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Monsoon rain batters the country hard

Most recently, a man was washed away by a flashflood in Konbar under Monggar district

By Tashi Dhendup

Bhutan is experiencing increased incidences of monsoon-induced disasters. And, the problem is aggravated every passing year with major damages accrued on lives and properties.

This year the most tragic incident occurred in Laya where ten highlanders who were collecting cordyceps were buried under a massive mudslide which was triggered by heavy rainfall. A mother and her infant were also killed when they were buried alive in their home in Phuentsholing earlier this month.

Monsoon rains continue to create major havoc and loss to lives and properties in the country. Bhutan being a mountainous country is also susceptible to landslides, GLOFs and flooding among many other natural calamities.

This week, heavy downpour for three successive days wreaked havoc in Monggar dzongkhag where more than 250 households in three gewogs have reported damages to crops, properties and farm roads.

While farmers were happy to receive rainfall which meant a bountiful harvest, they were in for a nasty surprise as it continuously rained for days, turning their brief moment of respite into ugly trail of destruction.

The roadside community and the village of Kilikhar in Mongar were given a rude awakening as continuous downpour triggered a massive flashflood that wiped off maize fields and kitchen gardens.

A farmer who lost crops to a flash flood triggered by heavy rainfall said she had grown maize and other vegetables on her field. But before she could harvest her produce, it was all washed away by the flashflood.

Many said the heavy downpour resulted in large swathes of maize cultivation getting flattened overnight. Partial damages to houses were also reported from across the dzongkhag.

Monggar was hit hard by torrential rainfall triggering flash floods and windstorms on Wednesday evening affecting more than 250 households in three gewogs.

A farmer in Kilikhar whose maize field was completely flattened said she had lost almost everything to the calamity. The mother of three said the family will suffer if they do not receive timely help and intervention from the relevant authorities.

โ€œI had worked so hard and it was almost time for our corns to ripen. However, the rains damaged everything and it is our principle crop and 99 percent of Mongarpas depend on maize for sustenance,โ€ she said.

The Tshogpa of Wengkhar and Yagpoogang chiwog said of 100 households, the crops of almost 60 households got damaged by the heavy rain. The flash flood also partially damaged his house and few other neighbourโ€™s too whose roofs were damaged.

In addition, the flashflood on Wednesday also partially damaged the ECCD centre and farm road connecting Kidekhar and Drepoong Gewog.

The local leaders and the gewog agriculture officials are visiting the affected households to assess the extent of damages caused by the rainstorm.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday afternoon heavy rain followed by gusty wind damaged maize fields of some five households of Karshong Chiwog under Nubi Gewog in Trongsa.

Almost all the residents of Karshong Chiwog grow maize for food, cattle feeds and brewing alcohol.

Apart from damaging crops and houses, the monsoon rains are a bane to our road infrastructures which are mostly built on fragile Himalayan topography.

Every year, apart from losing lives, millions in damages are reported from across the country due to road blocks and closures triggered by massive slides and floods.

The infamous Aieslip junction in Sarpang still remains a concern for residents and travelers and is known for creating trouble for commuters every monsoon season.

Every day, hundreds of vehicles commute along the Gelegphu-Trongsa highway. But whenever there is a heavy shower, the road at Aieslip, which is around eight kilometres away from Gelegphu town, becomes more difficult and dangerous to pass.

The Department of Roads has plans to construct ten-meter high concrete dams which will prevent landslides in the area. A detailed study was done recently and the Chief Engineer of the DoR office in Sarpang says the best option is to build a checks dam to mitigate landslides rather than construct a bridge.

It is stated that at least four dams will be constructed that will cost around Nu 30 M. But the office says they can start the works only in the next financial year since they do not have the budget now.

Meanwhile, police, DeSuups and volunteers recovered the body of a 51-year-old man from the stream near Koenbar village in Monggar this week. According to the residents, the deceased was suspected to have been washed away in the flash flood on Wednesday evening when he was travelling to Yagpoogang village in the same gewog.

The heavy downpour on the day had created massive surface runoffs and flashfloods in the dzongkhag, and that ultimately also claimed the manโ€™s life.

Recently, a massive landslide at Chhubachhu in Thimphu blocked the road traffic in the capital for days. The Thromde had eventually cleared the roadblock and even carried out a study of the area.

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