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Updated: 4 min 33 sec ago

Drangjagoenpa residents await blacktopped road

Sat, 07/24/2021 - 13:54

Phub Dem | Paro

A three-kilometre farm road from Olathang to Drangjagoenpa, overlooking the scenic Paro town is in dire need of maintenance. 

The stretch starts with a steep rocky slope riddled with potholes. The turnings are sharp, and it becomes challenging to travel, especially during monsoon.

Locals link fewer residents and low rental income to poor road conditions.

A landlord, Tshering Yangzom, said that many wanted to rent her house but the poor road conditions deterred them. She said that none rented her house until recently, which was built a year ago. 

Considering the bad road, she had to reduce the rent from Nu 5,000 to Nu 3,000. Otherwise, she said that her house would remain empty. “I have difficulty in repaying the loan I took to build the house.” 

Although it is a short stretch of road, it is essential for residents, a primary school and Tsherim’s abode Drangjagoenpa Lhakhang. Drangjagoenpa village has 37 households. 

Damchoe Dorji, a teacher staying on rent, said that it has been three years since he came to Drangjagoenpa, but the road remained the same. 

He said taxi drivers charge exorbitant fare. “The potholes and steep slopes damage the light vehicles as well.” 

According to Tshering Dorji, many private vehicles use the road daily, and the rocky slope was risky to the travellers. For instance, he said that three vehicles flipped over, after they could not climb the road on the hillside. 

He said that even the school bus doesn’t ply the road as it was risky, although the school is below the road. “Students walk to school from the garage below.” 

Had it not been for the pandemic, Lungyni Gup Jamtsho said that the road would be already blacktopped.

He said that the gewog sent the estimate to blacktop the road to the finance ministry through the dzongkhag. 

He said that it was an eyesore for many visitors who visit Tsherigma Lhakhang. 

In the past, the locals traveled through the Hotel Olathang compound. As it was inconvenient, the 3-km road was constructed. As compensation, the hotel gave Nu 300,000 to the community to maintain the road.   

The locals want to use that money to maintain the road. This, according to gup, was not advisable as the road would be blacktopped.

Besides, he said that the amount was inadequate to maintain even a few metres of the road. “We can invest Nu 300,000 in the ground widening project at the Lhakhang or other community project.”

Edited by Tshering Palden

Bhutan’s Covid-19 vaccination campaign

Sat, 07/24/2021 - 13:54

Impact on science, vaccine supply and global intellectual property rights

The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic continues to shape the socio-economic, political, and technological landscape in the fight to stop the spread of the virus. Bhutan’s responses to Covid-19 and the success it has achieved are worth sharing with the world. In particular, vaccine rollout strategies and the vaccination campaign has attracted global attention. Within a three-week time in March 2021, 61 percent of Bhutan’s population received the first round of their vaccines, matched only by Israel at the time. The accomplishment of rapid rollout of vaccines was achieved despite Bhutan lacking a domestic pharmaceutical manufacturing industry. India’s generous donation of vaccines to Bhutan and neighbouring countries in the region played a major role in the success of the rollout.

In the first round, Bhutan had administered mostly Covishield doses received from India. The spike in the Covid-19 cases increased both in the region and worldwide with new variants of the virus which severed vaccine supply. Bhutan faced a conundrum over the uncertainty of the second round of vaccines given the shortage of supply worldwide. Moreover, time was running out to administer the vaccines with the prescribed time gap of 16 weeks between the first and second rounds of vaccination. Fortunately, many countries came forward to donate to Bhutan for the second round well before the recommended time frame widened; some of the countries are the United States, Denmark, China, and also India. The second dose of vaccination in Bhutan will constitute different vaccines, however. The vaccines are AstraZeneca, Moderna, Pfizer, and Sinopharm.

First, the question of mix-and-match of vaccines is as much of interest to the general public and policymakers, given the different types of vaccines now available, as to the health professionals worldwide. The vaccination strategy of mix-and-match now adopted by Bhutan will hugely impact global science. Many countries are divided over the idea of mixing vaccines; however, an equal number of countries are also advocating mixing vaccines to increase immunity against the Covid-19 virus. Although Bhutan has announced that people can opt for vaccines of their choice, it is clear that the situation of different vaccines at disposal and consequent efficacy rates from the vaccine mixing for a large number of people will contribute to the much-needed scientific basis.

Second, many countries like Bhutan, lacking a local pharmaceutical manufacturing industry, depend on donor countries for medicines and medical technologies like vaccines. Covid-19 is an ongoing pandemic, and this means that only a handful of countries with advanced research and development facilities and capabilities can manufacture and supply Covid-19 vaccines. At present, there is a global petition at the World Trade Organization (WTO) led by India and South Africa and supported by more than 100 countries proposing for a waiver of intellectual property rights temporarily to facilitate vaccine manufacture, rapid distribution, and supply to countries who are not able to manufacture vaccines themselves. Vaccine supply and distribution are not at all possible if technological know-how, data, resources, and investment on the Covid-19 vaccination are withheld from larger public interests which are at stake at the moment. Protection of human health and well-being must triumph over anything else. The legal measure of medical technologies like Covid-19 vaccine by patents, trademark or trade secrets, or other intellectual property rights is stalling the efforts to deal with the pandemic. Bhutan’s plea for the second round of vaccines and the timely donation from donor countries is real-world practical evidence in support of waiving off restrictive legal and regulatory systems that function to override global health crises.

The death toll from the Covid-19 pandemic is rising globally. There is a genuine need for rapid vaccine rollout and treatment of patients both in developed and developing nations. Bhutan and Covid-19 and the way vaccines have been rolled out amidst practical challenges and supply uncertainties as well as the forthcoming support of donor countries is a clear message to the global community that both science and law can be worked out favourably to deal with the pandemic like Covid-19.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are author’s own.

Contributed by

Kencho Peldon

University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia

Animation, a growing industry

Sat, 07/24/2021 - 13:53

Thinley Namgay

At the iBEST Institute in Thimphu, a 26-year-old animator, Tshering Yangki, sketches a girl on her computer. The character is part of the UNICEF and education ministry’s project.

For this project, the iBEST animation team will create an animation video to raise awareness on the importance of Early Childhood Care and Development.

Animation. Simply put means movement of picture. In a broader sense, it is an art of visual storytelling.

Tshering’s chamber is occupied with computers and youngsters who have come there to study animation. Everyone is working on creating different characters.

