During the 14th Meet-the-Press session held yesterday, the Minister, Ministry of Works and Human Settlement (MoWHS), Dorji Choden, said the Nganglam township development was stalled for quite a while because of problems with the biological corridor, measuring 750 meters, that stretches to the international borders with India.
Lyonpo Dorji Choden said the government had many discussions, especially with the Department of Forests, Ministry of Agriculture and Forests (MoAF), on how the development of the township can be detrimental to the biological corridor. Lyonpo said the discussions were finally handled by the Prime Minister because the problem was not getting solved. She said Bhutan has very stringent conservation regulations.
“We came to a certain compromise, it was 750 meters from the border, and now after we have consulted thoroughly, discussed on the proper understanding of the conservation part and the town planning part, then we come to a figure that was mutually agreeable, and now it is has been reduced to 500 meters,” Lyonpo Dorji Choden said.
Lyonpo said that the plan will not get distorted by the reduction. As for the private land of the people falling within the biological corridor, Lyonpo said that after the reduction to 500 meters, the majority of the private land falls beyond biological corridor and not within the corridor. The plan is being endorsed and can be implemented. She informed that there will be small structures, which are mostly government-owned structures, affected by the plan.
Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay said the Department of Human Settlement, MoWHS had prepared an old township plan extending towards the national border. However, Lyonchhen said that plan had marked 750 meters as biological corridor and even pegged the boundary, but it had not gone to the National Land Commission during the previous government’s time.
As no consultation was made on the matter earlier, the Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay asked the Department of Human Settlement if the 750 meters could be reduced as the biological corridor is very important. He said that Bhutan is the only country in the world where 51% of the country has been demarcated and identified as national parks and wildlife sanctuaries which are all connected. “Whatever we do, we have to work and understand that we are working for common and national objectives in the long term interest of our people and country,” Lyonchhen said.