Friday, May 29th, 2015 - 8:06 AM
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Thimphu City leads the league for 24 hours

Football: Yeshi Dorji’s hat trick helped Thimphu City to stay in the title mix with a nervy 4-2 win against Drukpol yesterday.

It took only 17 minutes for striker Sonam Tenzin of Drukpol to find the net and take an early lead. Several attempts ensued to lead with more goals, but the first half of the match ended with the single goal.

Three minutes into the second half, it was Thimphu City striker Yeshi Dorji, who met winger Biren’s cross from the left flank to respond with an equaliser.

Within the next eight minutes Yeshi Dorji scored what could be considered as the goal of the tournament.

A corner kick that steered clear of all human obstacles and found the net right behind the second bar.

Their lead was cut short when Drukpol’s center back Dorji Wangchuk headed the ball past City’s keeper in the 60th minute to get back into the game.

Three minutes later their chance to take the lead was denied when Thimphu City’s left back Dawa cleared the goal from the goal line.

In the 69th minute, however, Thimphu City managed to restore its lead when winger Tshering Dorji sent a spot kick into the opponent’s post.

Seven minutes later striker Yeshi Dorji secured the lead with his third goal, his 13th for the campaign.

Yeshi Dorji may have taken much of the crowd’s applauds yesterday with his hat trick, but his goalie Kesang Chogyal also won some spectator’s adulation.

He saved a penalty shot and saved another goal within fraction of a second to entering his post.

“Adversity brings heroes and today we had lot of heroes in our team,” Thimphu City president Yeshey Tshering said.

Meanwhile, Drukpol skipper Tenzin believed luck favoured their opponent.

“Our boys put up a good fight, but I think we were unlucky today,” he said.

Thimphu City takes the top position at least for 24 hours and Drukpol completed this campaign as the second runners up with 21 points.

Today, Druk United will be looking to tie against Drukstar to be crowned the new champions of Thimphu ‘A’ Division League.

By Karma Loday Yeshey

Dark side of bodybuilding already?

In absence of a relevant agency to look over it, what happens in the sport indeed remains dark 

Sports: As bodybuilders prep for the seventh national bodybuilding competition to be held in June 28, some raised concerns over supplements they used, which contained certain percentage of steroid and could test positive for anti-doping.

The issue came about following a recent meeting among bodybuilders with officials of anti-doping committee, save for a few, almost all athletes raised concerns.

However, a few who attended the meeting that day dropped in an anonymous tipoff, that athletes were reluctant to do anti-dope test.

That was when the both bodybuilders and the federation officials came on record to say that the athletes were ready for the test and that they never refused one in the first place.

Some bodybuilders also admitted that it was the steroid content in their fat burners that they were concerned about.

One bodybuilder, who requested anonymity said the anti-doping committee should inform them before hand if they were going to conduct such tests.

“After I knew that the fat burner I was taking contained steroids, I stopped using it,” he said. “Since there is almost two months for the contest, some of us who use the supplements should be able to come out clean.”

Another bodybuilder, who also did not want to be named for fear of possible backlash from his colleagues in the sport, said many of his colleagues did not want to be tested for anti-dope initially.

“Despite knowing the supplements they consumed contained steroids, I don’t understand why they used it,” he said.

He also pointed out how some new entrants into the sport of bodybuilding, who having barely spent a couple of years in the gym grew into those that have been working out for more than eight years.

“I always thought there was something fishy there,” he said, adding if his doubts were actually true, it was not encouraging the sport.

“It would be unfair of others who work hard on their own without the illegal performance enhancement drugs,” he said. This, he said was evident from the decreasing number of participants.

A few other athletes said how the various fitness centres allowed for such supplements to enter into their gyms and worse still, encouraged their clients and fellow bodybuilders to take them.

However, Bhutan Bodybuilding and Weightlifting Federation secretary general Kinga Thinley denied that athletes refused the test. He said the bodybuilders were ready to come forward for the test and that a few disgruntled athletes might have poured out their grievances.

But conducting the test is difficult.

Almost two years after Bhutan became signatory to International Convention against Doping in Sports, the committee still faces resource constraints.

An official from the Bhutan Anti-Doping Committee said they had one testing kit that World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) donated, which was meant for athletes partaking in international competitions.

“But we have been using for competitions inside the country also,” the official said.

The committee members were unsure whether they would conduct the test for the upcoming national bodybuilding competition, but an awareness program, they said would be conducted.

