Saturday, April 25th, 2015 - 6:19 AM
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Spike in number of Trongsa’s STI cases

Increase in population due to hydropower project may have had a hand in the spread

Health: Even as Trongsa sees an increasing number of sexually transmitted infection (STI) cases, a case of an absconding HIV positive has left the health community concerned.

Dzongkhag health officer, Gunja Raj Gurung, said the person managed to slip away, by giving the STD campaigners a fake name last year. “The person is still on the loose,” he said.

Since 2012, Trongsa general hospital (TGH) has recorded 347 STI cases, of which seven are HIV positive.


Underpaid mask dancers skip practice

Their absence puts a cloud over the religious festival that’s only been around since 1999 

Tsechu: With Tsirang tshechu in the offing, a few mask dancers, who have been practising the dances since February 24, were tense when their other colleagues didn’t turn up.

Dhamal Bahadur Khapangay from Kilkhorthang gewog, who is the dodham or captain of the mask dancers, knows why the dancers have stopped coming for practice. “They’re paid very low,” he said. “So low that men prefer to work at construction sites, because they’re paid better.”

The mask dancers are paid a daily subsistence allowance (DSA) of Nu 150, which is Nu 15 less than the minimum daily wage for the national workforce.  Dhamal Bahadur Khapangay was appointed as the dodham in 1998, when the first tshechu in Tsirang started in 1999.


It takes all sorts

For the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender informal community in the country, it was history in the making when one of them spoke openly about his identity.  It was a huge achievement.

Was there a reason for celebration?  The answer is yes and no.  Unlike in many countries, homosexuality is not a big issue here.  It is considered taboo because it was not talked about or discussed as much as today.  With a movement for gay and lesbian rights in many countries, it is through exposure and, to a large extent, the society opening up, that such issues are discussed more openly these days.  And some are too excited about the issue, as it draws attention.


Old problems bog down dzongkhags

Dzongdas seek centre’s support in effort to meet annual performance agreements

APA: Given the challenges the dzongkhags are confronted with, the government is a long way away from creating a favourable environment for civil servants to meet their targets and deliver quality service.

Dzongkhag administration officials from Paro, Haa, Gasa, Wangdue and Punakha said they were bogged down by the same old problems of shortage of staff, lack of budget and barely functional pool vehicles, among others.


Dorokha MSS all set for central school status

DSC_0019Education minister Mingbo Dukpa speaks to students and teachers of Dorokha Middle Secondary School on the central school scheme

Once land acquisition is confirmed, construction will begin immediately

Education: With the lion’s share of the budget allotted and the master plan in place, Dorokha middle secondary school (DMSS) in Samtse is all set to expand into a central school.

Among the 24 schools identified as central schools for the pilot phase this year, DMSS has been allotted Nu 254M (million), the highest of the Nu 3,487.196M that has been approved under India’s project-tied assistance.

Education minister Mingbo Dukpa shared this with the teachers and students during his visit on March 12.  The minister also told them that 24 central schools would be opened this year in 20 dzongkhags.


Bajo primary schools buckle under admission pressure

IMG_0099Admission pressure has increased after the two projects commenced

Besides an abundance of legit candidates, they have to deal with a host of underage kids too

Education: While schools in rural Bhutan are increasingly facing reduced pre-primary (PP) admission, opposite is the case in places like Bajo in Wangdue.

Even after closing of admission in December last year, schools continue to receive admission requests.  Some parents, whose children didn’t even meet age requirement, have bought school uniforms and reach their wards till the school gate every day.


More tshok means more waste

IMG_4837Monks collect at least 30 sack loads of tshok everyday

Devotees overwhelm Pangrizampa with ready-made offerings despite a notice saying not to

Religion: Pangrizampa lhakhang in the capital receives more than 30 sacks of packaged tshok (offering) everyday. A notification at the entrance of the lhakhang that requests people not to bring packaged tshok during the nine-day Jana Chidey ritual does not stop devotees from bringing packet foods.

Long lines of hawkers are seen along the road outside the lhakhang, selling ready-made tshok bags. There are many plastic wrapped items such as chips, biscuits, noodles and sweets inside the plastic bags.


Protecting the Punatsangchu golden mahseer

A project is underway to study the iconic game fish that comes up to Bhutan to breed

PISCICULTURE: To protect the endangered migratory fish, golden mahseer (Tor putitora) in Punatsangchu river, officials from the National Centre for Riverine and Lake Fisheries (NCRLF) and environment officials at Punatsangchu project are looking for a site to start a hatchery.

The centre’s programme director, Singye Tshering, said Punatsangchu was one of the rivers in the country where golden mahseer are found. “Of the many fish species in Punatsangchu, we’re giving importance to the golden mahseer, as it’s a migratory fish and comes to Bhutan’s rivers for breeding,” he said.


Changjiji housewives trained to make traditional dyes

20150311_160847Rinzin Pem soaks yarn in onion juice

APIC: Rinzin Pem, 40, has spent more than half her life on the loom, but she soaked her hands in dye for the first time last  week.

A light-red juice was extracted from onion waste and put under extreme heat for hours.  Rinzin then rinsed the yarn in cold water and hung up to dry.

Rinzin Pem was among 23 housewives from Changjiji housing colony who attended a weeklong training on dyeing at the office of National Housing Development corporation in Thimphu.


System works, but farmers still skeptical

Though the rice yield has improved, the process, they feel, is far more labour intensive

SRI: Some time in June last year, villagers of Pemathang in Samdrupjongkar, despite some reluctence tried a new method of paddy cultivation.

They have no regrets now as they are reaping the benefits of the change.   Called SRI or “system of rice intensification”, the new method of transplanting paddy seedling has led to increased rice yield.

For instance, Sangay Wangdi, 55, who tried the new method on his 30-decimal land, said he was able to produce 2,250kg of rice.  With the old method, his land yielded about 1,500kg.