worth Nu 23.68 million, was delayed owing to the Covid-19 pandemic. Additionally, a fund of Nu 2.49 Million was also given to procure lab equipment.

The NMC was founded in 1984.

Orchid Micro-Propagation Laboratory

The micro-propagation lab, built with EU support of Nu 5.831 million, located at the Royal Botanical Garden was established to incorporate mass propagation through the technique of micro-propagation of orchids.

Currently, some of the wild species of native orchids are threatened with over-harvesting and exploitation since they are considered a delicacy in Bhutanese cuisine. Some of the native orchid species are also under the IUCN red list category of ‘Critically Endangered’ such as the Paphiopedilum farrieanum (Lady Slipper orchid).

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The laboratory could produce thousands of seedlings from a single orchid seed pod without having to collect thousands of plants from the wild. The orchid seedlings produced will be distributed to the communities that want to do orchid farming and enhance their livelihoods. The seedlings will also be displayed and conserved at the Royal Botanical Garden for education and awareness.

Orchids have great potential in their commercial value. Orchids are sort after for their medicinal qualities and are used in cosmetics owing to their benefits in skin care. There are 14 species of orchid plants which are endemic to Bhutan.

Categorie: Bhutan

Thai operators welcome Bhutan’s tourism policy

Kuensel Online - Lun, 26/09/2022 - 7:26am

Rinzin Wangchuk 

Many tour operators in Thailand sought clarification on the new tourism strategy and questioned the hike in the sustainable development fee (SDF) at a tourism promotion event in Bangkok.

The ambassador of Bhutan to Thailand, Kinzang Dorji, clarified that the new tourism policy and strategies will provide greater flexibility in planning and choice of services for visitors in place of the packaged tours under the earlier system of minimum daily package rate (MDPR).

Tour operators in Thailand have been organising and marketing Bhutan for many years to both domestic and foreign tourists.

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With the adoption of the Tourism Levy Act 2022 by the Parliament in June this year, the government removed MDPR, which included the royalty of USD 65, and introduced USD 200 SDF for each visitor per day.

“This system in place will also enable visitors to engage with their service providers directly and pay for their services accordingly providing new opportunities for service providers to offer innovative new products and programmes,” Ambassador Kinzang Dorji said. “Overall, this will enhance the travel experience of visitors and the service standards of the industry.”

Organised by the Royal Bhutanese Embassy in Bangkok on September 23 following the official reopening of borders, the event was attended by more than 100 people working in Thailand Tourism Industry, Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), Thai Travel Agents Association (TTAA), Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) and airlines. “Perhaps, the event saw one of the biggest gatherings of tour operators in Bangkok for Bhutan,” an embassy official said.

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Ambassador said that tourism has been and will continue to be an important economic sector for Bhutan. He also said that the break caused by the Covid-19 pandemic has given time to examine the way Bhutan implemented its tourism policy of “high value, low volume” and find ways to revamp the sector in the best possible way.

Ambassador Kinzang Dorji said that Bhutan has been recognised as a ‘global hotspot, carbon negative country, pristine environment with over 70 percent forest cover, rich cultural heritage, unique national identity, beautiful snow-capped mountains, clear blue skies, clean rivers, beautiful lakes, governance based on Gross National Happiness (GNH) and regarded as number one travel destination for 2020 by the Lonely Planet.

“Yet, there are also undeniable issues and challenges such as; congestion and overconsumption, undue pressure on our resources and ecological systems impacting severely on our sustainability which is at the forefront of all our developmental agenda,” he said. “Therefore, the reforms we are taking today are conscious and deliberate considerations for Bhutan’s future and its future generations.”

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The ambassador said that Bhutan is looking forward to welcoming visitors from Thailand since Thailand is an important source market for Bhutan’s tourism industry and has been playing a pivotal role in the inbound tourism of Bhutan.

The average number of Thai tourists before the pandemic visiting Bhutan every year was about 4,000. “But most of tourists visiting Bhutan travel through or from Thailand,” Ambassador Kinzang Dorji told Kuensel.

He also unveiled the new Brand Bhutan which was inaugurated formally by Lyonchhen Dr Lotay Tshering in Thimphu on September 22.

The ambassador highlighted that tourism is a strategic asset of the nation for preserving and enhancing Bhutan’s social, cultural, environmental,  and economic dimensions, and protecting the country’s cultural and natural assets.

