The total estimated value of the 19,500 sq ft land on which Trowa theatre stands according to the Chief Urban Planner of Thimphu Thromde and also one of the committee members of PAVA, Geley Norbu now stands or works out to about Nu 4.7mn.
Following a cyclic carousel of buy or sell, the Ministry of Works and Human Settlement (MoWHS) sent a letter to the National Land Commission (NLC) Secretariat to decide on the Trowa Theater case.
The letter which is currently with the commission’s urban division will be forwarded to the land commission, who will then decide on the case after studying it at one of their commission’s meetings.
However, the commission members are yet to receive the agenda on the Trowa Theater case.
According to the NLC, the case will be decided sometime in September this year or even earlier depending on the urgency MoWHS. Earlier, the MoWHS minister, Lyonpo Yeshey Zimba said they will abide by what the commission decided. “If the land commission says the land cannot be sold to the owner then the government will buy the structure and reclaim the land,” said Lyonpo.
Earlier the Prime Minister stated, had it not been his daughter’s father-in-law involved, the case could have taken another twist. The controversy had built up when the government proposed to sell the 19500 sq ft land to the owner himself who had refused to pay the rent for nearly five years after the government increased the rate from the earlier Nu 2 to Nu 42.
Lyonpo Yeshey Zimba said with the National Housing Development Corporation (NHDC) facing budget constraints, the proper solution he thought was to sell the land to the owners of Trowa Theatre and use the money to build houses.
But the Land Act 2007 prohibits the sale of government land
Thimphu is divided into 21 precinct areas, all of which falls under town planning but the Trowa Theater area does not fall under the Thimphu Structural Planning (TSP) and instead falls under the municipal area.
So now if circumstances arose and the commission decides for the land to be sold, the land worth would sum up to Nu 238 per sq ft.
The unpaid rent itself is Nu 5mn. Based on the land lease rules and regulations, which had been issued in 2009, the lease rate also depends upon the land use.
The Thimphu Thromde has different rates for different areas and the land lease rate for Changjiji falls under the rate of Nu 20 per sq ft annually for commercial land and Nu 5 sq ft for residential land.
This case dates back to 2002 when the land had been leased to Sangay Dorji for the construction of an entertainment hall with the annual lease rate at Nu 2.
Sangay Dorji midway through construction sold the project to Kinley Wangchuk.
Kinley Wangchuk became the project owner but, before he could transfer the ownership, the government had raised the rate from Nu 2 to Nu 42.
With this Kinley Wangchuk protested and issues arose, this led to several talks between the Trowa Theater owner and the MoWHS to settle the matter.
One solution was to sell the land to Kinley Wangchuk but that had been kept as an option due to government policies,.The other solution was Kinley Wangchuk’s proposal to sell the project to the government, but, this solution did not materialize since the price had been too high for the government.
With the discussion reaching nowhere a lot of time had been wasted and now this issue has been put forth to the land commission to decide on the case.