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Updated: 51 min 57 sec ago

Omchhu bridge will not collapse: officials

Sat, 07/13/2019 - 15:21

Although the swollen Omchhu has hit the girder of the new bridge opened to traffic in April this year, project officials from Phuentsholing thromde involved in its construction allay fears that the bridge would collapse.

The only risk is that the water might flow over the bridge

Officials explained it was the unexpected deposition of sediments that raised the water level up at the girder (framework) level.

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Who can visit whose constituency?

Sat, 07/13/2019 - 15:18

Can a Member of Parliament visit another constituency in institutions like schools?

The question dominated the post-session plenary of the National Assembly held on July 2, where members remained divided in their opinions.

The debate ensued following a visit of Menbi Tsenkhar MP Choki Gyeltshen to Phuyum High School in Gangzur Minjey constituency, which is represented by Kinga Penjor. He had visited the school during his constituency visit before the recently concluded parliament session.

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BOD fuel depot part of facelift plan for Trongsa

Sat, 07/13/2019 - 15:17

The dzongkhag administration in Trongsa is not happy with lack of response from BOD management.

A letter was sent to the BOD management on April 15 regarding the need for the development of fuel depot for Trongsa.

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Man gets seven years imprisonment for attempt to rape a minor

Sat, 07/13/2019 - 15:15

Gelephu drungkhag court sentenced a 37-year-old man from Samtenling in Gelephu to seven years in prison for attempting to rape a minor.

Tshewang Palden, who works for the Army Welfare Project, was found guilty of attempting to rape a nine-year-old girl in September last year when the girl and her friends were swimming in Ipoli stream.

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Protection wall and drainage system not benefitting Danglu villagers

Sat, 07/13/2019 - 15:14

Every monsoon, a swollen stream in Danglu village in Thimphu was a threat to the residents.

In 2017, after the stream flooded fields and washed away a man in the village, the village with about 150 households received Nu 1.3 million to construct a protection wall and a proper drainage system.

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The reading retreat

Sat, 07/13/2019 - 15:13

Education has always been His Majesty’s greatest concern and priority, and as teachers, we shoulder the noblest role in providing the kind of education, which will illuminate the future of Bhutan in the best way. Teachers have the greatest blessings and support from the benevolent throne.

“I will always support teachers throughout my reign. I will give you more importance and more recognition than any other sector, because you are going to make the greatest difference to future of our country.” ~His Majesty the King to trainee teachers at Samtse College of Education, 2012

To realize the dream of His Majesty and for the benefit of young minds, a non-profit reading programme, The Reading Retreat, was initiated by a group of teachers from Lobesa LSS in Punakha. The retreat is a testimony of solidarity among the teachers of Lobesa. It’s a programme that is born from the heart of teachers- a platform laid for our children. The retreat flows under the theme- Reading is Fun and aims at making reading an enjoyable endeavor for our children. This initiative was inspired by His Majesty The King’s noble vision to inculcate reading habit among our young minds. It aims to build a lifelong reading habit, while also meaningfully engage children during the summer break. The programme strives towards building a well-read Bhutanese society. The weeklong programme is designed to engage our students in reading-related and other useful activities. The activities begin with a bedtime reading, four sessions during the day and story time before bed. Alongside the reading activities, the retreat also provides them learning experiences of values of Tha Damtshi and Lay Judrey, sense of pride and Bhutanese etiquettes. We also have physical education and recreational activities to give variety to the children. The retreat  encourages children to become independent as they will be required to spend a week on their own, such as taking care of their belongings and themselves.

The programme had 235 students attending the retreat in 2017

 

The 10 objectives of the reading retreat are:

  1. Encourage and develop a love for reading
  2. Perform better in school and life
  3. Use reading skills to improve listening, speaking and writing skills
  4. Use ICT and other mediums to enhance reading skills.
  5. Work as a team and make new friends
  6. Enrich their language and vocabulary
  7. Gain confidence and build self-esteem
  8. Use their summer/winter vacation meaningfully
  9. Become more independent and adventurous
  10. Have Fun and promote happiness through values of Tha Damtshi Lay Judrey

The upcoming reading retreat, which is scheduled from July 21 – 27, is expected to attract 268 students from schools across the country, ranging from classes 4 to 8. Students from as far as Trashigang and Trashiyangtse registered for the retreat this year. We started the programme with a big dream and intentions, and we have successfully completed three retreats in 2016, 2017 and 2018. The programme saw a total of 230 students in 2017 at Lobesa, 235 students in 2018 and 268 students have registered for 2019. We have had children of classes 4-8 from as far as Haa and Samtse. The event has a dedicated Facebook page: The Reading Retreat: Bhutan, and the team uses social media as the main platform to share information, seek donations and send out updates.

