Hundreds of acres in Thimphu confiscated from illegal land owners

Of the total 45 cases in the 2003 High Level Committee report on land grabs and excess land in Thimphu around 35 cases involving mainly high profile people were reported as solved as of 2007.

The report also looks at how careless government institutions were by not registering their own land or the widespread prevalence of excess land registration among private individuals and local communities.

Since the report was never made public by the committee The Bhutanese takes a look at the cases of land grabs and excess land that were detected by the committee in 2003 and were solved.

The report in some cases shows active collusion between judges, land officials and the influential.

The thrams (of the illegally acquired lands) registered in the name who were in receipt of the overnight boon got cancelled and most of the dealing officials were suspended from services.

The officials criticized in the report include the then director of land records, Lhakpa Duba; the then dzongda and the chairman of the land acquisition committee, Karma Dorji and head of the land record, Sonam Norbu.

Also included in a particular case is the then joint director of land registration division, Ugen Takchu and surveyor general, Sither Namgey.

There are also two specific instances where the court officials were involved.

A judge, Tshering Dorji was held liable for lapses by registering excess land of 8.59 acres for Dasho Ugyen Dorji and late Dasho Lam Penjor at Semtokha. The land record office had deleted the excess land but it was registered by judge Tshering Dorji as a court decision.

In another case, the thrams of 29 individuals occupying 170.64 acres of community tsamdro was cancelled. The committee observed that most of the beneficiaries were the court officials and two family members of the then Thimphu dzongda, Karma Dorji.

Apart from the above two cases involving the court, several other illegal land transfers and excess land registration could not have been possible without judges approving it.

The land records head, Sonam Norbu is also named in the report for registering 10 decimals in Mothithang that did not belong to him.

He was suspended from his service and was charge-sheeted for the lapses. The extra land registered in his name illegally was taken over as government land.

A man named Hori and his daughter were alleged to have obtained land by fraudulent means by getting two kashos on the same land. Hori split the kashos on the same land into two and obtained 74 decimals of land at Motithang and 1.89 acres in Semtokha.

The committee recommended that the land allotted at Semtokha can be retained but the one at Motithang was to be taken over as government land. It found that the then Dzongda Dorji Namgyel must be held answerable.

In the case of Dago Boktom, her 80-decimal tseri land in Lobesa was taken over for a water catchment project. Since tseri land like sokshing cannot be built on and is actually owned by the government only cash compensation was eligible. However,  her land was replaced illegally from Semtokha. The land in 2000 was then sold to Lyonpo Zangley Dukpa. The land initially was deleted from Lyonpo Zangley’s thram but later when replacement land was given from Chhukha then Thimphu land was reinstated in Lyonpo’s name.

In Bida Dorji’s case, the Thimphu City Corporation used three acres of her land at Babesa as a dump yard. As a replacement of the land used, the city allotted 5.96 acres of land which amounted to excess replacement of 2.96 acres. The excess land was in lieu of the 50% cash compensation since the land had commercial value. The excess two acres was deleted from the thram and she was allowed to retain 96 decimals in lieu of the compensation.

Dasho Passang Wangdi was found to have registered excess land of 82 decimals which was deleted from his thram.

Prominent businesswoman, Aum Damchu Dem, was allotted land replacement in two places in Thimphu after it was found that the three-acre apple orchard in Talakha fell within the reserved forest area. However, since the replacement land was allotted irregularly in Thimphu, it was to be taken over as government land. She was instead allotted a 3 acre consolidated plot above the Thimphu-Phuentsholing highway.

The committee also came across allotment of excess land to Ramjam Rinpoche who owned 10 acres of sokshing land but was allotted an excess land of 38.15 acres. The excess land was cancelled.

Yab Ugyen Dorji’s land at Punakha was affected by Punakha-Tashithang road so an area of 6.01 acres as replacement land at Thimphu was registered in his name. The committee found that the area affected by the road had not been adjusted from Yab’s thram from Punakha. The committee recommended that the replacement land must be offered from the place of Yab’s choice an equivalent 6.01 acres be adjusted from the registered land in Punakha.

Former Gup, Naku received 10 decimals from the 10-acre land that was found by the committee to be put in Chang Ugyen’s name by the tampering of documents. Further, with no documentary evidence, a tshoesa of 66 decimals was registered in his name. The registration was considered illegal and therefore, the land was taken as government land.

Other “land-grabbers” involve Chophel (0.66 acres); Tsewang Chezom (2 acres); Chedon and Tandin (12.80 acres), Sangye Dema (11 acres); Namo (2.58 acres); Sangay Zangmo (0.01 acres); Nata Gyeltshen (5 acres); Sangye Lhamo (0.63 acres); Ngawang Chedon (1 acre) and Pemo and Rinzin Gyelmo (1.99 acres).


