Government’s Denchi defense falls apart

After The Bhutanese ran the story titled, ‘Denchi Land Compensation Scam,’ the Prime Minister’s office issued a press release to all media houses except this paper clarifying its stand.

The Denchi land compensation scam saw cabinet ministers giving abnormally high compensation rates well above government rates of Property Assessment and Valuation Agency for land in Denchi that was being acquired for a Dzongkhag thromde. The main beneficiary was the Prime Minister’s Aunt who had the highest land holding there. PAVA had fixed the rate at Nu 3,900 per decimal but the cabinet made it Nu 9,000 per decimal.

The Bhutanese could only recently access the official press release now uploaded on the website of the Cabinet Secretariat. The release was printed and telecast as the government’s version on several media outlets last week including very recently the Bhutan Broadcasting Service

The media outlets which published and telecast the cabinet’s version did not cross check the cabinet’s press release with this paper which first published the Denchi land compensation scam story.

This paper as a result has found that several clarifications provided in the press release are not in keeping with the facts thereby misinforming readers and viewers alike.

 

Uncovering the Dzongkhag Thromde excuse

The main defense of the press release was that the Parliament on 2nd July 2010 had declared Denchi as a Dzongkhag Thromde and hence the Thromde rate of Nu 9,000 per decimal was paid to Denchi residents. The argument was that under PAVA the thromde rate was Nu 18,995 per decimal for commercial areas and Nu 9,845 per decimal for residential rates.

The Press release also justified the cabinet overturning PAVA’s 27th November 2010 review of the Denchi case on similar grounds.

Contradicting this a prominent legal expert said, “While the Parliament in the fifth session declared Denchi as a Dzongkhag Thromde the parliament has not declared what rates are to be paid. That has to be left to the Land Act 2007 and the PAVA which are the appropriate authority to decide the rates.”

With some landowners demanding more and the Parliament declaring Denchi a thromde the cabinet asked PAVA to review the rates in 26th November 2010.

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.

The only sentence marked in bold in the report says, “It may be appraised that as per Section 154 of the Land Act of Bhutan 2007 the PAVA shall revise compensation only after every three years.”  This is also the only sentence of report marked in bold.

PAVA task force members justifying their stand in the report 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.

The legal expert backing PAVA’s justification said, “Land was being acquired for establishing a Dzongkhag Thromde and from a Thromde.”

A senior Land Commission official said that rates cannot be paid for land which does not have the value yet. He also said that the Land Act 2007 which is an actual law enacted by Parliament has been violated in the case of Denchi.

An Urban Town planner said that it is only after a town has got the entire infrastructure and is developed and settled should PAVA rates for thromde apply.

Also the PAVA rate is actually for the existing Pemagatshel town which has some infrastructure, market value, road connectivity and investment and would qualify under PAVA for such rates and not Denchi.

Denchi residents apart from getting the urban rates are also getting compensation for their orange and mango trees which actually comes under the rural land compensation system.

While cabinet ministers insisted that Denchi be paid under the urban thromde rates different rules were applied in the case of Duksum an Urban Township in Trashiyangtse.

55.735 acres of land are being acquired to relocate and develop the current Duksum Urban Township which is just 0.5 km away.

If one goes by the cabinet’s decision and logic in the case of Denchi, the 67 private landowners of Khitsang whose land was acquired in mid 2011 for the urban town are entitled to Nu 9,801 per decimal for commercial areas and Nu 9,770.51 in residential areas as per the PAVA’s own urban rates. This is because Duksum is listed as a throm under PAVA. Duksum is also considered commercially viable due to a 600 MW Kholongchu project coming up.

However, the government unlike in the case of Denchi decided to go strictly by the PAVA’s original estimate for Rural Class ‘C’ land and pay 2,900 per decimal for Kamzhing land and 3,300 per decimal for Chuzing land being acquired for the Duksum Township.

