P/ling ‘Green zone’ leaves land owners and Municipality in a limbo

The Kabreytar gold rush which lured many visionary investors to own land in the area are now in a quagmire with the law which has classified their land as falling under the Green zone.

The UGA (urban green area) is a designated area in which there should not be any constructions, vertical or horizontal extension or addition of building components and site excavation . Once the life of the structure is expired, no new development shall be allowed and the land use shall be as per the provisions made under the Urban Green Area.

Aggrieved land owners have expressed their grievances but in this baffling case, the law is not on the wrong side of itself, and the enforced law in question here is not under any incongruity or misinterpretation with itself.

The report shows that most of the buying and selling of the plot was done after 2007, when the DGM and the city corporation had already made the zonation and made it public to the plot owners.

The plot owners even with the knowledge of the inevitable cling to an abandoned hope for a leeway or compensation. Almost all of the land owners who have purchased the land after 2007 said they were not aware of the zonation.  They said the even the sellers had never mentioned it.

The plot owners in this area comprises high profile people and also those people who spent their hard-earned money to buy the plots in the green zone.

A contractor who bought a 15 decimal land in lower Damdara sometimes in 2007 at the cost of Nu 900,000 to  Nu 1 million said his expectation from the plot was to educate his children by selling it once the price hit the highest in future. But now after 5 years he cannot use the land for construction, nor can he sell it. The loan repayment to the bank has become a nightmare for him.

“I have talked to the city and also approached for kidu,” said the contractor.

The Phuentsholing Thrompon, Tsheten Dorji said there will not be any compensation made as all things are discussed and decided. He however said “But we cannot do anything if a plot owner approaches the National Environment Commission (NEC) or to any authority seeking for compensation or for land substitution”.

He said, 70 to 75% of landowners have bought the land after 2007, which means they should have been aware of the zonation which the city authority clearly advocated to the public. “The only compensation to them is likely to be the reduction of land tax in green zone areas,” the Phuentsholing Thrompon said.

Kinzang Thinley a man who has purchased 2acres and 10 Decimal of land in Kabreytar thinks, that he should be compensated but the government is not clear. He said “I think they should compensate us with land on other place or if not they should compensate us with the monetary support”.

Kinzang Thinley said seven or eight months ago in a meeting the municipality officials said that they can’t compensate them nor replaced his land in other areas. But previously the government had said that they will compensate or  provide land may be replacement in other areas.

As per the development regulation plans of 2007, In view of the construction restrictions in these zones, all taxes applied shall be at rural rate, the landowners in the urban green areas may be suitably compensated as per the relevant regulation and laws. Substitute land may be also given to the landowners affected by the urban green area as per the relevant rules and law.

Chairman of Etho Metho, Pema Thinley explained that he has 78 decimals of  land out of which 25 Decimal is allowed for construction according to the previous structure. “Now we cannot construct there but we are allowed to renovate what was already constructed there,” said Pema Thinley.

Pema Thinley said all this has come up with the study, “but when we bought the land there was nothing as such”.

The geological condition studied in various places in Phuentsholing shows that it falls under risk prone area. But the plot owners are still adamant that they cannot use the land nor can it be sold to others.

According to this approximate superimposed map, there are about 30 private plots of various sizes in the UGA in which the total land area is 32 acres.

Document or the LAP report proposes some options, under cash compensation, as mentioned in one of the four options is –

If the government decides to pay only to those completely affected landowners, i.e. plots without any part of it under construction allowed zone, then 20 landowners fall under this category. Considering one standard size plot each to these people, then compensation cost comes up to be Nu. 34.06 million.

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  1. So the land owners make their own decision to buy the land and expect the national exchequer to pay compensation when their decision proves to be non-profitable. Those banks mortgaging such land should also pay the price. The Thromde has used the geological report and rightly zoned the area to save future loss of life and property. Yes the Thromde should not tax them at urban rate. I understand that in such cases taxes are paid at rural rate. Good luck land owners . Please do not make others pay for your uninformed decision.

  2. The article has focused all its attention on the new land owners who purchased it after 2007 when the new plans were announced. But the article seems to assume that there are no original land owners who owned the land before the plan was made. Are we to assume that they have no rights either?

    If they are giving up their land (what use is there if it can’t be used?) then they need to be compensated or substitute land given.

  3. May be there are only few influential people’s land in that area.
    As the price drop, and many influential people acquire the land, the rules will change.

    Remember, what happened in thimphu !!!

  4. Whiie Phuntsholing Thromde is using all its muscles to prevent people from constructing on difficult slopes and geologically unstable areas the land commission is busy distributing land to their friends relatives and influentials. Why was the land next to Kissa hotel in Thimphu regularized when it was meant for fire gap. Is it because the owner has saved the job of NLC secreatry? Similarly land in lanjophaka is regularized because some of the beneficiaries are related to the top brass of NLC. Please comment.

  5. People are caught between the City Planners and the NLC. City planners come up with hair-brained ideas and even worse implementation. In their view, ‘slopes’ are unstable and construction has to be limited. This is good theory. But it should not be generalized as slope stability will depend on a lot of factors, not just the steepness. People whose land are on slopes are thus sweepingly affected.

    The NLC does not see eye to eye with the thromdes and openly criticises the planners, often rejecting the decisions of the thromdes. The people are caught in between and made to run from pillar to post for no fault of theirs.

    I don’t know anything about the corruption, but if there is, please bring out the details. Harassers of the public need to go, but if they’re corrupt also, then they need to immediately.

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