Some athletes said the committee will not conduct the test for all competitors, but that a few samples were be tested randomly.

Committee official said that was because the result analysis, which has to be sent outside the country, itself cost about USD 185 excluding transportation cost.

However, committee officials said they have been asking athletes to register with them.

“Even the listed drugs prescribed by the doctors would contain some prohibited drugs for athletes and some might prove risky for them,” a committee member said.

When it comes to anti-doping, the country is prohibiting substances and performance enhancing drugs included in the WADA list.

However, there is no authority keeping an eye on it.

Committee officials said they had no authority over the task but that they had plans to seek the support of other relevant agencies.

By Tshering Dorji 

Low tourist numbers belie highlander hopes

IMG_0659Awaiting tourist: The campsite at Mesagteng wishes for more

Tourism: Contrary to the expectations of seeing a flux of foreigners visiting the breathtaking lush meadows of Merak and Sakteng in Trashigang, only 52 tourists have visited since the highland opened its doors to eco-tourism in mid 2010.

The number of tourist arrivals, on an average, has dropped from 2012 and 2013 for some unknown reasons.

The number of tourist dropped from 18 in 2011 to just 10 in 2013, the lowest arrival in three years since the inception of eco-tourism.  In 2010, 11 tourists visited the gewog, although it was already half way through the season when the gewog opened to tourism.

“Tourist arrival haven’t been what we expected, if 52 is what we received in four years,” Merak gup, Gaydhen said.

Although it is unknown why only a handful of tourists visited, Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary (SWS) park officials say distance could be the possible reason.

“I heard some people say that Merak and Sakteng are a relatively costlier destination than places like Laya and Lingzhi in terms of porter and pony,” Sakteng gup, Tshewang Tshering, said.

But he said that Merak and Sakteng ought to be a costlier destination because eco-tourism was planned as a main source of cash income by leaving the road connectivity halfway to gewogs’ centre.

“The community won’t be able to tap the benefit if porter and pony charges are slashed,” Tshewang Tshering said, adding that trekking to Merak and Sakteng becomes expensive as much has to be spent in just reaching Trashigang from Thimphu.

SWS, however, cited poor advocacy as one of the main downside of tourism in the highlands.

“I think only through persistent advocacy by tourism council of Bhutan (TCB) the inflow of tourist could be increased here,” said SWS park ranger, Jambay Dhendup.

Gups of Merak and Sakteng said road connectivity is the only answer to increase tourist arrival.

“What we need is road because it’s only when Merak and Sakteng would have road that we can improve services like infrastructures, because most tourists who visited the places have complained of poor infrastructures,” Tshewang Tshering said.

To improve infrastructures, road to the gewog centre is essential to transport construction materials in huge quantities.

Tourists complained of poor trail maintenance.  Meanwhile, SWS is expecting better turnout in 2014, with eight tourists already visiting the gewog.

More visitors are expected in the coming months since autumn is the peak season for tourist arrival because of its pleasant weather conditions.

Gup Gaydhen said that it was difficult to point out why Merak and Sakteng, despite being a promising destination, failed to attract tourists.

“In order to increase the flow, stakeholders, including TCB, tour operators, SWS and gewog, must meet to discuss challenges, constraints and finding solutions to the shortcomings,” Gaydhen said.

By Tempa Wangdi, Sakteng

Stakeholders speak their minds at domestic violence meet

NCWC, judiciary and media appeared to be working at cross-purposes, it transpired

Meeting: The stakeholders meeting on domestic violence, a human rights issue, at the convention centre yesterday, turned out more like a forum to share grievances on the media.

Stakeholders were also complaining against each other.

While officials from National Commission for Women and Children (NCWC) and the judiciary commented on the media’s lack of credibility and misquoting, media representatives raised difficulties in getting information.

The attention then shifted to NCWC, where stakeholders stated that the commission was established for a purpose, and asked whether it was living up to its mandate.  Stakeholders also demanded to know what activities the office carried out after the enactment of the Domestic Violence Prevention Act, 2013, or whether the act was left as a paper tiger.

It took about an hour and more to come to the consensus that such debates were healthy, and that it gave room to understand each stakeholder better for the greater cause of vulnerable women and children.

Some judges pointed out that there are cases when victims are in dire need of shelters, as their relatives did not want them and they did not have anywhere to go.

“How can we get in touch with the RENEW volunteers?” a judge asked.

