By Tenzin Dharpo
DHARAMSHALA, Dec. 3: The iconic ‘Jhutok kupkyak’ (gossip bench) on the narrow road leading to Dal lake and TCV school has been demolished for a government infrastructure development project to broaden the road. The Dharamshala Public Works Department (PWD) on November 29 began removing the metal benches that were permanently welded on the one side of the road.
The project is part of the Prime Minister Rural Road’s Scheme spanning 4.8 kilometers beginning from McLeod Ganj to Naddi. The project consists renovating a few small bridges, culverts and converting the distance into metalled and concrete roads.
A local shop keeper told Phayul that authorities have promised to remake the benches on the side road where tourists and locals alike take in the sights and sounds of the hill town. The local Tibetans in McLeod Ganj have labelled the iconic benches as ‘Jhutok kupkyak’ where people sip tea and gossip to pass time.
The Prime Minister Rural Road Scheme is a nationwide plan to provide good all-weather road connectivity to unconnected villages. The project has included 1.7 lakh places with a population of above 500 to be connected by all-weather roads by March 2019 according to the initial project plans. It was introduced in 2000 by the then-prime minister of India Late Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
McLeod Ganj town which has come into prominence for being the residence of the exiled Tibetan leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama is a bustling tourist destination and a growing tourist and spiritual destination attracting people from around the world. Dharamshala has also won the bid for the smart city plan which will see the hill city receive funds for infrastructure development by the government of India in the coming years.