Tshering Namgyal | Mongar
Lingmethang, which is around 30km away from Mongar towards Bumthang, is no longer the sleepy, shanty town it once was.
Until recently, businesses suffered because the town had hardly a handful of customers. This hamper timely loan payment for the businessmen. Things have changed today.
Residents attribute the change to the nearby establishments such as the Mountain Hazelnut Project office and the Bhutan Agro-Industry plant.
The demand for residence has risen above supply. Some employees of these establishments are even forced to live in Gyalpozhing town, and as far as Thrindangbi and Jangdung villages.
The monthly rent for a commercial unit has increased as high as Nu 20,000 and a residential unit rent rose to Nu 6,000 to Nu 8,000 from Nu 1,500 to Nu 2,000 about eight years ago.
“Because there is demand, landlords increased the rent exorbitantly, but we’ve no say and we can’t leave either as there is no empty space around,” a shopkeeper, Cheki said. She added that the rent was less than Nu 10,000 a few years ago and that it went up drastically.
A hotelier, Pema Lethro said occupancy for his four-room hotel has improved over the years, while the number of customers at the restaurant.
Around 30 plots in the town were allotted in the year 2000 and 2003 in two phases. Of them, around seven are still vacant, while construction is underway in a plot.
The town was downgraded from a satellite town under the dzongkhag thromde to a gewog town earlier this year. It means the town is not entitled for a representative in the local government, and urban town amenities, which residents believe is a disadvantage for them.
Former town tshogpa, Kuenley said many residents of the town are unhappy with this change. “The sad thing is we have no street lights and acute water shortage is a major problem after it’s been shared with the institutions,” Kuenley said.
He said the town once had streetlight. Department of Road (DoR) removed them while widening the highway but never replaced.
“The town remains completely dark at night and I’ve personally requested the DoR officials to reconnect the streetlight but nothing has happened so far.” He said it could have been delayed because there is no formal representative to raise the problems.
The two offices that brought good business to the town added pressure on the water source of the community leading to acute shortage problem. “We have requested the gewog administration to add larger pipes but were told it could not be included in the 12th Plan as the town was delinked after the plan was ready.”
Despite the town being downgraded residents said they are imposed urban land tax and unsubsidized electricity tariff. “But we are hopeful that the water flagship program could solve our problem,” Kuenley said.
The town falls under Saling gewog and Gup Choney Dorji said the gewog has submitted a proposal to address the issue under the flagship program.
The town also caters to offices of DoR, Construction Development Corporation limited, the livestock breeding center, a school, and Saling gewog office.
Residents said that the upcoming Bondeyma industrial estate, which is close to the town, would add to the town’s growth.