New rules and guidelines on Tsamdo and Sokshing to be implemented by 2015-16

The rules and guidelines of Tsamdo and Sokshing will be implemented in 10 dzongkhags in 2015-16 financial year, and in nine remaining dzongkhags in the next year, said Minister of Agriculture and Forests in the National Assembly on May 22.

The Nganglam MP, Choida Jamtsho, questioned the government on the status and modalities of the implementation of Tsamdo (pasture land) and Sokshing (tree grove reserved for collection of leaves) in the Land Act of Bhutan, 2007, through issuance of guidelines and rules on a priority basis. Nganglam MP said no such guidelines or rules have been put in place.

Agriculture and Forests Minister, Yeshey Dorji, expressed that about 64 percent of the population in Bhutan are dependent on agriculture, animal husbandry and forest.

He said that the Land Act of Bhutan, 2007,was passed in 2007 and in the eight years, the guidelines on Tsamdo and Sokshing have not implemented in the Act since it had been a contentious issue.

He said that the Act, if not implemented will harm the people, and the government has started working on it , although it has been delayed for two years.

Agriculture and Forests Minister said that the rules and guidelines on Tsamdo and Sogshing are complete.  “As part of inauguration, we have started it seven gewogs of eleven gewogs in Punakha in April this year. And the rest four gewogs will be completed in coming two months,” Lyonpo Yeshey Dorji said.

He said that human resource constraints has affected in the implementation of the Aat in all the dzongkhags.

“Government has plans to start implementing it in 10 dzongkhags (Thimphu, Haa, Gasa, Wangduephodrang, Dagana, Chhukha, Mongar, Trashigang, Trongsa and Zhemgang) in 2015-2016 financial year and nine remaining dzongkhangs in next financial year.”

Bardo-Trong MP, Lekey Dorji, said that the Land Act of Bhutan, 2007, was already passed and asked why any government had not practiced and why it was kept on hold.  He pointed out that if the Act does not benefit the people then there is risk of keeping such Acts on hold.

North Thimphu MP, Kinga Tshering, asked even the poorest people should have the opportunity to rent land on lease, be it 5 or upto 20 acres. He said that if the leasing rent is very high then they will not make enough return.

Agriculture and Forests Minister said that Tsamdo, being the phazhing (hereditary land) for high altitude people, has different categories in terms of compensation. In general, he said it is Nu 200 per acre, and in terms of rent amount, he said that it is categorized differently upon the location in high altitude, remote places and thromdes.

Opposition Leader, Dr Pema Gyamtsho said that in Tsamdo, there is a problem when cattle herd from highland move to low altitude, unless appropriate place is identified, the cattle herd is not allowed to move,.

He also said that in the process of law making, within 10 years after carrying proper research and study, it should be implemented.

OL also expressed that if there are no strong guidelines to protect the Sogshing, people will practice felling Sogshings and it would be exhausted.

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