High level committe report sheds light on unresolved land cases


The Bhutanese has in its possession a copy of the High Level Committee report of 2003 which shows 45 cases of excess land being found registered within Thimphu from Chunzom to Pangrizampa.

The High Level committee was instituted by the government in 2001 to study cases of excess land registration in Thimphu. The committee had submitted its report by 2003. This first part in the series will look at the unsolved land cases as of 2003.

The case found that 186.45 acres had to be returned by 48 mainly influential individuals.

By 2007, except for around ten cases all the others were completed, as reflected in the status report on the implementation of the high level investigation committee report.

The unsolved cases in 2007 include Gyeltshen with excess land of 2.65 acres, Kinley Wangchhuk of River View hotel with 10 acres, Chang Ugyen with 7 acres and another 3.02 acres, Dasho Tobgye S. Dorji with 49.06 acres,  Umtey Penjor and Phub Tshering with 20 acres, Duptho Wangchhuk with 7 acres, Namgye Chezom with 2.67 acres, daughter of Lyonpo Dawa Tshering, Chimi Tshering with 3.21 acres, Pekimo with 6 decimals,  Phub Dorji with 11 decimals and Dasho Nidup Dorji with 3.59 acres.

The case of Chang Ugyen, who grabbed 10 acres of government land, has the longest description in the report and mentions the tampering of land records. The report mentions that this is a case of fraud and deception.

A case where higher acreage of land was registered was Dasho Tobgye S Dorji. He owned 1.66 acres of apple orchard at Drumthang, Ramtogtog at Babesa. The land had been increased to 50.62 acres with approval from Lyonpo Tamji Jagar in 1981. Since there was no Royal Kasho, Lyonpo Tamji Jagar was held accountable in the report for approving the revision of Dasho Tobgye S. Dorji’s land. The 1980 Kasho of His Majesty the Fourth King had made it clear that only His Majesty can allot land.

Kinley Wangchhuk of Riverview Hotel was found to have illegally converted 15.10 acres of Tseri to an apple orchard and then added 10 acres in his wife’s name. The 25 acres was then registered in the name of his children. The 15 acres was converted back to Tseri and he was asked to pay for the excess land of 10 acres. Land Records Director Lhakpa Duba was held answerable for the lapses.

A high acreage of excess land belongs to Umtey Penjor and Phub Tshering. The then Finance Minister Chogyel allotted 30 acres to the two in 1974 at Limbukha. However, during the time of registration the acreage was increased to 50 acres. The excess land of 20 acres was not allowed.

Another irregular allotment of excess land involved Duptho Wangchhuk. He had bought seven acres of apple orchard above Hongtsho Kuenrey in 1984. He applied for land replacement as the land was densely forested and was allotted a land at Gangchey. However this allotment of 7 acres was not allowed as per the law as the apple orchard had not been cultivated for 17 years.

In the case of Gyeltshen, a royal Kasho had allotted him 2.14 acres in Thimphu and 1.45 acres in Punakha. However during registration the Thimphu land was increased and registered as 4.15 acres while the acreage in Punakha was reduced to 0.95 acres. So the excess registration of 2.65 acres was deleted.

In the case of Chimi Tshering she got 3.21 acres of land replacement in Pamtsho in lieu of her 3.21 acres in Changzamtok which was cancelled.

Dasho Nidup Dorji had registered 4.50 acres of land as sokshing originally. Sokshing land is essentially considered as government land and can be used by a person registering it for only collecting organic material like leaves etc. However this land was converted to Pangzhing. When this land was acquired by Bhutan Telecom he was given 3.59 acres of land as compensation in Thimphu. The committee cancelled this land as the sokshing was never his to give.

Namgay Chezom had taken land compensation for 2.67 acres for Tseri land, for which she was not eligible as it was supposed to be cash compensation. Tseri land is again essentially owned by the government.  Her compensated plot in Chang Gewog near Ngabi Rongchu was cancelled.

Officials involved

The common names that surface time and again in the report are the then Director of Land Records, Lhakpa Duba and land officer Sonam Norbu who were held liable for multiple lapses.

Sonam Norbu and his wife Namgye Chezom had two cases in addition to the above case.

He added 10 decimals of excess land with the approval of Kidu Lyonpo which was not allowed. This case was solved after he was suspended from service and charge-sheeted for the lapses. The recommendation also stated that a special investigation must be conducted on his assets and land transactions he processed.

He was also found liable for the case where his wife, Namgye Chezom had registered 40 decimals of Kamzhing or dry land at Rilo, Zilukha which fell within Thimphu Municipality boundary’s green zone. However, land replacement which should not have been given was allotted from Lanjophakha. Interestingly of the 40 decimals around 10 decimals were transferred to the wife of the then Thimphu Dzongda Dasho Karma Dorji.

The then Thimphu Dzongda and the Chairman of Land Acquisition committee, Karma Dorji was also held liable for administrative action for non-enforcement of lawful and proper directives; abuse of official authority and position with regard to his wife, Sonam Zangmo’s case of acquiring 50 decimals of replacement land.

