If there is a survey of people who have lost the most land to public projects then the residents of Hejo would surely top the list.
While the older generation saw land going to the Golf course, Indian Embassy and the National Assembly, the current generation is seeing additional land being taken over for the Green zone, Supreme Court and now the Diplomatic Enclave.
While there is no doubt that land has to be acquired for the public good, it is also imperative that acquired land is used well given the ever growing scarcity of land in Bhutan and especially so in Thimphu.
In that sense there are local residents who lost land questioning if the Supreme Court structures really needed to be so big.
There are also those questioning if each new embassy really needs 1.5 acres of land when the rest of Thimphu is filling out with buildings and government offices run from rented accommodations.
In a developing country like Bhutan, land, more than ever, is the main asset and capital for its people. Even the biggest business houses in Bhutan started off by getting business loans against their land assets.
There are many stories in Bhutan of families selling off ancestral land to ensure that their children get top quality education. There are also stories of how families facing financial ruin due to some poor decisions were saved with that last parcel of land they could sell and rebuild themselves with.
Then there are also many stories of the powerful and rich going after public and private lands by breaking national laws and abusing their powers, and in the process raising questions against the whole system.
In all of this it is extremely important that land is managed and administered well. The results of the painstaking and thorough Re-cadastral Survey done over the years should be respected and there should be zero tolerance of those not respecting its results.
A lot of land corruption in the past happened due to the collaboration of local governments and powerful local individuals. The National Land Commission should ensure that such things don’t happen again by not allowing their surveys and records to be changed on the instigation of unscrupulous elements at various levels.
There should be zero tolerance of post re-cadastral survey illegal structures and land grabs with agencies like the NLC, Dzongkhag administration, the courts and the Royal Bhutan Police remaining vigilant.
Good land management after all is a key component of national stability and the barometer of the respect for the law.
“Without the land there is no nation.”