Denchi residents unhappy with delayed compensation

Villagers say that PM’s Aunt received bulk of the compensation already paid

There is unhappiness among the residents of Denchi over delayed land compensation. Local villagers say that a few have been paid compensation but the bulk of the compensation so far has gone to the Prime Minister’s aunt Aum Dechen.

Local villagers have also been regularly visiting the Dzongkhag office demanding their payment.

Dzongkhag officials while confirming this, however, clarified that a few land holders were paid mainly in part as their land was immediately needed for the Dzong construction. Compensation has been paid to around 12 families for 15 acres of land required for the Dzong area, boulevard and Thrimkhang. Of the 15 acres paid for around 10 acres belongs to Aum Dechen. The total amount paid for the 15 acres is around Nu 20mn.

With a going rate for Nu 9,000 per decimal the actual land value would be Nu 13.5mn for 15 acres which would mean Nu 6.5mn would have been given for standing houses and structures in the area.

According to some landowners, the highest payment made was to Aum Dechen whose land falls mainly in the Dzong construction area. “Since some got it, we are also hoping to get it,” said a land owner.

“Initially we were told we would get the compensation but now it seems like it is forgotten,” said another land owner.

A total of 116 acres have been acquired by the government ever since late 2010 onwards till 2011 for the new Pemagatshel Dzong and Denchi town. Of the 116 acres around 71 acres belong to 26 thram private thram holders with the largest share of 24 acres belonging to Aum Dechen.

One of the affected land owners, Rinzin said,”I lost 2.20 acres but so far got compensation only for 40 decimals and my house had to be demolished and I am clueless about where to move now.”

Rinzin also said, “We work and make a living out of the land but if we constructed a house, we would have no place to work and if we tilled the land, where would we stay?” he said.

Another land owner, Jamtsho Wangdi, who lost 4.5 acres said, “We gave up our ancestral land for the good of everyone. But the situation now is, if we don’t move the area has already been demarcated and barred from any sort of construction and plantation. If we move, we have not been given the compensation,” he added.

He also said, “If we are given the money, we can move anywhere.”

A land owner who did not want to be quoted said that for the past one year, there have been at least  five meetings and still they are not sure when the compensation would reach them.

Jamtsho Wangdi said that they had raised their concern on when they could get the compensation. “We were told that we would get the compensation but it was unknown when,” he said.

“If we get it now, we won’t regret about the rates we get as compensation,” he added saying that they had problems with the delayed compensation.

A local villager Sangay lost two plots of land (94 decimal and 39 decimal). He said, “I am hopeful that the land compensation will soon get finalized,” he said.

The Pemagatshel Dzongda, Gholing Tshering said that the Dzongkhag is in constant touch with the land owners. “Right now the land acquired is for the Thrimkhang, Dzong and the Boulevard and when the Government acquires additional land, the payment will be made,” he said adding that other lands are not immediate requirement. The Dzongda said that the acquired land is for the priority activities for town development.

A legal expert, however, said that the compensation system was not fair. He said, “The government has already acquired all 71 acres of private land and so how can the government be selective in paying compensation. They should pay it equally to everyone”.

The works of the much delayed Denchi town has started. Labor construction camps are being constructed and the foundation and pillars of the Thrimkhang has come up. The Denchi Dzong reconstruction had been delayed in February 2012 as they had to taken in additional bidders for the design for the Dzong.

Here too there was some controversy as local architect firms alleged that national laws were being broken to allow a foreign firm of Christopher Benninger to take part in the bids. Benninger’s firm, however, clarified that they had only come at the invitation of the government.

The Denchi land compensation scam was brought to light by this paper when it was found that the cabinet had violated the Land Act 2007, government rules on compensation and also the Property Assessment and Valuation Agency (PAVA)’s recommendations to give higher than normal compensation rates in Denchi.

Even after being aware that Denchi would become a Class B Dzongkhag thromde PAVA had set the compensation rates at Nu 3,952.42 per decimal as the land being acquired was Class B rural land in nature with no urban infrastructure.

The cabinet in 2010 November arbitrarily increased it to Nu 9,000 per decimal justifying it by saying that the Parliament had earlier declared Denchi a Class B Dzongkhag thromde and that as per PAVA rates a Class B thromde was eligible to get around Nu 9,000 or more.

The largest beneficiary was the Prime Ministers own Aunt Aum Dechen who owned 24 acres of the 71 acres held by a total of 26 thram owners.