Reading Retreat is supported through token entry fees of Nu 500 a student for the weeklong programme, which is challenging to cover all the expenses incurred. However, we seek volunteer donations to run our programme. Thus far, we received donations from few financial institutions, private companies, business firms and individuals. Perfect TMX TMT has been a huge support to the programme since 2018. Punakha dzongkhag administration also supports us with a nominal cash support every year. We also encourage maximum participation of children from economically challenged families by waiving off the fees. Reading Retreat is a non-profit initiative and will remain so for times to come.

The team has a Terms of Reference (ToR) and a dedicated core team of five founding members and 13 working committee members – all teachers. We have Colonel Karma Tshering, SSP of RBP, Punakha as our President since 2017. Volunteers from all sections of the society support the Reading Retreat every year and the team remains indebted to our volunteers for the continued support. As for our future plans, we would like to register with the Civil Society Authority to formalise this initiative.

 

Contributed by

Sonam Norbu 

Founding Member Teacher

Lobesa LSS

somnovu@gmail.com 

Bhutan and global top 10 biodiversity hotspots – A “fact” check

Sat, 07/13/2019 - 15:10

Is Bhutan recognized as one of the top ten global biodiversity hotspots?

The straight answer is No.

Unfortunately, we see this being said again and again, in conferences as well as in our media. If we look deeper in the world of literature, Bhutan was never recognized as a stand-alone biodiversity hotspot but just as part of Eastern Himalayas, in the10 global hotspots concept of 1988.

But hold on, before we get too excited about being recognised as biodiversity hotspot, let’s know the term “biodiversity hotspot.” Biodiversity hotspots are defined as those large regions containing exceptional concentration of plant endemismand experiencing high rates of habitat loss. At present, there are 36 identified biodiversity hotspots in the world, which according to the published scientific literatures, is just 2.3% of Earth’s land surface, but home to around 50% of the world’s endemic plant species and 42% of all terrestrial vertebrates.

 

Existence of biodiversity ‘hotspots’- a bit of history

In 1988, a British Environmentalist Norman Myers published “Threatened Biotas: ‘Hot Spots’ in Tropical Forests” in “The Environmentalist” wherein he proposed ten localities in the tropical forests by virtue of their floristic richness and deforestation rates. Myers called these ten localities as “hotspot” areas, thus, giving ‘birth’ to the concept of biodiversity hotspots. A year after the publication of Myers’ paper, the concept of hotspots was adopted by Conservation International as the guiding principle of investments. It was a “perfect” concept to function as conservation “blue-print” as we have many to protect but with little money.

In Myers’ proposed ten localities of hotspots of 1988, Bhutan featured in the Eastern Himalayas hotspot together with Nepal, neighbouring states of northern India and continuous sector of Yunnan Province in south-western China. For Bhutan to be included in the Eastern Himalayas hotspot, Myers cited A.J.C Grierson and D.G. Long’s “Flora of Bhutan” published in 1983, which estimated 5,000 plant species of which, 750 were estimated to be endemic to the Eastern Himalayas. While Flora of Bhutan provided a much needed information on “exceptional concentration of plant endemism,” Caroline Sergent and teams’ paper of 1985, titled “The forests of Bhutan: a vital resource for the Himalayas?” provided the information on “experiencing high rates of habitat loss” (re-visit the definition of biodiversity hotspots). Their paper informed that increased commercial felling to build saw and ply mills; extension of the road networks; and forest regeneration failure due to un-enclosed livestock herding, as the identified threat to conservation.

Similarly, in 1990, Myers published another paper titled “The biodiversity challenge: Expanded hot-spots analysis,” and in this paper, he identified another eight such areas, four of which were in the tropical forests and four in Mediterranean-type zones. This took total hotspots in the world to 18.

