Much like the pot-hole plagued roads in the country, discussions on the road bill was a bumpy session, the bump in question being the discussions on the rights of owners and occupiers of adjoining land.
Many MPs and Ministers had their views and thoughts on the section which talked about compensation for land owners. However, only few of them got the chance to speak their views.
A person can own a maximum of 25 acres of land, and it is his/her right to claim for land replacement if the land is less than 25 acres.
The economic affairs minister Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk said, “If the land compensation is to be given then it should apply to all. Otherwise it will be unfair”.
Labor Minister Dorji Wangdi said, “I have seen many places in villages where the farm road has been constructed far away from villages. This was mainly because the owner of the lands didn’t want their land to be used to construct roads”.
He said this has only affected the villages as the roads are in bad conditions, hindering vehicle-traffic toward the village even in winter given that monsoon always hindered road conditions in summer.
Labor minister suggested change in the section under this topic as follows; “If the construction of farm road falls through a private land, the government shall provide a commensurate substitute land or compensate as desired by the land owner.”
However, it was not accepted by the health minister Lyonpo Zangley Drukpa. He said, if such compensation is allowed then it won’t be fair because “my land was also used to construct the road long time ago in my village. So in such a case it would be difficult for the government to give land substitutions because, if compensation is to be given then we will have to give to all those who have given their land in the past, present and we will also have to give to those who will give their land in future to construct the road”.
Dramitse MP Ugyen Wangdi said, “Compensation should not be given as there will be problem in future as the land is very important for the people.
Wangduephodrang MP, Passang Thrinlee said, if the compensation is to be given then it should be applicable to all. “It is all about Kidu, which should directly come from the King, so we should wait until the discussion of the Land bill,” said Passang Thrinlee.
However, Lyonpo Dr. Pema Jamtsho said that farm roads will help farmers improve their livelihood and work force. They should think about it and hence use their land to construct the road without expecting the compensation or land substitution.
He said If the compensation is to be made then it would be possible only for the poorest of the poor.
But even in this, certain terms and conditions were highlighted by Lyonpo Pema Gyamtsho who said, “One can only qualify for the compensation if the farmers have less than five acres of land and only if 10 decimals of his land fall under road constructions.
Majority of the MPS agreed to this view.
The present government has constructed about 2500 kms of farm roads across the nation and about 1500 kms are to be constructed before its term ends.