The 67 private land owners of Khitsang many of whom are ordinary farmers and thought the price was too low were told by the Gewog and Dzongkhag administration that the government’s PAVA rates are fixed and final.

 

Comparing Nanglam and Denchi

The press release also says that one of the main justifications for review of the price was when landowners in Denchi compared their rates to the PAVA approved land prices of Nganglam which was Nu. 9801 per decimal for commercial area and Nu 9770.51 for residential area.

However, PAVA rejected this saying that Nanglam and Denchi cannot be compared due to the urban infrastructure.

The PAVA report of 27th November 2010 says, “For the issue Nanglam does not arise as the planning has been based on land pooling method which the public of Denchi did not agree.”

A PAVA member explaining this section of the report said “Though both were declared towns in Nanglam the urban rate could be paid as there was land pooling and some urban development which was not the case in Denchi.”

The member said that all evidential fact on the ground showed that Denchi was still a rural area.

This is also more evidence that Denchi should have been paid rural rates.

 

The Land acquisition excuse

One of the excuses in the press release to justify paying higher rates is that local landowners wanting higher land prices would not sell their land.  The release says, “Acquisition of land, however, became a very serious bottleneck in the progress of the township development since the price demanded by some of the thram holders was very high.”

However, section 142 of the Land Act 2007 says, ‘the Government may acquire a registered land for public interests.’ Though the government portrayed themselves to be at the mercy of the landowners in Denchi and seemed to be unable to directly acquire the land they had no qualms in acquiring private land from unwilling landowners for numerous other projects like Duksum town, Gelephu airport, Supreme Court construction, Green Zone etc.

 

 

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28 comments

  1. I can only say TL and his company are hell bent at defaming, possibly campaigning against the DPT for 2013 election. Hope he has got something good to say about his maters’s party including PDP and DNT. 

    • Silent Observer

      Phuntsho, I think as a citizen of this nation, we have RTI and also because of ppl like TL, we are being informed of happenings. Otherwise, corruption is happening left and right and one day we will have nothing to offer to our children.

      • I am never against TL or for that matter any media uncovering the corruptions. I have always maintained the fourth estate is an integral part of democracy. I have also maintained that the media should as much as possible concentrate on the events after 2008, otherwise we do not have a line to differentiate and digging into the past will not help us solve our everyday problems but disappointments. Don’t you think we should at least cherish and rejoice the past as an era of peaceful Monarchy? For you and I certainly know that in democracy there will always be debates and a bit of chaos here and there. 

        Sometimes this paper to me looked a bit more biased against the current government and more so towards Hon’ble PM. Is it really necessary for this paper to provide counter arguments to every clarification the cabinet makes? At the end, the point it is trying to make remains the same. You have accused the government, and the government remains accused whatsoever the arguments. Therefore it is only right (personally) that concerned authorities such as ACC finished their investigation and they forward the case to OAG (for instance for Gyelposhing land case).  But I may be wrong. 

        When you put emotions into your piece of article, it hijacks the true purpose.  

        • But did you see the response on the PDP/DPT principal, something about their reporter being ill, as a newspaper, how can you even think of such a justification for writing crap.

  2. The hero think he is at war where is assumes whatever he write is true and that he will be the victor if not martyr. When will this boy grow up.

  3. The question is not to prove who is right or wrong, the objective is to let public know whatever happens behind the closed door. We have every right to know and decide, I would definitely want to know such cases so that I Will feel that not only petty criminals like fraud cases in banks are caught but also in the highest level. After this is my country too and I too pay tax,

  4. Water water everywhere!
    DPT DPT every where! JYT JYT everywhere! in The Bhutanese paper everytime….. Whooooo, what the hell The Bhutanese is trying to prove? I think they are well paid to defame DPT so that they don’t get votes in 2013 election.
    Whate eva, our vote goes to JYT in next round of election.
    He is the right leader to lead us for many years to come. I don’t think we don’t have a seasoned man to be in the post of PM.
    Few people are envying his success and his post.
    Mr. TL in the post of PM….. LOL
    Mr. OL in the post of PM…… LOL
    Don’t give a damn shit to this paper as their stories are full political vandetta against JYT ‘s DPT.