Government agencies, institutions and community use of government land

Apart from the individual cases, there are also cases of government land occupied by government and public institutions without proper registration on 568.63 acres of government land. Though there is no illegality here, proper procedures were not followed.

Government organizations had occupied 316.84 acres in the municipal area without registration of land and another 32.26 acres in rural areas. The concerned agencies were asked to process registration of lands occupied by them.

The committee found that many lands occupied by the dratshang, lhakhangs and gooneys were without thrams. The ministry of home and cultural affairs was asked to investigate and process the lands for registration in the name of the religious institutions.  Around 206 acres of land lay in Thimphu’s rural areas and 13.44 acres in the extended municipal area.

A local government committe in an earlier report had identified excess land during the new sathram compilation of Thimphu Dzongkhag. This consists of 512.44 acres involving 487 individuals. The high level committee says that the ministry of agriculture and home affairs must be responsible to monitor implementation and submit the report to the cabinet. Until 2007, around 200 cases had been completed.

The same local government committee also came across illegal houses of 151 individuals covering an area of 27.21 acres in the Thimphu rural areas. The majority of these houses were dismantled.

In the main urban area, the high level committee found 159 low-income bagos  (huts)which were all removed. As of 2007, people were resettled at Changkhangchu in Yusipang; Chamgang; their native places and in the south.

The committee found that 274 individuals had occupied government land of 262.36 acres, in the extended municipal area. The Thimphu city corporation was directed to take over the land. The case is completed.

Also, 67 tshamkhangs were found to be built on government land all of which were removed.

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  1. bhutan is so corrupted, only can be ruled by rich and powerfull people,,, I dont know how can we call it GNH, GNH my foot

    • your logic is off. you should say ‘rich’ or ‘powerful’. many of the crooks in the survey department were not ‘rich’ but certainly had the ‘power’ to become the crooks which became.

  2. We should change the name of the paper to “The Bhutanese Land” and change Tenzin Lamsangs name to Tenzin Landzang…

    • Please don’t pick on Lamzang. He is only doing his job and its well appreciated. We can’t live in this system forever….. the systems need to evolve and this is the begining. No more shall we middle and lower income Bhutanese be bullied nor blindfolded. We wnat to know the truth and only the truth. If you have anything against anyone please take it out of this paper. We are not interested on your personal grudges. We Just want the truth and be informed.
       “Truth hurts and reality bites” but it must be felt by everyone alike whether rich or poor. Its just astonishing to know that there have been so much of “disparity” in all level of oppotunities and application of law for people with and without backgrounds. ACC, the Judiciary and OAG must also come under microscope for miscariage of justice and misuse of authority during investigation procedures. If  such investigation is done many heads will roll and must roll too. When citizens start losing faith in the system then its something to worry……. we can’t live in the realms of shangrila… is no more and we are heading towards hell.

  3. Chang Ugyen as declared himself as innocent on sundays Bhutan Times issue on 1st April and now you The Bhutanese Paper should come up with updates about chang Ugyens Verdict on which ground he is under the name of land Grabber.

    • Chang Ugyen has a record of deception and betrayal. He was brought to the good life by the Royal Grand Mother. getting all the benefits he then betrayed her and had to leave. and a leopard never changes his spots. with bhutan becoming more accountable these days, it was just a matter of time for his name to surface in the audit reports. I’m sure more reports are going to emerge as time passes. 

  4. These had been happening long time back but we didn’t know until The Bhutanese published here. This is certainly not GNH country, certainly Grossly Negative Happiness…

  5. damseling may be the one of the corrupted one

  6. What a sad day for all Bhutanese, the high and mighty it seems have been blatantly robbing the country dry. It is even more disheartening to note that all the people involved in these land scams don’t have any date with the courts, the government just confiscates the land which actually never belonged to them and they go on living happily ever after. In stark contrast, I know a few cases of accountants that have been locked up for over seven years for misusing/stealing a paltry sum of Nu,50,000/- . While, I certainly do not condone what the accountants did, by comparison these guys who stole land which is worth crore’s of Ngultrums should be given much longer jail terms. 

    In short, we need to seriously get our priorities right.

  7. tenzin is keeping his promises and i congratulate his boldness in shedding light on high profile corruption for the people of Bhutan. the last thing we want is action from all of us.

    • Can there be a very open investigation of land. i am sure there are lots to come. For instance Ex-Goonglen has 100s od land below Buddhas point. How did u get to register all this land. Like wise Chief Justice has so much of land so can there be any investigation.