Fast-forward, in 2000, Myers and team published yet another paper titled “Biodiversity hotspots for conservation priorities” in Nature. This time, the paper identified 25 hotspots and unlike earlier years, four vertebrate groups: mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians, were included in addition to vascular plants, which was the only indicator in the earlier hotspots listing. The new classification put Bhutan in the Indo-Burma hotspots, which was, then, one of the nine identified leading hotspots.

In 2005, an additional analysis was undertaken by almost 400 specialists around the globe and brought the total biodiversity hotspots to 34, which was subsequently increased to 35 after adding the “Forest of East Australia.” This reappraisal classified the Indo-Burma as two hotspots: Indo-Burma and Himalaya (Bhutan is in the Himalaya biodiversity hotspot). The latest addition came in February 2016 when the “North American Coastal Plain” was recognized as the Earth’s 36thhotspot. This means, there are 36 biodiversity hotspots in the world now.

 

The “fact”

It is a mistake to “glorify” (if one may like to use this word) Bhutan as one of the 10 global hotspots when hotspot is not necessarily a good thing. Let me reiterate that Bhutan was in the Eastern Himalayan hotspot of 1988 and currently we are in the Himalaya hotspot. Bhutan was never, and not a stand-alone hotspot and definitely not the top 10 global biodiversity hotspots.It appears that we just looked at the first part of the definition of hotspot: ‘concentration of plant endemism’ and began to get excited about hotspot and started to ‘label’ Bhutan as top 10 global biodiversity hotspots. We should be careful that the definition of hotspot also carries negative connotation: ‘experiencing high rates of habitat loss.’ While, we may have higher concentration of plant endemism, it is hard to believe that we seem to embrace even ‘experiencing high rates of habitat loss’, when proudly proclaiming to be a biodiversity hotspot country. Let’s be clear that biodiversity hotspot is not as “glossy” as many of us seem to picture it.

Now, where should we be proud of?

The answer is our biodiversity. We are still one of the biodiversity rich countries in the world and addition of new species to science from Bhutan is a testimony to that. From 2009 to 2017, Bhutan added 31 new species of flora and fauna to science. The new species added to science were 16 species of plants; four moths; four molluscs; one dragonfly; three fish; one stonefly and two beetles. A story on it was covered by BBS on 20 May 2019. According to a recently published “Biodiversity Statistics of Bhutan 2017” by National Biodiversity Centre, Bhutan is home to 11,248 species. This is quite a diversity for a small country like ours.

However, are we bio-diverse enough to feature in the top 10 bio-diverse countries in the world?

In 2016, Mongabay published an article titled “The top 10 most biodiverse countries.” The ranking was undertaken through a weighted index using five groups for animals: amphibians, birds, fish, mammals, and reptiles; and one group for plants: vascular plant. For obvious reason (country size), Bhutan could not even feature in the list of top 50 Earth’s most bio-diverse countries. However, when the same article looked at biodiversity on per unit of area basis to ensure that small countries are not left out, Bhutan could feature in rank 12 on the list of Earth’s most bio-diverse countries. In-case some of you are wondering, Brunei; Gambia; and Belize featured in the top three bio-diverse countries in the world on per unit of area basis.

 

Now what?

Bhutan may not feature in the list of top 10 bio-diverse countries in the world, yet we are probably the only country in the world where the Constitution of the country requires us to maintain at-least sixty percent of our area under forest cover for all times to come. We are probably the only country to have ‘raised our hands’ in 2009 at UNFCCC COP 15 and delivered a declaration titled, “Declaration of the Kingdom of Bhutan – The Land of Gross National Happiness to Save Our Planet”, wherein we committed to keep absorbing more carbon than we emit. Today, a decade after the declaration, we are proudly walking with our heads held high, knowing that our forests is absorbing more carbon than we emit. We are probably the only carbon negative country in the world.

Similarly in 2013, Ida Kubiszewski, a professor at the Australian National University and a team of scholars estimated that the value of ecosystem services provided by our forests to be about USD 15.5 billion/year. They also estimated that more than 50% of the total benefits from our ecosystem services accrue to the people outside Bhutan. This should be enough reason for all Bhutanese to be proud of, as we are contributing the much needed ecosystem services by our virtue of preserving our natural resources, which of-course was meticulously crafted by our beloved monarchs. We have always been a donor country of the most essential “intangible” goods: ecosystem services.