    • Rightly said. I sense a vigorous campaign against this government fueled by well informed sources to knock out the best candidates of the DPT for the next election. The best thing for the govt: ask ACC to speed up the investigations, best it conclude before the registration for the election 2013. 

      This is sadly an opposing image we are promoting of our country. May the good always prevail.

      • I don’t see anyone who is even half as good as JYT in the opposition camp or in the new parties, so my vote is for DPT, in -spite of some of his flaws. So TL has 6 more years of trying to dig dirt on the PM and DPT and we know you will not disappoint.

  5. Ho ho! Guys! Do you believe that “GOD KNOWS THE TRUTH BUT WAITS’, well the case is same here. I know and seen the PM because by the virtue of him being the PM, and we his citizens, but i don’t who is Tenzin L. nor seen him, AND AS few people alleged on having personal grudges or vendetta, whatever bw the PM and TL, don’t know. But surely, I don’t think any wise person and especially journalist like T.Lamsang won’t go on bringing out the dirty scams that involved powerful ministers, feel something is not right in denchi case including gyelpozhingng and trowa theatre case. Some thing, some where have systematically gone wrong and that govt. or involved officials are all powerful or have the political backing that so no actions are taken. Besides, i feel that if T.Lamsang or the newspaper concern reports wrong allegations against the govt., and if govt. have their right stand then, T.L. would have been chargesheeted in the court for defaming and creating mistrust bw the govt. and people! Isn’t that will be the case for oridnary people???, All in all, I believe in Karma and every person be it rich, or poor, be it PM or the famer, we all have our own karma, ‘lyinig, cheating, looting, etc’ are all against the Buddhas’ teachings, and surely whoever the culprit are will be punished or judged well after his death. Tashidelek!

    • If you think ministers are all powerful then you are wrong. Ministers are not to be feared but to be made accountable of how their ministries perform. Therefore there is nothing for TL or any other journalists to fear of. They must as much as possible uncover and inform the public but their reports must equally carry factual events and most importantly it should be balanced. We should therefore welcome media to do their jobs without fear, favor, retribution or fallacies but with utmost professionalism and ethics. I only hope our journalists improve with their experiences. It has been a wild start though. 

  6. Silent Observer

    I salute TL for his continued effort to inform the people. I am in no way courageous like him in any matter. Would any one gain anything by informing the people about the influential ones? We as citizens must anlayse before we comment of say anything.

  7. Prime Minister has so much guts when he is already proven on his wrong doings.OMG

    •  Wrong doings proven by who? The media? Media’s job is to report and inform the public not accuse and convict. I am not defending the PM but he is not even accused of breaching any laws. If you tell me, its about the Gyelposhing Land case – do you really buy the story of PM being an accused or at fault there? He did not have any influence over the then Dzongda Jigme Tshulthrim. This paper reported that he was a minister of Home then but he wasn’t.  Denchi land case? – there is a series of misinterpretations of PAVA rates and thromde classifications. Court will not even  register the case. Lottery scam? – I think we don’t want to dig out network of complexities. So on what basis are you accusing and dragging the PM to court? Pedestrian day? – I too think that was not a very good move but how can you accuse the PM and drag him to court  for that? 

      There might be many aspiring leaders like you, who think would do far better than our current PM but thoughts alone are not enough, ability to type whatever we think in here is not enough, ability to even  make a bit of noises here and there is not enough. Otherwise we can all become PM. But we are all leaders of our own. With positive approaches there is no limit to peace and development as there is no limit to stupidity and accusations with pessimism.  

  8. true bhutanese

    why did “the bhutanese” choose not to post my views? 
    you only want the truth to be what your paper writes. that’s not good journalism. 
    write stories but with TRUTH and not ill intentions.

  9. I salute TL for his continued effort in defaming PM and Govt Why is he writing same thing again and again. I am fed up of this paper.