However, in another similar case, land in 2011 was acquired for an urban throm in Duksum; Trashiyangtse at the rural rate of 2,900 even though under PAVA Duksum was eligible Nu 9,343 per decimal since it is listed as an urban area under PAVA.

Legal experts and PAVA officials explained that what happened in Duksum was correct as the urban rate of Nu 9,343 would come into force only once Duksum became an actual throm with all urban amenities and then land was acquired from it. They say that in Denchi the government paid urban rates for what was still rural land with no infrastructure.

Documents also show that PAVA committee while comparing land compensation rates for Nanglam and Denchi said the two are different as in the former case Nanglam had land pooling and some urban basis for urban rates but Denchi was a rural area where residents had not even agreed to land pooling.

PAVA which was aware of the Parliament’s decision still refused to pay Thromde B rates for Denchi. The PAVA team in its report instead informed the cabinet that any raise above the Nu 3,952.42 per decimal for Denchi would not be in keeping with the Land Act 2007.

PAVA task force members earlier told this paper that PAVA could not accept paying Class B thromde rates for Denchi as it was only a thromde in name but not in infrastructure and value. They said that PAVA has to pay for actual ground value using a complex formula.

According to legal experts though the Parliament declared Denchi a Thromde there was no resolution stating that the Land Act 2007 and PAVA could be overruled. The Parliament’s resolution was only to declare Denchi as a thromde and not establish the rates at which land is to be bought to establish the thromde.

The increase in the rates is not as per the Land Act which specifies very clearly that government compensation has to follow a fixed formula that takes into account the land usage, location, road connectivity etc. all decided by PAVA.

About Kuenzang Choden

48 comments

  1. I don’t know why foreign firms are allowed to take part in bhutanese bidding, what will they know about Dzongkha, even of they win they will google search or in Wikipedia n cut and paste and have to involve bhutanese only, and nothing,..

    People might think that ministers have under cut in this kind of deal similar like McKinsey consultancy which as done in Bhutan.

    I also don’t know whether wangduephodrang dzong fire was intentionally or unintentionally done to hide some secrets for some people may be over audit issue, budget issue, etc. there should be thorough investigation .

  2. People might think minsters have some cut in this knd if foreign cuts like in hydropower, McKinsey consultant done in Bhutan. 

    Also, wangdue dzong whether the fire was with intention or accident to may be hide audit, budget mismatch, etc  has to be investigated.

  3. PM’s aunt is the owner of the largest area of land already acquired by govt. Therefore, it is only justified that she should get the ‘bulk of the compensation’. What is so new about this? Moreover, who is this ghost ‘legal expert’ that has been appearing for some time now? A ghost is no expert at all. He remains a ghost! Now, we are fed up of this personal war. Please keep this personal agenda to yourselves. We (Bhutanese citizens) will do our own analysis. There is no need to keep on harping about the same thing over and over again. Enough is enough.

    • I think TL has a very valid point here. If the report is true why only GYT’s aunt is paid? It doesn’t makes sense making payment on the point that GYT’s aunt had bigger chunk of the land. Govt. should have followed standard procedures and made the payment irrespective of the size and location of the plot. GYT simply digs the grave deeper and deeper for himself. 

    • I raise the same issues as yours but the moderator did not post my comments. Good, your post which is similar to mine is published. 

    • Kezang Denden

      PemaD if you are fed up why do you read? You must be one of the beneficiaries.  

    • in case if GYT’s aunty’s owned 24 acres of land. And if it is taken away by the government. Then how much land is left for her. If she still has some more land then this also must be investigated.

  4. Does this media have a sense of change? Its less interesting to read the same story again and again and again. If this is your approach perhaps you will bore your readers, i understand and still hold that this is the best media, but your prestige fades now. Next time you have same story expect many more people expressing my views.

    • hello Bhutan 1.0, if you find the same story least interesting why are you visiting the site again and again? No one is forcing you to browse through this newspaper if you are not interested. Or are you told to read this paper coz it may appear in your exam huh? And for your kind info, this is not a same story, it is a report that further supports the grave corruption involved in the the Denchi. 

    • I told you its very repetitive and that makes us question its motive. In all the articles it has quoted some legal experts (non-existent) and PAVA member (non-existent). Alright, PAVA member may fear government repercussion but why would a legal expert want anonymity? Judiciary is completely independent.

      • For all we know, the legal expert could be a lawyer running his own private law firm. Do you know what will happen if he decides to openly comment on something related to JYT? His life could be made difficult. His business could be secretly black listed, shut down, etc. JYT is known to be very vindictive man. No one dares questions him openly except for this paper and the opposition party who’s job is to do just that.