According to Tshering, the animation is a crucial form of ICT that can create employment. “Animation keeps changing depending on creativity.”

It requires more people.

A single animation video, for example, involves at least a 2-D animator, 3-D animator, content writer, background artist, illustrator, visual effects creator, compositor, and editor.

Tshering Yangki has been working at iBEST for almost six years.

“I had no knowledge of animation when I had just completed Class XII. I came to Thimphu to attend a month-long tally course. After that, a relative of mine asked if I would be interested to join iBEST to learn animation,” Tshering said.

iBEST alone has more than 30 animators, tell-tale sign of growing popularity of animation.

Druk Motion’s animator, Tandin Dorji, said that he started the firm in 2019 with a dream to improve animation quality in the country.

“I feel animation is the most effective way to communicate. It can change the perspective of how you see the world. It can bring out creativity. If you are passionate and want to tell a story, animation is the best platform,” he said.

Some of the animation firms in the capital are iBEST, Zoom Out, Yellow Box, Athang, and Druk Motion. These firms employ around 60 people in animation works.

And competition is stiff.

Nima, an animator, said that script, a character design, colour choice, storyboarding, and the background colour should be properly planned. It takes a lot of effort.”


Pema Tashi is an animator. He said that animators face problems of meeting the demand of the client, deadline, and creativity issues.

“We also look at the best international animation works before proceeding with ours. I am optimistic that Bhutanese animators will do the work independently in the future,” he said.

For these firms, government agencies are the main clients.

Tandin Dorji said that it was sometimes difficult to get works. “The only customer we have right now is SAMUH.”

Another challenge is not getting enough time for production, according to Tandin. “There is  lack of professional trainers in the country.”

Chief Executive Officer of Athang Private Limited, Karma Dhendup, said that his customers are government and international agencies, overseas companies, and a few  IT professionals.

Competing with state-owned companies in ERP market he said, was changeling. “Because government owned agencies award them the work directly. Audience in Bhutan is small. To take it to the international level is costly and time-consuming.”

Sonam Wangdi, an animator at Yellow Box, said that resources are expensive. Animation needs a highly integrated computer.

The way forward

Karma Dhendup said that to reach global level, support from the government is necessary.

The animator at Zoom Out, Choling, said that Bhutan has a rich repertoire of stories and folktales which could be turned into animation programmes. “For that, the government can and must support animation firms and animators. Government can, for example, provide soft loans to animators to buy equipment.”

“Government can also provide free or cheaper space in incubation hubs.”

Sonam Wangdi, said that the government could provide advanced training to young and aspiring animators.

Many say that animation could be taught in schools to bring about significant development in the sector.

Edited by Jigme Wangchuk

Monsoon woes for Hongkong Market meat vendors 

Sat, 07/24/2021 - 13:52

Yangyel Lhaden

Meat vendors in Hongkong Market above the Norzin Lam dread rainy days. Every downpour floods their shops with water mixed with raw sewage.

The vendors resorted to different measures to stop the stormwater from entering their place but in vain.

The stormwater enters through the left entrance of the meat shops and rainwater floods the ground floor.

One of the meat vendors said last week the meat vendors had to drain the water and clean the space twice.

She said it only took a few minutes of heavy rain to expose the poor status of the drainage system. “Within minutes the ground floor is flooded with stormwater with water level as high as  80cm.”

A pipe under the road drains water from the areas above the road at the entrance of meat shops. He said that the surface runoff water from the road also enters the ground floor.

A meat vendor said Thimphu thromde constructed a drain with metal slab covering near the left entrance but it did not serve the purpose. “Surface runoff water does not enter the drain as the metal slab is higher than the road.”

She said thromde officials suggested closing the entrance but unloading their goods would be difficult.

It is not just the vendors. Shopkeepers in the adjacent Karma Khangzang building said for the first time in 14 years surface runoff water entered their shop. 

“All the footwear in my shop was covered with sewage and debris,” a shopkeeper said. She suspects covering the open drain near Burger Point to convert it into a footpath worsened the situation.

A shopkeeper along the footpath said every time it rained, he had to close his shop as it was risky. “The force of stormwater has broken the footpath and it overflowed.”

He said before when the drain was not covered, they could remove the garbage and overflow of stormwater was not a problem. “With limited human resources in thromde, I don’t expect them to clean the drain.”

He said that the thromde could have left a part open to clean whenever the drain gets clogged.

Kuensel tried contacting Thromde officials but they were unavailable for comments.

Edited by Tshering Palden

Thromde starts GIS study to improve public transport in Thimphu 

Sat, 07/24/2021 - 13:51

Yangyel Lhaden

Come November and Thimphu Thromde will implement the new routes, bus stops, and terminals that are identified through geographic information system (GIS)-based street mapping.

In the past 22 years, since the start of the City Bus Service (CBS) in Thimphu, the routes, bus stops and terminals were based on complicated conventional maps.

Lack of technical expertise and problems in organisational structure posed serious challenges in upgrading the system. The CBS was under Bhutan Post Corporation while its services were related to the thromde office.

Last year, the CBS was placed under Thimphu Thrompon. Thimphu thromde’s Chief Urban Planner Thinley Norbu said for city bus services it required land for routes and bus stops which was directly related with the thromde office.

He said officials from CBS presented how city buses functioned and shared bus stops were randomly selected according to public demand and about the inefficiency of the circular route.

Thinley Norbu said both CBS and Thimphu thromde felt the need for a professional study according to GIS to identify routes, bus stops, and terminals.

That’s when the urban planning division began studying every bus stop and route to map the new routes based on population density.

Urban Planner, Sonam Jamtsho said for efficient public transport, accurate timing for bus arrival was important. “Our concept of new routes was an interchange of buses whereby a person had to wait for a maximum of 10 minutes for the next bus.”

For example, he said that a person travelling to Motithang from Babesa could board a bus on the trunk lane and disembark at Memorial Chorten. From there the person can board a subsidiary bus to Motithang.

A trunk or main lane from Babesa to Dechecholing will connect North and South of Thimphu. Those places not covered by trunk routes are connected with each other and to the trunk route by subsidiary routes.

Ten subsidiary routes are Samtenling to Yangchenphug Higher Secondary School (YHSS), Zilukha to Motithang, Motithang to YHSS, Changedaphu to Lungtenphu, Changjalu-old highway-Semtokha-Olakha workshop, Pelkhil Higher Secondary School to Royal Thimphu College (RTC)  junction, Babesa to Debsi, RTC junction to RTC, RTC to Serbithang, and Changbangdu to Changzamtog.