The chief judge of Thimphu district court, Kinley Dorji, said media, while covering issues on domestic violence, should be mindful of the Domestic Violence Prevention Act, 2013, that specified that media cannot report on domestic violence cases unless court grants authority.

This, he said, was for the privacy and better protection of the victims.

Citing an example of a sexual violence against a woman in Mongar a few years ago, drangpon Kinley Dorji said he requested a media house not to publish the story. “But the media house did the story and the next day, the woman disappeared from the locality,” he said. “Ours is a small society and we have to protect the victims.”

With only three people in the department, the forensic department, Dr Pakila Dukpa, said they could not garner much support, and that the one stop crisis centre that was supposed to cater to domestic violence victims is just on board and not in reality.

Attorney general Phuntsho Wangdi said the Domestic Violence Act, 2013 was framed not to break but to patch up families, and that domestic violence cases should not be treated like other cases.

Meanwhile, the meeting organised by Bhutan national legal institute (BNLI) to bring together the relevant stakeholders to share information and discuss issues that benefit stakeholders and clients they deal with seemed successful, as many participants agreed to communicate and assist each other in preventing domestic violence.

By Tashi Dema

Family loses two homes to fire

Photo0558The remains of the two houses

Update: The Nashidang family, who lost their home in a fire on April 28, received Nu 10,000 from His Majesty’s Kidu office, while their neighbours have build a temporary shed immediately after the fire.

The fire razed to the ground two traditional buildings, both belonging to one family.  The older house was used as a kitchen and store.

The incident happened around 11am, and the family lost all their belongings, but no human casualty was reported, since the family was at work in the fields when the incident took place.  The villagers could not salvage any belongings of the family from the burning house.

Dzongkhag officials and Royal Insurance corporation of Bhutan (RICBL) officials in Mongar had visited the site immediately on April 28.   The dzongkhag has provided the family with essential emergency kits.

House owner Sherab Dorji, 36, said, during the incident, he and his wife were working in a neighbour’s maize field and his mother in-law was guarding against monkeys in a nearby field.

He said, they rushed home, on hearing his house on fire but said, by the time they reach home, the flames were coming through the door and the windows. “In less than an hour, my house was burnt down,” he said.

Sherab Dorji said, apart from grains and clothing, his family lost Nu 30,000 in the fire.  He said he’d saved the money to clear a Bank of Bhutan loan.

Chaskhar gup Pema Dorji said, around 60 villagers, who came forward to help, built a small hut and kitchen immediately after the fire, as the monsoon is approaching.

By Dechen Tshering, Mongar

Picture story

Many hands: Supported by the Samdrupjongkhar Initiative, Jigme Namgyal Polytechnic students help terrace fields of farmers in Dewathang


Of illegal and legal beef trade and its impact on pricing

IMG_4259Beef price touched 220 a kg (boneless) in Phuentsholing

Imports: Fluctuating prices of beef has residents of Phuentsholing confused and vexed, especially at authorities for not controlling it.  Meat sellers say the fluctuation is what keeps the meat coming.

A kilogram of boneless beef today cost Nu 200 while ones with bones cost 180 a kilogram. About two weeks back it was Nu 220 and Nu 190.  Despite being near border town of Jaigaon in India, the beef prices, residents said, were higher.

“Sometimes it comes down to Nu 150 but it increases suddenly,” a resident, Kinga Lhendup said. “Like in other districts, either trade office, thromde or dzongkhag office should regulate the prices,” he said.

Similarly others who spoke to Kuensel said there is a need for regulation instead of leaving it to the whims and fancies of the vendors.

Meat sellers, who are mostly Indian, said the fluctuation is because meat availability depends on several factors, including illegal means by which beef is brought to the Indian border town of Jaigaon.

The vendors, who requested anonymity, said there are no licensed slaughterhouses in Jaigaon. The two licensed ones were banned by Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) on grounds that it affected religious sentiments of Hindu. SSB is India’s central armed police forces.

With temperatures soaring, meat brought from Nakshaibari, a border town near Nepal and Darjeeling, get spoilt by the time it reaches Phuentsholing. To avoid this, the cattle are brought live till Jaigaon and slaughtered at night.

To reach Jaigaon, at several points along the way, bribes and commissions are paid to police, immigration and customs officials and SSB personnel too.

“After paying bribe we bring in the invoice from Nakshaibari border stating we’re transporting meat,” vendor said. “But we bring live animal and slaughter in Jaigaon.”

