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Gasa Tshachhu - Restoration Works 2011

Those, who are thinking of soaking in the famed hot springs of Gasa this winter, will now have to change their plans.

With restoration work on since 10 January 2011, which is likely to go on until the end of this year, people are advised not to visit the hot springs (tsachu).

Gasa Tsachu would open by December 2011

National council member from Gasa, Sangay Khandu said the fund for its restoration works was delayed, although the drawings were ready. "When the money was finally released, there were no contractors ready to take up the project," he said. "We’d advise people not to visit the tsachu, because all existing temporary ponds are now dismantled."

Until the flood in May 2009 completely washed away the five soaking ponds and the VIP bathhouse built around the spring, Gasa tsachu was always crowded with visitors during winter.

Since then the numbers have dropped, said officials, but people started visiting again, when temporary ponds were built last year. However, sanitation became an issue, followed by dwindling local business at the hot springs.

The campsite and ponds, which were expected to be ready last month, are now likely to open only by the end of this year. The dzongkhag engineer however said that restoring the whole Gasa tsachu would not be done within a year’s time.

Sangay Khandu said it is fortunate that the source of the tsachu was not lost. "There are about 14 people clearing the smaller boulders and, although work is on, construction of toilets and development of the campsite will take time," Sangay Khandu said.

Gasa dzongrab Tshewang Jurmey said the ministry of finance has released Nu 40M to restore the campsite, build temporary ponds, guesthouse and toilets.

He said they have started building about a 700-m tall retaining wall from the tsachu area to Jangothang. "We’ve also started building toilets and will put up street lights soon," he said. "After the retaining wall is ready, we’ll build permanent ponds."

In an earlier interview, Gasa dzongda Sonam Jigme said the 10 acres campsite would be divided into three, for local people, business people and civil servants and tourists.

The campsite, which would be connected by road, will be located about a kilometre north of the tsachu.

There would be around seven ponds built and, if possible, more, said the dzongkhag engineer. "That depends on how many sources we identify," he said. There were before about six hot spring ponds.

Dzongrab Tshewang Jurmey said, if all planned activities such as sufficient electricity, proper water supply and garbage disposal system with facilities to separate waste were to be put in place in the new construction, expenses would definitely double.

Contributed by Yangchen C Rinzin , KUENSEL, Bhutan's National Newspaper, 2011
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