A ring road, for interconnection within the city covering places: flyover bridge, hospital, Changangkha, Kawajangsa, Centenary Farmers’ Market, Babesa Express Way, and back to fly over bridge is also identified.

Sonam Jamtsho said that complete coverage was impossible as there were chances a bus could ply empty to places such as upper Pamtsho. “Upper Pamtsho is not connected to CBS.”

Currently, the city bus follows a circular route meaning buses start and end the journey at the only terminal in Changlam taxi parking which consumes time.

Sonam Jamtsho said that the GIS team in its initial study identified two terminals in North and South but that was not enough. “An additional central terminal at the CBS office is identified. One in Motithang is in the plan.”

A southern terminal at the RTC junction is under construction and the northern terminal will be in Dangrina.

Sonam Jamtsho said that the team studied the distance a person had to walk or travel to a stop upon boarding and after getting off the bus.

He said that the last-mile connectivity could be walking, driving with a private car to the bus stop, and cab. “ Driving with a private car to the bus stop is not feasible in Bhutan.”

He said at least a footpath connectivity should be provided according to our plan. “Construction of the footpath will depend on the budget.”

Thromde is conducting a two-year study of the feasibility of a rapid transit system or a dedicated lane for buses.

Edited by Tshering Palden

Phuentsholing on a full vaccination drive

Fri, 07/23/2021 - 12:59

… unlocking plans onboard as fourth lockdown ends

Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing

Despite still being in lockdown, more than 4,000 individuals received the second dose in Phuentsholing as of yesterday. This includes all the residents of Mega Zone 3 and parts of Mega Zone 1 and 2.

Children aged between 12 and 17 years were given Pfizer shots. Phuentsholing has 1,771 youths in this age group. There are 3,871 under 11 years old.

Vaccination at Mega Zone 3 started on July 21 and concluded yesterday, while vaccination for Mega Zone 1 and 2 began yesterday.

Mega Zone 3 covers Pasakha and Pekarzhing. Vaccination started earlier in Mega Zone 3 because it didn’t report any positive cases for more than 21 days.

Although the plan was to start the vaccination drive after the mass screening in Mega Zone 1 and 2, the Southern Covid-19 Task Force (SC-19TF) announced a change in the plan late night on July 21. The mass testing was cancelled.

Vaccination started from Phuentsholing Shedra and Toorsa Tar in Mega Zone 1 and Rinchending Goenpa and College of Science and Technology (CST) in Mega Zone 2.

The vaccinators go door to door. De-suups called out residents for the jab. Those suffering from Covid-19-like signs and symptoms were not vaccinated.

Individuals in red buildings and clusters will be vaccinated in their respective homes or apartments after completion of vaccination.

Vaccination underway in Pasakha

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Relaxation starts in Mega Zone 3

Since vaccination is over in Mega Zone 3, a restrictive movement or yellow phase will begin today.

Movement of people on foot within the sub-zones Ahlay, Pasakha and Pekarzhing will be allowed until 7:30pm. Shops are allowed to open from 8am to 7pm.

Construction activities and operation of industries are allowed in self-containment mode. Export and import will be facilitated as per the protocols prescribed by the SC-19TF.

Mega Zone 3 will transition into the green phase or complete relaxation from July 30, provided there are no positive cases.

Meanwhile, Mega Zone 1 and 2  will remain under complete lockdown until the vaccination campaign is over.

A restrictive movement, for one vaccinated individual from every household, will be allowed to come out to buy essential supplies from the eighth day for the next one week. This means, the vaccination programme will complete by July 28 and only one person will be allowed to come out until August 4.

A complete lockdown is expected for Mega Zones 1 and 2 between August 10 and 13.

This period will give adequate antibodies to vaccinated individuals including children who are receiving their first Pfizer dose.

Any response measures to be imposed upon detection of cases during lockdown or yellow phase post-vaccination will be decided based on the epidemiological situation. 

This approach adopted will give everyone who got vaccinated adequate immune protection that can avoid or minimise outbreaks and transmission after re-opening.  

Meanwhile, symptomatic testing will continue in all three zones. 

The current enhanced surveillance strategy will also be continued for another month after vaccination.

What are the people  saying?

While vaccination has come as a huge relief to residents, many businessmen are worried further lockdown until full relaxation would worsen their situation.

A restaurant owner, Karma Tshering Dorji said he doesn’t understand why there should be further lockdown until mid-August after the vaccination.

“It is almost half a year,” he said. “We have rents to pay. The things inside the restaurant are already damaged.”

He said that restaurants and bars were the ones that will see maximum protocols after the relaxation. Crowding at the multi-storied vegetable complex was more concerning, he said.

“I think shops in the town must be allowed to sell vegetables until the outbreak is fully contained after the vaccination,” he said.

A grocery retail shop owner, Dorji Wangchuk said he even called 5555 to ask if there was any possibility to take some essentials home.

“But it was not allowed. The rats must have spoiled everything,” he said. He said he is worried about paying four months’ rent and the further lockdown was not helping.

“It is more than three months and there are positive cases from the community which is also surprising,” he said. “I have some proof to show why there are positive cases.”

Another shopkeeper, Namgay Dorji said the vaccination was a blessing. “But we are worried the lockdown will continue until mid-August.”

“We are under lockdown from April to August. How can we manage to pay rent for five months?” he said. “Government has lots of plans like fiscal and monetary policies for the nation. But now the government must focus more on Phuentsholing and provide us with special schemes.”

A resident said that the vaccination and further lockdown plan was a “very well directed move” by the SC-19TF.

“It is better than waiting a few more days for the mass screening,” he said. “Otherwise the vaccination would be delayed.”

Meanwhile, Samtse vaccinated around 3,000 individuals on the first day of the campaign yesterday.

“Given that these places are still under lockdown, we are aware of the inconveniences caused, however, we acknowledge the solidarity shown by the individuals residing there,” Health Minister Dechen Wangmo said.

Edited by Tshering Palden

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Increase in prices of essentials remains unabated

Fri, 07/23/2021 - 12:56

Govt. hopes the inflation will slowdown after second round of vaccination

MB Subba

While prices of local farm produce have decreased significantly, the overall inflation rate remains high and unabated amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

In one of the highest increases, the prices of petrol and diesel have increased by about 53 percent the past one year. This implies that the fuel budget of a person who spent Nu 2,500 monthly a year ago has increased by about Nu 1,325 for the same quantity.