        • That is your perception. If the lawyer is private there is no reason at all to fear anybody of giving his view. For all I know there is no such lawyers or legal experts who gives counsel to Tenzin Lamsang, he is just bluffing. 

          • The man who knows too much. Y don’t u open legal firm and give free advice to TL. U seems to be very good in law too. R u the one to write constitution.

        • If that were true, how come everyone is bashing JYT and no one is being hauled up? Anybody who can type (even very badly)now thinks of himself/herself as the ultimate authority on laws, democratic processes, development etc. and attacks JYT with complete impunity.

          And the anonymous legal experts and PAVA members really need to brush up on their legal skills and their knowledge of the laws and democratic procedures if they want to convince anybody.

    • This man Bhutan 1.O seemed to be anti-public or anti-socialist. For your information, are you dumb! I mean if you are so bored and hate the thing then why in a first place keep yourself occupied with this article thread or this paper itself??? No wise and sensible person would ever read nor eat anything that are not in their interest. Hah! I just wonder, where you are born and how you have received your education, cos it’s surprising,and funny hehhe.

    • DPT doesn’t have guts to file the case against TheBhutanese. Because as long as Lenpo Sonam Tobgay exist non of the influential people who are involved will have guts.

  5. In Bhutan, influential person’s relatives in the Dzongkhags always were favoured by the Government officials. It is just that, it is coming in open because of  non bias paper like BT and reporter like KC. Good job KC !!

  6. Trully speaking and in general, this kind of media such as “The Bhutanes”, will certainly deter the corrupt people of Bhutan. Moreover, this paper will be one of the most important tools for law enforcing agencies like ACC, RAA and others. It does a good job, on this note I also like to suggest it to have all possible information gathered before the papaer is out in the public.

    May “The Bhutanese” help us in cleaning the corruption in Bhutan. I for one look for a clean and happy Bhutan.

  7. I applaud the issues raised by this paper. You are doing a good job. I feel it is your duty and in the interest of the nation that you try and uncover every details about what people in power are doing and let the nation know. I would always be interested to know the details of every decision that cabinet, the PM and each ministers and others are taking that has bearing for this country and its people. Mistakes are different but mistakes or bending of rules to favor ones own relatives and friends is not mistake but corruption. And corruption should never be tolerated at any level. Let us all fight against corrupt policies and people in the interest of this nation and the innocent people of this country. 

  8. Ngagidruk, because PM and the Aunt’s census is together in Pemagatshel/ Chungkhar since 2007? Therefore, ……………………………………….?

  9. hello thebhutanese,
    Yours personal grudge cannot be used in the name of media which should serve the larger public interest.Sometimes, i feel “Are we blind that we are getting carried away by the news paper created for personal attack”,But i know how to analyse the news. More than anything, this news paper is enjoying the RTI for personal attack.That is why, i see government should be very careful to implement RTI. For a country like Bhutan, every step should be taken intelligently otherwise there will be people who will use RTI in other way round.

    • When a country is run by GYT through DPT the blame for corruptions and mishandling will come to the GYT only, coz he is the one who see through over all functioning of the govt. and the country. So how does it become a personal attack? The paper is pointing finger to the rightful owner who should take up and own up for everything coz he is the prime minister. 

  10. The whole story of Denchi township right from the site selection, planning and now land compensation is at flaw. I am from Pemagatshel myself though living in Thimphu. Let me explain the process.

    1.0 Vested interest in the selection of site even though Denchi is not the best option. The better option would be the present town itself. There are enough land/areas if planned properly and if protection measures for land slides were put in place. The school area, hospital area and other areas with mild slope is more than enough to accommodate the growth of Pemagatshel for the next 50 years. In that way, there is no need to build a new dzong, no need to build road to the new town and no cost for land compensation, no cost for other infrastructure. Government would have saved billions of Ngultrum. 
    2.0 The new site is selected because PM’s Aunt and other influential people have big chunk of land at Denchi.
    3.0 The planning is biased and the foreigner planner Christopher was engaged to prepare the plan (some say it was done free of cost). 

    There is a whole lot of issues that will come out if deeper digging is carried out in the whole process of site selection, planning and compensation. 