Do we live in a special place?

The currently recognised Himalaya hotspot, where we are in, overlaps the “boundary” with three other hotspots: Mountains of south-west China; Indo-Burma; and Mountains of central Asia. Our location in the Himalaya hotspot, which shares boundaries with these three biodiversity hotspots of the world signifies that we are indeed in a unique place on Earth. Unique because it signifies that our area has exceptional concentration of the endemic species but it is also a concern, as it signifies that our area is experiencing higher rate of habitat loss.

Bhutan may not even feature in the list of top 10 biodiverse countries in the world, but we live in a special place. We live in a country where the importance of co-existence is taught through Thuen-Pa-Puen-Zhi. We live in a country where the six signs of longevity: Tshering Namdruk, features biodiversity with fresh-water. We live in a place imbued with  stories of the existence of mythical Mi-goe; Me-chum; Chu-drey; and many other fabled creatures. Our ancestors knew the importance of biodiversity; long before the term biodiversity was coined. We are probably the only place on Earth, where tigers and snow leopards share habitat.

We should be proud that we are one of the biodiverse countries in the world and that we don’t have conservation ‘islands’ unlike other countries, for our protected areas are well connected with biological corridors.

 

Contributed by

Sangay Wangchuk

Researcher at the Ugyen Wangchuck Institute for Conservation and Environment Research, currently studying at the Charles Sturt University, Australia

swangchuk@uwice.gov.bt

Swelling Omchhu threatens Phuentsholing residents

Fri, 07/12/2019 - 13:02

Even as water from the Omchhu starts entering public properties, excavators dredge river materials to stop the river from flooding settlements in Phuentsholing. Thromde, police, roads officials and volunteers are working on mitigating the risks.

http://www.kuenselonline.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/WhatsApp-Video-2019-07-12-at-12.42.35-PM.mp4 http://www.kuenselonline.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/WhatsApp-Video-2019-07-12-at-12.43.00-PM.mp4

Picture story

Thu, 07/11/2019 - 14:49

 The roadblock at Narphung at 61-69km in Samdrupjongkhar, which was cleared yesterday afternoon, was blocked again following continuous rain. With landslides occurring, road officials said it is still not safe to travel along Narphung and Melongbrak.

RCSC extends PGDE course to 18 months

Thu, 07/11/2019 - 14:48

The duration for the Post Graduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) course has been extended to 18 months after the Bhutan Civil Service Examination (BCSE) 2019.

This was according to the proposal the education ministry made to the Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC).

The RCSC has notified that the candidates who undergo 18-month PGDE course would also be eligible for their first promotion after four years of service, including probation period.

The course used to be for nine months long with promotion only after five years.

From July this year, Samtse College of Education has phased out four-year B.Ed Secondary programme. Instead, the college looks to offering Master of Education programme in 11 subjects from 2020.

The chief of teacher professional service division, Tashi Lhamo, said that the course duration was extended to improve the quality of teachers, ministry’s initiative to improve teacher preparation programme.

Tashi Lhamo said that studies conducted by relevant stakeholders and Royal Education Council revealed that PGDE programme did not prepare teachers adequately to teach in secondary schools (classes VII-XII). It was also revealed that the quality of teachers was poor, especially in the secondary schools.   

“Studies showed that B.Ed secondary teachers were not competent to teach in secondary schools, especially classes 9-12,” she said. “The ministry, therefore, had proposed to phase out B.Ed secondary programme.”

Henceforth, the teachers must be a graduate to teach secondary schools.

With the reform, teachers will get opportunities to upgrade their qualifications in their teaching subject at the college of education.

The reform was made according to feedback from the education colleges, PGDE students, and schools who said nine-month course was not enough to learn teaching practices.

Tashi Lhamo, however, said that B.Ed Primary would remain as it is where students join the course after completing class XII. Graduate with this qualification will only teach primary classes from PP-VI.

This year, the RCSC has announced 265 vacancies and eligibility criteria for education services,  60 seats more compared with that of 2018. The available seats are in the field of Dzongkha, which has the highest (100) seats, followed by Arts, Science, IT, and Guidance and Counselling.

Yangchen C Rinzin

From classroom to Parliament

Thu, 07/11/2019 - 14:48

Having presided over two sessions of Parliament, Wangchuk Namgyel from Nyisho Sephu constituency in Wangdue, is carving a niche for himself as a non-partisan Speaker.

