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Gasa is changing - Draft constitution
Laya Gasa
Gasa is ready to discuss the draft Constitution with His Royal Highness the Crown Prince, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck. They have travelled for days over the mountains for the meeting to be held on May 13, 2006.

Most of the people who spoke to Kuensel said that they were there to try and understand the future. They are optimistic because change has, so far, been positive.

Ap Namgay, 82, who was in Punakha, took only seven hours to reach Gasa. The two hour drive to Goenteygang, followed by a five-hour walk, was a quick journey. It used to take him four days when he worked there.

Gasa Dzong
The Gasa Tashi Thongmey Dzong
In 2004 the 12 kilometre road from Tashithang was completed and Gasa, the most remote and least populated dzongkhag, began catching up with the rest of the country.

When people working in Gasa could make their first telephone calls in late nineties they began catching up with the world. On May 7, 2006 , Gasa became the last dzongkhag to be electrified. Today the people are using rice and curry cookers.

"The coming of electricity and the road is changing the lifestyle of Gasaps and Layaps," said Laya Gup Kinley Dorji. "Because of the road we finished transporting our year's food rations from Gasa to Laya months ago." So the Layaps now get two months of extra time to attend to their herds and work in fields.

Crown Prince
His Royal Highness the Crown Prince, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck

The main town of Gasa, situated at an elevation of 2,770 metres has a dozen single-storey shops, selling groceries, general goods, and alcohol. The pride of Gasa, a "standard restaurant, even has a menu.

When meat is available, a kilogramme of pork costs about Nu. 200. A gas cylinder costs Nu. 740 and the cheapest vegetable is about Nu. 35 a kilogramme. Potato is special and can be bought for Nu. 16-18 a kilogramme.

"Groceries cost twice or three times more than Punakha or Thimphu," said a dzongkhag employee. "Only the bare necessities are available."

Gasa has a lower secondary school with boarding facilities, a basic health care unit, an RNR center, a range office of the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Park, and a BDFC branch office, all within walking distance of the dzong.

Travel and transportation remain the biggest problem for the people of Gasa. Lunana, the farthest of the four gewogs, is about eight days' walk. It is covered by snow for about eight months a year.

The Lunana community school has not opened yet this year because it is cut off by snow. "Transporting WFP ration and school textbooks and stationeries for Laya and Lunana is always a problem for us," said the Gasa dzongkhag education officer, Wangchuk Dorji.

But the people of Gasa are not complaining. "We know we will get a road soon and, sooner or later, we know that Gasa will become like any other town in the country," said a resident in the heart of Gasa town.

Contributed by Ugyen Penjore and Tashi Dorji, Kuensel, Bhutan's National Newspaper, 2006
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