Flood mitigation process to be discussed for Gasa Tshachu

The Tshachu generated more than Nu 2.5mn in the 2018-2019 fiscal year

When the volume of the river subsides, a flood mitigation process will be discussed this month to ensure safety of the Gasa Tshachu, which was washed away by flood on the early morning of August 26 this year. 

“At the moment the river has not subsided and the dzongkhag has not decided anything yet. But very soon this month, we will form a committee and with some experts from Thimphu will discuss the process of mitigation for the future,” said the Senior Gasa Dzongrab, Dorji Gyeltshen.

“Nothing has been done about the river so far and it looks like the rainy season will continue for a while, but we have deployed a dredger and placed boulders along the river bank to prevent the hilltop from slipping,” he said.

Dzongrab added that the dzongkhag is not in a hurry at the moment. “We will study slowly and submit a proposal with a proper plan on how to do it.”

Meanwhile, it was the second time that the Gasa Tshachu, located on the left bank of the Mochhu, was washed away by the swollen river. While no casualties were reported, the river washed away five bathhouses and an outdoor pool on August 26.

 During the first incident on May 26, 2009, four Tshachu ponds were washed away by the river. It was then rebuilt with a budget of Nu 40mn and the hot spring was later reopened to the public in 2013. 

 Dorji Gyeltshen said that the most important thing they have to do before bringing the Tshachu to its original form is to lower the river, raise the bank of the river so that the flow of the river decreases. 

“If we do not do anything about the river, there is no point in bringing the Tshachu to its original form because sooner or later it will be washed away,” he said.

The works for the construction of the ponds and to divert the river were done with the government’s money amounting to Nu 7mn.

The Dzongrab said that the Tshachu not only belongs to the people of Gasa, but is an economic hotspot for the whole country.

 “People from all over the country visit the Tshachu every year, which means the Tshachu of Gasa brings in revenue for the government every year, averaging to Nu 3mn in the peak season.”

 “I do not think budget will be a problem as there is ample support from the non-governmental organizations and some donors, who we have to approach through the GNHC. However, the more important thing than funding is the mitigation process that will ensure the safety of the Tshachu in the near future,” he added.

Although the revenue from the Gasa hot spring for the 2019-2020 fiscal year had been reduced by about Nu 300,000, the Tshachu generated more than Nu 2.5mn in the 2018-2019 fiscal year. 

Meanwhile, until further notice, people will not be able to visit the Gasa Tshachu (hot spring which is known for its healing powers), the Dzongrab said. 

Chencho Dema from Paro