  10. Birla, u moron.. TB is not writing same thing again and again. He is responding to PM’s press release regarding Gyelposhing land scam. You want to believe what you want to believe. 
    They are doing something no other papers can do. Other papers in Bhutan are afraid that they won’t get advertisement offers for their papers from the Government. They have forgotten about ethics of journalism, they are only after money.

    • Is it really necessary for TL to respond to every stance that the government makes? Don’t you think that is the job of an Opposition party? The paper had already uncovered the case and the government had been accused of wrong doing or violating the laws. Or is it because this paper fear that the clarification from the cabinet will convince the people to believe the government and go against this paper? Well, I am capable to analyse the information that is fed upon me by both media and the government.

      While I appreciate investigative and factual journalism, I also feel this paper fabricate some of their so called critical reports. For instance, the article about PDP and DPT principals (in fact that article was very poorly presented to us), deliberate misinterpretation of Draft Land Bill, etc. However if thepaper and TL’s intentions are pure, their work should not be affected by any negative or positive comments we give here. 

      As you are concerned as a citizen of this country to uprooting corruptions we are  concerned as much to protecting the peace, true democratic culture and etiquette of  Bhutanese society. We are concerned that freedom and rights may not be exercised responsibly by all. 

  11. Goodwill Embassador

    I am fed up as well. When the government is trying to give media an inch, this paper is taking a pinch. Hon’ble PM has been repeatedly insisting that he doesn’t want to drag this paper to court for defamation for the sake of strengthening media in Bhutan but how this paper looks at its responsibilities as of now is slightly wrong. but since everything has its limit, I don’t want to see government seizing this paper one day and dragging TL to court for defaming the government. Seriously this is getting too much in such a young democracy like ours. Please b well aware of your social responsibilities and do not throw out whatever that strikes your anti-government heads.

    • I just cant believe that you being a Bhutanese citizen cant see how these few corrupts are sucking the blood out of our country which has very limited resources. OH! then i can understand that you might be a die hard “Chamcha” who is equally involved in these corruptions. Bravo Goodwill Embassador.

  12. This tells one thing..RTI..well the Bhutanese is doing a great job by being investigative n informing the otherwise complacent general bhutanese people…keep up!

  13. Please don’t get fed up “with the Bhutanese” as it is for “us the Bhutanese’ ‘by the Bhutanese’. “Ranggi nyowai chang di ngar ru churu thung go”, whether LJYT, TL or anybody for that matter.

  14. The Govt. was voted to power by 66% of the True Bhutanese. The Bhutanese is against people of Bhutan. We are not sure how this paper got its name as The Bhutanese when it is anti- Govt and ant- Bhutanese.

    • So, do you think 66% can still be taken for a ride? 66% was a history. Only 2013 will tell how much among that 66% are still around.

  15. So much like what has happened in reality happens here online. Someone who says ‘this paper is forgiven’ is totally wrong, we know our prime minister and he has a keen interest of putting others in thick soup. Had the allegation been wrong, for heavens sake JYT would send his PA to lodge a case against this paper.
    Don’t you believe like me? Did u watch BBS last sunday? That although was rediculous, people were forced to argue ‘social media does more harm than good?’ just because lyoenchen was impersonated on twitter.
    So if such large scale debates could be run to defend him, much more could have been done if he was defamed on unreasonable grounds-thats no doubt.
    One needs mental eyes to see political games being played, why do we assume that mr. Nanda Lal Rai sent a confidential circular notifiying all ministries not to give adverts to this paper?- here is a massive chunk of all truths.

  16. Nobody is saying scam shouldn’t be brought out. All i am saying is since most corruption coverage is about DPT individuals who might have committed even before they formed party, i want to see opposition camps’ corruption charges before 2008.

  17. If Government can’t pay the rate of Thromde after declaration as Thromde by 5th Parliament, then who can?

    Which is supreme lawmakers? Parliament or PAVA or NLC?

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