One has to travel to Thimphu to get a nail. Getting timber is almost a three-day walk and, even if all these raw materials are in place, getting a contractor is again a problem.
Add lack of money to the list and what we have is the 400-year old Lingzhi Dzong slowly turning into ruins.
Located at an altitude between 3,445m to 6,782m, Lingzhi, about 72km from Paro, is the remotest district under Thimphu.
Built in the 16th century by Zhabdrung, the Yuley Namgyel Dzong, which never saw good maintenance, became uninhabitable after the September 18 tremor last year. All monks living there had to move into a health unit.
Dzongkhag engineer Rinchen Tshering said, the Utse, central tower, was restored at a cost of Nu 3.2 million, of which the German government provided Nu 1.4 million.
Renovation of the two side towers started in 2009 with a budget of Nu 4.5m. But before the work could be completed, the contractor was taken under legal custody, he said.
“We had to terminate the work and surrender the budget to the government,” the Dungkhag Finance Officer, Tsheten Namgay said. “After the September 18 earthquake, the Dzongkhag administration surrendered the whole consolidation process to the Home Ministry.”
Given the location, contractors do not take up the project that already has a budget and timber constraint.
Dungkhag officials said the Dzong was built back then with voluntary labour. Today, they need to be paid, and are not ready to work at the government wage, while Indian workers are unable to adapt to the high altitude.
The months between May and August are feasible to work, but during that time the nomads leave for harvesting cordyceps.
According to the damage assessment report of cultural heritage assets, a total of 339 Lhakhangs in 18 Dzongkhags were affected by the September 18 quake. The estimated budget required is Nu 303.626m.
The budget is yet to be approved by the cabinet, said Culture officials.
“But the government doesn’t have that much money, so we have to look for external source for funding,” head of conservation for Heritage Sites Division, Nagthso Dorji said. “The consolidation of Lingzhi Dzong alone would cost Nu 90m.”
The Dzong, she said, has to be dismantled and rebuilt. “Even if we have the budget, it would be hard to get materials for construction, so we can’t say when the work will begin,” the Dzongkhag engineer Rinchen Tshering said.