29 May 2009

Fire, Water and My Village Yangthang

Yangthang, like phoenix rose from the ashes. Royal Kidu gave us strength and hope to rebuild our homes after the 2002 fire, which burnt down twenty five houses. We lost more than houses in the fire; history and memories. We dread fire, eight years of moving forward we still dread fire.
When my house was burnt down to ashes I was in Gyelposhing, crying over an imaginary picture of my-village-on-fire. Now I am in Wangdue, still having to imagine a picture of my-village-in-flood.
Punatshangchhu grew wild on 26th May, hundreds of logs thundering downstream, touching the heights it never did, and threatening the bold Wangdue Bridge. When the river encroached into our school campus I remembered my village. It lies on bank of the Ha chhu. I called my mother; she was giving me chilling details of the flood. She was planning to take our cow and move to the hills. The rivers, she said, had split into two, forming new course through our fields, washing away Tshering’s sawmill and Lam Dorji’s house.
“The village of Yangthang (52 households) had been cut off from the rest of Haa as, during the flash floods, the river had breached its banks and created a new course between the village and the highway.” Tobgay, T. from(http://www.tsheringtobgay.com/)
I saw the first picture in our Opposition Leader, Tshering Tobgay’s blog, who has visited my village after the disaster. It made me sad, and then made me happy. What if the river has gone the other side? The village still stands and against all geographical justifications we are grateful to Ap Chundu for saving our village.
“Yangthang’s New Bridge” in OL Tshering Tobgay’s blog touched my heart in different corners; People standing in unity against adversity, Dzongkhag’s helping hands, and most significantly Building a Bridge together, which made all the difference. It shall remain in our village history.
“Civil servants. When the dzongkhag staff heard about the efforts of the farmers, they, led by the new Dasho Dzongdag, quickly made their way to Yangthang, and took up their position on the bank opposite the stranded villagers. With farmers working on one side of the river and civil servants on the other, it didn’t take long for the river to be bridged.” Tobgay, T from (http://www.tsheringtobgay.com/villages/2009/yangthangs-new-bridge.html)
Photo Courtesy: Tshering Tobgay

26 May 2009

Flooding Bhutan!

Heaven started tearing down on us for three days now and it felt very good until today. Rivers started to grow wilder and heaven seems to have more of it still. BBS announces the damages across the country, revealing the chilling picture of raging water touching the heights it never touched before.

My school resides on the bank of Punatshangchhu, the mysteriously silent river which has the history of deadly flood. A few weeks ago we had to panic when the announcement was made of a potential GLOF from Lunana, that created fear and nothing more. But logically we know that the fate of our school lies by the bank of the river.

However this time it is very unexpected! We casually watched the river change its color. By midday it swelled and between the clicks of camera apparent raise in water level was seen. As hundreds of logs came thundering downstream all eyes opened wide in fear. The school fencing which stood about four meters above the river level submerged and we soon lost the fishery to the river.

Up the road bajo thango the whole plain was submerged and the huge houses looked like boats with people already evacuated. Office-goers were still in gho and kira with their cars parked on safer ground. They watched the black top road disappearing under water.
Huge streams formed out of rough roads and cars are parked all along the road, not make their way to their usual parking.

The strong Wangdue bridge was shivering with ravaging water kissing its belly, threatening its strength. Official were keeping close watch over the water level and I was wondering, what they could do if at all the bridge fell?

So far the Punatshangchhu seems to have done no great harm to lives and property, but the rain is still falling... One night more will cross the line, If tonight the rain keeps falling I don't want to wake up tomorrow morning to see what the river has done.