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Ambassador Kinzang Dorji said that Thai tour operators were very positive as long as Bhutan could live up to their expectations in terms of providing services and facilities.

Meanwhile, of the 120 international visitors Bhutan received when it reopened its border on September 23, 34 foreigners arrived from Bangkok.

Categorie: Bhutan

Dental department to shift to Taba 

Kuensel Online - Lun, 26/09/2022 - 7:23am

Nima Wangdi

The dental department of Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH) in Thimphu will shift to the Covid-19 hospital early next year.

Hospital officials said they are already working on relocating the department.

JDWNRH’s Director, Jigme Namgyel said the structure modification at Taba is underway as the hospital has to have a specific setting. The dental outpatient department services will be made available from there.

He said they are also exploring the feasibility of shifting more services to Taba as well. It is being done to make optimum use of the structures at Taba.

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“The present dental department space would be used for other services since the hospital is faced with space constraints,” Jigme Namgyel said.

The structures at Taba were used to keep Covid-19 patients during the peak of the pandemic. They are vacant today.

However, people say that the dental department shifting to Taba will be far, especially for those residing in Thimphu core town and South Thimphu.

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Dechen, a corporate employee, said that the JDWNRH was easily reachable from almost all places in Thimphu. But shifting it to Taba will be far and will become a burden for many patients.

Another resident said that it would be better if all required facilities are established at Taba hospital. He said that it would be a problem if patients had to keep running back and forth between JDWNRH and the Taba hospital for different tests and checkups required for dental services.

However, Jigme Namgyel said that all the required services would be installed at Taba. He said setting up the dental chairs is going to be difficult, as it requires expertise and experience.

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The government approved a total revised budget of Nu 188.971M (million) for the acquisition of the national Covid-19 hospital at Taba, which is a private property with the payment of additional items amounting to Nu 14.924M.

The Cabinet also directed MoF to initiate the valuation of Nima High School and submit the report to the Cabinet and expedite the acquisition of the property of Kelki High School at Kanglung and Wangsha School at Phaduna.

Categorie: Bhutan

Visitors driving their vehicles need to pay Nu 4,500 in addition to SDF: Tourism Rules and Regulations 2022

The Bhutanese Expression - Lun, 26/09/2022 - 7:23am

Tourists visiting Bhutan driving their vehicles will have to pay a fee of Nu 4,500 per vehicle per night. This also includes two-wheelers. This is as per the revised Tourism Rules and Regulations 2022 which came into effect on September 23.

Visitors driving their vehicles will have to pay Nu 4,500 in addition to the Sustainable Development Fee. The Road Safety and Transport Authority will be collecting the fee.

Before the pandemic, some visitors from India, Nepal, and Bangladesh used to enter and visit sites in Bhutan driving their vehicles. Although the numbers were minimal, tourists from Europe and America also toured the country driving their vehicles.

The visiting vehicles were then levied a route permit fee of Nu 100 per day as per the Road Safety and Transport Regulations.

TCB’s Director General, Dorji Dhradhul

“This green fee of Nu 4,500 is inclusive of all other fees. They don’t have to pay any other fees like route permit fees. Based on our experiences in the past, since tourists do come with their cars, we had to deal with this, tourism. And similarly, there were also other categories of tourists coming with very high-end vehicles and even two-wheeler. So, we had to deal a lot with the tourists. So, therefore in this new Tourism Rules and Regulations 2022, this provision has been included mainly to facilitate,” said TCB’s Director General, Dorji Dhradhul.

A visitor driving a foreign tourist vehicle should adhere to all relevant rules and regulations regarding the carrying capacity and road worthiness of the vehicle adopted by the Road Safety and Transport Authority. And their entry will be restricted if the vehicle doesn’t meet these criteria even after paying the fee.

However, visitors won’t have to pay the fee if they do not drive their vehicles beyond the first designated point.

“If they enter our border town, let’s say for example Phuentsholing and then they move around in their car and if the next day they are planning to go to Thimphu, they can still leave the car parked in Phuentsholing wherever there is the accommodation or wherever there is a designated parking place. But there will be no fees charged as long as they do not cross the first designated interior check post. Like in the case of Phuntsholing it could be Rinchending,” added the Director General.

According to the TCB, the levy of the fee on tourists driving their vehicles is to minimise the negative impacts of vehicle emissions on the country’s pristine environment and control traffic.

Samten Dolkar

Edited by PhubGyem

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Categorie: Bhutan