He was relieved from his services.

In another instance, Lyonpo Tamji Jagar was held liable for lapses  in allotting an acre of land to Late Thinley Dorji at Dechencholing Goenpa. The land was registered in Thinley Dorji’s name in 1984.

Another case involving a land official was when 15 individuals including then Joint Director of Land Registration Division, Ugen Takchu had their excess land regularized.

Ugen Takchu and Surveyor General Sither Namgey had submitted a note sheet to the Home Minister for the approval of regularization. While the note sheet clearly stated that such is not allowed, the report states that the two processed the land for approval. They were held answerable to the lapses.

Attempts by The Bhutanese to get updates from the National Land Commission and the Thimphu City Corporation on the latest status of the above cases were unsuccessful.

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  1. It just proves that most Bhutanese in high places are big crooks and have or continue to milk the country dry. I hope something is done to these shameless thieves, so that honest Bhutanese don’t have to suffer.

    Right now, I actually feel quite ashamed to say I am a Bhutanese.

    • I too don’t approve of such abuse of information and access to influential friends…But which honest Bhutanese are you referring to? PDP or the financers of this politically driven paper…I think if you dig deep enough there is enough dirt to indict every civil servant in Bhutan and many others. Just depends on what your motivation is.

      Oh Mr. Lamzang we would appreciate an investigation into the land that you illegally purchased from the Dratshang as well…This would really place the icing on your legacy as an unbiased investigative journalist…

      • whatever man, at least the crooks are being revealed. Lamsang’s doing a good job, which is something this DPT government should have tackled from day one. in the end they’re the one’s being investigated!

  2. Can somebody imagine that a country’s land belonging to all citizens is allotted to few individuals by any authority is justified. if this goes on without check, i believe, some day whole Bhutan will belong to few influential people and common citizens will have no say. I don’t think any individual should be given authority to sell, allot even an inch of citizens land. If needed to be given, it should come from the parliament. All our lands has gone to the rich people.

  3. I agree with u @ghostwriter, it’s very shameful to say that “we are a Bhutanese”. Good research done “The Bhutanese” waiting for more 🙂

    • Good research and thanks a lot. Let us see if there will be actions initiated against the defaulters.

  4. phuntsho tobgay

    ITs a pity to know that all these ppl have become rich through such illegal means. All these ppl related to big shots are leading rich and extravagant lives here practising such corrupt deeds.

    Its just the tip of the ice berg. There are many ppl in the land commission who have benefitted from the recent cadastral survey by first registering excess lands in the name of the land owners and later buying for themselves.
    All these officials in the NLCS must be put behind bars.

  5. I don’t think all of them were crooks yes the “haves” might have had the opporutnity to purchase more than the have nots and the opportunity to cultivate what they had. Some I’m sure “grabed”…. However, the main issue is “information”, those who sold their land did not have the information nore vision about devleopment then… who’s responsibility was it then to educate the people that in the future thier land would be valuble……

  6. Lover of Country

    Had not reported by Bhutanese it would have never come to public notice. what shame ? our so called great leaders who advocates GNH to national and international. Its sad to see the news paper very now then about corruption of same gruop of people. Shame!!!!….

  7. With every kind of allegations against him; lyonchhen still has his place in New York’s high profile meeting: Just browse through http://www.2apr.gov.bt to better see the future of our land. Should we have same spirit? he cant go ahead of time or remain back and therefore would responsibly uphold the law for the scene he created. Law has its eyes but Mr.Prime minister has abilities opportunistically we cannot afford this big dream go into void. Blindfold in the country of blinds, Quiet in the country of dumbs- here corruption and deciets in the country of the happy man. Long live DPT!

    • I really don’t know what you are trying to convey exactly, however, lets not politicize this issue and drag the PMs name into this discussion. The report clearly says that it is from the year 2003 and his name is certainly not mentioned in the report.

  8. In your previous paper regarding 10 acre land posses by Chang Ugyen, there was involvement of PM. Where is his name????

    • PM’s name was relevant in chang ugyen’s case because the PM was heavily defending this crook.

  9. Great article with valuable research. Kudos !!!

    Now another burning topic on land would be to find out the types of ‘poor’ people who got Kidu land in the south, specially in Samtse (Mechetar, Chengmari, Sibsoo etc).
    I am hearing many of the Dzongkhag officials, and particularly Dasho’s (civilian and military) made their wives and relatives ‘extremely poor’ in paper and tricked the system to get prime lands alloted to their families.
    The best solution is to go back to the early 90s and see which families who were given land in south had managed to break their Sathram. I am saying this because the main reason for them to do that was to get Kidu land by exploiting loopholes in the system.

  10. Can the Bhutanese do some research on the amount of land that was appropriated by Zhongar Dzongpon during the 17th century. 

