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Construction: Reconstruction of Trongsa Dzong has been temporarily stopped yet again due to shortage of workers.

Labour shortage halts renovation work at Trongsa Dzong

Construction: Reconstruction of Trongsa Dzong has been temporarily stopped yet again due to shortage of workers.

Renovation work on the three-storey structure on at the northwest side began in February this year after a portion of the damaged wall collapsed on November 7 last year.

“Only the portion of the wall from the structure which was already damaged before and was planned to be pulled down came off,” said Trongsa Dzongdag Sonam Rinchen.

Mangdechhu Hydropower Project provided Nu 30.47 million support in 2014 for the reconstruction work. The work, however, couldn’t be started in the 2014-2015 financial year because of glacial approval of design and drawing from the Department of Culture (DoC).

“Portion of the wall on the structure, which was planned to be pulled down after it sustained major cracks started crumbling extending to upper kemer (red paint on dzong) from lower kemer,” said project engineer Choida, adding that the renovation work had to be expedited so.

So far the roof of the damaged structure adjoining the Dema Lhakhang has been removed after a portion of it came down on November 7. Over 12,000cft timber is also being extracted from Bumthang and Zhemgang for reconstruction works.

Traditionally, people from gewogs contribute labour for renovation and reconstruction of dzongs, but the local leaders are finding it difficult to mobilize labourers from the villages.

“The works have been suspended temporarily in order to finalise labour contribution from people of Mangde Tshozhi,” said Choida. He added that the dzongkhag is working with local leaders.

Choida said construction workers will be paid minimum daily wage of Nu 165, but there is a serious shortage of workers because Nu 500 is minimum wage paid in the villages.

The chairperson of Dzongkhag Tshogdu, Tashi Pendhen, said that money isn’t the sole factor behind difficulty in getting labour from the villages. Over 60 percent of the population in villages is today women as men have left the villages to urban areas for employment.

“So even if the higher wages are paid, problem will arise to deploy women with children for reconstruction works because every household would have to contribute equal number days of labour contribution,” Tashi Pendhen said.

While dzongkhag has option to give reconstruction on labour contract under acute shortage of labour, DoC disapproves such practices.

“DoC doesn’t permit dzong reconstruction on labour contract because historical monuments have always been reconstructed through labour contribution from respective dzongkhag people,” Choida said.

Sonam Rinchen said that if labourers cannot be mobilized from the gewogs, the dzongkhag might have to employ expatriate workers. “But the gups have at least agreed to help with the master dhozop and shingzhop.”

Meanwhile, a team from Department of Geology and Mines are in Trongsa to study geophysics of the reconstruction site.

“Drawing and design of the foundation will be based on DGM’s findings,” Choida said.

The project is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2017.

Tempa Wangdi, Bumthang

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