Road to Merak?

Breaking ground

On 7 January, Kuensel reported that:

A 28 km farm road will connect Merak to Radhi, the nearest semi-urban centre to the gewog. On January 5, a simple groundbreaking ceremony of the farm road was conducted, which was attended by villagers of Khardung, Tokshingmang and Merak. The road will begin in Khardung, pass through Tokshingmang and end in Merak.

The same article went on to quote Lyonpo Jigme Tshultim, who is the Speaker of the National Assembly and the MP of Radhi-Sakteng constituency, explaining that the new road would benefit many people and that “Merak is one place with potential for tourism and, with access to road, tourism can be promoted.”

Exactly two weeks later, on 21 January, Kuensel quoted the Prime Minister as saying that: “…Places like Laya, Lunana and Soe in the north-western part of the country and Merak and Sakteng in the east would not be linked by road.” And that: “A road connection to Merak and Sakteng … would bring the community less benefit.”

So will Merak get a farm road? Yes, they will. Kuensel’s photograph clearly shows that Lyonpo Jigme Tshultim will give them a road even if he has to dig it himself!

 

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  1. Thinley Penjore says:

    It looks more than ironic to see contradictions between our top politicians. The PM says one thing and the Speaker & MP of the Radhi Sakteng says another thing. What can we conclude – poor communication & coordination amongst the politicians, and that too, the highest level.
    I was happy to read the statement of PM that remote places will not be connected by motorable road from the point of potential revenue generation from tourism which is correct. People living in those remote areas can earn more through tourism and at the same time preserve our culture without diluting it if not connected by motorable road. I have seen such examples in Nepal. There is no road connection from Tatopani up to Jhomson and from Jhomson to Muktinath. It is almost 5 days full day walk and I saw huge volume of tourist visiting these places on horse back and through walking. People really earn good living through porter business and the hotels/restuarants are doing very good business even without road connections in those areas. Government of Nepal has once proposed to connect some of these areas with road, but the community strongly objected and the plan was shelved out forever.
    However, today after looking at the picture of Speaker in action with spade & kabney digging the ground, I was very much saddened. The government should assess carefully the long term benefits instead of rushing too fast in the name of development and fulfiling their promises.

  2. Nomenclature issue:
    Is he Lyonpo or Tshogpon Jigme Tshulthrim?

    For me, he’s Tshogpon Jigme Tshulthrim and not Lyonpo.

  3. I agree with Phuntsho. we should not address CJ as lyonpo ST, or OL as lynpo or speaker as lyonpo. lyonpo is someone who is a minister and once retired, no longer a lyonpo… our custom is aweful and people just want to live in fool’s paradise. Come down your perch and be brave to be just you, a common citizen.

  4. This post has reminded me of an incident. It was in 2006, if I remember correctly. I was on an assignment in Eastern Bhutan. I remember being told that the Udzorong Farm Road was the best farm road in the eastern region. I happened to visit Udzorong Geog. I commuted in a hired Hilux on the Udzorong Farm Road. The road looked perfect. With the hilux parked at the point where the road ended, I walked down to the geog centre. That was at the beginning of the day. I decided it was ok to return to Kanglung (where I resided) the same day. By the time I got back to the point where the hilux had been parked, it was dark (nightfall). As we were passing Bolfey, the people there shouted at us to stop the vehicle. They informed us that the road was gone (not blocked, but gone!) – at a point after crossing Bolfey. The whole road had slid down and if we had NOT known that, we would’ve been in the big hole that was left of the road. We halted the night at Bolfey. Next morning, we hiked up the hill to the highway road approaching Yonphula and then hitch-hiked a ride back to Kanglung. The hilux we had hired was stranded at Bolfey for almost a month!!! It was a big loss for me because I felt it my moral duty to pay the owner for the number of days that the hilux was stranded there. I remember farmers’ potatoes also not getting to the market as scheduled during that same time.

    So, even if it’s true that farm roads are necessary for ‘access’ in rural areas, the reality is that they are difficult to maintain. And often times I wonder who the farm roads benefit more? The ‘visitors’ or ‘farmers’? In the context of Merak, I would’ve thought tourists would love the idea of trekking to Merak…maybe not…

  5. Well, i think there is some miscommunication(probabbly not reported correctly by media). If i am not wrong, Sakteng will get road up to a place/village called thrakthri(which is under sakteng gewog but not at proper sakteng). From thrakthri, it will be around 3 or 4 hours walk to reach proper sakteng.
    As of merek, i am not quite sure, but i heard, the road will reach upto Damangchung which is again under merak gewog but not exactly at proper merak. Again from Damachung, people will have to walk about an hour or more to reach proper merak.
    So, in a way, both PM and speaker are right and probably meadia should correct it and inform properly to avoid confussion.

  6. I am from Merak geog and I feel accessibility to road is necessary to bring socio-eco development at par with other geogs. The tourism will benefit only the people who are interested in tourists but not the others.

    i know they are the supreme leaders, but it is important to ask the views of people, whether they want road or not. Or else, they will be deprived of the facility by decision of one or two.

    • Yes Gengop:

      ask any person who lives there, and they’ll BEG for a road. Even if they know that they’ll never own their own car, they’ll still beg for a road. That’s how important a motor road connection is.

      We should not be begging for a road….if it was promised to us, promised even though we didn’t ask for it, we should DEMAND it.

      tshering

  7. Regarding whether to address “Lynpo” or not, i too have a similar view and i think this issue was discussed earlier too. Ideally, they should not get the title “lynpo” as they are literally not minister….They are either above or equivalent to ministers in protocol….But considering our tradition, anyone wearing orange kabney is considered to be lynpo. So, we will have to see which one to follow.
    Again for CJ, it is even in our constitution, CJ is addressed as Lynpo. So, we can’t do away with that title.

    My view: while there is slight confusion,it is best to ignore it! What ever people call, they are right in one or other way!

  8. Dear Phuntsho, Pinkey and Samdrups,

    I’d raised the same issue several months ago…please see “To lyonpo or not”

    tshering

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