      • Animosity rises and eye brows are raised when a few has more than excess while the rest sweat to get a foot in Thimphu that too when the land price is higher than golds. This leads to the gap between the haves and have nots and may be  a cause of  present youth ‘s aggressions. Answers on how they could have such large areas when many starve must be ascertained by the paper 

        • i’m sure the honest ones will be the happiest to hear the details of the truth while the crooks will have the deepest worries. 
          It is important not just to catch crooks, but also to clear the names of falsely accused that the truth, in its entirety is revealed. 
          Let’s not talk about the causes of the youth aggression stupidly. youth are useless and underqualified and not willing to work. with such a combination of qualities, why won’t they be frustrated!

        • karma, another point. just because someone has more than you does not justify ‘animosity’. this is called ‘jealousy’. it’s okay to feel it if you have 100 bucks in your pocket and Bill Gates as $50 billion. but it smacks of communism and this is not what bhutan needs. 

      • Investigating land holdings of Ex Goonglen and the Chief Justice surely would be very interesting, though we all know that is never going to happen.

        • i was told it has already been done. maybe you can double check with the courts instead of speculating cynically. when even royalty are being investigated these days, why would you doubt any investigation is not being done??

  8. Dear damseling, I enjoyed your sense of humor. I had such a hearty laugh. Thanks.
    I thought you should call yourself Land-selling and myself zhisangland or for that reason the names of all those commenting on the land grab to be suffixed or prefixed by “Land”.
    I just couldn’t help laughing. Sorry la, since the issue at hand is very serious.

    • Sorry to burst your bubble, but I certainly did not find anything humorous in what damseling had to say, in fact, the only thing he or she is trying to do is to side track this issue.

  9. It’s makes us feels good, when all such cases are brought to public’s notice. Keep going “The Bhutanese”  we are always there to support. 

  10. This is great research and reporting. Please keep up.
    Can you also research, why the Expressway got completely bent near the truck parking. I heard it was to avoid a prime land of a prominent rich family.

    • while talking about the expressway, the paper may want to research why it was made into an expressway in the first place. And why is it going straight to the road leading to the PM’s house at the end of babesa? Wasn’t the expressway idea approved in 1999 when the PM was the first CCM Chairman? 

      so much juice to investigate just from the past 10 years!

      • You need to do better then this, your hatred for the PM can been seen through and through. If the PMs residence had not already been connected by road, than maybe such lame allegations would carry some weight and clearly this was not the case.

    • and why does it stop right at the PM’s road at babesa?

      • Haha, another ridiculous allegation.

      • ha ha yourself. I hear now they’re going to dig a tunnel from Semtokha to his family home in Thinleygang. 

        Give it up Ghostwriter. You’re shovelling shit uphill. You’re fighting gravity and gravity always wins.

        • I think the your the one that is speculating cynically, again, I heard, what kind of an argument is this and by the way, only the PM lives in Thinleygang, haha, you troll.

        • speculating? this tunnel’s been in the news on and off for the past couple of years. yes you could say it is speculation to say that the it is built to benefit the PM to visit his ageing mother, but then again if you connect the dots with the expressway that leads straight to his house, then ha ha, it does sound plausible. 

  11. The Bhutanese has been very instrumental in bringing all the skeletons hidden behind the cupboard up to now. The CEO played his part in digging out corruption long before, from his Kuensel days. 
    Dear Tenzin Lamzang….You are one of the few true son of Bhutan, who has not falter in the face of challenge up to now. You have taken ur stance on the side of truth and we as a commoner believe you ‘ll remina the same.
    I’m sure, with you around many many countless people with power and who are corrupted will have sleepless nights.
    The very people whom our Kings had trusted and given them the power have missed use the opportunity to serve the kind, country and the people.
    The question that often rings in my mind is, Are we Bhutanese this low or is it no exception from other countries. But in other countries, powerful people get removed (even minister), some get jail (even in India) , some get executed (in China).
    we are all wondering, what course of action will be taken in Bhutan only time will tell i guess. I hope nobody will be pardoned, I hope no royal pardon comes at least for once this time around, Or else people with power will continue the trend of corruption and collusion as ever.