Besides such payments, the vendors also have to pay separate commission to illegally set up slaughterhouse in Jaigaon. “We’re allowed to slaughter only at night,” a vendor said.

“If we don’t pay bribes or commissions, they seize the meat or live animal and it results into a huge loss for us,” a vendor said. “Depending on all these factors we calculate the beef price and that is why the prices keeps fluctuating.”

Vendors said since they making a living selling meat, they cannot bear losses.  “We’ve also got Nu 15,000 rent to calculate into the meat price,” a vendor said.

While the cattle transportation and slaughter are illegal, vendors said it enters Bhutan legally. “It is declared at the custom checkpoint and a one percent tax is paid,” a vendor said. “Quality is also checked by Bhutan agriculture and food regulatory authority officials (BAFRA).”

Only after these processes are done, vendors said, meat is transported to shops in Phuentsholing.

A meat seller said about three years back trade office regulated price of the meat but it slowly disintegrated and overtaken by market forces. “But the meat shops have a mutual agreement to keep the prices uniform,” a meat seller said.

A trade official based in Phuentsholing said it was dzongkhag office that should fix the price like in other districts. “Trade office would then implement it,” he said. “Since there is concern expressed we will issue a notification to the shops not to increase the prices further.”

BAFRA officials said they were aware of such practices. “But we cannot determine the price,” an official said. “Our only concern is the quality of meat.”

A dzongkhag official said meat rates have not been fixed so far and currently no discussion is happening regarding pricing.

The meat vendors have after over two weeks, brought in beef. The ongoing elections in India put a halt to beef import. “Most vendors were strictly monitored and restricted from bringing beef,” a vendor said.

With West Bengal elections over the transportation of beef has begun again.  But elections in other states, is expected to impact the import of beef and it’s pricing too.

Meanwhile in the capital, even since the annual ban on sale of meat was lifted in April there has been no beef imported from India. Beef from Tsirang have met the local needs.

A kilogram of Tsirang beef cost between 250-290 for boneless and Nu 190 for meat with bones.

A meat seller near the centenary farmers’ market said the rate charged by Indian sellers was high leaving no profit margin for the shops.

By Yangchen C Rinzin,  Phuentsholing 

Bodybuilding backstage

It was with much adulation and rave public reviews when bodybuilding initially entered the Bhutanese sports scenario.

Within a short span of time compared with other sports that existed for decades, our athletes began representing the country in regional and international competitions and even brought home medals.

A SAARC bodybuilding championship was even hosted in the capital city in which our athletes won several medals in the competition among eight member-nations.

It is because of these successes the country today has numerous fitness centres and gyms all of which are thriving as are the bodybuilders, who are employed as trainers.

Bodybuilders are looked up to as people who know the art or science of crafting the physique to one’s desired expectations, trust in their ability to help clients transform any part of the body through rigorous trainings.

But barely six years since the sport hit the stage, it has begun revealing its dark side.

Backstage, having pushed genetics to the limit and perhaps tired of the slow results the gruelling hours they spend in the gyms bring, instances of bodybuilders resorting to supplements containing steroids have emerged.

Now that is a heavy price to pay for a sixty-second on stage.

Some bodybuilders wondered why their personal matters bothered anybody.

It would certainly not be an issue of interest for the public had the athletes, who have been consuming supplements containing steroids, did so for their self-gratification.

But it becomes an issue of public, not so much interest, but concern, when they decide to come out in public, as local sports personalities, winning medals and certificates and for what, endorsing some kind of muscle enhancement drugs?

It is the country’s youth, who have no inhibitions to trying something new that will transform their physiques, who are most susceptible.

The same certificates might come in handy to promote the use of these drugs on clients, the base of which is growing as more and more people take interest in their physical appearances.

Who knows, maybe it is already in circulation. There are words of some bodybuilders bringing in supplements containing steroids and selling them at steep costs to their clients.

The authorities responsible for the sport should not be indifferent about the issue and the committee that conducts the anti-dope test sounded helpless.

Notwithstanding the initial refusal to under anti-dope test, bodybuilders have, however, agreed to stop the use of supplements that might test them positive and undergo the test.

But the anti-dope test committee said it was just not financially viable for a small sport to test all athletes for drugs.

That sends a mixed message.

Whatever it may be, it looks like drug use in bodybuilding, for that matter in any other sport, is still in the early stages. The challenge is to not go to the level where athletes feel they cannot get to the competitive level without steroids.

CCTVs on campus – Safety device or invasion of privacy?