From reminding the prime minister about the need to carry debate materials in the House to voting against the Cabinet’s opinion, the Speaker has been candid in presiding over the proceedings of the National Assembly.

In the recent session of the Parliament, the Speaker told the prime minister who had come without a document that was required for the debate to carry such documents even without the Speaker’s reminder.

The Speaker cast the deciding vote for empowering a parliament committee to review State Owned Enterprises’ annual budgets after a rare tie of 20-20. Members of the Cabinet had rejected the recommendation from the economic and finance committee due to concerns about encroachment on the executive power.

“I didn’t want to go either with the Opposition or with the government,” Wangchuk Namgyel said. He says that although he was elected on a ruling party ticket, he does not have to always lean towards his party.

It was during the debate on the motion to establish a separate medical service access for differently-abled persons when some members expressed unhappiness about the Speaker allowing new suggestions outside of the motion.

However, he told the members that new ideas should be heard but it was up to the House to accept them and that the House needed to be decisive.

He cited the example of the drafting of a policy on differently-abled persons, which began in 2017 and remains incomplete even in 2019, to remind the House about how indecisions hinder progress. “We have not finalised this proposed policy in three years. Just talking about how important such policies are is of no use.”

Wangchuk Namgyel says the conduct of the House should improve with each session and that he is still learning to be a better Speaker. He said that his willingness to consult with colleagues made presiding over the sessions easier.

“The responsibility is big as the decisions of the House impact the nation. Presiding over the House was a bit difficult in the beginning, but each time is a learning process and I’m able to conduct the House more confidently,” he said.

The Speaker does not have a legal background. However, his experience as a principle has helped him.

“I use the classroom logic, which is to engage the members to make the deliberation fruitful. Wonderful ideas come up when you engage members,” he said.

The Speaker said that he did not differentiate between members of the ruling party and the opposition. The opposition, he said, ought to be given more time in the House as its role was felt most important during parliament sessions.

“The opposition has a role to play, but unlike the government, it does not have 365 and one-fourth days,” he said, adding that all were people’s representatives irrespective of their party affiliation.

Being attentive to both sides of the debate, he said, helped him conduct the House as a non-partisan Speaker.

Besides facilitating debates in the House, the Speaker distributes works to committees, whose report and recommendations are deliberated and voted in the Parliament. And that is how, he believes a Speaker can make a difference.

“This time, we questioned BCCI (Bhutan Chamber of Commerce and Industry) and the thromdes (based on findings of the performance audit reports),” he said.

The Speaker was not presiding over the sitting when a disciplinary issue involving Drujegang MP Jurmi Wangchuk and Panbang MP Dorji Wangdi came up. Asked whether the MPs deserved to be punished, he said that he wanted to take a humane approach in maintaining the code of conduct.

“It was a burst of human emotion. I reminded both the members in the House the next day about the decorum,” he said. He said it was not Jurmi Wangchuk alone who deserved the blame but that the Panbang MP also had played a part to the disciplinary issue.

Wangchuk Namgyel is perhaps the first Speaker who called off a sitting of the House due to lack of quorum.

He did not comment on one of the emerging issues in the parliament – whether the Speaker is above the National Council (NC) Chairperson and cabinet ministers.

The National Assembly had proposed for increasing the Speaker’s salary by 13 percent while keeping ministers’ at 6 percent. That implied that Speaker would be the head of the legislature. The House’s decision was later reversed after NC’s objections.

“It was for the Speaker, not for Wangchuk Namgyel,” he said.

Secretary General of the House, Sangay Duba, said the Speaker conducted the proceedings well despite the last session being only the second. Most members who wanted to speak got the opportunity.

“I could see that he (the Speaker) was focused on debates. Time was used effectively,” he said, adding that members were repeatedly asked to focus on the topic.

Gangzur Minjey MP Kinga Penjor, who described the Speaker as “candid person”, said he was satisfied with the moderation of debate. “He did better in the second session and I expect he will do even better in the coming sessions.”

Opposition MP from Dewathang, Ugyen Dorji, said, “The conduct of the Speaker during the session was very good. He was non-partisan at all times.”

A member from the Opposition, however, said that the Speaker took a significant  portion of time in the House. He said that the Speaker’s job in the House was mainly to moderate the debate.