    • I don’t agree with you T Yangchen for several reasons and especially in case of site selection of the new Dzong plus the town relocation. The new location of the Dzong was personally recommended by HM the fourth Druk Gyelpo and you feel that DPT selected Denchi area for vested interest. Dhoro… this is for your kind information la.
      The present location is prone to landslide and excessive gypsum mining has been further aggravating the slope making it even more unstable. So the present location is one of the plainest and stable location one can find in whole Pemagatshel Dzongkhag.

    • I am telling you, there are dangerous people out there, even when they know that it was His Majesty K4 that identified Denchi as the dzongkhag town for Pema Gatshel, people still oppose it. After the elected government, they will even be willing to go after the institution of monarchy it seems.

  11. PemaD is absolutely right! Aum Dechen had the biggest plot and 10 acres was acquired for the priority phase of the work as clarified by the Dzongkhag officials, hence there is no bias in the payment system. We are definitely not sure how this paper is so crazy to defame LJYT. In fact, LJYT is not doing all the works himself, it looks like LJYT is preparing payment voucher, writing cheque, signing and delivering the cheque to Aum Dechen. Please,

    • The government should pay everyone in full. How can the government acquire land and then decide to pay only when it is ready to do something on that acquired land, in the meantime disallowing the landowners to do anything on it.

      And when you say JYT is not doing all the work, you seem to have the reasoning of a child. If JYT wants something done, he can have it done. A simple order from him will be given the highest priority by the ones who are actually doing the work.

    • Now u sounds like real birla, talking about money

  12. When you acquire land you can’t expect to pay only when you start doing something on it. After a reasonable time you should compensate the land owners in full.

    Not that I have any complaints, but it would be refreshing to see other headlines too.

  13. It is only fair that those who lost large potion got large bulk…..so PM aunt contributed to more than 80 percent of land…..

  14. There is no legal expert. Because expert can’t be ghost. This is Tenzin Lamzang imposing as expert..Please get real comments…

    • The person who fits the bill as the ghost legal expert has to be Dasho Damcho, if I am wrong, please forgive me.

  15. T. Yangchen must be owning a big plot in Present Dzongkhag locality whose value will diminish to nothingness once the Dzongkhag is shifted to Denchi. Therefore, he is misinforming the general people thereby defaming PM. As suggested by T.Yangchen dipper investigation should be carried out and if proven otherwise she should be sued for lies and defamation. Please do not write something wrong that too insulting PM of Bhutan.

    • Birla justify ur name, act rich and not stoop over. U seems to enjoy fighting with women. Do have problem with women. Have u been betrayed by one?

  16. look at the opening lines of this story. It is hell bent on attacking the PM and his aunt. This is outright bias and this gives enough reason to question the motive of this paper. Secondly, it fails to understand that compensations have been made only for those land acquired on priority basis. Rest of the ,and owners will receive their compensations when their land are taken.
    The story has full of ghost experts who are nameless and faceless questioning the credibility of the story and its motive. The so called PAVA officials cannot have commented as the paper claims or else they must be held for dereliction of their official duties. They must have names too. Are they the same legal ghost.
    It is a shame that, there seem to be a motive behind these series of stories trying to frame an honest and perhaps the most capable man in the whole of the country.

    • that is how media captures its readers. No harm in it.As long as it is right.

      • And if you are think that there are “ghost experts” Y are you not posting your pic. Show how daring you are. Government is trying to produce more gap between rich and poor. We have just 700000 people.This shouldn’t happen. So called elite group.Huh! hah ahah

    • Are you PM’s chamcha? It seems you failed to read the direct report of Denchi people on their unhappiness for their land being taken by govt. They have clearly mentioned that their land has been taken by govt., were forced to bring down their houses are are not allowed to touch the land as it has been demarcated. So how come you say that those land are not acquire by the govt. and only PM;s aunt’s land is acquired? Read complete news before you blind fire.

  17. Hi theBhutanese,
    can you link the story of  food poisoning in Tsirang with present Government and PM.

  18. Congratulation Your Excellency LJYT for leading Bhutan to such a height. It is only you who can do it. VICE CHAIR in a NAM SUMMIT is unimaginable for a small country of less than 700,000 populations.

  19. First of all, this forum is bias because the moderator does not publish our opposing comments. T Yangchen must be dreaming while she made her comments about the Pema Gatshel dzong relocation. PM does not make the land compensation payments. The news paper did not enquire about the issue with the Dzongkhag officials. My final comment is that there is absolutely no truth as long as the PAVA member and legal expert remain anonymous.

  20. SAVE OUR BHUTAN

    You know people what we can do is just see because nothing is going to happen to the PM or his aunt as we arent living in a true democrat country at all

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