    • There is a rumour that the beautiful land with full of pine trees just above or behind the YHSS, Thimphu is taken by some influential people. Some say, they are in the process. May be true may not be. If its true, how can they take the government land; whats Ministry of Agriculture doing. Likewise, the land just above Namseling is taken by high influential –stone quarrying it and causing landslides. We need another law or separate system to deal with the high influential people. In the absence of such check and balance system, the implementing agencies like ACC, MOA, National Land Commission cannot do any thing. Whenever National Land Commission or similar other agency received instructions instruction, they will be forced to listen and transfer the land ownership. So we suggest Tenzin Lamsang to take up the matter with the current government whether the govt has the mechanism to deal with if there is misuse of authority by the higher influential people. If there is none, it would be very good to initialte and come up with the system/mechanism. We have read in one of the medias that the ruling government has already intructed the OAG to propose Emergency Law..something, which is good. The PM can also instruct the OAG to look into the current laws and systems so that there is a proper check and balance such that the higher influential people will not grab land; for instance above Namselling ( curretnly stone quarrying) and …..(some land above YHSS, its true). Tenzin Lamzang can bring more story on this check and balance system….for the good of the country. If it is too late , …it may not be sound for the system…because ..citizens of this nation knows whats all hapenning , the only thing is they are not expressing. By the time whne they express openly, i feel it would be little late then. Good Luck Tenzin Lamsang f……

  12. this practice of land amass in the past have shown the evidence now. even civil servants in the lower cadre like Revenue, immigration, court clerks and Office assistants own building in Thimphu. This are some corrupt beneficiaries under the umbrella of highly influential and corrupt ones. 

    ACC must see their detail possession of assets dis proportionate to their income. people put up in government quarter claiming low level income renting out their apartments? cheating government  and evading tax.

  13. i think our leaders and ministers should stop barking about gnh, when there is nothing inside, full of shits

    • i didn’t know the plural of shit was shits. Is shit countable or not countable?

      • I hope you are correct in saying that ex goonglen and the Chief justices land holdings are being investigated like you seem to be shouting to the world and that it is not mere speculation on your part. Because, if what you are saying is true, then I am surprised that this newspaper is not on to your story. And mind you, I can vouch that this newspaper hates the Chief Justice just as much as they hate the PM.

        So next time, stop your bull shit and back up your words with facts.

        • why don’t you read properly first. I said I heard that they were already investigated. maybe because they were already cleared that they never showed up in the report. who knows. 

          your problem seems to be that you attack other people on speculative basis but like to defend the PM despite the obvious instances of corruption. let’s be consistent shall we? 

          You can vouch? now why would The Bhutanese hate the Chief justice? And who says it hates the PM? be rational man! In your world, criticism is not possible without hatred. Sorry it is possible. All audit reports are critical but they are not based on hatred. Let’s wait for the RAA to catch up with the PM’s activities. You will then say that the Auditor General hates the PM and is pro-pdp right?

  14. The issues are serious and really disturbing for the citizens of Bhutan, before its too late the Government should take appropriate actions with individuals involved.

  15. tenzing tshering


  16. First of all, I have never attacked anyone, I only said that it was not possible that the land holdings of Ex goonglen and the Chief justice were being investigated because they belong to an elite band that are not subject to such acts. And I still maintain that no investigations have been carried out thus far, on the other it is you who says that it has already been carried out with no proof whatsoever.

  17. Ease up, you guys. May be you two should have your own separate battle ground.

    • Apologies to you for digressing from  more meaningful discussions and I promise that this will be my last post in this forum.

      For tingting, I know you are a well educated person with so much to offer, however, your hatred for the PM comes through in every post and maybe this blinds you to the more positive things in our country. My only hope is that people give the PM a chance to govern the country, if at all the DPT led government has not lived up to the people’s expectations, they can punish them at the ballot box and that time is not too far away.

      It was nice engaging with you, though our views seem to be from completely opposite sides of the spectrum and certainly no hard feeling.

    • yeah i feel bad myself about this school playground tiff. and no i have no ‘hatred’ for anybody, not least the PM. what i seek is acknowledgement of the mistakes and corruption that has proliferated in Bhutan during the past 4 years. Just the opposite of what we expected with our first accountable democracy. Accountable it has been anything but. 

      This government has set the worst set of precedents, from the CDG (unrepentent still), to the kicking out of the BBS and media from the national assembly hall, the hiding of the voting patterns of the MPs (a must in any democracy even to ‘punish’ at the ballot box), the economic mess in terms of the rupee crisis, the incompetence of raising taxes without a legislative process, education city (for whom??), and the defending of the corruption of gyalpoishing, the constant whining over the media’s ‘agenda’ against the DPT, appointment of a known crook as the party vice president to meet political expediencies etc etc etc.

      What this country needs is a change in government, regardless of who wins. The message must be clear that these things are not acceptable to the people of this country. Lessons must be learned in the right way. We don’t want our future politicians thinking the people of bhutan will tolerate these practices. 

      This is what I am after. Is that so bad?

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