Sunday, 15 February 2015


Picture: Google
“There is fire in Sarpang town, my dad just left to the site,” wrote a friend of mine from Sarpang on my chat. Before I could ask her for more details, she was offline. About an hour later, BBS television confirmed the tragedy. The reporter who rushed from Gelephu base said that anywhere between 70 to 90 percent of the town have been reduced to ashes in a matter of hours.

This is another major disaster that has taken place in the recent times.  This is the second major disaster to have befallen residents of Sarpang town. The town had also been washed away by flood more than a decade back.

It is a reflection of just how vulnerable we are to this kind of disasters. Towns like this made of temporary huts are apparently a disaster in the waiting. The nation has seen fire disasters at Bumthang and Wamrong towns in the past and rebuilding them back had been a costly affair even with generous support from His Majesty’s Kidu.

When disaster strikes us, we raise various questions and point to many possible causes. This is at best desirable to know the cause but, does not serve much purpose. When disasters strike us, we must learn valuable lessons and try our best to avert such tragedies from taking place in future. In Sarpang’s case, the new town planning must have been expedited long time back ideally. But, there must have been valid reasons why the town planning got delayed thus far.

At times like this, the entire nation stands in solidarity with victims of this tragedy. In most cases of shanty towns, there are no insurance covers of those business establishments.  It is hoped that, those shops reduced to ashes in Sarpang have been insured. Terrible loss it is for the residents who lost their shops and homes, but at least if they are insured, getting back to normal life would be easier.

There may also be other towns like Sarpang that sit on the brink of disasters. These places deserve closer attentions from authorities concerned. Among them is certainly Pemagatshel town. The temporary sheds are all clustered together and because the shops stand on government land, the shopkeepers have no ownership rights. This also means they have no insurance cover as I understand.

Relocation to the new town at Denchi has been long overdue. The sooner, the go ahead is given to relocation, the better it would be for both the government and residents. Both people and the government cannot afford another disaster like Sarpang, Bumthang and Womrong to happen again.

Gyembo Namgyal
February 15, 2015
11: 40 PM


  1. Everything is left for budget shortage and the disaster continue with same spirit.. I hope this government will now be sensitive to those disaster prone little towns~

    1. You are right. Attentions must be given to vulnerable towns. How many more disasters serve us the grim reminders. Thank you. Good day.

  2. I must call it a careless Bhutanese rampage these days...thanks

    1. Yeah, it was as if we all waited for disaster to happen even after witnessing similar kind of disaster in the past.