The demarcation of land at Debsi under Chang gewog has started with the approval of the Ministry of Works and Human Settlement (MoWHS). However, four major land owners have not consented to the plan.
The signatories to the letter sent to the Thimphu Dzongda with their concerns are Dasho Dorji Norbu, Major Pem Tshering, Tenzin Norshang Norbu and Sonam Tshering. Former Chang Gup Naku, who has no land record in Debsi as per the dzongkhag administration has also signed the letter.
The issue with the Debsi Local Area Plan (LAP) revolves around the 23 percent and 26 percent land pooling.
The logic behind the 23 percent and 26 percent is based on the calculation of the total width of the road. For the 8 m wide road, the pooling is kept at 23 percent and for the 10 m width it is 26 percent.
The Debsi LAP covers an area of 186.54 acres including undevelopable slope and government land. It has 228 Thram holders. The plan to make the village a model project includes a dispensary, a school, storm water drainage, a mini park, sports ground, river buffer and others.
It also includes a primary road of less than two kilometers with a width of 10 m, approach roads of 8 m width and roads connecting individual plots with a width of 6 m.
So far, the five stakeholders’ meeting had been conducted in consultation with the Thram holders.
Five stakeholders meeting for the LAP
During the first stakeholders meeting, the dzongkhag floated the idea and people who attended fully supported it. It was once again reconfirmed in the second meeting and there it was decided that a concept plan will be prepared. It was prepared by an American architect who came out with three plans. People were asked to choose a plan and they did accordingly, said the Dzongda.
In the third meeting, the concept plan was presented to resolve concerns people had. And finally the last meeting concluded on 18 November last year.
From the landowners
According to one of the land owners, there is no legal basis to carry out town planning because it does not fall under the Thromde or in a Thromde Yenlag “but it is our wish to develop the village in a nice way with consensus. It is going on without proper consultation. We also want that Debsi is developed in a proper way.”
“Major land owners contributing huge area of land need to be aware on the project time frame and budgetary allotment,” he added. Further he also said that about four or five years back, 20 land owners were residing at the place who owned 50 percent of the land. Those owners built the present bridge, brought in water supply and connected the village with road.
“As per the plans presented, the roads were as wide as 10 and eight meters and that much is not required in view of the traffic we envisaged,” he added saying that they asked for it to be modified and still there hasn’t been any consensus on it.
“We have written several letters to the Dzongda stating that unless things like project time frame and budgetary allotment is not presented, there would be no consensus. Since the survey is going on without our consensus, we cannot go with the plan,” he said.
The Dzongkhag’s side
The Thimphu dzongkhag administration has asked the ministry to design the road and other amenities required to start the LAP.
Thimphu Dzongda, Lhap Dorji said that the LAP is going ahead whether there is consent from or not from the four land owners. This, according to him is by going with the majority of two-thirds in favor of the plan.
It was during the planning period, they submitted their concerns on various issues including land pooling.
The Dzongda said that these land owners wanted to build four-storied buildings which was not possible as only two-storied buildings were allowed in the village. They did not want the school, dispensary or any of the recreational projects. “Whatever we proposed, they opposed,” he said.
They also wanted to reduce the road width from 10m to 8m and from 8m to 6m. The plan to locate the school in the center of the village so that children from all corners could reach it within 10 minutes was also rejected so it had to be shifted to the periphery.
“In keeping all these concerns in mind, we have compromised quite a lot,” he said adding that the number of storey for the building was increased to three and since it was left upto them to construct their own roads as they did not want the road, the land pooling was reduced from 26 percent to 21 percent.
Recently, a letter was sent by them to the Dzongda. In the letter it was reflected that they needed a timeline to know when the project would start and end; it asked the dzongkhag to show the budget allocation, details on the exact area and the details of the Thram Holders and the size of their property.
The Dzongda in his reply made his justifications. For the timeline, he said that since the project is not in the 10th Five Year Plan (FYP) as it was an adhoc program, it will be proposed in the 11th FYP. Once it is done, then the timeline can be fixed.
On the need to show them the budget allocation, the Dzongda asked, “Who are they to ask for the budget allocation? Budgeting is the mandate of the Dzongkhag Authorities and not the stakeholders.”
The details of the total area was given to them but on the details of the Thram holders, the Dzongda replied saying that the Dzongkhag is not authorized to disclose them as per the Land Act.
He said that these land owners should be aware of the fact that the land that they are losing now would only help them get better price for the remaining land once the road comes through. “Value addition will not only compensate the loss but it would benefit them,” he said.
On this, one of the land owners said that the price of land is already about Nu 0.4 mn per decimal because of their efforts to construct a road. “Land price is already up and there is not much further scope. It is not because of the project that price of the land will increase. It is already sky high,” he added.