However, the Speaker says that it is important for a Speaker to share his ideas with the House.

He said that even though the opinion of the mass must prevail in the House, it was the Speaker’s responsibility to shape the opinion.  “The post of the Speaker is not about power, but about responsibility.”

MB Subba

Why begrudge teachers and health workers?

Thu, 07/11/2019 - 14:47

The decision has been made but the need to pay our teachers and clinical health professionals continue to be begrudged.

Comparisons are made and the Opposition, which is party to the passing of the pay revision Bill, is fuelling disgruntlement among civil servants. For a society that has come this far largely due to the efforts of teachers and health workers, debates on their pay revision have not focused on what this could mean for them but more on the implications it would have on other professions.

We are a healthy literate society that remains ignorant of the challenges in classrooms and health centres.

It is time we acknowledge these professions’ contribution and challenges. Priorities change with time and the professions that are given a large raise should have come a long time ago. Attrition rate among teachers and health workers is already high and the impact of this is felt by all of us.

The government’s decision to pay teachers and health workers more than the rest of the civil service is laudable. The move should be seen as an attempt to boost their morale, not to demoralise the rest of the professions whose contribution is as critical in nation building.  We have long identified that the quality of our teachers determine the quality of education, just as we have for quality of healthcare.

How we treat and pay our teachers and health workers determines the quality of service provided. We place the society’s most vulnerable, our children and the sick in their care with the assurance that they are in safe hands. For shaping and saving lives, we begrudge them from the comfort of our cushiony offices and homes, not realising that these professionals serve from some of the most remote parts of the country.

The education and health sectors are, however, not without problems. We are short of teachers and health workers, of equipment and standard teaching materials and infrastructure. All these impact the quality of education and healthcare and efforts are underway to address them. The government, which has largely been occupied troubleshooting problems it inherited, has announced major reforms to improve the state of education and healthcare.

As a society that is increasingly looking abroad for job opportunities and not just inspiration, paying high allowances may not still deter them from leaving their professions. They will leave anyway.

What matters more is the impact the move has on those who stay behind to teach and treat and to those who aspire to join these professions.

Moenlam Chenmo ends in Haa today

Thu, 07/11/2019 - 14:46

Despite continuous rain, thousands of people gathered in Haa to receive blessings from His Holiness the Je Khenpo.

The dzongkhag administration of Haa launched the 19th Moelam Chhenmo magazine that features important religious sites and culture in the dzongkhag.

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Incessant rainfall triggers multiple roadblocks 

Thu, 07/11/2019 - 14:45

Following heavy and incessant rainfall on July 9, multiple roadblocks were reported across the country.

A major landslide has blocked the recently opened road at Ossey along Gelephu-Zhemgang highway. Department of Roads (DoR) officials in Sarpang said that continuous rainfall has hindered clearing works in the area. “The road is expected to open to traffic later today provided the weather is favourable,” said an official.

Clearing works were also being conducted at the other two landslide prone areas along the highway – Box-cut (15km from Gelephu towards Zhemgang) and Aie-slip (8km from Gelephu towards Shershong gewog).

While the block at Aie-slip was opened towards the evening yesterday, loose soil and falling boulders posed danger at site. “We have cleared the road but anytime it could be blocked again if the rain doesn’t stop.”

The Dawla stream in Gelephu, one of the tributaries of Mao Khola also swelled cutting off traffic yesterday. The rise in the water level at the small Aipoly river closed all traffic along the Gelpehu-Sarpang highway.

In absence of a bridge, a temporary passage was opened through the riverbed below the bridge. The reinforced concrete cement (RCC) bridge was completely washed away last month.

The road was reopened in the afternoon when the water level subsided.

Major roadblocks were also reported at Sunkosh junction and the bridge towards Dagana. Another block was reported along the bifurcation of bypass about 5kms from the Chukha check post.

Several vehicles also remained stranded in Narphung along the Trashigang-Samdrupjongkhar highway after a major landslide closed the highway. Trashigang and Mongar also reported multiple roadblocks.

Most of the blocks were cleared towards the afternoon yesterday. However, officials said that continuous rain could trigger further damages at the sites.

Meanwhile, the roadblocks between Panbang and Manas and Tingtibi and Panbang in Zhemgang remain closed to traffic as of yesterday.

