Long delayed Amochhu Bridge finally set to open next month BBS
Sonam Penjor, Phuentshogling
Apr 7, 2018
After missing five deadlines, the much-awaited Amochhu Bridge, which connects Phuentshogling and Samtse, is finally expected to open to traffic by the end of next month.
The construction of the 175-metre long double-lane bridge began a decade ago.
The structural works have all been completed and now other works, such as painting, electrification, post-tensioning and approach road are going on in full swing.
The bridge is the country’s first three dimensional (3D), parabolic semi-through arch bridge.
It has been a long time coming and as the bridge finally nears completion, the people on either side, particularly those in Samtse, are elated.
“For the teachers in Panbari School and people nearby, this bridge will be of great help,” Yeshi Nidup a teacher of the school said
“Currently, even if we have cars, it’s of no use. We have to leave the car on the other side and carry everything on our backs and use the Suppesion Bridge to cross over. Some people ride their bikes, which I think is not very safe. We hope the bridge would be ready for use soon.”
Sonam Dendup, a contractor based Dorokha in Samtse, says he has to make frequent trips to Phuentshogling to buy construction materials.
“It takes us at least six hours to reach Dorokha via India. But from here, it is just two hours drive. Though the roads are wider in India, it is safer to use this road, so we prefer to use the internal route.”
The Nu 245 m bridge will connect Samtse’s Dorokha, Doomtoed and Duenchhukha Gewogs and Haa to Phuentshogling.
As of now, people travel via Indian highway to reach Samtse. But, once this bridge is complete, the travel distance between Phuentshogling and Samtse will be reduced by nearly 20 kilometres.
Doctors urge early detection and treatment of cancer
April 7, 2018
Anim (nun) Bidha felt a lump in her right breast. It was a painless lump and so she did not give much attention to it.
Three years after her retreat, she heard that one of her friends, also a nun at Shechen Orgyen Chodzong nunnery in Sisina in Thimphu, went to the national referral hospital for a check-up because she felt a lump on her breast.
“I told my friend about it and she told me that I should visit the hospital as it could be a cancer,” said Bidha. But then, she did not go the hospital.
“After a few months, I felt the lump grow,” Bidha said. It was a cancer indeed.
Upon learning that she had breast cancer, Bidha was devastated. She thought she was going to die. “My friends and family members were unusually good to me. Maybe they thought I had only so much time to live.”
She underwent surgery at the national referral hospital in 2014, not long after the cancer was discovered. She kept herself mentally strong, healthy physically and spiritually. “There were other cancer patients at the hospital; not many survived.”
Upon Onco-surgeon, Dr Tashi Dendup Wangdi’s recommendation, Bidha went to a hospital in Siliguri, India for mammography to confirm cancer had not spread to her other breast. It hadn’t.
“I am feeling wonderful. I feel much better each year. Half the battle is won if you are strong. You can get through it. Of course, the support of family and friends is very important,” Bidha said.
Whenever people hear the word ‘cancer,’ she said they think about dying but not all cancer patients die. “They do get better if diagnosed early and get treated.”
Anybody could get cancer, she said, and recommended people to get blood tested every once in a while.
Records with JDWNRH show that more than 2,000 cancer cases were registered in the last four years, which means at least 500 new cancer cases are reported to the hospital every year.
Gynaecologist Dr Ugyen Tshomo said Bhutan has many upper gastro-intestinal cancers, which include cancer of stomach and food pipe. The other most common cancer is hepato-biliary cancer, which includes cancers of the bile ducts, liver or gallbladder.
“These two cancers have the highest mortality,” she said. “Most of the hepato-biliary cancer patients die soon after they are diagnosed.”
However, Dr Ugyen Tshomo said the cause of these cancers and the reason why hepato-biliary cancer patients die soon is not clear as no one had carried out a study on it.
Before, Lung cancer was rare in Bhutan. But now, it is among the top five to six cancers in Bhutan, she added.
According to the Annual Health Bulletin 2017, a total of 127 deaths were due to cancer in 2016, seven was due to Oesophagus cancer, eight due to stomach or gastric cancer, and three due to hepato-biliary cancer.
Dr Ugyen Tshomo said that most Bhutanese do not have the habit of visiting hospital until they really have to. By the time they visit, it is usually too late and most of the surgeries done are palliative.
“In Bhutan, many people disappear after being diagnosed with cancer and they reappear after a few months with advanced cancer. This affects survival,” she said.
She said that health workers should be aware of such cases. “Now, if we find that a patient has been suffering from stomach ache for a longer period of time, we send them for endoscopy because the process can detect tumours in the stomach,” she said. “If stomach cancer is diagnosed early and is treated, patients survive.”
Dr Ugyen Tshomo said cancers of cervix, breast and thyroid are seen mostly in young women. She added that about 50 percent of the patients diagnosed with cervical cancer between 2000 and 2005 are alive. “To study how many deaths and survivors are there from cancer is equally important so a study is necessary.”
The hospital also sees more number of recurrent cancer cases, Dr Ugyen Tshomo said. “They are at more risk of dying. In the first two years after diagnosis and treatment of cancer, follow up should be frequent because most of the cancers re-occur in the first two to three years.”
Recurrent cancer, if detected early, can be cured, she added.
Sonam Pem, Thimphu
Apr 7, 2018
Tshejor’s Ayzey, the first registered homemade pickle manufacturing company and distributor took the first prize of Nu 70,000 at the first National Trademark Award yesterday.
Bhutan Alternatives, an e-waste management project dealing with printer toner cartridge waste, won the second prize of Nu 50,000.