The prices per litre of petrol and diesel in Thimphu was Nu 77.2 and Nu 73.46 respectively as of yesterday. The prices of petrol and diesel in June last year were Nu 50 and 48 respectively.

Similarly, the price increases of food items have been sharp and continued to be the main driver of inflation of food items at 12.7 percent in the past year, according to data published by the National Statistics Bureau (NSB) on July 13.

The betel nut and betel leaves recorded the highest increase with 40.75 percent, followed by meat and cooking oils at 37.21 percent and 20.21 percent respectively. A carton of Dalda that cost Nu 900 last year increased by 100 percent this year.

The overall consumer price index (CPI) for the month of May 2021 increased by 8.69 percent from May 2020. 

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This means that the prices of goods and services consumed by the households are 8.69 percent costlier in May this year compared to the same month last year.

Prices of non-food items went up by 5.40 percent in the past one year with garments and transport recording the highest increase of more than 8 percent. Increase in transport is mainly due to price of petrol and diesel.

Economic Affairs Minister Loknath Sharma said that the prices of fuel were beyond the government’s control as the prices are determined by the prices of crude India purchases and the market factors.

“We hope that the situation will improve once the country achieves herd immunity after the completion of the second round of vaccination. Some of the restrictions are expected to be relaxed to reduce the cost of transportation,” he said, adding that consumers should refrain from making unnecessary purchases.

Lyonpo said that the government was not been able to do much as the inflation came not only from the production level but also due to high transportation costs.

“The high loading and unloading charges at Mini Dry Port (MDP) in Phuentsholing and Sorchen makes the goods expensive besides other factors,” he said.

Inflation, he said, was prevalent in most countries and Bhutan’s inflation rate was about 3 percent higher than that of India. Lyonpo said that the capacity of the MDP was restricted and only a limited numbers of vehicles and workers are allowed inside due to Covid-19 protocols and that waiting charges had to be paid for vehicles.

The economic affairs minister said that the implementation of the recently passed Customs Duty Bill 2021 would reduce the prices of goods imported from third countries. The Bill reduces the duty to 10 percent from the existing rates of up to 50 percent on about 500 goods from third countries.

However, the prices of local farm produce have decreased. For instance, the prices of local chillies fell from up to Nu 600 per kilogramme last winter to Nu 30 per kilogramme recently in some dzongkhags.

Similarly, the prices of other vegetables like cabbage have also decreased.

Paro’s Dogar Gup, Lhab Tshering, said that farmers used to get Nu 500 for 30 kilogrammes of cabbage in the Phuentsholing auction yard before the pandemic. “Now farmers are selling 30 kilogrammes of cabbage for Nu 300, which comes to Nu 10 per kg only, to Food Corporation of Bhutan Limited (FCBL). They have to either sell at the low price or let them rote in the garden,” he said.

Lyonpo Loknath Sharma said that the low prices for local produce were because of the supply and demand factors. But he added that India’s recent decision to recognize the import of chilli, beans, cabbage, cauliflower, carrot, peas and soybean from Bhutan would benefit farmers in terms of getting better prices and access to market.

According to the NSB, drop in vegetable prices contributed to the decrease prices in the food group.

Inflation also erodes the purchasing power of money. The purchasing power of Ngultrum as measured by CPI is Nu 64 as of May 2021 compared to December 2012. This means, Nu 100 in May 2021 is worth only Nu 64 at December 2012 prices.

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Why we must get vaccinated

Fri, 07/23/2021 - 12:53

The second roll-out of the vaccines has begun and many have already taken the jab. 

There are doubts among the people and the choice of vaccine is a major issue.

If there is any choice to make, it is this: get vaccinated. Will you be free of Covid-19 after getting the vaccine? No, but you will not succumb to the disease, the dreadful pandemic.

We have three approved vaccines available today. All are WHO-approved. But there are influences in the play. The fact is, no vaccine is better than the other.

But then we are seeing a sort of marketing on the boards where vaccinations are happening. This must stop, immediately, because further confusion is really unnecessary.

We have a choice—to get any vaccine of our choice. But go get it, that’s more important.

The vaccine politics has heightened; it will only get worse in the coming days and months.   

The whole debate must be understood in this new context—the need to go on and open up in the most sensible manner which is by building herd immunity.

Is that enough? No.

We need to do much more than we have been able to do. At a time when a majority of Bhutanese people are asking whether they should get a jab or which vaccine they must get, a clear-cut advisory is in short supply. This is the real problem.

Giving direction is more important than giving choices.

There is science to tell us that vaccination is important to protect ourselves from this menacing scourge. What is unhealthy is the information that is coming out about the vaccines. 

Logically, if the vaccines work wonderfully fine individually to protect ourselves from the virus that has caused so much disruption in societies, why and how is mixing a danger?

The vaccine politics has been raging and it will in the coming days only get worse, unfortunately. What is important is that we make sure that we get them from the vial to the arm sooner than later. 

Businesses can open and the public can breathe fresh air. Economically that’s good but we can not have it one way. No. 

We can defeat the virus, why not. But go get a jab, no matter what vaccine brands you’re getting. You will be protected and so the society will be.

Moderna? Get it. AstraZeneca? Go get it. Sinopharm, why not? These are vaccines that will help us fight the virus. But this is just a new beginning for us. Much will depend on how we react to the pandemic.

 We are yet to see the light at the end of the tunnel and we cannot play with these urgent choices, not this time.

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Vaccines airlifted to Lunana yesterday

Fri, 07/23/2021 - 12:52

Phurpa Lhamo | Gasa

Two days after the second Covid-19 vaccination campaign began, 18 Lunaps received their jab yesterday. 

Although Gasa dzongkhag had booked a chopper to lift the vaccines on July 17, the flight had to be cancelled because of bad weather conditions. 

With improved weather conditions yesterday, a doctor from the national referral hospital and health assistant (HA) of Lunana primary health centre (PHC) flew to Lhedi chiwog from Paro. 

The chopper landed at around 10:45am in Lhedi, taking 510 doses of Moderna and 100 doses AstraZeneca. 

Lunana’s HA, Dhan Kumar, said that vaccination began immediately after they landed. 

He said the 18 individuals took Moderna.

Health officials initially planned to complete vaccinating residents of Wachey and Threlga villages by yesterday. With the delay, the team will travel to Threlga village today and to Wachey tomorrow.

Lunana gewog has 462 people eligible for vaccination.

