Dear readers, Welcome to Shingkhar.
Honestly speaking, I am neither popular nor famous figure. But as I said earlier, I am a humble commoner who dwelled in the valley of Shingkhar for many centuries. I am basically a folk form a community that has a rich history which is as old as the civilization itself. But due to the harsh geophysical conditions and more because community's ignorance, it has largely remained secluded and isolated from many modern undertakings in the sphere of homo-sapiens. In other words, we are folks who survived all the odds through our communal strength and keen sense of solidarity. Not long time ago, the subsistence living was our definition of livelihood. Even though farming and livestock rearing were our common denominator, folks who had enough to feed were considered ‘rich’. Those were the identities of Shingkahrpas.
Today, as I have mentioned earlier, I am becoming more and more skeptical about the sustainability of our deep rooted cultures and traditions in this fast changing time. A cobweb thing called development has finally reached our place. At the cost of values and beliefs, innocent folks in my village, who were once a socialist in nature, are now induced to become more capitalistic minded.
Not far away from my place, someone named Drakpa Gyeltshen, shares my feelings too. By the way Drakpa Gyeltshen is a very senior citizen of Shingkhar. He lives among the rocky ridge of Yangjin. Therefore we often call him ‘Pholha’ –our protective guardian deity of the north. Few days ago, I had the privilege of talking to him. He said he wasn’t pleased with the idea of road running just below his house. He told me that if a thing of golf course in Nangkaipong and Kangsumthang was a dream shattering then a thing of road in the interest of economic boost is nothing but a heart breaking experience for him. I think he is right on many counts. As an indigenous man I am a fervent believer that Shingkhar can do much better, if not bothered by outsiders.
Drakpa Gyeltshen did not mean NO development for Shingkhar. All he meant was a rationale development process that would not cause any imbalance in the biodiversity that surrounds his home. With the coming of road, Drakpa Gyeltshen fears that his favorite pets like monal pheasants and Tigers would altogether disappear not only from Shingkhar but from the world itself.
In our separate meeting, he also told me that this wouldn’t do much good for Shingkhar community and nation as a whole because; firstly, given the engineering ingenuity of Bhutanese, the topography of the land is not feasible for the construction of road. Secondly, it would drain out huge chunk of resources form the common exchequer, thereby creating huge negative externalities for the nation. Thirdly, the Ecological cost would he unimaginable for its going to create a condition so conducive to poachers in a bio hotspot. He also told me that our beautiful Shamzur Lhakhang will end up becoming a picnic spot rather than a pilgrimage spot.
However Drakpa Gyeltshen was not alone on this issue. His ideas were solidly seconded by a beautiful lady of Singma la (also known as Simjai ya). Her name is Meto Selden. She is a lady known for her undying beauty like an ever blooming lotus in the realm of Zangdopelri. She is an intelligent lady known for her farsightedness. She told me that, it would be a better idea if the existing route built by Lama Tsezang Thaye Drakpa is maintained and preserved. I felt it was not a bad idea either, for it could be used by ever expanding tourism industry as trekking route to Lhuntse via Shingkhar.
Somewhere in the North-west of Shingkhar, one equally frustrated man soon joined our discourse. His name is Norlha Wangchuk. In fact he had lot to share with us. The most prominent thing he shared with us was how his own villagers betrayed him by chopping down countless trees that surrounded his residence of Waza Brag. With those words from him, I could really feel his sense of loss and dejection.
In between a man from the south of Shingkhar also joined us. His name is Bena Parta. He is a very ferocious man. Although he is not really affected by the plans of road and golf course, he said he shared the sentiments of Drakpa Gyeltshen; -the most affected party. According to him, the adverse plans are going to have equal consequences for all in the village. Should people have golf course in the plains of Nangkaipong and Kangsumthang, Bena Parta said he would become the most affected party when chemical contaminated water runs through his Zamdong Bridge. Imagine the number of tadpoles going to die? It’s going to become ecological catastrophe.
As of me, it will be a heartbreaking thing to see no cattle, no yaks, no sheep, and no cows grazing in the fertile plains of Nakgkaipong, Fawfee and Kangsumthang. I am also thinking how those places would be enclosed in the barbed fences. I am equally worried as to which way I will have to take to come for Shingkhar Rabney every year end.
For now I am enjoying the beautiful sun rise that illuminates Shingkhar Village; -My Sweet Home. I thank all concern, both beings and non beings for keeping Shingkhar the way it is and hope it will continue to remain so.