Crystal Moon Products that deals with all types of agro produce, providing food supplements in the country as well as neighboring countries, came third winning Nu 30,000.
This is the first time the economic affairs ministry held a National Trademark Award for the small and cottage industries.
The award is an effort to promote brand competition, leading to quality products in the market.
A trademark is a name or a symbol that a company uses on its products and cannot legally be used by another company.
The winners said trademark has helped in building a name and reputation for their products in the market.
“It helped me in branding and diversification of my products,” Tshewang Dema of Tshejor Ayzey said. “I could make more products and it helped in popularizing the products.”
“Within two years of getting the trademark, we have been able to cover up almost 19 dzongkhags,” Leki Dawa of Bhutan Alternatives said.
“We were able to build trust and reliability among the customers,” Chhimi Dema of Crystal Moon Product said. “There are also no risks of replication of products by others.”
The businesses were assessed based on the use of trademarks, sale of products using the trademark, employment and community development and overall business impact.
The introduction of the award is also in keeping with the Intellectual Property Policy 2018 launched last month and is one of the measures to encourage innovation and creativity.
“They use trademarks as their product brand and that generates brand competition, which leads to improvement of the quality of goods and services,” Kinley Tenzin Wangchuk, the Director General of the Department of Intellectual Property said.
“The other significant role is trademarks really help enterprises to distinguish themselves in our market.”
The ministry plans to make the trademark award an annual event.
It will encourage more small, individual and home-based entrepreneurs to create and register their trademarks to enhance their competitiveness in the market.
Laya’s traditional hat under threat of disappearance
Sherub Dorji, Gasa
Apr 8, 2018
Laya’s traditional bamboo hat, once widely worn by its women, is fast disappearing. There aren’t many weavers left around now and the women too seldom wear their the hats.
The hat is an integral part of the highlander’s culture. In the past, Layap women wore it every day. But now it is worn only during special occasions like Tshechu.
Today, there are only three weavers of the hat left in Laya. The younger generations are showing no interest in learning the art, putting the tradition at the risk of disappearance.
Chimi Dem and her husband are Laya’s two of the last three remaining weavers of the hat.
Chimi is afraid it wouldn’t be long before the traditional hats are replaced by imported ones. “If at all the hat is not woven here, I am sure replicas of the hat made from plastic in India will make its way into Laya,” she said.
Chimi learned the art from her late father. She has woven hundreds of hats over the last 15 years. It takes her an entire day to finish one hat, which fetches her 600 ngultrum.
She is upset that nothing is being done to preserve the traditional hat. “It would be good if the young show interest in learning the art as it would help keep our hat tradition alive,” she said.
She says she is happy to teach but as of now, no one has come forward to learn.
Many women in Laya now prefer kira over their traditional dress. This, Chimi Dem said, is one reason why the hat is becoming a rarity.
“We have to put on the hat if we wear zum, which is our traditional attire. This is our tradition. We don’t wear the hat when we wear kira, but young women these days prefer kira. The hat tradition might disappear soon.”
Like remote, traditional cultures elsewhere in the country, this is, perhaps, Laya paying the price for opening up to the outside world and the so called modernization.
Improving disaster resilience of cultural heritage sites
Sonam Pem, Thimphu
Apr 8, 2018
During the 2009 and 2011 earthquakes, many of the country’s cultural heritage sites suffered major damage. In an effort to enhance the resilience of these sites, a four day workshop is underway in Thimphu.
During the workshop, the Department of Culture, together with relevant stakeholders and experts, will come up with a guideline for addressing different types of hazards that heritage sites are vulnerable to.
“What we have realized with the recent forest fire is how prepared are we and what is the role of the heritage professionals when it comes to preparedness as well as post disaster recovery and reconstruction,” Nagtsho Dorji, the Chief Architect of the Department of Culture said.
“It is very important for us to now move on from the technological aspects of how do we build back better to understanding how can we be more prepared and make sure that our cultural heritage sites do not have to go through problems faced during earlier disasters ,” Nagtsho Dorji added.
The cost of damage to heritage sites from the 2009 and 2011 earthquakes is estimated to be US $20 m.
BBS Mass plantation of Daphne saplings for its revival in Trashi Yangtse
Sonam Darjay, Trashigang
Apr 9, 2018
In Trashi Yangtse District, traditional Desho paper makers are finding it difficult to get Daphne bark from the nearby forest. The reason is due to over extraction, the bark is now on the verge of extinction.
Gonpola, 65 from Phanteng village under Boomdeling Gewog has been making desho for 27 years now. But, he told BBS that unlike in the past, the Daphne barks (the main materials to make desho) are no longer grown in profusion.
Gonpola added that he has to travel to another village, which is about four hours walk from the nearest road point to get the bark. “With increased in production, the bark has become less. Some people extract it and sell to others. So we bring the bark from Merag, Sagteng and Monggar.”
However, to address the shortage, Trashi Yangtse Boomdeling Wildlife Sanctuary has planted around 1,500 wild Daphne saplings in Panglakarpo community forest last year. More programmes are in the offing to revive the Daphne trees.
“In the 12th Five-Year-Plan, we have plans to plant Daphne saplings on 200-300 acres of land,” said Chief Forestry Officer, Karma Tempa of Boomdeling Wildlife Sanctuary.
For desho paper makers, this initiative is giving them hope. “If the saplings grow well, it will surely benefit all of us- who are into desho paper making business,” said Gonpola.
Today, Trashi Yangtse has three desho manufacturing cottage industries.
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