Similar to the first dose, a different team of six people, three health staff, two desuups and one caretaker, will walk on foot to vaccinate Lunaps.

During the first vaccination campaign, a team walked over 53 hours (often at night), and travelled to places at an altitude of more than 4,100 metres above sea level to complete vaccinating the residents on time. 

Dhan Kumar said they would be carrying the vaccines on their back. “We will try to complete the vaccination between one week and 10 days.” 

In villages, Lunaps have been informed of the date the team would reach with vaccines.

Lhedi tshogpa, Gyembo Tenzin, said they were waiting for the vaccines. “I don’t know why but many want to get Moderna this time.”

Meanwhile, a separate team will be airlifted to Esuna, which is the furthest village in the gewog.

Esuna is about five days walk from Ramina village. The village has five households. 

In three other gewogs of Khatoed, Khamoed and Laya, 17 vaccination posts have been identified. Gasa has 1,859 individuals eligible for vaccination.

Edited by Tashi Dema

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High Court upholds lower court judgment on Wamrong battery case

Fri, 07/23/2021 - 12:51

Thinley Namgay 

The High Court’s (HC) bench II upheld the judgment of the Trashigang dzongkhag’s court on Wamrong’s battery and trespassing case.

The HC passed the judgment yesterday.

Wamrong drungkhag and Trashigang dzongkhag court found defendant Tshering Yangki guilty of battery and trespassing and gave a concurrent sentencing of 18 months in prison.

The courts also ordered her to pay Nu 260,000 as compensation to the victim.

It stated Tshering Yangki must pay the compensation and medical expenses to the victim within a month from the day the judgment was given.

Defendant Tshering Yangki appealed to the HC earlier this year contending she is not guilty for both battery and trespassing.

She also contended the lower court’s decision and claimed she was imposed huge compensation and the courts’ dismissal of the assault charges against the victim and her son.

The defendant also submitted to the HC that her family was defamed after the short video clip of her assaulting the victim went viral on Facebook. She questioned if freelance journalist Namgay Zam could raise funds for the victim.

The court, however, ruled that the issues are not related to the battery and trespassing case and the video clip in fact serves as an evidence. “Medical reports from Riserboo hospital, Mongar regional referral hospital and national referral hospital in Thimphu confirm the victim’s claims,” the judgment stated.

It ruled that the relevant ministry and agency should deal with the defendant’s contention over the fund raising.

Meanwhile, the judgment also stated that the media is the country’s fourth estate and it has the responsibility to inform the public correctly to gain public trust. “Media should function according to its rights and duties enshrined in the Constitution.”

Edited by Tashi Dema

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Golden Youth Award 2021 to be held online

Fri, 07/23/2021 - 12:50

Sherub Wangmo | Intern

The most coveted Golden Youth Award for students will be held online this year.

The annual award Youth Development Fund (YDF) organises every summer could not be conducted last year because of the pandemic.

Officials explained the 13th award is being organised online for class X students of academic 2020.

They explained everything, starting from the registration was done online through their portal system.

Meanwhile, for the award, students are nominated from all 20 dzongkhags to compete in the national level.

According to the organisers, students will go through series of activities like essay writing, extempore speech and showcasing talents and test their general knowledge and intelligence quotient (GK and IQ) on zoom platform.

A YDF official said they have a focal person in every dzongkhag who is responsible for making the students aware of the online activities. 

Organisers also said from the five students in every dzongkhag, a girl and a boy, would be selected by the dzongkhag selection committee chaired by the dzongdag. The two candidates would be then referred to the national selection committee.

They said the top 40 candidates would go through the final selection from July 27 to 30 where four students, a winner and three runners up would be declared on August 5.

The winner would receive scholarship from YDF to study overseas. Nine Golden Youth Award winners have received scholarships to study in Netherland, Singapore and Canada as of now.

Edited by Tashi Dema

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Local experts say side effects not from mixing vaccine 

Fri, 07/23/2021 - 12:48

Side effects are normal and people should take PCM if the pain is severe  

Younten Tshedup  

After more people, who have received Moderna vaccine as their second dose, shared about side effects publicly, local health experts said they are normal and not life-threatening.

The side effects include ‘severe’ pain at the place of injection, joint pain, chills, and fever.

Many recipients of the heterologous regime (Moderna after AstraZeneca) of the vaccine are experiencing the symptoms a day after the vaccination.

Some of the people Kuensel spoke to said that the pain and discomfort could be because the Moderna vaccine was more efficacious. “Lyonchhen said that if you get sick after vaccination, it shows the vaccine is working,” said a Thimphu resident who received her second dose of the vaccine on Tuesday.

She said that she began to feel ‘feverish’ towards the evening of the vaccination day. “I couldn’t sleep throughout the night as the pain on my arm grew stronger and the fever rose. I took a PCM and I was absolutely fine the other day.”

However, a few others said that the pain at the injection site and entire body ache has not receded even on the third day of receiving the vaccine. “Maybe mixing vaccines wasn’t a good idea after all. I had no side effects during my first dose,” said a corporate employee.

Kuensel learnt that some of the recipients were bed-ridden on the night of receiving the vaccine. There were a few who received the AstraZeneca vaccine as the second dose experiencing a similar form of side effects.

Should you be  concerned?

National Immunisation Technical Advisory Team (NI-TAG) member, Dr Sonam Wangchuk said, “People need not be worried.”

He said that any vaccine or medicine came with a certain level of side effect and that it was absolutely normal.

He said that the only side effect of vaccination people should be concerned with was the anaphylactic shock. This, he said, would be an immediate reaction of the body to a vaccine and that it needed medical attention. For this, the 30 minutes mandatory observation was put in place.

Dr Sonam Wangchuk said that the majority of the common side effects such as fever, headache, joint pain, and pain at the site of injection, among others, happened between 24 to 48 hours after the vaccination.

He said that as per evidence and clinical studies, the first dose of AstraZeneca vaccine produced slightly higher common side effects compared to the booster dose of the same vaccine. However, for a mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna), he said that the second dose had proportionately higher side effects than the first dose.

“Now that we are mixing the two, a few studies have shown that there will be a slightly higher side effect. However, this doesn’t mean that a heterologous regime of vaccination was associated with severe side effects,” he said.

“We are distributing paracetamol to all recipients after the vaccination. If they experience some side effects, they should take a tablet,” he said. “If the symptoms don’t subside, they should take another tablet after 12 hours because for some people the episode may last longer than 48 hours.”