Younten Tshedup

Roadblock at Sunkosh cleared

Thu, 07/11/2019 - 14:44

A roadblock at Sunkosh, which is about 20km away from Damphu towards Dagana, was cleared yesterday evening.

A flash flood at 3am yesterday caused the roadblock, waking up the Sunkosh town residents and stranding the commuters.

According to the Sunkosh’s flood warning in-charge, DP Rimal, the flash flood lasted until 8am.

He said that the water level read about 3.45ms, which is normal during summer. “This level is not risky. The flash flood occurred only in a small area near the bridge.”

He said that incessant rain in the past few days had caused the flash flood.

Commuters travelling to Dagana were stranded near the Sunkosh junction yesterday.

Department of Roads (DoR) officials said that works to clear the block began around 11am. “It took about two hours to clear the road where the debris was spread about 15ms wide and 0.4ms deep.”

Officials said that although the block was not major, the block was likely to occur again if there is a heavy downpour.

Rinchen Zangmo  | Tsirang

OAG forwards Taktse case to Trongsa police

Thu, 07/11/2019 - 14:12

The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) has dropped charges against two serving lectures and a former lecturer of the College of Language and Cultural Studies (CLCS) in Taktse, Trongsa, and reduced the charges against three others to sexual harassment.

OAG has also asked Trongsa police to prosecute the case since sexual harassment offence is graded a petty misdemeanor. OAG sent the review report to Trongsa police yesterday.

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2018 saw highest number of vehicle accidents in seven years

Thu, 07/11/2019 - 14:12

With 1,360 cases, 2018 recorded the highest number of motor vehicle accidents in the last seven years.

According to the police, of the 942 people were involved in vehicle accidents, 807 people were injured and 135 died in 2018.  Human error was the major cause of accidents, followed by road and weather conditions.

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Picture story

Thu, 07/11/2019 - 14:10

  With water supply erratic, Samdrupjongkhar thromde residents are resorting to store rainwater to address their water shortage problems 

Concerns raised on state of Pasakha industrial estate

Thu, 07/11/2019 - 14:01

The industries in Pasakha industrial estate may get to keep certain portion of the lease rent amount collected and plough it back to meet the maintenance cost the estate incurs today.

The lease amount is today deposited into the government coffer.

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Health ministry short of 2,201 medical professionals

Thu, 07/11/2019 - 14:00

At least two nurses leave the profession every day, going by the number of nurses that are leaving the health system.

With 16 nurses who voluntarily resigned until June this year, about 125 nurses have left the profession in the last six years.

Of the total, 99 voluntarily resigned, 10 died, eight superannuated, and five were compulsorily retired. Two were terminated and one retired on early retirement scheme.

According to records with the health ministry, the sector saw the highest nurse attrition last year with 30 nurses leaving the profession. Of this, 25 voluntarily resigned, three superannuated and two died. The least was in 2013 with six nurses voluntarily resigning.

In the last five years, the total health workforce including the administrative and support staff has increased by 13 percent, according to the annual health bulletin 2019. It increased to 5,283 in 2018 from 4,688 in 2015.

While the total number of nurses increased by 12 percent in the past year, nurse to bed ratio remained constant at 1:1. This, according to the bulletin could be due to the corresponding increase in the number of health facilities.

Since 2016, the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH) has also lost 125 nurses until June this year.

With 55 nurses at JDWNRH leaving the profession, 2018 recorded the highest attrition rate.   

About 51 voluntarily resigned, three completed their contract and one superannuated.

The hospital had 15 nurses leaving the profession this year to date. Except for one who left after completing the contract term, the rest voluntarily resigned.

The hospital today has 527 nurses and is short of more than 120 nurses.

A few months ago, the hospital issued a notice freezing extraordinary leave (EOL) for nurses and technicians due to an acute shortage of staff. Currently, nine nurses and four technicians at the hospital are on EOL. The hospital has 247 technicians.

While human resource development continues to be the top priority of the ministry as one of the principal health system inputs, according to the bulletin, the country has a shortage of 2,201 medical professionals at various categories including specialists, nurses and technicians.

“Bhutan is also facing the challenges from a financial perspective due to declining development assistance as part of the process of its graduation from Least Developed Country status,” it states.

Dechen Tshomo

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