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Trashigang: Kangpara to get connected
After more than 10 years of talk Kangpara gewog, on the southern tip of Trashigang dzongkhag, may finally get a feeder road.

The road department has included a 33-kilometre feeder road from Kharungla to Kangpara in the on-going rural access programme of building roads to villages.

Development Bank was kept for the Kharungla-Kangpara feeder road.

According to the project manager, C K Pradhan, the road was tentatively scheduled to start some time in August 2007."The feasibility study has been carried out and data of the detailed survey of up to seven kilometres has been completed," he said. "The works will be awarded in two phases." The project manager said that to start the first phase it would require a detailed survey of at least 17-kilometres.

foottrail bridge near Gasa

Kangpara was selected based on factors like remoteness of the community, benefits the road would bring to the community and priority ranking, according to the department's Road Master Plan.

"Kangpara was actually in priority 'B' but since the funds are already available, we are taking it up," he said. The road would benefit an estimated 249 households in the gewog, which will pass through about six villages.

While the feasibility study was conducted in association with consultants based in Delhi, the works would be carried out based on national competitive bidding procedures.

"The people are taking about two to three days journey to reach the highway at the moment, but with the completion of the road, it will be only about half a day's walk," he said.

Excluding remote Merak and Sakten gewogs in the north Kangpara would be the last gewog in Trashigang dzongkhag to get a feeder road.

According to the dzongkhag officials, most of the 15 gewogs in the dzongkhag had feeder roads by the first and second year of the Ninth Plan. Most were built with fund support from the World Bank.

Construction of a 10-kilometre farm road is going on in Lumang gewog with support from the KR II grant.

The first phase of construction of the feeder road to Udzorong gewog was recently completed and the second phase is to be taken up in the coming fiscal year. An eight-kilometre farm road from Pam to Yonphula will also be taken up in the coming fiscal year.

According to Kangpara gup Chempa Dorji, in 1980s, people from six villages in Kangpara and Thrimshing gewogs had voluntarily cleared a route, from Phekpari to lower Kangpara, broad enough for a power tiller. "But maintenance had become a problem and not many could use it," he said.

He said that the lack of a road made it difficult to market Kangpara gewog's flourishing agricultural practices and skills in woodwork and other arts.

"The walking distance has discouraged many prospering skilled artisans. It is also provoking the younger generation in the village to leave for towns," said Chempa Dorji.

Trashigang dzongda Minjur Dorji said the place had a huge potential and a road was critical for its socio-economic development.

"Access to rural communities also play a vital role for the 2008 election," he said, adding that the government had conducted surveys long ago, but construction was held up because of lack of resources.

Meanwhile, with all the infrastructures in place, Kangpara will receive electricity supply starting next month.


Kangpara, the footprint
Kangpara was originally named Kangpar meaning footprint. The goenpa in Kangpar has the stone footprints of the Buddha, believed to have been carved by Dupthop Dongwa Rinchen who meditated at the goenpa (hermitage) more than a century ago. According to village elders Dupthop Dongwa Rinchen went on pilgrimage to Bodh Gaya, India. On his return he had brought along the prints of Lord Buddha's feet on a cloth, which he carved on a stone in the goenpa. It is believed that Dupthop Dongwa Rinchen did this to bless those people who could not afford to travel to India. It is now considered one of the relics of the goenpa along with the walking sticks and carving stones belonging to the Dupthop.

The 341.9 square kilometre gewog is bordered by Merak, Thrimshing, Khaling, and Shongphu gewogs in Trashigang and Gomdar and Shingkhar Lauri gewogs in Samdrup Jongkhar dzongkhag. It consists of about 17 villages with 406 households and with a population of more than 2,200 people.

Contributed by Kesang Dema, KUENSEL, Bhutan's National Newspaper, 2006


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