However, he cautioned people not to take the paracetamol in anticipation of possible fever or headache. “You should take the medicine only if you are experiencing the pain.”

With some questioning, if the side effects were triggered by injecting a higher dose of the vaccine, Dr Sonam Wangchuk said that the Moderna vaccine was of the same quantity — 0.5ml — used during the first dose. “Even the syringes used are the same, which has a built-in auto-lock system. So, there is no chance of drawing in more content as the syringe locks itself when you reach 0.5ml.”

He added that a higher dosage of the vaccine would not trigger side effects. “People have received double doses of AstraZeneca vaccine during our first campaign. There were no associated side effects.”

According to clinical trials, Dr Sonam Wangchuk said that the people who received the Moderna vaccine experienced a slightly higher pain on the site of injection. “This is expected. However, not all would experience the same as the vaccine works differently on different people.”

Another observation was that some of the people experienced vomiting and gastrointestinal disturbance including diarrhoea after the vaccine. “However, this is all normal as these side effects were already observed during the clinical trials,” he said. “People should not be worried because we’re not seeing anything unique or extra which has not been reflected during the clinical trials of the vaccine.”

Meanwhile, 282,236 people were vaccinated at the end of the third day of the second mass vaccination campaign. Of the 1,307 adverse events following immunisation (AEFI) were reported so far, 530 were reported yesterday.

Edited by Tshering Palden

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Lhamoidzingkha residents plant agave to tackle human wildlife conflict

Fri, 07/23/2021 - 12:01

Choki Wangmo | Dagana

In what could be a local measure towards tackling human-wildlife conflict (HWC), residents of Lhamoidzingkha in Dagana are planting agave plants.

Agave functions as a fence to control wild elephants from entering the fields and villages. 

Studies have shown that agave, a native of arid and semiarid regions of the Americas, will protect elephants from coming into fields when grown in clusters as it has spines along the edges and the tip of the leaf.

Records maintained by the Dagapela forest division reported more than cases of HWC from 2018 to 2019 in Lhamodzingkha. Within the same time period, Dagana reported about 500 HWC cases. 

Lhamoidzingkha Gup, Surja Bahadur Limbu, said that despite measures such as electric fencing, canals, and sirens, HWC is an issue in the locality. “I hope the matured agave plant that grows up to five metres will help keep away the elephants.”

He, however, said elephants are intelligent animals.

Villagers plant agave saplings

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According to the gup, an endowment fund started in 2012 is not operational today.  “Except for seed replacement in case of damage in cereal crops, none of the farmers received compensation.”

A resident of Lhamoidzingkha said he is hoping agave plantation could reduce HWC. “During harvest season, elephants are a nightmare in our village.”

Monitoring and evaluation officer with Agriculture Research and Development Centre (ARDC) in Bajo, Tanka Maya Pulami, said that during consultation meetings, farmers pointed out the need for intervention to reduce crop damage from wild elephants.

However, a forester with the Dagapela forest division said that to reduce conflicts,  interventions  such as installation of electric fencing and habitat management activities were carried out in the dzongkhag. “Recently we have provided recycled plastic posts for 11 electric fencing user groups under Lhamoidzingkha gewog and two groups under Tsendagang gewog with 11 energisers.”

During the current fiscal year, Tanka Maya Pulami said that a sum of Nu 800,000 was budgeted to conduct on-farm research demonstration and trial on wild elephant crop damage control with use of climate smart technologies like plantation of agave, thorny shrubs, and setting up of bee hives.

ARDC raised more than 5,000 seedlings of agave and distributed them to the three gewogs of Lhamoidzingkha from where the elephants enter the villages.

Supported by the Food Security and Agriculture Productivity Project and implemented by ARDC Bajo, the initiative was started in 2017 and is expected to be completed next year.

Edited by Tashi Dema

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Phone thief flees with Nu 600,000 siphoned from owner’s account 

Fri, 07/23/2021 - 12:00

Banking agents in Gelephu and Sarpang overlooked SOP

Nima | Gelephu

A woman operating a restaurant at the industrial service centre in Trashiling, Gelephu lost close to Nu 600,000 this month after her mobile phone was stolen from the restaurant.

The thief used the OTP sent to the registered mobile number to withdraw the cash from the woman’s account from the BOB connect agents in Sarpang and Gelephu.

Cash transactions were done from five different banking agents; 10 transactions were made from an agent in Zomlingthang, Gelephu. Only nine transactions were completed but the agent had paid for 10 transactions.

The mobile number was connected to the woman’s bank account. An account holder can withdraw Nu 10,000 per transaction from an agent.

The case was reported to Gelephu police station on July 16, almost two week after she lost her phone on July 6. The woman knew about the fraud after the bank agent from Zomlingthang, Gelephu reached the woman about the cash transactions made from her account on July 13.

The man had left the country, following required procedures, with the hard cash from the border gate when the case was reported to police. However, the police recovered Nu 45,000.

Gelephu police officials said that there were lapses from both the account holder and agents that allowed the man to withdraw cash without completing the required protocols.

A Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) was put in place to avoid such fraud. Anyone withdrawing cash from agent banks was mandated to fill a form and produce an identity card to prove that the account belongs to him or her, according to the official.

Account holder, Mamta Darjee, said that she had to produce an identity card and sign it when withdrawing cash from her account. “But, I have no idea how my money was withdrawn. I kept it with the bank. I did not know that I could lose my money with my phone,” she said.

She added that she was confused about how the agents paid the man without having to produce any form of identification. “I was told the money could be recovered but nothing happened so far,” said the Mamta Darjee.

The man got the password for the phone from Mamta Darjee’s son who used the mobile phone to play PUBG game. The family also knows the man.

The bank agent operator from Zomlingthang said that any individual approaching the agent to withdraw cash was allowed after producing a one-time password.

“We have to punch in the account number and the OTP is sent to the registered mobile number. Then, the account gets confirmed and we complete the transactions. It’s similar to the ATM that doesn’t ask for the identity,” he said.

He added that 10 transactions were made but only nine were completed. “I lost Nu 10,000 to the man. His phone was switched off when we followed up. The account holder should have immediately blocked the SIM when she lost the phone,” said the agent.

Officials from the Bank Of Bhutan said that the banking agents were trained with the process. “They have to verify through an identity card or bank account card. This mishap could have been avoided if all processes were followed,” according to the official.

Gelephu police is investigating the case.