DSC_0621Extra eyes: The CCTV in one of the hostels

Security: The recent installation of closed-circuit television (CCTV) on college campus and some hostels in Sherubtse didn’t go down well with students, some calling the latest facility invasion of private space.

The college was fitted with CCTVs in various strategic locations and this, according to the dean of student affairs, Sangay Dorji, was to reduce the incidence of students involving in “unhealthy habits”.

“CCTVs can help us maintain the 8:30pm curfew strictly,” he said.

A second year student, Passang, said installing CCTV would help monitor college resources, but said that CCTVs in the hostels are limiting individual freedom.  Another student, Sonam Penjor, said the college was being too strict and the facility was making students uncomfortable.

“Installing CCTV’s in the public areas such as library and IT labs, is good, but in the hostel it’s not really needed,” he said.

“I feel like someone is watching me all the time,” said Sonam Choki, a second year student.

However the college director, Tshering Wangdi, said invasion of privacy was not true as no cameras were fitted in rooms or bathrooms. “Cameras in common places like common entrances in the hostels is not intrusion into privacy,” said the director.

Dean Sangay Dorji added the CCTV was for student’s own safety.

Students said there were other facilities that the college was really in need of.  The CCTVs, some said, was a wastage of the college’s scarce resources. “There are water taps, electric sockets to be fixed first,” said a student, Sangay.

Deki, a third year student, said that college could improve internet services in the college. “Installing of cameras are just for show off,” she added.

Sangay Dorji said that the budget for other facility development is not hampered by procurement of the cameras.

Director Tshering Wangdi said the CCTV would save the college money.  This installment of CCTV will reduce the number of damages done to properties and other facilities.  He pointed out around eleven projectors were damaged last year alone, which was worth between Nu 50,000 and Nu 60,000.

The director also said that this was a long-term investment and students should look at the positive side as well. “We’re investing thousands to save millions,” he added.


Contributed by Tshetrim Dorji

Poor roadwork perturbs Bajo residents

road-bajoEyesore: Potholes on the recently blacktopped road

A few days after blacktopping, potholes have appeared on the surface

Connectivity: Surprised Bajo town residents were quick to point out potholes in the town’s road a few days after the road was blacktopped.

The blacktopping was much awaited, but residents said they had to point out the mistakes as it is not even two weeks since some portions of the town’s road was blacktopped.

“To spot potholes a week after its been resurfaced is a concern since we had been waiting for so long,” said a resident.

“We were happy and even endured the dust pollution caused by cleaning of the existing road before it was blacktopped, ” he said. “If the quality of black topping is suffering within less than a month, what can we expect in the long term.”

Tshering, another resident, said authorites should monitor the quality of work. “We also wonder why the work was temporarily kept on halt,” he said.

The resurfacing work started recently with a budget of Nu 6.4M. The work includes, 50mm of surfacing work, repair and maintenance of dividers between two roads in the town and drainage.

According to Wangdue dzongrab, Pema, the road resurfacing work came to halt as majority of the skilled labourers, expatriates from India, had to leave the country to vote in the Indian Lok Shaba elections.

“We were informed by the contractor that about 30 skilled labourers are on their way back yesterday,” Bajo’s municipal engineer Lobzang said.

Officials said water flowing over the newly surfaced portion below the fuel station had damaged the road. “We don’t know whether it is residents’ negligence or if it is from the fuel station area,” said an official.

“Thinking that the water might be flowing from the BoD fuel station area, we told the BoD staffs to monitor  from time to time, as it was damaging the newly surfaced area,” he said.

Dzongrab Pema said the dzongkhag is concerned with the quality of work and had called people from department of roads to check the quality when the work began.

The dzongrab blamed residents for not cooperating and said whatever maintenance works they carry out are damaged because of negligence.

Following the initial road maintenance work, residents requested for resurfacing as the road within town was left with dust and all broken apart, officials said.

Officials said people always complain, but never think of contributions. They think it is the responsibility of the government to even clean their surrounding.

“We started resurfacing work despite budget constraints. People couldn’t tolerate the dust pollution caused by cleaning of the old road for fresh resurfacing, and they started to complain,” officials said.

However, they said the damage could be because of the increasing number of vehicles in the small town.

Dzongrab Pema said the work has not stopped completely and will resume as soon as the labourers are back. The contractor was issued warning and asked to complete the work before the fiscal year end in June.

By Dawa Gyelmo, Wangdue