Concerns are growing within the business community of Tsimasham in Chhukha as the town experiences a decline in commercial activity and development. Residents, desperate to rejuvenate their small town, have reportedly made multiple appeals to the district administration for assistance. They attribute the downturn to the opening of the Chhukha – Damchu bypass.
The Tsimasham town has been around since the early 2000s and has grown quite a bit over the years. With over 30 buildings and a bunch of shops, it has got quite a lively vibe. But even with all these houses and businesses, there’s a growing concern among shopkeepers and residents about the town slowly drying. it has got everyone worried.
Frustrated residents of Tsimasham continue to express their dismay over the lack of support from authorities in revitalising their businesses. They highlighted numerous factors that are exacerbating the decline of their already struggling town.
“Approximately 70 per cent of the town’s businesses consist of hotels and restaurants. Our livelihoods heavily rely on commuter traffic, which has significantly dwindled since the bypass became operational. As a result, our businesses have suffered a severe downturn, making it difficult to repay loans. Sadly, some houses were even seized by the banks as they were unable to meet their financial obligations, while others were forced to sell their homes at substantial losses,” said Kinzang Wangdi, a house owner.
“Some individuals who were allocated plots have failed to initiate any construction. These vacant plots have now become overgrown with bushes, creating an unsightly appearance. Moreover, with a decrease in the town’s population and fewer inhabited houses, we are witnessing a decline in essential amenities and government support for development. The district had emphasised that plot recipients should commence construction promptly, but no progress has been made thus far,” said Kado Drukpa, a businessman.
“Obtaining loans for our existing houses has become nearly impossible due to the meagre income generated from them. The value of our properties has significantly depreciated. Additionally, there are numerous abandoned buildings from the Chhukha Hydro Power Project in Tsimalakha, accommodating nearly 200 people rent-free. We do not know who is taking the risk. No development has taken place here for years,” said Zeko, another businessman.
“While attics in buildings are permitted in other locations, we have faced restrictions in this regard. I personally raised this concern with the Dzongda, who has assured me of investigating the matter and taking appropriate action,” said Kencho Tshering, a businessman.
In contrast, the district administration claims to have actively engaged with relevant agencies to address the concerns raised by residents. Despite their efforts, no specific revitalisation plan for the town has been formulated at this time.
Residents feel their pleas for development have fallen on deaf ears, despite reaching out to past governments. However, they remain hopeful that the next government will bring long-awaited developmental activities to their struggling town.