Edited by Tshering Palden

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P/ling residents get their second dose 

Thu, 07/22/2021 - 12:50

Younten Tshedup  

Much to the relief of those residing in Phuentsholing — the current hotspot of the Covid-19 outbreak in the country — the second round of mass vaccination campaign began from yesterday.

More than 2,000 people in Phuentsholing have received their second dose as of yesterday.

As the second nationwide vaccination campaign rolled out from July 20, many Phuentsholing residents remained concerned as to whether they would receive their vaccines on time.

According to sources, the initial plan was to conduct a mass testing in Phuentsholing before vaccinating the people there.

The bordering town of Phuentsholing is currently under a complete lockdown since July 9. The two-week lockdown will end today.   Phuentsholing entered its third lockdown on April 17 this year, and since then the lockdown has not been completely lifted.

The technical advisory group (TAG), after consultation with the relevant stakeholders, decided to start the vaccination programme from July 21.

Dr Sonam Wangchuk of the National Immunisation Technical Advisory Group (NI-TAG) said that given the risk in Phuentsholing it was decided that all Phuentsholing residents would also be vaccinated along with the rest of the country.

The vaccination started from Mega Zone III yesterday as no positive case was detected from this area for the last two months.

The zone covers Pasakha and Pekarzhing areas.

A slightly risker area, Dr Sonam Wangchuk said, was Mega Zone I that included the Amochhu, Damdara and Kabreytar, and Core II areas. “Every now and then there are positive cases detected from these areas, which is why we will have to first test the people there before rolling out the vaccines.”

A representative mass testing will be conducted between July 22 and 23 in the mega zone where one individual from each household will be tested.

Vaccination in Mega Zone I will start from July 24 until July 26.

The most volatile of the mega zones has been Mega Zone II that include Core I, III, and IV.

“We have been recording positive cases from this zone despite the lockdown,” said Dr Sonam Wangchuk.

Another representative mass testing will be conducted between July 24 and 25 in the Core I and Rinchending areas taking one person from each household.

A mass sweeping would be conducted in Core III and Core IV areas during the same time.

Vaccination in Mega Zone II would be conducted between July 27 and 30.

To ensure smooth testing and achieve maximum vaccination coverage, the respective mega zones will remain under complete lockdown during the mass testing and vaccination period. Import and export will also be not allowed during the period.

Dr Sonam Wangchuk said that vaccination in Phuentsholing would not follow the regular station-based immunisation strategy. “It would be conducted in a cluster-based or colony-based manner in order to avoid gatherings and minimise contact between people during the vaccination.”

Meanwhile, at the end of the second day, 194,588 people were vaccinated with the second dose of Covid-19 vaccines.

Day two of the campaign saw 95,232 new recipients of the vaccine. Health officials said that majority of the recipients on the second day took Moderna vaccine in a heterologous regime.

About 450 new AEFI (adverse events following immunisation), including headache, fever, and tenderness at the site of injection were reported.

Edited by Jigme Wangchuk

OTT platforms to self-regulate digital content 

Thu, 07/22/2021 - 12:50

Chhimi Dema  

Over-the-top media or digital content such as web series, short films, documentaries, animations, and any other similar online video-on-demand content will not have to undergo the current review and certification system procedures and protocol implemented by the National Film Commission Secretariat (NFCS).

This was following a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that was signed on Tuesday between NFCS and over-the-top (OTT) platforms–Samuh and Songyala. An over-the-top media service is offered directly to viewers via the internet through OTT platforms.

NFCS’ officiating head, Tenzin Gyeltshen, said that the OTT platforms were beneficial to the film producers because they provided an opportunity to sell their films or tie up with OTT platforms to create content.

He said: “It not only benefits the filmmakers but also youth in the creative industry.”

The cinema halls have been closed since March last year following the first positive case in the country. Kuensel reported earlier that about 20 films were not released and 10 films were not screened in other dzongkhags.

Anywhere in the world, OTT contents are not regulated, Tenzin Gyeltshen said. “The MoU is a freedom with responsibility for the OTT platforms.”

He said that it was challenging for NFCS with a small set-up to review the contents that were continuously created for OTT platforms.

However, the OTT platforms need to apply for filming permits from NFCS and acquire any other required approvals from relevant authorities and agencies.

“The NFCS shall seek the support of the Media Council of Bhutan, the legitimate government agency charged with the responsibility to look after media content, to monitor and evaluate the OTT contents”, stated that MoU.

The OTT platforms were also to institute an internal review system or mechanism to ensure all its contents were made as per the established existing norms, regulations and guidelines.

Tenzin Gyeltshen said that in the existing rules and regulations, there were no rules on how to review or a fee structure for commercial films which includes web series, dramas, short films, among others.

The Rules Governing Examination and Certification of Films defines ‘films’ as a form of moving image production including feature films, drama, documentaries, advertisements and music videos that are meant for commercial and public screening.

Edited by Tshering Palden

Education roadmap is a visionary document and shouldn’t be politicised: Sherig Lyonpo

Thu, 07/22/2021 - 12:49

Yangchen C Rinzin 

Education transformation, curriculum, pedagogy, and information and communications technology (ICT) are some of the reforms that will be looked into in the education ministry’s 21st Century School Education Roadmap and Beyond.

According to the Sherig Lyonpo, Jai Bir Rai, the roadmap is a visionary document developed drawing inspiration from the royal decree (Kasho) on the education reform to address various issues and provide the way forward. “It is also included as a new initiative in the ministry’s 12th Plan.”

But educationists are questioning if the ministry’s decision to develop an education roadmap would scrap off the Bhutan Education Blueprint 2014-2024.

Some educationists said that if every new government keeps coming up with a different roadmap or blueprint without any concrete intervention in the quality of education, the education system will continue to remain under public’s scrutiny and criticism.

A senior teacher serving in a remote dzongkhag questioned who would address the present issues in the education system if governments keep changing education strategies. “No government would implement the education policy and plan of the previous government.”

The blueprint, formulated by the previous government, is a time-bound strategic roadmap for a systematic transformation of the school education system.

It has a sequenced plan on how to transform the schools based on priority, by 2024, schools and the education system should be performing at high levels of effectiveness and efficiency.

However, Sherig Lyonpo told Kuensel that the education roadmap is completely different from the blueprint. “The roadmap is a visionary document, an aspirational document for school education for the future, which is why the document is named as 21st Century and beyond.”

He said the blueprint is a timeline on what should be implemented and when.