    • now you are getting disgusting. The PM and his cohorts try to dig up other cases just to justify their own land grab, and you are going back many centuries to do the same. just how desperate are some people getting these days?

      What’s your point, that since the dzongpon is too dead to prosecute all others should also be set free? 

  11. pm is sick he sucks innocent people

  12. Now it is only fair that the Bhutanese go after all those guys named in the report, how come only Chang Ugen is being targeted. If they don’t, it will prove that going after Chang Ugen is politically motivated and that the paper has an ulterior motive. 

    This however, certainly does not mean that Chang Ugen should be let off scot free, he should be punished and jailed just like any other criminal. But this should hold true for all the other’s mentioned in the report too.

    • …because Chang Ugyen is the only who was found to have forged the documents. His case is far worse and serious. but all others are serious too. 

  13. For whaterver the reason, it is the Lyonchen whom we have noticed always for the bigger gain of the country–for development of the people; equity and justie; happiness and harmony. Bhutan is indeed fortunate to have this bald-headed man, if at all, he is the man who can make a difference and who has been making. We also have some other able and trusted people but not farsighted and gifted as our PM. Good Luck to Lyonchen and we want to see further progress in happiness and harmony, equity and justice …Our wholehearted support and appreciation for you, though there may be some shortcomings in the process of shouldering multidimensional tasks.

    • I agree with all that you have written, except for the bald headed part.

      • wow, do you guys support him for the rupee crisis as well? for an expressway that leads straight to his house? An education city bill tabled and passed by his pliant MPs, just for his son or nephew’s pet project? You want me to dig more?

        everybody keeps harping on our ‘able and wise PM’, but it turns out to have been more hype than fact.

        • For a pessimist like you, whatever the government does will never be looked at in good light. So keep living in your own hell!

          • are you saying i should run for prime ministership and make my own expressway or education city? is that the right of elected representatives? 

            I should introduce you to the RAA and ACC one day. You might learn a thing or two about the difference between optimism and corruption.

  14. i also think that all are not crooks but only some are. they have to be investigated well and punished. the onus for doing this falls on the DPT shoulders whose slogan to catch votes is”zero tolerance to corruption”. what a great irony!

  15. Ugyen Takchu and Sonam Norbu of Land Commission is still serving and that too in very important positions. They should have been out by now.

    • yes like the NRDCL MD who was thrown in jail to prevent destruction of evidence. here we have two principal accused sitting supremely placed to destroy evidence.

      This is ACC’s double standard.

      • You just proved to the world that you are the one with the pea brain, the NRCDL MD was thrown into jail for stealing millions, so it is not as simple as you make it out to be. I knew you had a complete different agenda here and so you have proved it with this ridiculous defense of the NRCDL MD.

        Now, if you were a citizen that was genuinely concerned with uprooting corruption, one would be happy that a crook has been sent to jail. Anyway, keep it up.

      • peabrain can’t seem to dissociate different aspects of the case. the MD was convicted for corruption but also thrown in jail before the conviction. kapish?

        As for the millions, land is worth millions or more. what’s the difference?

        That the problem with you. it’s ok being a peabrain, but now that someone has attached a mouth to it, the rest of us have to hear the contents of the peabrain.

        • What’s this idiot trying to say, earlier he made it out as if the NRCDL MD was innocent and that his case was politically motivated, now all of sudden, he is trying to say that the 50 million he stole is nothing compared with the cost of land. One thing,  I need to remind this pdp stooge is that while the land cases are still being investigated, the NRCDL MD was found guilty by a court of law, so please don’t make such ridiculous statements.

          For me a crook is a crook, no matter what!

      • peabrain never ceases to justify his name. Can’t read what I wrote and adds meaning where there was none. This is true injustice being done to the reputation of the DPT.

        1. I never said the NRDCL MD was innocent. I was pointing out he was thrown in jail before being found guilty. The same thing is not happening to others. 

        2. I didn’t say millions is nothing worth the land. I said the land also costs millions in Thimphu in RESPONSE to your post.

        Yes I agree, a peabrain is a peabrain no matter what!

        • Haha, please read your first post, you said that the NRCDL MDs case was politically motivated, you never ever mentioned that he was guilty, only when the reason for he being locked up had been pointed out to you, you changed your tune. Come on, don’t get so pathetic, your hatred for the PM is making you look foolish.

  16. 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 will find difficult to deal ….Whenever National Land Commission or similar other agency receive instructions, 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 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, if 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 when they express openly, i feel it would be little late then. Good Luck Tenzin Lamsang f……

  17. Dasho Chang Ugyen alone could not have played with land records and certainly there is some one in land record who helped him to temper the land records. The official responsible for land registration of such nature should be brought to justice rather than squarely blaming Chang Ugyen

    • yes we heard of lhakpa duba and sonam norbu. so what? action hasn’t been taken on any of them. it’s high time. no dasho title after his conviction.

  18. ACC, focus on your mandate!!! Big opportunity here to justify your existence!!!

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