The National Land Commission on the request of the National Council (NC) made a presentation on the 2003 High Level Investigation Committee report on illegal transaction of land in Thimphu.
This comes in the backdrop of a series of stories on the High Level Investigation Committee report by The Bhutanese.
“Since the paper wrote the stories, we were concerned and wanted to be briefed on the whole situation and also know the updates on the implementation status of the report,” said one NC member.
The land commission in its presentation to the members claimed that most of the cases were resolved except for few. They also said that they are following up on the pending cases.
However, this paper had earlier found that even in many of the allegedly solved cases, though thrams were deleted land was yet to be physically recovered while in a few cases even thrams had not yet been deleted. This was while both the NLC and the Thimphu municipality passed the buck on one another.
The Good Governance (GG) Committee of the NC is further discussing this report and will share their opinion on it.
“The Anti-Corruption Commission has not done anything on the issue because they did not receive any report from the land commission. We saw elements of corruption in the report which needs to be addressed,” said another NC member.
The Gasa MP Sangay Khandu said that the High Level Committee Report came in the context of discussing various land related issues. He said the GG committee members had proposed to study land issues initially looking at the overall emerging issues related to land.
“When the NC members visited their constituencies, there were significant amount of complaints on land-based corruption, land compensation and survey of land, although these are accusations yet to be ascertained,” said Sangay Khandu.
The committee consulted the NLC to talk on the land issues and asked a presentation on the 2003 land report. “The members will be picking up points from the land report which helps in addressing emerging land issues,” said Sangay Khandu. The Committee also discussed this in the context of the larger problem of land issues from 20 Dzongkhags which will be discussed in the upcoming session of the Parliament. “It is about the problems people have related to land and how to address it,” said an NC member.
The Chair of GG committee, Pema Lhamo said that it is still in the process of being discussed within the committee. “We are screening and looking at various issues,” she said.
The latest ACC report of 2011 which was presented recently had corruption related to land on the number two priority list.
“We saw that a lot of the cases were resolved as per the earlier practice,” said Sangay Khandu adding that the Committee would be meeting once again next week where the land report will be discussed.
He said that once the committee members discuss the matter in detail, they will decide what actions may follow, he added. The members were given a copy of the land report. The High Level Committee report of 2003 was a result of an investigation into illegal land and excess land registered in Thimphu. It showed 45 cases of excess land found registered with 35 cases, involving mainly high profile people were reported as solved as of 2007. The total land that needed to be replaced by them was 186.45 acres.
Apart from the individual cases, there are also cases of government land occupied by government and public institutions.
In the municipal area, government organizations had occupied 316.84 acres without land registration and 32.26 acres in rural areas.
The committee also found that many lands like 206 acres in rural areas and 13.44 acres in urban areas were occupied by the Dratshang, lhakhangs and goendeys without thrams. Excess land during the new sathram compilation of Thimphu Dzongkhag consisted of 512.44 acres involving 487 individuals.
Illegal houses of 151 individuals covering an area of 27.21 acres in the Thimphu rural areas were dismantled.
The report also found 274 individuals had occupied government land of 262.36 acres, in the extended municipal area. The Thimphu city corporation was directed to take over the land. Also, 67 tshamkhangs were found to be built on government lands. Further it was also reflected that even the drangpons and court clerks were beneficiaries.