The National Assembly (NA) in its course of discussion about formation of a special land committee had derided the roles and responsibilities of organizations relative to land and land issues.
The Wangduephodrang MP Passang Thrinlee said independent bodies like Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), Office of the Attorney General (OAG) and others can be corrupted as there is no proper check and balance on them although they are mandated by their own set of rules.
The MP cited Punatsangchhu Hydropower Project I and II as examples where land was not given back on time and some people didn’t even get their land.
He said the Prime Minister, National Land Commission (NLC) and land owners met for the same issue but “The NLC did not have an answer and said they were still looking at it”.
In the June 28 session of the NA, the Wangduephodrang MP addressed the house with the need to form the special committee which would look into land issues reflected in the ACC and OAG reports.
The NLC clarified that all satshab (substitute land) cases are awarded priority by them. Of the total of 59 affected cases, only nine cases are left pending as of date.
The NLC also gave clearance to the Wangdue Dzongkhag to pay cash compensations to affected land owners who were not eligible for substitute land since the acquired land by PHPA measured less than 10 decimals and hence couldn’t be registered.
The pending cases were not approved by the NLC since five affected land owners of Tshogom proposed for substitute land from Thedtsho. Two affected land owners of Rubesa also proposed for substitute land from Thedtsho. And two more affected land owners who acquired lands in Thedtsho proposed for substitute land from the periphery of Bajo town.
The proposals did not comply with the Land Act.
The land owners were notified by the Dzongkhag on 18 July 2011 to process satshab from their own gewog and also to avoid looking for satshab from the periphery of Bajo town.
An NLC official said since the land owners did not adhere to the above notification, Wangdue dzongkhag identified Government Reserve Forest Land within Tshogom and communicated the list to Tshogom Gup on 27 December 2011 to advise the land owners to accept the identified substitute land.
The NLC then wrote to the Cabinet and said based on the directives issued by the PM on 29 November 2011 on the occasion of the inauguration of the Diversion Tunnel, the Dzongkhag had identified the satshab for the affected land owners of Tshogom.
The NLC letter stated if the land owners do not come forward to accept the identified satshab, NLC will instruct the Dzongkhag to register the lands in the names of the affected land owners.
“This is important since as per Land Act 2007, the acquired land can be taken over from the land owners by the PHPA only after the substitute land is registered in their name,” said the NLC official.
No land owner had come forward till date to accept the proposed land.
The NA also discussed the pending satshab issue of three land owners of Naja, whose land were acquired during the extension of Bitekha School in 2003.
The NLC official said during the GYT meeting in 2003, the proposal to acquire 3.39 acres was approved. The land owners, a committee representing the school and the GYT members signed the agreement, which stated that the land owners voluntarily offered their land and nothing was mentioned about cash compensation or land substitute for the affected land owners.
However, after three years, in 2006, land owners started to process for satshab with Paro Dzongkhag. The proposal was submitted to NLC in 2008 but was rejected since the land owners proposed satshab from Lamgong gewog, which violated the Land Act.
The Dzongkhag was advised to instruct the land owners to process satshab from their own gewog. During the Resurveying Exercise in 2010, their lands were not surveyed since no approval was accorded by NLC.
In April 2012, the three land owners appealed to the PM, after which the NLC was instructed to look into the matter. The Dzongkhag was then instructed to help the affected land owners to look for substitutes from Naja.
Recently, two land owners have found suitable government reserve forest land from Naja, which will be formally processed as their substitute land. As for the third land owner, he is adamant he will stick with his proposal from Lamgong.
The NLC also said all resettlement allotments were made prior to the establishment of NLC in 2008. The resettlement program was then placed under the home ministry.
Realizing numerous backlogs of land registration for resettlement, the NLC issued a notification to the concerned Dzongkhags on 14 July 2009 stating that all pending resettlement land registration must be processed and submitted by 31 December 2009.
During the National Cadastral Resurvey Exercise in the Dzongkhags, the Thram registration of resettlement will be processed.