He also clarified there is no political agenda in developing the roadmap because the ministry is still implementing it. “The ministry is also currently reviewing the blueprint, but the pandemic disrupted its verification processes.”

Lyonpo JB Rai said it is difficult to implement what is in the blueprint with changing times, which does not necessarily mean it is being politicised or doing away with the plan. “The roadmap doesn’t have an exact timeline, but gives a direction for the future.”

He said that with time, some plans in the roadmap might not be implementable.

Meanwhile, the roadmap is almost complete and it will undergo different consultations including parents, political parties, and various agencies related to the education fraternity before submitting to the Cabinet.

Lyonpo JB Rai said the consultation is expected to bring in values, suggestions and feedback. “Consultation is important because the roadmap should be a document for everyone and not just for the ministry. People must understand that the education system cannot be changed overnight.”

He said that once the roadmap is ready, there would be specific blueprints for curriculum like how to go textbook less, or a blueprint on pedagogy that will prepare teachers for the future education system. “The roadmap would also prepare students for future jobs depending on the country’s economy.”

The roadmap is targeted to be ready by December this year.

Edited by Tashi Dema

The time calls for innovative finance: conservationists

Thu, 07/22/2021 - 12:49

Chhimi Dema

With the world already witnessing the impacts of global warming, the need for innovative financing in the green sector has become not a choice but a necessity.

This is from virtual national policy dialogue on financing for socio-ecological production landscape that was held on July 20.

The session was part of the dialogue on “Community-based Landscape Management for Resilient Ecosystems” organised by the Bhutan Ecological Society in partnership with Global Environment Facility-Small Grants Programme (GEF-SGP) under UNDP.

Speaking at the dialogue, UNDP’s BIOFIN project coordinator, Ngawang Gyeltshen, said that innovative finance was about identifying solutions that can mobilise new financing for development.

Innovative finance or financing refers to a range of non-traditional mechanisms to raise additional funds for development aid through innovative projects such as micro-contributions, taxes, public-private partnerships and market-based financial transactions, among others.

“To an extent innovative finance raises new funding, but innovative finance is also about optimal use or use of traditional or available funds,” Ngawang Gyeltshen said.

He added that innovative finance and innovation, in general, is not always about new or break-through ideas or ICT, but also about simple ideas that can yield results, copying from where things worked or looking at historical trends, for example.

In Bhutan, one of the innovation financing programmes is the payment of ecosystem services, said Jigme Tenzin (PhD), deputy chief forestry officer with the Watershed Management Division, Department of Forests and Park Services.

Citing an example of watershed protection from the four types of payment ecosystems, he said that protecting watersheds and water sources was benefiting the local communities.

Some challenges the speakers highlighted with innovative financing were bringing the stakeholders together, conservation organisations working in silos, the system that was failing to take risks, and the limited role of financial institutions in innovative financing.

World Wildlife Fund’s country director, Tashi Jamtsho, said that there is no choice but to invest in ecosystem restoration.

He said that the country was on the right track with the development approach of Gross National Happiness that has environment conservation one of the foundation pillars and the constitutional requirement of maintaining at least 60 percent of the country under forest coverage.

“But the question is are we doing enough?” he asked. “Doing enough not in the sense of reforestation, species conservation, watershed management, but doing enough to bring people and institutions from the other side of the fence [conservational side].”

Teachers find sponsors to help needy students get phones for online classes

Thu, 07/22/2021 - 12:47

Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing

Teachers can go beyond classrooms and school to help their students.

This is exactly what two teachers of Sonamgang MSS in Phuentsholing have done.

After learning that some students didn’t have phones for online classes, the teachers, Chhimi Pelden (the school vice principal) and Pema Chhoki, ventured to finding a solution.

They got in touch with several sponsors from the community and succeeded getting funds.

In June, the duo distributed 16 Samsung Galaxy M01 Core 16 mobile phones to students from Classes IV to X.

One of the recipient parents said she had a tough time managing her children’s online classes with just one phone at home.

“My son is in Class IX and he uses the phone for his online classes. That meant my Class VI-daughter would have to miss her online classes,” she said.“All our problems are solved now.”

She said her husband, a driver, is jobless these days.

Another woman with two children in Classes IV and VIII did not have a phone after her phone got damaged.

“My children went to their friends’ house to learn from online classes,” she said. “Everything is fine now. I would like to thank the teachers for their initiative.”

Chhimi Pelden said they found that one of the reasons why students did not participate in online classes was due to lack of gadgets.

“We volunteered to look for old and useable mobiles. We got in touch with a school management board (SMB) member, a businesswoman, Deki Choden, and asked if she had old and useable mobile phones.”

Deki volunteered to sponsor two phones. Bhutan-India Friendship Association (BIFA) sponsored 14 phones. A mobile shop, Ugyen & Brothers, agreed to supply the phone at a discounted rate of Nu 6,000 each.

Pema Chhoki said many students are still sharing their parents’ phone for online classes and lessons.

“We mostly helped students with single parents who had lost their income during the pandemic,” Pema Chhoki said.

Fundraising by the teachers is underway as some students are still in need of mobile phones. The target is to sponsor 20 students from Classes IV to VIII.

A total of 17 phones are ready. Of the total, a businessman, who is also an SMB member, Krishna Tamang, sponsored 11 phones. Parents and teachers from the school sponsored six more phones.

The phones will be distributed after the lockdown.

Teachers in other schools and individuals in Phuentsholing are also helping the needy students in similar ways.

Phuentsholing has been under lockdown since April 17.

Schools have also been closed since then and students are learning from online classes.

The government also has decided to shift students of Classes IX to XII by August this year. Classes PP to VIII students will continue with education online.

There is government plan to provide tablets to needy students across the country.

About 13,000 needy students could get the tablets if the plan gets through.

Edited by Jigme Wangchuk

Landslide in Garzhikha

Thu, 07/22/2021 - 12:46

Staff Reporter 

A landslide buried an attached toilet in Garzhikha, Wangdue yesterday morning.

The landslide occurred  around 4:30am.

No casualties were reported.

According to Bjena Gup Khandu, a machine was also deployed yesterday and had cleared the slide to avoid further storage of water to avoid slides.

“The main house is safe. The landslide had just passed over the toilet, which was attached to the house.”

Yesterday, the gewog and dzongkhag officials processed required documents for insurance, Gup Khandu said.

He added that the house resided below wetland areas, which had overflowing water due to rainfall. “There was heavy rainfall at night prior to the slide. That was the lone house in the area.”

Edited by Jigme Wangchuk