Victims of Wamrong fire still unable to build houses
Pema Namgay, KanglungMay 20 2014
They are yet to rebuild their homes. It has been more than five years since the four families lost their homes, including all their belongings, to the Wamrong fire disaster. Even those who had started the construction are struggling to complete. Their inability to finish reconstructing their homes has been attributed to the suspension of housing loans.
The fire in October 2009 displaced 26 families in Wamrong, Trashigang. Half of Wamrong town was gutted. The fire completely razed 12 houses including nine shops.
Soon after the incident, they received plots as kidu from His Majesty the King. Sixty one plots, including twenty commercials plot were granted as Kidu. Reconstruction works began.
However, even after nearly five years from the date of disaster, four families haven’t been able to rebuild their houses. The fire victims are still living in the temporary sheds constructed under His Majesty’s Kidu grant. According to the fire victims, suspension of housing loans has hampered their efforts to rebuild their homes.
“The loan was suspended when we were about to start with the construction. We don’t have that kind of money. And without the loan we will not be able to rebuild our homes,” a member of the affected families, Karma. He also said they there is no one to lend them money. “We have no option but to ask for kidu loan with low interest. There are four of us.
Wamrong Dungpa, Yeshey RangrikDorjee, says they are still in the process of sorting things out with the fire victims. He said Yoezer consultancy based in Thimphu designed the houses free of cost for the victims. “Lately they have come to me and said that they will not be able to construct the house based on the design. So I told them that even if they cannot construct that, what type of construction they are going to take up, that must come to me.”
Also, some of the fire victims, who started rebuilding their homes long time back, are struggling to complete the construction. Even those who could finish the task had to take up loans from others. Five of them finished reconstructing their houses recently.
“We borrowed some money for our friends on interest but the amount is less, like four to five hundred thousand. We also had to buy construction materials on credit from Indian shops,” said Nungney Dema, one of them who finished constructing their houses recently.
After the disaster, the government has pumped-in about Nu.19 MN to develop Wamrong into a modern town. It has all the amenities, including fire hydrant, water supply, and solid waste management, befitting a modern town.
While the town keeps growing, it does not bring any relief to Abi Usa and the other three fire victims. Should they cave-in to the pressure to rebuild their homes for which they don’t have money to finance it?